From the Archives, 1993: Fugitives in shootout at Melbourne Remand Centre

First published in The Age on March 8, 1993

Policeman shot by fugitives

Two prisoners who wounded a police officer in a shootout after using explosives to blast their way out of the Melbourne Remand Centre last night evaded a huge police search across Melbourne.

Wounded policeman Warren Treloar receives emergency treatment after being shot in the chest and shoulder.

Police last night were raiding homes of known acquaintances of the escapers who, police said, were Archie Butterly, 47, who has convictions for armed robbery and manslaughter, and Peter Robert Gibb, 38, with convictions for armed robbery and murder.

The two escapers, one of whom was armed with a small-calibre pistol, exchanged shots with police after a motorbike they had stolen crashed in Southbank Boulevard, near City Road, in South Melbourne.

A senior constable aged 31 was shot in a shoulder and left side at 6.20 pm. He was in a satisfactory condition in the Alfred Hospital.

After the shooting, the escapers grabbed a police service revolver and stole a police car, which was abandoned a short distance away. They were seen getting into a dark grey Suzuki Vitara. There have been no further sightings.

A woman, whom police described as skinny and wearing sunglasses and a scarf, was in the Suzuki. Police were not sure if she was being held hostage or was part of the elaborate escape plot.

Peter Gibb being loaded into the police helicopter after being recaptured.Credit:Jason Childs

Both escapers were injured. One has a head wound, the other an ankle injury.

The police duty inspector, Detective Inspector Ian Meates, described the escapers as extremely dangerous. He said the men used explosives to blow out a second-floor window in the Melbourne Remand Centre in Spencer Street about 6 pm. They used bed sheets to climb to the ground before escaping in a Ford Falcon.

A prison officer witnessed the escape and hailed a taxi driver, who chased them as far as South Melbourne.

Police said the escapers first crashed into a car at the corner of Flinders Streets and Footscray Road but did not stop. They then had another crash at the entrance to the West Gate Freeway at the Montague Street on-ramp.

The two men then switched from the Ford to a motorbike with the taxi driver and prison officer still in pursuit, giving details of the chase via radio to police.

Inspector Meates said the escapers lost control of the motorbike, a Honda CBR 1000, and crashed in Southbank Boulevard between Fawkner Street and Kavanagh Street, South Melbourne. A passing motorcyclist stopped to help but the two men tried to steal his bike.

A police divisional van arrived and two police officers confronted the men. One escaper fired shots at police, hitting one policeman and knocking him to the ground. It is believed his partner exchanged shots with the two men before they stole a police car and fled. Police later found blood on the motorbike from an injured escaper.

The police car was found abandoned a short distance away at Cook Street and Riverside Quay.

A spokesman for the Minister for Corrections, Mr McNamara, refused to comment on the escape.

It is believed a prisoner warned authorities last year that there were explosives in the Remand Centre.

There has been only one previous escape from the centre. In April 1991, Clive Macintosh MacKay, who was on remand on armed robbery charges used a false identification pass to escape. He was later recaptured.

The Opposition’s police spokes-an, Mr Sercombe, said last night that there was an urgent need for an inquiry into a prison system that was out of control.

The secretary of the Police Association, Senior Sergeant Danny Walsh, last night questioned security at the Remand Centre.

“How the hell do you get explosives and a firearm into one of the most modern remand centres in the world which is supposed to be escape proof?” He said there should be a full inquiry into the escape.

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