An elusive father and son duo has featured heavily in the news over the past week.
Gino and Mark Stocco are two of the most wanted fugitives in the nation at present. They are suspected of number of serious criminal offences, including stealing firearms, burning down farms, killing animals, damaging and destroying property, and various acts of identity fraud.There are nine outstanding warrants for their arrest.
Police hope that the increased media attention will assist members of the public to recognise and report the men to police.
But they are not alone: Police recently released a list of 20 of the Most Wanted People in Australia as part of Operation Roam; a national initiative between Crime Stoppers and state and territory police which aims to gather information from the public to assist in tracking down fugitives.
Counting down five of Australia’s most wanted:
5. Brady Hamilton
47-year-old Brady Hamilton has been on the run for 16 years, after he allegedly bashed a man named Peter Ledger to death in Erskine Park in 1999.
Police say that Hamilton was an inner circle member of the Comanchero motorcycle group. They claim that he was called in by the group’s Supreme Commander to take care of Ledger after there was a disagreement about the swap of a Triumph motorcycle for a Harley-Davidson.
Hamilton is said to have visited Ledger along with two associates, including fellow Comanchero Ian Clissold, brutally bashing him after demanding money and the return of his club colours.
It is believed that the men did not intend to kill Ledger, but simply wanted to ‘teach him a lesson’. However, the bashing went one step too far and Ledger’s body was later found dumped outside a house in Erskine Park.
It is believed that Hamilton fled the state after the incident. Despite police issuing numerous appeals for information about his whereabouts, Hamilton remains on the loose.
4. Warwick McEwen
Warwick McEwen ran a successful chiropractic business in Campbelltown for over two decades before he was charged with 45 counts of child sexual assault which had allegedly been committed at his workplace in the 1980’s.
He had previously spent time in custody for other child sex offences; but in 2006, shortly after his release from prison – and the laying of fresh charges – McEwen decided to take off.
Police were alerted to his disappearance after he failed to appear at Campbelltown court in relation to the new charges.
3. Stuart Pearce
Adelaide man Stuart Pearce is believed to be the most wanted person in South Australia.
He is wanted for his alleged role in the horrific murder of his wife, Meredith, and their three children in 1991.
Police say that Pearce tied his wife to a chair and stuffed a towel into her mouth, before spreading petrol across the floor and lighting a fire that quickly destroyed the family’s Parafield Gardens home.
His three children, aged 11, 9 and 2, were found with plastic bags over their heads. They are believed to have suffocated to death before the fire took hold.
By a stroke of luck, another son, Matthew Pearce, escaped injury as he was sleeping over at a friend’s house on the morning of the incident.
There are a variety of explanations for the heinous alleged incident: some say he was suffering severe financial hardship and wanted a way out. Others believe it had something to do with drugs, as 25 cannabis plants were found in a bunker underneath his home.
There have been no reports of Pearce’s sighting since the incident – and police do not know whether he is still in Australia, or even alive.
2. Michael Davison Tillman
A renowned snooker player, Michael Tillman is wanted by in relation to his alleged involvement in an attempted murder which occurred in Surfers Paradise in 2010.
Police say that Tillman became involved in an altercation with his friend, Troy Kiss, whilst the pair were enjoying a night out with friends.
Tillman allegedly stabbed Kiss 11 times in the neck, chest and back, and was charged with attempted murder and grievous bodily harm as a result. He was released on bail pending his trial, but whilst in the community, Tillman allegedly attacked another man named William Patterson at a pub.
Mr Patterson says that he was confronted by Tillman and three of his friends in 2011. The group threw him to the ground, before Tillman allegedly bit his face – leaving him with a chunk of his cheek and half his nose missing. Tillman then fled the scene.
Although there have been numerous reports of sightings since, police have been unable to track Tillman down.
He had previously served time in prison for the killing of a former friend outside a Sydney hotel in 2003 by gouging his eyes out.
1. Graham Gene Potter
Victoria’s most wanted fugitive, Graham Gene Potter, is also one of the country’s most dangerous.
In 1980, Potter murdered 19-year-old Kim Barry, a shop assistant from Wollongong, after she reportedly refused his sexual advances. In a horrific act of violence, he cut off the young woman’s fingers and head while her brother slept in the next room. On the night of the incident, he was enjoying his bucks night, and had met Ms Barry at a local nightclub.
Ms Barry’s body was found dumped near Jamberoo. It is believed that her bra had been used to tie her wrists and legs together. Her fingers and head were discovered around 1km away in a plastic bag, together with clothing and bedclothes belonging to Potter.
The heinous crime earned Potter the nickname ‘the head and fingers killer.’
Potter spent 16 years in prison for the murder – and incredibly ended up marrying his wife whilst in prison.
He was released from custody in 1996, but went back to prison again in 2008 after being charged with conspiracy to murder and various drug offences.
In a desperate bid to secure his early release, Potter acted as a police informant; giving authorities valuable information about drug importation schemes. His co-operation with police resulted in him being granted bail – but he failed to appear at Melbourne Magistrate’s Court in 2010.
There have been sighting of Potter since – one in 2012 when he was pulled over by police and fled yet again, and another in 2013 when he was seen picking fruit on the NSW and Victoria border.
A $100,000 reward has been offered for information leading to his arrest.