Alleged sex offender stowaway found hiding in ship’s aircon
A Sydney man has been arrested over a bizarre attempt to allegedly flee the country after being rescued from a yacht and hiding in the airconditioning vent of a bulk carrier.
Franco Fernando Alomia Santander, 31, from Peakhurst was allegedly in breach of his bail over an alleged sexual assault when he was arrested on Monday after his elaborate escape came to an end.
NSW Police said Mr Santander had been rescued from his stricken yacht off Yamba on the state's north coast on Saturday by crew from a bulk carrier heading to Newcastle.
Chief Inspector Joe McNulty said the yacht had set off a series of distress calls of the coast, the ship responded and recovered the man.
The ship attached a tow line to bring the yacht towards the Newcastle offshore anchorage and the man, who had been on-board the yacht, was taken into a cabin on the bulk carrier.
When the ship arrived in Newcastle waters about 9pm, police said the tow line carrying the yacht had snapped, the yacht had been lost.
Chief Inspector McNulty told 2GB the man had raised the ship master's suspicions when he gave different accounts of what had occurred.
When crew went to disembark Mr Santander from the 43,000 tonne ship on Sunday morning, he was missing.
Officers from the Marine Area Command began an extensive search of the ship and surrounding waters but couldn't find him.
On Monday, NSW Police and Australian Border Force officers boarded the ship and searched it with the help of the dog squad.
Mr Santander was found "well secreted" inside the 230-metre ship's airconditioning duct.
During a search of the man, police allege they found and seized $4435 cash and a knife.
He was taken to Newcastle Police Station, where he was charged with breach of bail.
Police will allege in court that Mr Santander had deliberately cut the tow line and planned to hide on-board the ship until it was due to depart Newcastle for Malaysia.
He appeared before Newcastle Local Court on Monday where he was formally refused bail to appear before Sutherland Local Court today.
Originally published as Alleged sex offender stowaway found hiding in ship's aircon