After nearly 30 years of living as a fugitive in Sydney's northern beaches, a groundswell of community and legal support is forming to help Darko 'Dougie' Desic.
Desic, also known as Dougie, was convicted for two counts of cultivating a prohibited plant and sent to jail for 3.5 years. But on the night of August 1, 1992, he allegedly used bolt cutters to break out of Grafton jail.
The Northern Beaches Review understands Desic feared being deported back to his birth country of Yugoslavia after his sentence was served.
The next time police heard from him was on Sunday night, when the now 64-year-old walked into Dee Why Police Station and gave himself up.
Desic had been living in Avalon for much of the time, but the COVID-19 pandemic had led to his cash work as a labourer drying up. He'd then struggled to pay rent, become homeless and started sleeping on the sand dunes at Avalon Beach.
It's that community that he lived among for almost 30 years that is now coming to his aid.
Long time Avalon resident Peter Higgins is leading the charge, and on Thursday he posted a call to help Desic on the Avalon What's On Facebook page.
Mr Higgins said he has never met Desic, but that the fellow long-term resident of the suburb deserved "fair representation".
"I wouldn't know him if I tripped over him, but if there's an opportunity to help him, why not?" he said. "What I've heard is that this guy was a good-hearted worker who ended up sleeping in the sand dunes."
Since his post, Mr Higgins said there has been an outpouring of support from the community, including from those keen to donate to a GoFundMe page to help Desic that has already received more than $1700 in donations.
Criminal defence lawyer Simon Long, from McGirr & Associates, has also offered his services after being contacted by Mr Higgins.
Mr Higgins along with a group of Avalon residents who were familiar with and keen to support 'Dougie' have approached a number of prominent criminal law firms on his behalf with local Solicitor Simon Long from McGirr & Associates willing to act for him "if instructed".
The Review understands Mr Long will meet with Desic at Silverwater Jail on Tuesday.
A massage therapist who goes by the name of Shell Avalon told the Review she was a neighbour of Desic for three years when they both lived on Barrenjoey Road. She said Desic was "a smallish and wiry man, very quiet and private" and he was always polite and kind.
"He followed a health regime of calisthenics and walking to and from the beach to swim every day, and at one time started up calisthenics classes," she said.
Mr Higgins said "we all know who's who in Avalon" and if Desic had done wrong in the community, then people would know about it.
"I'm not here to be judge and jury, I'm not here to put forward his case. I'm not here trying to say what he did was right or wrong," he said.