How Gatton prisoner escaped police, skipped town

IT ALL happened in the blink of an eye.

One minute, a 25-year-old prisoner was being chauffeured to the Gatton police watch-house after his day in court, the next, he was forcing an elderly woman to be his getaway driver.

Gatton Police officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Rowland Browne said it was in the short moment it took for a police officer to open the door to the watch-house, last Monday, that the man broke free.

"One officer was locking a gate, another one was opening the next door," Snr Sgt Browne said.

"And (the prisoner) has basically jumped on a side fence and leapt on to the wall, straight over the wall, across the driveway, across the barbed wire fence to the mower shop."

After running outside Lockyer Mowers and Motorcycles, the man came across a woman in her car, parked on Crescent St.

"He's ordered her to get out of her car and she's refused," Snr Sgt Brown said.

"He's jumped in the car and tried to take control."

Forced to drive the man to Helidon, the woman, 76, called the police as soon as he was out of her car.

Police heard a tip-off the man had been seen at the Helidon Golf Club and went to search the grounds.

While they were searching, police noticed a ute driving on the Warrego Highway.

Police recognised the ute as one stolen from Gowrie Mountain, which had since been used to carry out a burglary in Middle Ridge.

The ute veered on to the other side of the road and crashed into oncoming traffic.

"Investigations are ongoing but it's believed that sighting all the police cars has panicked (the driver)," Snr Sgt Browne said.

The driver crashed into a tow truck coming from the opposite direction, seriously injuring the truck driver and causing him to become stuck inside the truck.

"He had metal go through his shin so he had to be cut out - he was basically impaled through the leg," Snr Sgt Browne said.

When the vehicles collided, the ute spilt stolen goods all over both westbound lanes.

"It was full of stolen gear - (it went) everywhere," Snr Sgt Browne said.

"The two people then ran from the vehicle but were chased and caught nearby by police."

The 21-year-old man and 26-year-old man were arrested and remanded in custody in Toowoomba.

Thanks to another tip-off, police nabbed the alleged carjacking escapee - in Placid Hills - less than two hours after his escape.

"He tried to run away but he was chased and restrained," Snr Sgt Browne said.

He was arrested on nine charges.

Snr Sgt Browne said the station had further tightened security since the incident.

"You deploy staff to the accident scene and the search as per the resources you've got," he said.

"We only have limited resources so it obviously reduces the number of people searching for him - and people injured take priority."