Escaped killer Trent Jennings was arrested this morning without incident at Byron Bay.
Escaped killer Trent Jennings was arrested this morning without incident at Byron Bay. POLICE MEDIA

Killer caught napping

THE KILLER at the centre of a political furore over his ability to walk out of a Sydney prison psychiatric hospital was arrested in Byron Bay on Wednesday morning.

Following a tip off from the public, Byron Bay police swooped on Trent Jennings, 26, who was asleep in a stolen black Mercedes Benz 4WD in Bayshore Dr at about 6.45am.

Jennings was arrested without incident, taken to Byron Bay Police Station and is expected to face Lismore Local Court on Thursday morning.

The fugitive escaped last week from a psychiatric facility where he was being detained for killing his gay lover during a drug-fuelled sex romp in 2003.

NSW Opposition leader John Robertson has slammed mental health institution procedure, saying the corrective services commissioner should be in charge of security for inmates in psychiatric wards.

Mr Robertson said the incident pointed to "systemic failures" in the way security is handled at mental health institutions.

He called on the NSW Government to place Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham in charge of people who had been through the court system and were being detained in mental health institutions.

"(This would) make sure that proper security is put in place and we don't see killers like this walk out the doors the way this has happened," Mr Robertson told reporters.

"Corrective Services ought to be responsible for monitoring these facilities, monitoring the movements of all these people who find themselves, like Jennings, on day release."

On Wednesday police charged Jennings with visiting the Zetland home of a 50-year-old man he met online while he was on day leave on December 29. Jennings allegedly assaulted the man, tied him up and stole his car before returning to the mental health facility in Morisset.

He used the man's Mercedes-Benz B200 to escape the following day and was pulled over by police that night, but they had not been alerted to the escape and let him go.

"I don't know if the media reports are correct but, if they are, then clearly the police have some questions to answer," Mr Robertson said.

"It's extraordinary that someone on day release can get a licence."

Mr Robertson, a former corrective services minister, said there needed to be a system in place so that when people failed to return to mental health facilities notifications were immediately issued.

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