A Kiwi prisoner is reportedly the mastermind behind an attempted breakout on the weekend at a Melbourne jail.

Three of Australia's most violent criminals - including the New Zealand man - were caught after removing bricks in a cell at the maximum-security Port Phillip Prison in west Melbourne, Daily Mail Australia reported.

According to reports, the prisoners had tried to escape by digging their way out of with spoons and forks. They had scraped away the mortar with cutlery and other makeshift tools.

Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in the prison movie Shawshank Redemption. Photo / File
Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman in the prison movie Shawshank Redemption. Photo / File

In an attempt to fool the guards, the inmates put bricks back into the wall and stuffed tissue around them in the hope authorities wouldn't notice the mortar was missing.

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But before the trio were able to break free, they were caught and the jail was placed on lockdown.

"It's a bit of a Shawshank Redemption job," a source told the Herald Sun, referencing the 1994 film starring Tim Robbins where the inmate character he plays escapes from Shawshank State Penitentiary.

The three men involved in the plot were transferred to maximum security Barwon Prison.

The Herald Sun reported the mastermind is from New Zealand and will be deported once his sentence has finished.

"A prisoner's plan to escape from the privately operated Port Philip ­Prison was thwarted through prison intelligence," an Australia Department of Justice spokesman said.

"Prison officers initially uncovered the plan and stringent security measures were immediately put in place on ­Saturday afternoon to secure the facility.

"Corrections Victoria will work with police to assist them with their ongoing investigation."