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Why lockdown made a prison escapee turn himself in after three DECADES on the run

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An escaped convict who has been on the run for 29 years has turned himself in to police – and it’s all because of Sydney’s lockdown.

Darko Desic, 64, escaped from Grafton prison in 1992 and fled to Avalon on the city’s affluent northern beaches, where he escaped detection for decades.

But his cash job as a handyman for local wealthy families dried up as Sydney was shut down to fight a Covid outbreak.

After losing his home and being forced to sleep on the beach, he decided he would be better off in prison, so he ended his three decades on the run and turned himself in, the Daily Telegram reported.

Darko Desic, 64, (pictured) escaped from Grafton prison in 1992 and fled to Avalon on the city’s affluent northern beaches, where he escaped detection for decades

Lockdown has put an end to a fugitive's incredible 29 years on the run since he escaped prison and lived free under the radar on Sydney's northern beaches (pictured)

Lockdown has put an end to a fugitive’s incredible 29 years on the run since he escaped prison and lived free under the radar on Sydney’s northern beaches (pictured)

He slept on the beach Saturday night and said, ‘Stop it, I’m going back to jail with a roof over my head,’ a police source revealed.

Born in ancient Yugoslavia, Desic was jailed for three years and eight months in 1991 after being caught growing cannabis, but was literally released from prison after just 13 months.

In the middle of the night on August 1, 1992, he used a metal hacksaw to cut through the bars of the windows of his prison cell and squeeze out into the prison courtyard.

He then broke into a workshop and grabbed some bolt cutters to get through the prison gate to freedom.

On Sunday, Darko Desic went to Dee Why's police station (pictured) and turned himself in, putting an end to decades of deception

On Sunday, Darko Desic went to Dee Why’s police station (pictured) and turned himself in, putting an end to decades of deception

Darko Desic used a metal hacksaw to cut through the bars of his cell windows in Grafton Prison (pictured) before stealing bolt cutters from a shed to get through the fence to freedom

Darko Desic used a metal hacksaw to cut through the bars of his cell windows in Grafton Prison (pictured) before stealing bolt cutters from a shed to get through the fence to freedom

Desic’s motivation was his fear that he would be deported at the end of his prison sentence, fearing punishment if he was sent back to his homeland, which was at the time crumbling into civil war.

Desic had previously fled to Australia to avoid military service and fighting in the war.

Since escaping from prison, Desic has lived and worked as ‘Dougie the Worker’ in the upscale beachside suburb, staying out of trouble and avoiding any confrontation with the police.

He was briefly profiled on Australia’s Most Wanted TV show in 1998 when someone thought they saw him in Nowra, south of Sydney.

He worked cash in hand as a handyman for local wealthy families dried up as the current Covid outbreak left him penniless and living on Avalon Beach (pictured)

He worked cash in hand as a handyman for local wealthy families dried up as the current Covid outbreak left him penniless and living on Avalon Beach (pictured)

Desic lived and worked as 'Dougie the worker' in the upscale beachside suburb (pictured), staying out of trouble and avoiding any confrontation with the police

Desic lived and worked as ‘Dougie the worker’ in the upscale beachside suburb (pictured), staying out of trouble and avoiding any confrontation with the police

But what he didn’t know, his fugitive status ended 20 years after his escape, and even immigration officials gave up on finding him and granted him a residence permit in 2008.

His humble but free life on the idyllic northern beaches came crashing down with the Covid lockdown, when home visits were banned.

On Sunday, penniless Desic went to Dee Why’s police station and turned himself in, hoping to return to at least a bed and normal meals.

He has at least a little over a year and a month to serve his outstanding sentence before he can apply for parole.

Unknown to Desic while living in Avalon (pictured), his fugitive status ended 20 years after his escape, and even immigration officials gave up and granted him residency in 2008

Unknown to Desic while living in Avalon (pictured), his fugitive status ended 20 years after his escape, and even immigration officials gave up and gave him a residency permit in 2008

But he also faces an additional maximum of seven years in prison for escaping from prison in the first place after police charged him with escaping lawful custody.

“He said he had lived in Avalon for nearly three decades and was only doing labor and odd jobs for cash,” the police source said.

“He has complied fully with the law, has never been brought to the attention, has never been spoken to. He told us he never caused anyone any trouble, so no one ever looked at him twice.

“But since Covid stopped all cash work, he’s been homeless in recent weeks.”

Desic appeared on a video link at Central Local Court on Tuesday and will appear in court again on September 28.

Unsurprisingly, he hasn’t filed for bail.

Desic has at least a little over a year and a month to serve his outstanding sentence before he can apply for parole and return to Avalon, seen here during the Covid outbreak last December

Desic has at least a little over a year and a month to serve his outstanding sentence before he can apply for parole and return to Avalon, seen here during the Covid outbreak last December

Desic appeared on a video link at the Central Local Court on Tuesday and will appear in court again on September 28.  He didn't ask for bail.  (Pictured, Avalon Beach during lockdown)

Desic appeared on a video link at the Central Local Court on Tuesday and will appear in court again on September 28. He didn’t ask for bail. (Pictured, Avalon Beach during lockdown)

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