21 Feb 2012

Getaway vehicle found but not prison escapee

10:31 pm on 21 February 2012

A Corrections vehicle a prisoner hotwired to escape from a work party in the central North Island has been found, but he's still on the loose. Police have moved his former partner to safety.

Police say Jamie Paamu Hughes, 29, walked away from a Tongariro/Rangipo Prison group that was pruning in the Tongariro-Rangipo forest shortly after 11am on Tuesday.

Hughes, a minimum security prisoner, he then hot-wired a Corrections 4WD.

Police have moved his former partner, whom he assaulted, and their daughter to a safe house. Sergeant James McGrogan of Turangi police says they were both moved for their safety.

"That was our first priority. As soon as we knew that he'd escaped was to get hold of his latest victim and let her know and make sure that her and her family were safe."

Sergeant McGrogan says the vehicle Hughes escaped in was found on the outskirts of Taupo, near where he used to live.

About 10 Taupo police officers are working to find Hughes.

Police say Hughes should not be approached, but people should call them if they see him.

The recovered vehicle is a white 2005 Toyota Landcruiser with a large grey speaker mounted on the roof.