A FORMER Toowoomba teenager accused of murdering 19-year-old Mudgee woman Michelle Morrissey has been shot while trying to escape from a New South Wales Corrective Services van.
Luke John Cotterill, 18, was being transported from the Bathurst Correctional Complex to Sydney’s Silverwater prison on Saturday when guards noticed him trying to self-harm.
It is believed he was using a seatbelt in an attempt to strangle himself.
They stopped the vehicle, carrying 13 inmates, on the Great Western Highway at Little Hartley at about 11.50am.
“He appeared to be unconscious ... (and) the officer opened the grill to render assistance to him,” Corrective Services assistant commissioner Don Rodgers said.
“He pushed the officer out of the way ... then he ran away.
“He was called upon to stop and he didn’t.”
One of the guards opened fire and the prisoner was wounded in the arm, hip and left leg.
Cotterill was transported to Lithgow hospital in a serious but stable condition before being moved to Sydney’s Westmead Hospital.
He will remain there under guard until his condition improves and then will be transferred to the mental health screening unit at Silverwater’s maximum security facility.
Mr Rodgers said about 20 minutes before the incident, Cotterill had been separated from the other inmates at their request.
It was reported that they had wanted to kill him because of the crime he was alleged to have committed.
Cotterill was charged with Ms Morrissey’s murder after being arrested on Tuesday.
Ms Morrissey, who worked as a receptionist at a local real estate agency, died at her Cox Street home in the central western NSW town just before 6.30pm on March 27.
She was stabbed to death.
Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodman says prisoners who try to escape will suffer the consequences.
“If they want to play those games and run away from us, there is a price they will pay — and they could get hurt,” he told reporters.
“And he did.”
Cotterill was arrested in Toowoomba in July last year after committing a violent carjacking at the Wilsonton Shopping Centre.
He threatened to slit the throat of a 38-year-old woman before he stole her car and later crashed into a resident’s garden at Cranley.
He fled the state and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
— Additional reporting by AAP
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