UPDATE: 2.40PM The final two of seven inmates who escaped from Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre have been recaptured in Colac, ending a massive manhunt that saw a spate of alleged robberies and carjackings as authorities warned the public not to approach the teenage fugitives.
At 12pm, a 17-year-old male was arrested at an address in Redan, a suburb of Ballarat, according to Victoria Police.
Police also arrested two males in the Gippsland town of Moondarra but confirmed they were not escapees.
Four of the seven inmates on the run after escaping Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre in Victoria were captured just after 8am in Ambon Street in the Melbourne suburb of Ashburton.
Victoria Police allege the Malmsbury escapees are linked to five incidents in Victoria overnight. These included three armed robberies in Melbourne’s south east, another in Moe and an attempted armed robbery in Berwick.
The Malmsbury mass escape has heightened pressure on the Victorian government of Premier Dan Andrews, which was accused of being swamped by a “law and order crime wave”. The breakout came just days after a police chase ended when five were killed when run down in the Bourke Street rampage.
Seven inmates had been on the run on Wednesday evening after about 30 inmates were involved in a “disturbance” at the facility, north-west of Melbourne, at about 2:45pm that resulted in 15 youths escaping.
Victoria Police Superintendent Craig Gillard said three cars had been stolen since the incident and were believed to have been used by the escapees.
“One vehicle came from a carjacking on the highway, another in a petrol drive-off,” he said.
Five inmates also climbed onto the roof of the complex during the disturbance. Police said there had been no reports of injuries.
The breakout comes as Bourke Street victim, 10-year-old Thalia Hakin, was laid to rest in a private ceremony on Wednesday. Thalia was one of five people killed when a road rampage culminated with a man driving though pedestrians in Melbourne’s busy CBD.
The tragedy’s other victims included three-month-old Zachary Bryant, Matthew Si, 33, Sydneysider Jess Mudie, 22, and an unnamed 25-year-old Japanese national.
Dimitrious “Jimmy” Gargasoulas, 26, has been charged with five counts of murder on Monday and is likely to face more charges as police continue investigating.
Premier Andrews announced changes to the state’s bail laws shortly after the rampage as his government was castigated for a system that set the alleged driver free shortly before the incident.
State Opposition Leader Matthew Guy on Wednesday said Victoria’s reputation was being destroyed by a crime wave and Premier Andrews was “missing in action”.
“What is happening to our state?” he said.
“It is completely and utterly outrageous to see what is happening on the Calder Highway … this appears to be a law and order crime wave that is beyond the Premier.”
A witness to one of today’s arrests said she was driving along the Calder Highway at Lockwood South when a car carrying about six young people and coming in the opposite direction swerved at her car, forcing her off the road.
“The police stopped the car probably about 100 metres past us and forced the car off the side of the road,” caller Sandra told ABC Statewide Drive.
Police said its operations response unit, the dog squad and local police were on the scene.
Another witness, Wendy Taylor, said she was driving on Castlemaine’s main street with her granddaughter when a little red car sped “like a bat out of hell” through a roundabout. She estimated its speed at 100 kilometres per hour.
“This was a roundabout, but he didn’t look in any direction at the roundabout, he just went straight through at major speed,” she said.
The Malmsbury breakout is the latest disturbance following months of unrest in Victoria’s youth detention system.
Earlier this month, another disturbance at the centre was brought under control after a group of inmates locked themselves in a secured section and armed themselves with poles.
– with ABC