News Crime Fugitive hands himself in after 30 years on the run

Fugitive hands himself in after 30 years on the run

64-year-old Darko Desic has handed himself in, 30 years after breaking out of a NSW prison. Photo: Getty
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Most fugitives don’t last weeks, days or even hours after escaping from prison.

Try 30 years on the run.

A New South Wales man has astonished authorities after surrendering to police almost 30 years after breaking out of Grafton Correctional Centre.

Then-35-year-old Yugoslavian-born Darko Desic was serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence for cannabis cultivation.

darko desic
Mr Desic fled from Grafton’s jail in 1992 – and has been living on Sydney’s northern beaches. Photo: Supplied

In 1992, just 13 months into his sentence, Mr Desic pulled a Shawshank Redemption-like manoeuvre and used a hacksaw blade and bolt cutters to escape the prison without a trace.

Instead of serving the remaining 29 months of his sentence, Mr Desic spent the next 30 years of his life on the run, leaving police clueless to his whereabouts.

Despite being a wanted man, Mr Desic lived a relatively peaceful life as a labourer on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, making a living on cash-in-hand jobs.

But it seems that income was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and NSW’s ongoing lockdown.

Hard restrictions are in place for construction work and renovations across NSW due to its coronavirus outbreak, meaning Mr Desic lost his income and his home.

His extraordinary 30 years on the run came to an end last Sunday, Mr Desic surrendered to police.


Upon his surrender, Mr Desic told police he feared he would be deported to Yugoslavia after finishing his prison sentence. There he expected more punishment for fleeing the country without completing compulsory military service.

Mr Desic has since been charged with escaping from lawful custody.

He appeared at Central Local Court on Tuesday, where he was refused bail.

Mr Desic will reappear at court on September 28.