Escape of sex offender from Langi Kal Kal prison in Trawalla latest in series of jailbreaks in western Victoria

The Corella Place Prison in Ararat taken in 2013. Photo: Pat Scala
The Corella Place Prison in Ararat taken in 2013. Photo: Pat Scala

The escape of a prisoner from a regional Victorian correctional facility on Sunday follows a number of break-outs at the facility over recent years.

Sex attacker Barry Dettman, 51, walked out of the minimum-security Langi Kal Kal prison in Trawalla between Ararat and Ballarat on Easter Sunday and is still on the run.

He had one month of his sentence left.

Barry Dettman escaped from Langi Kal Kal on Sunday. Photo: Supplied.

Barry Dettman escaped from Langi Kal Kal on Sunday. Photo: Supplied.

The greater Ararat area is home to Langi Kal Kal prison and Corella Place, a correctional facility in Beaufort for convicted sex offenders who have served time in prison but still pose a risk to the community.

Last July, sex offender Theo Briggs escaped from Corella Place, 45 kilometres from Ararat, after cutting off his ankle bracelet monitor. He was located and arrested in Beaufort about 12 hours later.

In July 2014, another sex offender escaped Corella Place and was found in a toilet block in Ballarat. In June 2013, another two men were arrested after escaping the facility.

Meanwhile, Langi Kal Kal, a prison farm for low-risk prisoners or criminals nearing the end of their sentences, has fallen victim to several security breaches of its own.

In October 2015, two inmates escaped the facility, resulting in the prison going into lock-down as police searched the area by ground and in the air.

Sex offender Theo Briggs escaped a correctional facility in Ararat. Photo: supplied

Sex offender Theo Briggs escaped a correctional facility in Ararat. Photo: supplied

In December 2012, Christopher John Clarke, 29, was arrested at a petrol station in Colac after being on the run for two days.

One Ararat resident told Fairfax Media locals were "very used to prisoners on the run" but said there was normally no trouble between criminals and the community.

The woman relocated to Ararat from Queensland six years ago with her husband who helped build the facility.

"The locals I'd imagine are quite nervous again, however locals are very used to prisoners on the run around here," she said.

"It's not very frequent but it's happened here before and it does make everyone very aware of their surroundings."

Another woman said security was normally "very, very well controlled" but considered the local prisons part of the area.

"That's the choice people make when they come to this town, knowing that this prison is here and what it's there for but it's not different from anywhere else."

One New Zealand-born Ararat motel owner told Fairfax Media on Monday that there was normally no trouble between prisoners and residents.

"I think this town looks after each other very well," she said. "It's one of the nicest towns I've ever lived in."

"I know there's been one escape before in Beaufort but normally there's no trouble with the prisoners."

Mr Dettman was last seen near the prison on Sunday morning and police have warned people not to approach him.

He was last seen walking east on the Western Highway, towards Melbourne, about 10am.

Police are focusing their search in the Bendigo, Werribee and Melbourne areas. 

"We will be working around the clock," Detective Senior Sergeant Michael Phyland said. "We are certainly determined to locate him so we ask that he hand himself in."

Dettman is 178 centimetres tall, of thin build and has cropped grey hair and blue eyes.

He has a number of tattoos on his upper arms and forearms including an eagle on his right upper arm.

He was last seen wearing green tracksuit pants and a flannelette shirt.

with The Age and Ballarat Courier