A courthouse prisoner made brief bid for freedom yesterday, assaulting a police officer as he escaped, police say.

Whanganui police district area commander, Inspector Sue O'Neil, said the 21-year-old man was being held in the Whanganui District Court cells when he escaped late yesterday afternoon after damaging a cell door.

"He has then rushed the constable situated in the cell block area, assaulting the officer before escaping from the building."

The man was caught by police a short distance from the court, and returned to custody, she said.

Advertisement

The assaulted officer is recuperating at home and expected to return to work within a few days.