Too easy: Drug dealers escape
On the run: Bernd Neumann. Picture: WA Police

Drug trafficking fugitive Bernd Neumann was able to scope out his escape route from a suburban soccer oval as it emerged he had visited it several times on prison outings before he vanished without trace last Saturday.

As police, who were hunting the escapee for the seventh day yesterday, investigate whether Neumann was able to plan his escape, The Weekend West can reveal extraordinary details of how the escape unfolded.

Neumann, who had served three years of a 15-year sentence, had been allowed out of minimum security Wooroloo Prison Farm on several weekends before he escaped while walking a puppy being trained to help disabled people.

The 59-year-old's regular visits to Thomas Moore Park in Wilson with the jail's soccer team, Wooroloo FC, for its Saturday games gave him ample chance to plan the best way to make his escape.

Daniel Dos Santos, president of Atletico Latinos FC, which played Wooroloo FC in the Football West summer social league at the park, said he had seen Neumann walking the dog there over the past four weeks.

Thomas Moore Park is a couple of hundred metres from two main roads that run through Wilson - Manning Road and Leach Highway.

Neumann usually walked the dog along the oval between the club rooms and the pitch, which would have taken him through a small wooded area and on to Armstrong Road.

Another possible escape route is at the eastern corner of the oval where a hidden alleyway would have allowed Neumann to leave the park unseen and find himself close to Leach Highway.

The Weekend West believes only two prison officers were guarding the 21 prisoners who left Wooroloo Prison Farm to visit the oval last Saturday.

The officers also had to supervise about 40 visitors who had arranged to have contact with inmates at the oval that afternoon.

It is understood that while the guards would have checked identification and searched the visitors, they were able to interact around the oval with the prisoners, other players and supporters.

"It's a big oval and there were a lot of people walking around, so I wouldn't have thought it would be too hard to slip away," one spectator said.

Before the alarm of Neumann's escape was raised at 4pm, Wooroloo FC had beaten Baldivis FC to win the grand final.

One of the stars of the triumphant prison team is believed to have been former Perth Glory player Aaron Cole.

Cole was jailed last year after he committed a $1.7 million tax fraud to feed his chronic gambling addiction.

The West Australian

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