How an outback publican ended 1600km manhunt

A MAN'S 1600km run from the law came to a sudden and soggy stop Saturday morning when his ute became so severely bogged he walked 48km for help.

The astonishing story quietly ended on Saturday when the Dirranbandi man, 21, was found asleep at the Noccundra Hotel, 1600km from his starting point in Singleton, NSW, where he is alleged to have stolen a white Toyota LandCruiser ute last Tuesday.

Police allege the man made it to the Southern Downs before attracting police attention in Stanthorpe last Wednesday, fleeing from a patrolling unit and sparking a manhunt across the region.

Despite aerial support and officers on the ground, the man managed to avoid police until he ignored a road closed sign and drove down the dirt Wally Gate Rd recently hit by almost 100mm of rain at Nockatunganear Thargomindah.

Forced to walk 48km back to the Noccundra Hotel for help, publican Neil Turner was only too happy to oblige the young man which he described as calm and quiet.

After a quick beer, the pair set off to tow the ute.

"I got to talking to him and the only thing that really twigged was him being really evasive about answering my questions," Mr Turner said.

"I called the police with the vehicle rego and it must have sounded alarm bells all around the state.

"The police were in Eulo at the time for Music in the Mulga concert there which is about 300km away. They were apologetic but said they would be there as soon as they could."

Mr Turner gave him a hot meal and a room which is where police found him. The ute is still bogged on Wally Gate Rd.

The man is due to face Charleville Magistrates Court on Tuesday on a raft of charges including drug possession, evade police and failing to stop.


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