Escape bid quickly foiled
A defendant who leapt from the dock injured a police officer while trying to escape from the Porirua District Court last Tuesday.
Zharn Craig Burns, 29, of Te Horo, jumped over a 1.5m- high dock wall, landed on a lawyers’ bench and ran for the door after his appearance in front of Judge Jan Kelly.
He was restrained by half a dozen court security guards and police officers. It took them a full minute to handcuff Burns, who was thrashing violently.
As he was dragged to the cells by four men, he scanned the courtroom for his mother.
‘‘Where’s my mum? Tell Mum I love her,’’ he shouted to his supporters in the gallery.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Karen Vaughan was one of those who raced to halt Burns and was cut on her wrist when he landed on her arm.
Ms Vaughan said she had noticed Burns was acting strangely when he appeared in court, so was braced for unpredictable behaviour.
‘‘We were watching him. As soon as he came out, I saw he had that wide-eyed look about him.’’
The court’s response to the incident was exemplary, she said.
‘‘The judge pressed the panic button immediately, so the police station next door emptied out and officers were halfway here by the time he was restrained.
‘‘ Everything happened according to procedure.’’
Burns was appearing before Judge Kelly to request consent to change his defence lawyer.
He is facing 15 charges relating to burglaries on the Kapiti Coast. A charge of escaping custody will be added.
He was remanded in custody and will appear before the court again on August 27.