Former fugitive Darko Desic’s long-lost relative comes forward
The family of a man who allegedly escaped from a NSW prison three decades ago say the former fugitive should be given a second chance.
Darko Desic recently handed himself into police after spending almost 30 years living a quiet, double life on Sydney’s northern beaches.
Desic, then 35, had served a little more than a year of his three and a half year sentence when he allegedly escaped Grafton Gaol on the north coast, by using a hacksaw blade and bolt cutters, in the early hours of August 1, 1992.
Yugoslavian-born Desic had initially been charged with two counts of cultivating marijuana.
Now, his long-lost cousin Anthony Desic, who was born the year after Desic’s alleged escape, has come forward to offer his support.
“I thought that he was back in Croatia and we’d never heard from him again,” he told A Current Affair on Tuesday.
“But to see him on the news and this whole time he’s been down in Sydney, down at Avalon, it’s just ... it’s crazy.”
64-year-old Desic had been living in a home in Avalon but struggled to pay rent and was eventually evicted after Covid-19 saw him lose his cash-in-hand construction work.
Known to locals as ‘Dougie’, Desic is believed to have been homeless and sleeping on the beach until he decided to turn himself in on September 12.
He has been charged with escaping from lawful custody and is currently in Sydney’s Silverwater prison.
Anthony - whose father Nikola was Desic’s uncle - said he didn’t know his cousin was in Australia until he saw him in news reports earlier this month.
“No matter how lonely you feel right now, you have someone out there that cares about you and that’s willing to meet up with you and catch up with you and willing to give you a new chance at life,” Anthony said in a message to Desic on Channel 9.
Other Sydney residents have rallied around Desic and are calling on police to “Free Dougie”.
Avalon local Belle Higgins set up a GoFundMe fundraiser dedicated to helping Desic rebuild his life, which has raised almost $26,000 in less than a week.
“I am raising money for a man who deserves your help. Although I have never met him I believe everyone deserves a second chance,” Ms Higgins wrote.
“Remember he has been in our community for thirty years and ended up homeless on our beach at Avalon. Never did he hurt anybody. He is in a jail now.”
Desic was formally refused bail in Central Local Court on September 14 and will reappear on September 28.
Originally published as Former fugitive Darko Desic’s long-lost relative comes forward
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