Border Force Nab Sex Offender Trying To Flee Australia In Stolen Yacht
Australian Border Force officers have caught a convicted sex offender who allegedly tried to flee the country in a stolen yacht, planning to visit his girlfriend in the Philippines.
Neil Lesley Hawkins, 52, was spotted off the coast of the Northern Territory last Thursday.
"The vessel was moving slowly north, towards the edge of Australian Territorial Waters, effectively towards Asia," ABF said in a statement.
The yacht had already been at sea for at least a week and Hawkins had run out of food.
According to the ABC, the offender was on his way to the Philippines to see his girlfriend when he was intercepted but didn't get far thanks to the unusually calm conditions.
The owner of the vessel raised the alarm when a man who agreed to buy the vessel never returned to pay the cash.
A search of the Darwin Harbour failed to find the yacht and Border Force launched an investigation due to concerns for the skipper's welfare.
Within days he was found floating north of the Cobourg Peninsula.
Hawkins is wanted on a warrant in NSW for breaching a suspended sentence for fraud and domestic violence offences and is expected to be extradited to Sydney on Tuesday. NT Police confirmed to the ABC the yacht's owner will not press charges.
“It should be noted significant support has been provided to the NT Police, specifically Water Police, by Australian Border Force," NT Police Sergeant Andrew Hocking said.
"This has enabled the apprehension of a significant offender with a history of violence and child sex offences who was trying to leave Australia unreported".
Rear Admiral Lee Goddard, commander of the Maritime Border Command admitted without the heads up, Hawkins' fate could have been different.
“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," he said.