News State NSW News Stowaway accused of trying to flee Australia in ship air-conditioning vent

Stowaway accused of trying to flee Australia in ship air-conditioning vent

stowaway ship nsw
The bulk carrier rescued the man, but he allegedly disappeared while on board. Photo: ABC
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A Sydney man on bail has been accused of going to extraordinary lengths to flee Australia, allegedly sailing abroad on his yacht, before hiding on a ship bound for Malaysia.

Police allege Franco Santander was attempting to leave the country on a yacht on Saturday, when he got into trouble near Yamba, on the NSW North Coast, and was rescued by a passing ship.

The 31-year-old Peakhurst man was taken on board the bulk carrier and a tow line was attached to the yacht to take it to Newcastle.

But on Saturday night, police said the tow line had snapped, the yacht was missing, and so was Mr Santander, who had been charged over the alleged rape of a woman at Beverly Hills, in Sydney’s south, in April.

An extensive marine search operation was launched on Saturday night and Sunday.

stowaway nsw
Officials say the man was found hiding in this air-conditioning vent on board the ship. Photo: Australian Border Force

On Monday, when the ship arrived in Newcastle, Australian Border Force conducted a searched the vessel with the dog squad and police allege Mr Santander was found hiding in an air-conditioning vent.

Police said he was carrying more than $4000 in cash, and a knife, which will be examined forensically.

Police allege Mr Santander deliberately cut the tow line and planned to hide on the ship until it was due to depart Newcastle for Malaysia.

He was arrested and taken to Newcastle Police Station where he was charged with breaching bail.

Mr Santander’s matter was heard and adjourned in Sutherland Local Court on Wednesday, but he did not appear.