Daniel Briffa: Prison escapee’s 45-day manhunt in Victoria ends with jail sentence

A prison escapee, who spent 45 days at large, escaped prison and fled after a spate of violence and threats, a court has been told.

Daniel Briffa, 51, returned before the Ballarat Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to a single charge of escaping from custody and had three months imprisonment added to his jail sentence.

Briffa had been serving a prison sentence for theft-drug and traffic-related offences when he fled the low security Langi Kal Kal prison in Central Victoria on the evening of Monday, September 4 last year.

His escape prompted a statewide manhunt after police revealed the last sighting of Briffa was two days after his escape where he was seen purchasing items at a service station in Ballarat — about 45km northeast of the prison.

He was found staying in a residential home in East Ballarat on October 19, where he was taken into custody “without incident”.

Police prosecutor leading senior constable Christopher Brown told the court Briffa told police he had been staying with friends during his time away from prison.

“He said it was an impulsive decision and he wanted to catch up with his father and children,” he said.

His lawyer Brett O’Sullivan said Briffa had been incarcerated for about two months at the time and claimed to have been “stood over, had things stolen and been subject to threats”.

“In his own words he’d had enough and left,” he said.

Mr O’Sullivan argued the offence was “lower level”, saying the escape required no planning because the prison was “sufficiently low security”.

“In reality he was largely burying his head in the sand and, in effect, making the time worst for himself,” he said.

“If he had not escaped he would have been very close to release now.”

He told the court his client was now in a maximum security prison in Melbourne under more strict controls.

Handing down his sentence, Magistrate Guillaume Bailin told the court there was no evidence Briffa had committed any further offences while at large and the case lacked many usual aggravating features such as planning or violence.

But he said the offence was serious and the sentence must deter others from escaping prison.

Langi Kal Kal is a low security adult prison with cottage-style shared accomodation on a 1,000-hectare working farm, designed to prepare prisoners for life in the community.

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