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Escapee acted on impulse: lawyer

Saturday, 28th May, 2016

It was hardly “Broken Hill’s version of Escape from Alcatraz,” a lawyer told the Local Court yesterday while pleading for leniency for a man who absconded from the jail.

Nicholas Miles Bugmy was at large in the city for nine days after climbing over the wall at the jail on February 14.

Bugmy (27) had been in prison for less than a fortnight after being arrested for  stealing a woman’s handbag and a computer playstation from a shop on the same day and while on parole, the court was told.

He was awaiting sentence for those crimes when, on impulse, he decided to escape, his lawyer Tom Saunders told the court.

Bugmy knew his mother was ill and just wanted to see her, Mr Saunders said.

He had no thought for the consequences when he climbed on top of a phone booth next to the wall and pushed through the razor wire, cutting himself in the process, the lawyer told Magistrate Geoff Dunlevy.

“It was certainly not ‘The Great Escape’ or Broken Hill’s version of ‘Escape from Alcatraz’.

“My client was portrayed as ‘Superman’ as though he had leapt over the prison walls.”

(Actually, the Superman tag was in reference to Bugmy’s wearing a tattoo of the  comic book character’s name on his neck.)

The escape was not planned, no damage was caused to the jail and Bugmy committed no offences while at large, Mr Saunders said.

His mother was also “extremely anxious” about what he had done and convinced him to hand himself in, he said.

She had phoned the police and was bringing him in when Bugmy decided he wanted to stop off and see his cousin, Mr Saunders said, and it was there he was arrested in Cummins Lane.

“The police had either arrived by chance or received information,” he said.

Mrs Bugmy was later charged with harbouring an escapee and has pleaded not guilty.

Mr Saunders conceded that his client must go to prison, but asked the magistrate to be lenient.

He cited two cases in which prisoners had escaped and committed violent crimes while on the run yet had been punished with no more than 12 months’ jail.

Mr Dunlevy accepted that Bugmy had not committed any crimes while he was out and said that a year in jail was the most common punishment for escaping.

However, he said, his escape was aggravated by the fact that he had, as a teenager in 2003, being convicted of manslaughter.

He also had “a history of continuing defiance of the law” and had taken advantage of the low security rating of the local jail, the magistrate said.

Escapees, by their actions, cause a prison to be put into “lockdown”, inmates to be kept in their cells and, sometimes, extra security measures and fortifications that can make a prison “less humane”, Mr Dunlevy said.

As to Bugmy’s wanting to get out to see his family, the magistrate said the courts had ruled that the motivation for escaping was irrelevant.

But he accepted Mr Saunders’ evidence that Bugmy had tried to get help for his problem with drink and drugs and that he had sought, and been denied, entry to residential rehabilitation in NSW, Victoria and Queensland.

Despite his criminal record, he was still a young man and if he could get help, and help himself, his prospects could well improve, Mr Dunlevy said.

He sentenced Bugmy to 13 months in jail and eight months on parole. He was also ordered to pay compensation of $520 for stealing the handbag and $479 for stealing the playstation. He will become eligible for parole on June 17 next year.

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