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Soap star fears brother will harm himself

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NSW: Soap star fears prison escapee brother will harm himself

Australian Associated Press

19 January 2006

SYDNEY, Jan 19 AAP - The actor sister of a man who escaped from Sydney's Long Bay Prison hospital says her brother poses more danger to himself than the community.

He could even take his own life, she warned.

Denise Roberts, who has appeared in programs including Home and Away and Headland, said she feared for her brother Robert Cole, who has spent most of his life behind bars.

Cole, who had been serving time for stealing and assault, escaped from the prison hospital between 9.30pm (AEDT) Tuesday and 6.50am yesterday.

He fled after slipping through a crack he had chipped in a brick wall next to his cell window, after deliberately losing up to 14 kilograms over several weeks.

Cole, who was being treated for mental health problems, remains on the run and the subject of an interstate manhunt.

Ms Roberts said her brother posed no threat to the community, but there was a possibility he might harm himself.

"Oh, he's not dangerous at all," Ms Roberts told the Seven Network.

"I'm more concerned about him.

"I think he's more dangerous to himself than he is to anyone else, and I dread to think what he'll do if he is taken back there."

Asked if she was worried her brother might kill himself, she replied: "Yes, absolutely".

"I'm just worried about what he's going to do to himself."

Ms Roberts said her brother had had drug problems in the past.

"He came out (of jail), he was a chronic heroin addict. He could not cope with the outside world," she said.

"The whole time he's in prison he's on methadone, and when his time's up they open the door and they shove him out.

"He's never ever had any help when it comes to this drug-related problem ..."

Ms Roberts said the 36-year-old had not yet contacted her, but she hoped he would.

"Well I hope he would... because I'm worried about him, obviously," she said.

Cole's escape comes just a week after two prisoners fled from Sydney's Silverwater jail.

The NSW Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham has heavily criticised his own staff for failing to prevent Cole's escape.

Mr Woodham today said the head of security at Long Bay, who has been stood down pending an inquiry into the escape, had "failed miserably".

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