The lawyer representing former Avalon fugitive Darko 'Dougie' Desic will plead for clemency when the prison escapee faces court again later this month.
Almost 30 years ago Desic was convicted for two counts of cultivating a prohibited plant and sent to jail for 3.5 years. But 18 months into his sentence, on the night of August 1, 1992, he allegedly used bolt cutters to break out of Grafton jail.
He lived in Avalon, on Sydney's northern beaches, for most of the time after his escape, before the now 64-year-old gave himself up at Dee Why Police Station earlier this month. Reports are that the Covid-19 pandemic led to his cash work as a labourer and stonemason drying up and he had become homeless.
When news broke that their fellow resident was behind bars, the Avalon and northern beaches community rallied, with more than $25,000 raised and a call put out for legal representation that was answered by McGirr & Associates.
Lawyer Paul McGirr spoke to the Northern Beaches Review after meeting with Desic at Silverwater Jail on Tuesday.
"I've been speaking to him and listening to him and hearing his story, that will come out in the fullness of time. There's reasons for him escaping custody," he said.
"I'll be asking for clemency in relation to the original sentence, and for a substitution of the original sentence."
Rather than ask for the original sentence to be quashed, Mr McGirr said it could be substituted with, for example, an Intensive Correction Order, which is a court sentence of two years or less that is served in the community under the strict supervision of Community Corrections.
Desic said he felt honoured that 'his' northern beaches community was rallying to help him.
"He's very humbled and said 'I don't deserve it'," Mr McGirr said.
Mr McGirr said he doesn't often undertake pro bono work, but felt that Desic deserved his help. He also said that society's understanding of some drugs had changed in the past 30 years.
"He's lived 30 years of a crime free life, so he's certainly showed that he's been rehabilitated," he said.
Peter Higgins initiated the community support, and while he hasn't met Desic, he said the long-term resident deserved "fair representation".
"All I'm doing is giving this guy an opportunity to have good representation and then the facts will come out," he said.
Desic will appear in Central Local Court later this month.