By pressing their bodies against a flimsy sheet of galvanise to create a space they could fit through, five Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) detainees escaped while officers relaxed at a Christmas gathering last Thursday.
Two detainees, who told Guardian Media they witnessed the escape, said in a telephone interview yesterday that the five men were in the television room in the centre of the compound when they climbed the iron bars, pushed the galvanise and crawled through the opening onto the roof. At the time, the eyewitnesses said, officers were partaking in a Christmas gathering outdoors.
Police have identified the escapees as Guyanese national Ryan Badal, 23, Jamaican national Krishna Bailey, 22 and Venezuelans Jose Luis Ramirez Yanez, 27, Rodney Noel Reyes Mendoza, 24 and Luis Sifontes, 32.
A senior official at the IDC told Guardian Media that an internal report on the incident confirmed the men escaped from the television room, ran along the rooftop and jumped over the perimeter fence.
The official, who spoke on the condition of strict anonymity, said the men escaped shortly before 7 pm but officers only discovered the men were missing three hours later during an official head count.
One of the detainees who witnessed the incident said, "Many of us were aware of the escape and the route they used and about 50 or 60 persons could have escaped within that three hours before the officers came to check on us but we chose not to leave, since most of us being held here are not criminals."
Northern Division officers continue their efforts to recapture the five men.
Reporter: Mark Bassant