By Marnie O'Neill
A man who spent several months inside Bali's Kerobokan jail with Shaun Davidson before his daring escape with three other prisoners last week has given a fascinating insight into life behind bars with the Australian.
Davidson, Malaysian fellow drug offender Tee Kok King, Bulgarian ATM skimmer Dimitar Nikolon Iliev and Indian drug trafficker Sayed Muhammad Said tunnelled their way out of the infamous prison on June 19.
Iliev and Said were recaptured last Thursday after they were found living it up at the four-and-a-half star Novo Turismo Resort in Dili, East Timor. Davidson and Tee have so far managed to elude authorities and remain on the run.
Now a man who served time with all four prisoners has told how their strong personalities set them apart from other inmates.
"They had charisma and they had balls," the man, who was released from Kerobokan earlier this year and requested his name be withheld, told news.com.au.
"I can't think of anyone else I knew in there who would have had the balls (to pull off the escape). They knew how to talk with the guards, they were colourful characters, funny but tough, especially Shaun.
"He was one of the toughest guys in the jail. He was treated with a lot of respect. He's funny, he's upfront and he calls it as he sees it and he's got a lot of respect for others."
The man said Davidson's popularity extended beyond the prison walls.
"He had a lot of visitors, a lot of people came to see him, a lot of Indonesian girls. He was pretty popular with the ladies," he said.
"He was always sending out SOS calls for food and people would always be bringing him things. I didn't ask too many questions about who this person or that person was who came to see him because it's not something you do. You wait for (fellow prisoners) to tell you, you don't ask too much."
The man said he "got a big smile" on his face when he heard the news that the four had pulled off a brazen escape from the notorious prison by tunnelling their way to freedom.
He said the subject of breaking out had come up many times in conversation between himself, Iliev, Davidson and Tee, who was nicknamed "Apollo" in Kerobokan.
"We called him Apollo because that's how his name sounded when he said it," the man recalled. "Apollo was pretty disgruntled at the seven-and-a half year sentence he got for being caught with such a small amount of shabu (ice), I mean he was a user, not a trafficker, and he was pretty upset because (authorities) wanted $150,000 (in exchange for a reduced sentence) and he didn't have the money.
"So he was very upset and he said to me: 'what am I going to do?' and I said as a joke: 'start digging'. So when I heard they'd dug their way out I just got this big smile on my face.
"I was very close to Dimitar the Bulgarian. I knew the escape was going down, at some point. "As soon as Dimitia got sentenced he said: "F**k, seven years for seven grand (skimmed from ATMs). F**k that, I'm not going to be here that long."
Ironically Davidson - who has been labelled by jail authorities as "the brain" behind the break out - appeared the most laid back about his situation.
"Shaun said to me: 'What will they do if I don't want to leave?'" the man told news.com.au.
"He had a pretty good set up in there. On one hand he kept to himself a lot. He had his own space, he liked to hang out in his bunk and listen to music.
"But he's also a pretty flamboyant kind of guy, he likes the limelight. He made a lot of connections because he's a good guy."
The man said he was able to get on the prison's cooking school program and regularly served up his creations to Davidson.
"I used to cook Shaun dinner every night. Towards the end Apollo was spending a lot of time with Shaun and you know, it's easier to cook for two or three people than just one person.
"I would drop off his dinner every night and he would flick me a few dollars. I made things like chicken stir fry, and pasta or sometimes I'd do chilli con carne and we had a rice cooker and a (portable stove) that one of the other prisoners would lend us.
"Towards the end we were eating really well. I was doing mashed potato and people would send in roast chickens and hams and I had a bikie mate who used to bring me steaks all the time."
The former prisoner said that because prisoners had no access to refrigeration to keep the meat fresh, he would cook up the steaks all at once and give them to prisoners who didn't have the contacts or the money to have food delivered.
"I used to give away a lot of food to the prisoners who were a long way from home, like the Russians - they never had any money - and in return they would do my washing."
The man said he did not believe that an international crime syndicate helped Davidson and the others orchestrate their daring escape.
"Shaun didn't really have those kind of connections," the man said.
"I think it's more likely they were helped by someone Shaun knew who was on holiday in Bali. Or it might not be Shaun's connection at all.
"I have no idea where he is right now but I like to think that he's kicking back somewhere in Jakarta or Sumatra, you know, drinking cocktails."