A remand prisoner being housed in a high-security Adelaide jail was left unsupervised in a kitchen for almost an hour when he executed his planned escape last month, a summary report reveals.

Key points:

  • Prisoner Jason Burdon escaped on December 1
  • He used clothing to abseil out an air vent in the kitchen
  • The SA Government will not release the full report

The South Australian Government is refusing to release the full report into the December 1 escape of Adelaide Remand Centre (ARC) prisoner Jason Burdon.

The 33-year-old escaped out a window of the kitchen area before abseiling down a wall on rope made from a T-shirt and underwear.

An investigation into the incident was announced while the 34-hour manhunt was still underway.

Corrections Minister Vincent Tarzia said staffing levels were not a factor, but that two staff members from the Remand Centre would now face disciplinary action.

He said a report had identified “infrastructure vulnerabilities and failures” by Serco staff.

Jason Burdon abseiled out of the Adelaide Remand Centre.(SA Police)

A summary of that report stated that Mr Burdon “exploited” those failures and had planned his escape.

It stated that four prisoners were working in the kitchen under the supervision of two Serco employees at the time.

Mr Tarzia said the escapee was unsupervised for 52 minutes — it took 35 minutes for Mr Burdon to flee out the air vent in a toilet attached to the kitchen, and a further 17 minutes before staff realised he was gone.

Serco says escape was ‘preventable’

Serco Australia chief executive Peter Welling apologised for the escape, saying it was “preventable and should have never occurred”.

“We pride ourselves on our ability to operate a strong and secure correctional facility that delivers community safety,” he said.

“Serco holds itself accountable for this failure and will work extremely hard to rebuild trust with the community.”

‘The kitchen area has been fortified’

Mr Tarzia said specialists had since inspected the kitchen area to fortify infrastructure security”.

“Upgrades to electronic security are already underway and additional senior managers have been deployed to the ARC,” he said.

“There was a review, it’s found infrastructure vulnerabilities and failures by Serco staff gave Jason Burdon an opportunity to escape.

The privatisation of the Adelaide Remand Centre was announced in 2018.(ABC News: Alina Eacott)

Mr Tarzia said a $100,000 fine issued to Serco earlier this month had since been “paid in full”.

The Public Service Association has criticised the privatisation of the prison, which was announced in the 2018 State Budget.

Opposition correctional services spokesman Lee Odenwalder said the incident was “proof” that the privatisation of the ARC had “put the community at risk”.

“How is it that a prisoner at a maximum-security prison was left unsupervised for more than half an hour?” he said.

He called for the full report to be released so “the public knows what went wrong and what is being done to ensure it never happens again”.

But Mr Tarzia hit back, saying Labor failed to release reviews into prisoner escapes while they were in government.