Calling Chris Hemsworth (Your Next Screenplay is Here)
This quirky story is from the news but reads like a screenplay. It’s from a country that is all about quirky – they call their bathing suits Cozzies, their mosquitos Mozzies, and each other Ozzies – a dude named Darko, a new word called “larrikin”, and another country that’s not even there.
I hope you’re intrigued. From the Washington Post:
Thirty years ago, Darko Desic, then 35, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in Australia for growing [cannabis].
He was taken to Grafton Prison, 400 miles north of Sydney. In 1992, he used a hacksaw blade to cut through the bars on his cell window and bolt-cutters to get through the prison fence.
The reason Darko escaped, he says, is because he was a Yugoslavian citizen, and he knew he’d be deported once he got out of prison.
This fear was real: in 1992 the 6 little republics that had been bolted together after WWII were falling into a terrible civil war. Slovenia and Croatia seceded, the Bosnia War started soon after, with ethnic cleansing by the Serbs and ultimately 100,000 dead.
If Darko had been deported he would have been called into military service or quite possibly shot as a deserter. Breaking out of prison looked like a good idea.
THE DEEP DIVE
And it worked! He made a clean getaway and was never captured for 30 years! And you know how they talk about hiding in plain sight? Darko was in Sydney the whole time.
And not just in Sydney, but in the fanciest part of town. For 30 years he lived in the l fashionable northern beach suburbs as a handyman, and because he was tall and strong and handsome gained a reputation as a “larrikin”, which I just learned means “an uncultivated, rowdy but good hearted person". In Australia, that’s also the definition of “drinking buddy.”
Darko lived this way until the pandemic hit last year and Sydney locked down for months. Unable to find work, he became homeless, eventually ending up sleeping on sand dunes, until finally he turned himself in on October 11th – just this month!
Darko the larrikin is 64 now. He’s really wanting to get on with his life, so he pleaded guilty to escaping prison 30 years ago and agreed to serve the remaining 14 months of that sentence. Prosecutors wanted to give him an additional 10 years in prison for escaping.
THE LOOP BACK
He was so popular in his Sydney community that a public fundraising campaign has raised $30,000.
His lawyer argued, "This is a man has had 30 years blemish-free… he's had no Medicare, never seen a doctor… he's had to remove his own teeth … He's had this hanging over his head for all this time — in some sense the sentence has been served." (And the escape had really been about self-preservation).
The judge swooned and only gave him 2 extra months.
The Australian Border Force has vowed to deport him though, even though they don’t know where. His lawyer will be seeking clemency.
" … it's unAustralian to kick someone when they're down," he said. “He's a loved member of the community, he's one of us and we're going to continue to fight for him."
If Chris Hemsworth and Russel Crowe don't fight over this role, I’ll eat my hat.