A wanted British man has attempted to flee Australia on a jet ski, traveling almost 150km across the Torres Strait while armed with a crossbow.
The 57-year-old man is subject to an outstanding warrant for drug-related charges in Western Australia.
The man almost made it to Saibai Island, in the Torres Strait islands archipelago, which is part of Australia, though just 4km south of Papua New Guinea (PNG). He was arrested on the mudflats on the eastern side of the island.
Photo: AP / Australian Border Force
Locals alerted police in Bamaga, at the tip of Cape York in far north Queensland, that a man, possibly armed with a crossbow, and carrying additional fuel and supplies, had been seen launching a jet ski at Pundsand Bay.
“He gave it a red-hot go,” Criminal Investigation Branch officer Jock O’Keeffe said.
O’Keeffe confirmed that the man was in possession of a crossbow throughout his journey, but did not have a crossbow with him upon his arrest.
Locals assisted police in tracking the man’s path through the Torres Strait islands, calling in with updates as he passed or landed on their islands.
“It’s a bit unusual to try and get from Pundsand Bay all the way to PNG. He stuck out like the proverbial,” O’Keeffe said.
The Australian Border Force cutter Roebuck Bay was deployed with officers from three agencies on board.
O’Keeffe confirmed that the man was facing “serious drug charges” in Western Australia.
“We wouldn’t have gone to this sort of effort if they weren’t significant charges,” he said.
After his arrest, the man was taken on board and transported to Thursday Island. He is to be extradited from Queensland to Western Australia. The jet ski was towed to Saibai island.
Australian Border Force Commander Jo Crooks said the outcome should be a warning to those who thought they could flee the nation through the Torres Strait.
“Anyone who thinks they can either enter or leave Australia through the region without detection should think again,” Crooks said.
“This arrest sends a strong message to would-be fugitives — our reach across Australia is second to none, and we will use all our contacts and relationships to find you and bring you before a court,” an Australian Federal Police spokesperson said.
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