ABF patrol boat apprehends fleeing criminal

Joint ABF/NT Police Media Release:The Australian Border Force (ABF) patrol boat Cape St George has apprehended a criminal from New South Wales who was allegedly trying to flee Australia aboard a yacht.

In response to a request for assistance from the Northern Territory Police to help locate the yacht One Too Many, a Maritime Border Command (MBC) Dash-8 surveillance aircraft located the 7.2 metre vessel on Tuesday (10 December) approximately 110 nautical miles north-north-east of Darwin.

The Cape St George was then tasked to intercept, board and detain the yacht as well as the sole crewmember, a 52 year old man from Nambucca Heads, under the Maritime Powers Act.

The vessel was moving slowly north, towards the edge of Australian Territorial Waters, effectively towards Asia.

As well as being wanted in Darwin for questioning over the yacht, the man had an outstanding NSW revocation of parole warrant for domestic related assault offences, fraud offences and breach of an order.

The crew of the Cape St George located and intercepted the yacht around 06.00 am (CST) on Thursday, 12 December.

The yacht had been at sea for approximately a week and the man had run out of food supplies.

The Cape St George, with the yacht under tow, then sailed for Melville Island where the man was handed over to NT Police.

He was returned to Darwin yesterday morning (Friday) and remanded in custody pending an application for extradition by Detectives from NSW Police in the Darwin Magistrates Court early next week.

The man was originally reported to NT Police after entering into a civil agreement to purchase a small trailer sailing yacht from a local man in Darwin.

The man was provided the vessel prior to payment being received by its owner and then stopped answering calls from the vessel owner.

The owner reported the matter to NT Water Police Section (WPS) on Friday 6 December 2019. The matter was reported as an overdue party. The owner was concerned that man had launched the vessel and had not returned.

When a search of the Darwin Harbour failed to locate the yacht, WPS raised concerns for the man’s welfare with the Rescue Co-ordination Centre (RCC) and Australian Border Force.

NT Police Sergeant Andrew Hocking said “It should be noted that significant support has been provided to the NT Police, specifically Water Police, by Australian Border Force. This has enabled the apprehension of a significant offender with a history of violence and child sex offences who was trying leave Australia unreported.”

The original vessel owner has provided his trailer to WPS to assist in recovery and return of his vessel and does not wish to pursue any formal complaint in relation to its use.

Commander of MBC, Rear Admiral Lee Goddard, CSC RAN, said the interception of the yacht by the Cape St George demonstrated the versatile role the ABF played in providing maritime security in Australian waters.

“While our primary tasking is patrolling coastal waters for illegal fishing boats, border threats and other illegal activity, we also have the capability to assist our Commonwealth, State and Territory law enforcement partners when they require an offshore response,” Rear Admiral Goddard said.

“Not only did we intercept a criminal allegedly trying to flee the country, we potentially saved that man’s life as he was not equipped properly for an extended sail in open water.”

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