KEY POINTS

  • The 64-year-old used a hacksaw blade and bolt cutters to escape an Australian prison back in 1992
  • He spent the past 29 years working as a laborer and doing cash-in-hand jobs on Sydney's Northern Beaches
  • The pandemic stopped the cash-in-hand jobs, leaving him homeless

A 64-year-old prison escapee in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, who has been on the run for nearly 30 years has surrendered to police.

Darko Desic handed himself in to authorities Sunday after the COVID-19 pandemic left him homeless, local media outlet 7News.com.au reported.

The Yugoslavian-born man was 13 months into a three-and-a-half-year sentence for cannabis cultivation when he broke out of the Grafton Correctional Center on the night of Aug. 1, 1992, with the use of a hacksaw blade and bolt cutters, according to the outlet.

Desic spent the past 29 years living and working as a laborer doing cash-in-hand jobs on Sydney's Northern Beaches, the Daily Telegraph reported.

"He said he’s been living in Avalon, just doing laboring and odd jobs for cash for almost three decades," a police source was quoted as saying by the outlet. "He's been completely law-abiding, never come under attention, never been spoken to."

Additionally, the source also quoted Desic as saying that he "never caused anyone any trouble," so no one ever suspected him.

The pandemic, however, halted the jobs he did to earn money.

"[COVID-19] stopped all the cash work," the police source said. "[Desic had] become homeless over the past couple of weeks and he slept on the beach on Saturday night and said, 'Stuff it, I'll go back to prison where there's a roof over my head.'"

Desic was charged with escape from lawful custody and appeared before Central Local Court Tuesday, where he was refused bail, a report by Australian broadcaster ABC said. He is due to appear in court again later this month.

Desic claimed he escaped the prison in 1992 because he feared he would be deported back to his home country of Yugoslavia, where he expected to be punished for fleeing without completing compulsory military service, once he served his sentence, police noted.

NSW — Australia's most populous state, with around 8.2 million residents as of December 2020 — recorded 1,259 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and 12 deaths Wednesday. This raised the state's total number of cases to 46,818 and deaths to 254 since the start of the pandemic.

Australia has recorded 78,544 COVID-19 cases and 1,116 deaths thus far, according to data provided by Johns Hopkins University.

barbed-wire-1408454_1920 Representation. Darko Desic, 64, turned himself in to police after spending nearly 30 years on the run from authorities. Photo: Pixabay