Police pulled over sex murderer in stolen car

Updated January 04, 2012 07:48:23

Police have defended their actions after it emerged officers pulled over fugitive killer Trent Jennings and gave him a speeding ticket as the psychiatric patient drove a stolen car last week.

The former Sydney waiter, 26, was locked up in a secure ward in 2005 after admitting to stabbing Giuseppe Vitale, a man he met online, whom he tied up during a sex game at a Sydney park in 2003.

He was found not guilty of murdering Mr Vitale on grounds of mental illness but ordered to remain in a psychiatric hospital.

A mental health review tribunal had given permission for Jennings to be reintegrated into the community on a day release basis in November.

Last Thursday, he went to the Sydney home of a man he had met on a social networking website.

Jennings allegedly tied the 50-year-old up and stole his Mercedes, along with other property, and fled the home in Zetland.

He returned to his psychiatric ward at Morisset Hospital near Newcastle, where he was last seen at 2pm the next day, before escaping and allegedly driving north in the stolen car.

Police pulled him over at 6:00pm (AEDT) near Coffs Harbour and mental health chiefs reported he had absconded at 11pm.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch says Jennings was pulled over but not arrested because the Zetland man did not report the theft until the next day.

“The bona fides of the driver were checked. He was issued with some infringement notices and let go,” Mr Murdoch said.

“About an hour after that the fellow who had been tied up the day before walked into Redfern Police Station to report that incident.”

Mr Murdoch said there was nothing on police systems to indicate Jennings was on day release from his secure hospital.

He also defended a decision not to tell the public about Jennings until Monday.

“We initiated a number of inquiries which we believed would bear fruit fairly quickly,” he said.

“But clearly that has not been the case.”

Police say Jennings is a risk to the community and should not be approached.




First posted January 03, 2012 16:14:36

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