Why would he bolt? Unanderra prison escapee Shaun Primmer was three weeks from freedom

Shaun Primmer
Shaun Primmer

An inmate has perplexed authorities with his escape from a Unanderra prison, just three weeks before he was due for release.

Standing 200cms tall, with short blonde hair, the distinctive Shaun Primmer was wearing standard issue prison greens when he gave the Unanderra Reintegration Centre the slip some time after 11pm Thursday. 

In the early hours of Friday morning, a search dog tried in vain to trace the path he took out of the Lady Penrhyn Dr facility. 

Now police are hoping information from the public will help to end the manhunt. 

A cell at the Unanderra Reintegration Centre, pictured at the facility's opening day in June. Picture: Adam McLean

A cell at the Unanderra Reintegration Centre, pictured at the facility's opening day in June. Picture: Adam McLean

Lake Illawarra Local Area Command’s Inspector Brian Pedersen said Primmer, who is serving time for driving and theft offences, was not considered violently dangerous. 

“He’s not a violent person so we don’t consider him a risk to the public, however because he’s an escaped prisoner we’re asking people not to approach him, and to call us if they see him,” he said. 

Police have “a fair idea” of how the 23-year-old, who is from the Unanderra area, got free of the mimimum-security facility, but will not detail the method due to security concerns.  

The Mercury understands Primmer was last seen when a guard checked his cell about 11pm Thursday. 

At the next check, about 1.15am, he had vanished. 

The prison yard at the Unanderra facility. Picture: Adam McLean

The prison yard at the Unanderra facility. Picture: Adam McLean

Primmer was 19 years old and had never held a license when, high on ice and cannabis, he drove a car at nearly twice the legal speed limit into a power pole at Unanderra on December 6, 2013. 

He escaped with minor injuries but his 14-year-old female passenger suffered critical, “heartbreaking” injuries, including a severe, traumatic brain injury requiring long-term rehabilitation. 

In June 2014, with the court factoring in earlier offences, he was banned for driving for 10 years and sentenced to 3½ years’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 2½ years

Sentencing Judge Conlon rejected claims that Primmer's intellectual delays, along with "distraction" from his passengers, may have contributed to the crash.

Primmer completed that prison term, but was jailed for another 12 months from September 5 last year, for driving while disqualified, and larceny. 

He was to be released on parole after five months, on February 4.

Police have yet to establish what prompted Primmer to run, Insp Pedersen said.

“We need to establish why he chose to escape when he only has a short period of time to go,”  Insp Pedersen. 

“It seems unusual.  

“There may be a reason, rather than it being opportunistic. We’ll find out more when we locate him.” 

A marching band heralds the opening of the prison, in June.

A marching band heralds the opening of the prison, in June.

Opened in June, the Unanderra prison is for inmates who are nearing the end of their sentences. It is intended to ready them for release by providing life-skills programs and employment, including some opportunities to work in the community. 

It is unknown how much of Primmer’s most recent term was spent at the facility. 

Contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 to assist police.