A prisoner who escaped from Whangarei Courthouse today after he was left in an interview room has been recaptured.

The man had crawled into the ceiling space, before getting out through an adjacent room and fleeing some time before 1.30pm. He was recaptured in Kauika Rd, Whangarei, about 3.30pm.

The man had earlier been denied bail at the court and had been taken from the cells to an interview to see a duty solicitor. The solicitor spoke to the man for about 20 minutes then left him alone in the room.

Before security guards got back to the room the man smashed his way into the ceiling space, got down into an adjacent room then kicked open a door and fled.

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It's not the first time somebody has escaped from the courthouse.

On June 3, 2011, serial escapee Aaron Forden escaped from Whangarei Courthouse when he used brute force to remove a bar from the grille separating his area from where his lawyers had been sitting in an interview room and escaped.

Forden's previous escapes had earned him the nickname Houdini. Forden escaped from Mt Eden Prison in 2008 by crawling through roof cavities to a tower and using a rope of knotted sheets to lower himself over barbed wire. He also became the first inmate to escape from the then new $218 million Mt Eden Corrections Facility in 2010.