A man who escaped Grafton prison in 1992 and evaded capture for almost 30 years on Sydney’s northern beaches will plead guilty, but should not return to prison, his lawyer says.
Darko “Dougie” Desic appeared before Central Local Court on Tuesday morning over videolink from the maximum security men’s prison at Silverwater.
He handed himself into Dee Why police station on September 12 this year, 29 years after he allegedly used a hacksaw blade and bolt cutters to break free from Grafton prison on the night of July 31, 1992.
In the ensuing years, Mr Desic, now 64, worked on Sydney’s northern beaches as a builder but fell on hard times in the Covid-19 pandemic.
His lawyer Paul McGirr said outside court on Tuesday Desic’s unusual life was a clear demonstration of rehabilitation.
“He’s proved over 30 years he hasn’t reoffended, so what’s the purpose of locking him away again?” Mr McGirr said.
The solicitor told Magistrate Robert Williams Desic will plead guilty, but warned sentencing him “won’t be easy” due to the outdated laws.
Mr McGirr told reporters the legislation that applies to Desic was made in 1952 and is “pretty archaic and simple”, tacking on time to the end of a sentence for escapes.
What happens to Desic, Mr Mcgirr added, is “the $64,000 question”.
The solicitor advocate said his plan was to seek clemency for Desic’s original 3.5 year sentence for growing marijuana.
“In essence we’re attempting to put the cart before the horse.”
Mr McGirr said one of the many difficulties was that he couldn’t get a copy of the fact sheet from Desic’s 1991 sentencing.
He is yet to talk to Attorney-General Mark Speakman, but said Desic’s case must be carefully considered, particularly in respect of the issue of rehabilitation.
A GoFundMe has raised nearly $30,000 for Desic, which Mr McGirr, who is acting pro bono, said would “give him a start” when he is released.
“He just says he doesn’t deserve it. I just tell you, he’s a very humble man,” the lawyer said.
“And as I said to him, most people who don’t deserve it do.”
“He’s struggling. He’s handed himself in. He’s just humbled by the fact there’s people out there who want to see him get out so he’s a valued member of the community.
Mr Desic will be sentenced on October 28.