Police say a dangerous criminal kicked his way out of Wollongong Hospital through a door in order to flee police custody on Thursday evening.
Jason Rees, 43, was arrested over firearm and assault offences following an incident in Woonona about 2pm on Thursday.
Police allege the offences involved the production of a firearm and the assault of two people, including a child.
Rees was at Wollongong Hospital for treatment to an injury sustained prior to his arrest when, about 6pm, he fled from the emergency department on foot – and in handcuffs.
At the time of his escape he was wearing a Sydney Roosters football jersey and black shorts.
Wollongong police acting crime manager Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth said on Friday morning it was likely those clothes and the handcuffs had since been removed.
Detective Inspector Ainsworth said Rees went to “great lengths” to flee the hospital.
“He’s kicked a door out and he’s run off,” he said.
Officers from Wollongong police and the dog squad searched the area around the hospital on Thursday evening, but Rees couldn’t be found.
As of 11am on Friday, he remained at large.
Rees was a “dangerous criminal”, Detective Inspector Ainsworth said.
“He’s got a colourful and quite a lengthy criminal history,” he said.
“I have no doubt that he’ll be calling on friends to seek refuge in the Illawarra.
“It is a criminal offence to harbour somebody, it’s an indictable offence and it carries three years’ jail.
“I would urge anyone out there; any friends, relatives or people wishing to try and help him out, so to speak, you are committing an offence and you will be charged.”
Asked why he was considered dangerous, Detective Inspector Ainsworth referred to the Woonona incident on Thursday.
“The offences that we allege took place yesterday [Thursday] involve a firearm, the production of a firearm, albeit possibly a replica firearm, the assault of a female [and] the assault of a young child,” he said.
“As we speak now [11am Friday], warrants are be sworn out over at the court for his arrest for those offences.”
Rees is described as Caucasian appearance, 175 to 180cm tall, 70 to 80kg, with short light brown hair and blue eyes.
He has a number of tattoos including a southern cross tattoo on his neck, a scorpion on his left leg and a skull on his right upper arm.
Anyone who spots Rees should not approach him but call triple zero immediately.
No one else was injured and no hospital staff were confronted during the man’s escape