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Australian fugitive surrenders to police after 30 years


A 64-year-old fugitive walked into a Sydney police station to give himself up, almost 30 years after he used a hacksaw blade and bolt cutters to escape from prison, police said on Wednesday.

Darko Desic decided to go back to prison because Sydney’s COVID-19 lockdown made him unemployed and homeless, reports said.

Mr. Desic surrendered at Dee Why Police Station in Sydney’s fashionable northern beaches on Sunday morning, and was denied bail when he appeared in a downtown court on Tuesday, charged with escaping from lawful custody in 1992, a police statement said. The charge carries a potential seven-year prison sentence.

Sydney’s lockdown, which began in June, had cost Mr. Desic his cash-in-hand work as a labourer and handyman, police sources said.

“He slept on the beach on Saturday night and said: ‘Stuff it, I’ll go back to prison where there’s a roof over my head,’” a source said.

Mr. Desic was 35 when he escaped from a century-old prison in Grafton, 620 kilometers (390 miles) north of Sydney, over the night of July 31-Aug. 1, 1992.

Police allege he used tools including a hacksaw blade and bolt cutters to cut through his cell window bars and a perimeter fence.

He had served 13 months of a three-and-a-half-year sentence for growing marijuana.

Born in the former Yugoslavia, Mr. Desic told police he escaped because he thought he would be deported once he had served his sentence, the newspaper reported. He feared he would be punished for failing to do his compulsory military service in his former country, which has since broken into several nations.

It’s not immediately clear as to which country he could be deported. He is not an Australian citizen. The immigration officials gave up looking for him and in 2008 granted him residency in Australia.

He told police that he had spent his entire time on Sydney’s northern beaches in the suburb of Avalon, and according to reports, had never come to the attention of police in that time.



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