A 21-year-old man being held in the Whanganui Court cells had a brief spell of freedom late yesterday before being recaptured.

The prisoner managed to damage the cell door to free himself into the cell block area.

He then assaulted a police constable who was in the cell block area before escaping.

Whanganui Police caught the man a short distance from the court,and returned him to custody.

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The constable assaulted in the incident is recuperating at home and is expected to be back at work within a few days.