Jason Gregory Burdon: Drug addiction to blame for Adelaide prison escape

A Northern Territorian prisoner climbed through air vents and used a makeshift rope to escape from an Adelaide jail to feed his “evil” drug addiction, a court has been told.

Jason Gregory Burdon, 34, pleaded guilty to escaping from custody over the incident that happened in December last year.

Two on-duty guards left the defendant unsupervised for 35 minutes in a kitchen toilet, allowing him to climb into the ceiling space of the Adelaide Remand Centre, bend window louvres and use the makeshift rope — made from pieces of clothing — to clamber down the wall and drop about 15m onto the footpath.

The father of two was in custody over a carjacking incident at Clarence Gardens in May 2019.

Burdon pleaded guilty to stealing a car over the carjacking allegations, aggravated driving without due care and two counts of being unlawfully on premises and was later found guilty of one count of robbery after standing trial over that offence.

Jason Gregory Burdon: Drug addiction to blame for Adelaide prison escape

Camera IconJason Gregory Burdon escaped from the Adelaide Remand Centre by dropping about 15m from a rope made from clothing on December 1. Colin James Credit: News Corp Australia

Jason Gregory Burdon: Drug addiction to blame for Adelaide prison escape

Camera IconIt sparked a mass manhunt as the defendant spent 34 hours on the run last year. Colin James Credit: News Corp Australia

He appeared in the Adelaide District Court on Monday over a string of offences, including aggravated serious criminal trespass, that were committed while on home detention bail not long before his escape.

Greg Tonkin, for the defence, said his client acknowledged his “evil” drug addiction that began when he was just a teenager.

The lawyer said Burdon’s “significant” criminal history was a result of needing to fuel his addiction, which was why he escaped the Adelaide CBD jail.

Judge Simon Stretton told the lawyer it was a “sadly familiar” submission because methamphetamine was a “terribly destructive drug” that was the root of at least half of the crimes that came before the court.

But he reminded the lawyer it was a choice made by users to take such drugs.

“This is very timely reminder of how it wrecks everything it touches,” the judge said.

Mr Tonkin told the court his client believed he was now in a better position to curb his addition.

“He says he’s deeply remorseful to each of the victims of his crimes … and accepts full responsibility for his actions.

“When he’s clear of ice, he is good, intuitive, caring and reflective.

“He acknowledges when he’s using methamphetamine he becomes a completely different person — a person he’s become thoroughly ashamed of.”

Jason Gregory Burdon: Drug addiction to blame for Adelaide prison escape

Camera IconThe court was told Burdon ‘suffered significantly’ after the escape, spending 23 hours a day in solitary confinement for almost a year. Supplied / SA police Credit: Supplied

The lawyer also argued Burdon had “suffered significantly” when he was left bloodied and injured from his arrest.

The court was told he was hit five times in the head, sustained internal bleeding in his torso and needed 15 staples in his scalp.

Mr Tonkin also said the defendant had been in solitary confinement for 23 hours every day for almost 12 months.

A video of Burdon laying down in an ambulance while being given his arrest rights by a police officer was played in court.

It showed the defendant’s head wrapped up and his face covered in blood. He was heard saying: “Ow! I’m in pain.”

Prosecutor Karen Ingleton objected to having the video played, saying the judge had enough evidence provided to him, including statements from the STAR Force officers involved in Burdon’s arrest.

She said she didn’t contest that Burdon was injured but did not agree with claims by his defence council that officers used “excessive force”.

Jason Gregory Burdon: Drug addiction to blame for Adelaide prison escape

Camera IconBurdon stole this Toyota RAV4 stolen following his escape from prison. SA Police Credit: Supplied

Jason Gregory Burdon: Drug addiction to blame for Adelaide prison escape

Camera IconHe was arrested at an Eden Hills home at about 8pm on December 2, 2020. Tait Schmaal Credit: News Corp Australia

On December 1, Burdon fled the jail on a stolen e-bike and rode towards Port Rd.

Later that day, the fugitive stole a black Toyota RAV4. The car was used in a petrol theft at North Brighton before Burdon drove north on Marion Rd at Sturt.

He was on the run for 34 hours before Police and STAR Force officers arrested him at an Eden Hills home on December 2.

Shattered glass and blood was left at the scene where the defendant used the RAV4 to ram a police car while trying to escape.

He is due to reappear in court next month.

Jason Gregory Burdon: Drug addiction to blame for Adelaide prison escape

Camera IconBroken glass and blood on the Eden Hills home driveway. Gabriel Polychronis Credit: News Corp Australia

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