Police admit prisoners who escaped in Levin were not held 'with best practice'

Police have admitted three prisoners who escaped in Levin were not held "in best practice."

In a press conference on Thursday police gave details about how Wiremu Eparaima, 30, Te Wera Hemara, 27, and Emmanuel Witana, 23, were able to escape custody on Wednesday night.

Four men were being moved from Levin District Court to the transport vehicles.

"[Four prisoners with two officers] was not best practice," said Manuwatu area commander inspector Sarah Stewart.

"Best practice would have been one offender with the two officers," she said. 

They were put in an internal garage, and one was able to press an emergency lever which opened the roller door so he could escape.

Another man restrained one of the police officers, allowing two others to escape out the door.

Stewart could not confirm if the men were in handcuffs at the time of their escape.

"I don't believe they were but I can't confirm that," she said on Thursday.

Police urge members of the public not to approach the three men, who are gang-affiliated.

The man who restrained the officer will appear in court charged with aggravated assault and assists escape on Thursday.

Eparaima, Hemara and Witanaare all still at large. Police believe they have connections in the Horowhenua area and ask anyone with information to contact police.



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