Prison escapee who hid in Sydney’s Northern Beaches for 29 years released from jail, faces deportation
A prison escapee who hid in Sydney’s Northern Beaches for 29 years was released from the John Morony Correctional Complex today as the community fights to keep him from being deported.
Darko Desic escaped from Grafton jail in 1992 after being convicted of cannabis cultivation two years earlier and only last year turned himself in to police.
Desic served the final 19 months from his original 44-month sentence and an extra two months for breaking out but he’s not yet a free man.
The 64-year-old said he escaped 30 years ago after being desperate to avoid being sent back to war-torn Yugoslavia, a country that no longer exists.
Desic worked as a handyman in Avalon and made friends with members of the local community during his decades in hiding, and they’re now coming out to support him in his immigration battle.
Stonemason Scott Matthewson worked with Desic and described him as a “good fella”.
“A very quiet man, almost lived a hermit type life … he just survived, he was just a survivor,” Matthewson said.
“It’s not a big charge these days … if he got done today with it he’d probably get a fine.”
The community has raised $30,000 so far to help save Desic from being deported.
“I can support him in a job and some accommodation and get him on his feet and there’s a whole heap of others who will do exactly the same thing,” Matthewson said.
“This is his home, he’s got money, he’s not going to be a demand on the taxpayer’s dollar.”
Desic is currently in immigration detention ahead of being deported to Croatia.
Pro-bono lawyer Paul McGirr is appealing to the immigration minister to grant the “valued community member” permission to stay.
“That’s what the law is about, it’s not one size fits all because everyone has a story … and Darko’s is an exceptional and fascinating story,” McGirr said.
“Certainly I knew this day would come … it’s a new fight, but we will fight and do our best for him.”