Home / World News / Fremantle Hospital prisoner escape bid a ‘simple, ill-considered, stupid plan’

Fremantle Hospital prisoner escape bid a ‘simple, ill-considered, stupid plan’

A shotgun-wielding man who severed a prison guard’s ear when he helped a robber make a daring escape from custody says he took part in the “ridiculous” plan to help out a mate.

Two guards were escorting Johnathan Fraser Sedman, 34, to a prison van after an appointment at Fremantle Hospital in November when they were confronted by Steven Clarke.

Clarke demanded the unarmed guards release Sedman, who was handcuffed to a wheelchair, then hit one of them over the head with a 12-gauge shotgun and partially severed his ear.

The pair fled in a waiting Holden Commodore, but were captured less than three hours later after police launched a manhunt.

The white van used to transport prison escapee Johnathan Fraser Sedman.
Camera IconThe white van used to transport prison escapee Johnathan Fraser Sedman.Picture: Danella Bevis.

During a sentencing hearing in the District Court today, Clarke’s lawyer Seamus Rafferty described the plan as absurd and said it was doomed to fail from the start.

Mr Rafferty said Clarke, who met Sedman in prison in 2012, was not set to benefit in any way from the escape.

“He decided to help out a mate, which was a cataclysmically bad idea,” he said.

Sedman put the plan in place after he was booked in for a colonoscopy and got a fellow prisoner to pass on the message to people on the outside.

His lawyer, Gavin MacLean, said Sedman got the ball rolling but was not involved in further planning outside Casuarina Prison.

Mr MacLean said the “simple, ill-considered, stupid plan” involved no disguises and unfolded in broad daylight.

“He knew that if this plan actually got off the ground he would be free for at most a couple of days,” he said.

Prosecutor Brett Tooker argued the plan was not hopeless, instead describing it as a well-executed escape that was foiled by good police work.

The prison van used to escort Sedman was parked in a public carpark opposite the hospital when he escaped.

A Department of Justice spokesman said a formal inquiry into the incident had been completed but specific details could not be released for operational reasons.

He said the incident was “highly unusual, complex and handled professionally by the officers at the time”.

“It (the department) can advise that security arrangements and processes for prisoner movements including hospital visits are subject to constant review to ensure that the safety of the general public is maintained,” he said.

Sedman has spent most of his adult life behind bars and was serving a 6½ year jail term at the time over an armed robbery and an attempted hold-up.

The court was told he had a “horrendous” childhood and had been introduced to heroin by his father at age 11.

District Court Judge John Staude will sentence Sedman and Clarke next month.

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