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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



Escape of Horton

In December 1955 a fugitive from prison in Auckland made history by the circumstances of his escape, and although he enjoyed only two and a half days of freedom, he had the distinction of provoking an official investigation at Cabinet level, and a drastic revision of the precautions in prison discipline designed to keep life-term prisoners under control. He was Edward Raymond Horton, serving a life sentence for a most revolting murder. He was one of a prison party taken out of gaol at Mount Eden for a recreational programme at Mount Albert, Auckland. The occasion was an indoor bowls tournament and, despite the presence of a strong security guard, Horton simply walked out of the hall and disappeared. Public indignation was widespread when the full facts were made known, and when, after 60 hours of search, a force of over 200 police finally rounded up the escaped man and returned him to his cell, there was a general demand for an inquiry. The then Minister of Justice admitted that the position was entirely unsatisfactory and said that the Justice Department must take full blame for what had happened. The most amazing thing about the escape was that, of 17 prisoners who took part in this extra-mural recreation, no fewer than 12 were life-term men. As a result of Horton's escape, the whole system of the treatment of “lifers” was overhauled.