A man who handed himself in to police 30 years after breaking out of a NSW prison has gained support online, with a GoFundMe page having raised thousands of dollars in support.
Darko Desic, 64, surrendered to police on Sunday after an extraordinary 29 years as a wanted man.
Mr Desic broke out of Grafton’s prison in 1992, 13 months into his three-and-a-half-year sentence for cannabis cultivation.
Yugoslavian-born Mr Desic left police scratching their heads as to his whereabouts for almost three decades.
He told police upon his surrender that he had been picking up cash-in-hand construction jobs across Sydney’s Northern Beaches – until the pandemic struck.
Mr Desic was left without a roof over his head, and decided it was time to put an end to his time on the run.
Mr Desic also told police he escaped Grafton’s old jail because he feared he would be deported to Yugoslavia after completing his sentence. Back in Europe, he expected a more severe punishment for fleeing the country without completing compulsory military service.
Officials gave up on finding Mr Desic in 2008, granting him residency – unbeknown to him.
Although Mr Desic now has no need to worry about returning to Yugoslavia, he faces new charges for escaping lawful custody.
His story has attracted support from all part of the internet, with a GoFundMe campaign having raised more than $14,000 for the former fugitive.
The campaign organiser wrote that they aim to raise $30,000 to fund a lawyer for Mr Desic to get him out of jail, and provide him with support following his hopeful release.
The fundraiser asked the community to rally behind Mr Desic, calling him a “decent fellow”.
“He has been in our community for thirty years and ended up homeless on our beach at Avalon. Never did he hurt anybody.”
Support has come from far and wide, with one donor saying the story reached them all the way from Europe.
“I hope you will get the second chance you deserve,” they said.
One other donor said they hoped Mr Desic would find purpose following a hopeful release.
“It sounds like you’ve had a tough time for many, many years. I hope from here on will be better for you and you’ll thrive with support from those who care.”
Another simply said “this fella deserves a break”.
He was refused bail upon his appearance at Central Local Court on Tuesday, and will reappear at court on September 28.