Child sex offender has been extradited from the Northern Territory
, after he was caught trying to flee Australia in a missing sailboat.
Authorities began searching for Neil Hawkins, aged 52, after he negotiated to buy the boat "One Too Many" from a Darwin man, who handed it over before receiving payment.
The man realized he may never see the boat again, after Mr Hawkins stopped taking his calls, and contacted NT Police.
"He was worried about his yacht disappearing but, secondly, he was unsure of whether the man could sail or not," said Sergeant Andrew Hocking from the Water Police Section.
CCTV footage from boat ramps in Darwin revealed the yacht had been launched from Dinah Beach, where the man's car and the trailer were found.
After an initial search of Darwin Harbour, the missing yacht was reporting to the rescue coordination centre in Canberra.
It was then discovered the 52-year-old had an outstanding revocation of parole warrant in New South Wales relating to fraud and domestic violence offences, as well as a history of child sex offences.
"(We) realised he was probably making an effort to get out of the country," said Sgt Hocking.
"He had a two-and-a-half-year sentence of imprisonment imposed the month before and that sentence had been suspended on an intensive corrections order in New South Wales.
"It looked like he complied with that order for about three weeks before he disappeared."
On Tuesday December 10, an Australian Border Force surveillance aircraft spotted the 7.2 metre vessel approximately 110 nautical miles north-north-east of Darwin, where it was slowly moving north towards international waters.
Two days later, the boat was intercepted by ABF patrol boat Cape St George and towed to Melville Island, where Mr Hawkins was handed over to NT Police.
"We were advised by corrections that he was a competent sailor, but it wasn't until Thursday morning we came to realise he was in a very poor state of health," said Sgt Hocking.
"He hadn't eaten much, if at all, for the seven days he'd been at sea and he was running very low on water.
"It's highly likely that within a week of that apprehension date, he probably would have perished in that boat."
Mr Hawkins told police he was trying to head to the Philippines to see a girlfriend but knew he would never make it.
The owner of yacht One Too Many decided not to press charges.
The 52-year-old was expected to be taken straight to a correctional facility to serve-out his suspended sentence upon return to NSW.
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Source : 9 News Australia