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The Canberra Times
The Canberra Times
Toby Vue

Prisoner had 'no forethought' in 'short-lived' escape with fiancée

Lila Walto’s rampage against ACT prison car across Canberra’s inner south in July 2021 | July 2022 | Canberra Times

The prisoner who pursued what became "short-lived freedom" with his fiancée after she busted him out of a corrective services car in 2021 made a choice with "no forethought" that was consistent with his poor decision making, a magistrate said in her sentencing.

Kane Quinn, 30, appeared via audio-visual link in the ACT Magistrates Court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to a charge of escaping from lawful custody.

The court heard that on July 9 last year, prison staff took Quinn in a Toyota Camry from the Alexander Maconochie Centre to the Canberra Hospital after he told staff he had swallowed a battery.

About 3.30pm that day during the trek to hospital, his then fiancée Lila Rose Mary Walto was driving a Jeep Wrangler when she rammed the Camry a number of times, making it spin out of control, across Canberra's southern suburbs.

Walto, 29 at the time, had earlier stolen the Wrangler from a dealership in Fyshwick.

At one point when Walto rammed the Camry, Quinn was shouting comments like "they're trying to kill me", "I don't want to get shot", and "don't give me the f--k over".

When the sedan finally came to a halt, Quinn, also known as Kane McDowall, said "get out, they're going to f---ing kill me" and "hurry up, man, they're going to like kill me".

Prison escapee Kane Quinn, right, was freed from custody for a few hours in 2021 by fiancée Lila Walto, left. Pictures: Facebook

He got out then began to run away from the area and a prison staff followed, holding onto his handcuffs, prompting Quinn to say "let me f---ing go".

Walto then drove towards Quinn and shouted to him to get inside, which he did.

They were on the run for a few hours before police arrested them at a Lyneham residence.

Quinn initially yelled he was not leaving. After prolonged negotiations, he left the residence still in handcuffs, which had been cut from his left hand.

A lockpick was jammed into the lock mechanism.

In a record of interview, Walto said words to the effect of "it was my plan, it wasn't Kane's plan".

She said the goal was to start a new life and that she got to hug and kiss Quinn.

During sentencing, the court heard the legal parties agreed Quinn was not aware of Walto driving and he had no intention of escaping from custody.

Magistrate Louise Taylor said Walto presented the opportunity, which a defence lawyer previously said was "an almost biblical level of temptation", to Quinn and "there was no planning at all" on the latter's part.

"In the first instance, Mr Quinn feared he was under attack," she said.

"The offending was not sophisticated or premeditated on his part."

Ms Taylor said it was only after Quinn realised it was his partner that he decided to cooperate with her and "pursued what became rather short-lived freedom for some hours".

"The decision to escape was made spontaneously and with no forethought," she said.

"That said, for the time he was at large, Mr Quinn had the opportunity to reflect on his position."

She said in that time, he did not realise his decision was a poor one and surrender to authorities.

Ms Taylor also cited Quinn's failed attempt to remove his handcuffs, saying they were "an obvious symbol and a compelling reminder of his prisoner status".

"His conduct was consistent with patterns of poor decision making reflected in his criminal history and supported by the psychological report," she said.

The magistrate said, however, that Quinn did not commit further offences during his escape.

She said his deprived and disadvantaged upbringing - including being exposed to abuse and neglect - reduced his moral culpability.

Kane Quinn, in the dark blue jumper, runs from an ACT Corrective Services officer during his escape last year. Picture supplied

Quinn also faced sentencing for drug-related charges, to which he pleaded guilty, after a "female acquaintance" shoved drugs down his pants during a visit behind bars following the incident with Walto.

Court documents state that after a large package was found in the front of Quinn's pants on April 9, testing confirmed the packaged contained buprenorphine strips, cannabis, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

Ms Taylor said this offending was "very unsophisticated offending, clumsy, and almost immediately detected".

For the escape, Quinn was sentenced to 16 months' jail to begin from January 9 after he finishes serving existing concurrent jail terms for other offending in the ACT.

He was fined $3500 with no time to pay for the drug offences.

Following sentencing, he thanked his lawyer and said he would behave.

The court heard he was also serving a 14-year jail term transferred from the NSW District Court.

Backdated to December 2015 and with a non-parole period of nine years, he will be eligible for release in late 2024.

The ACT Supreme Court in July sentenced Walto to six years and eight months, with a non-parole period of two years and eight months, after she admitted nine charges.

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