UK national David James Jackson, 57, arrives in Cairns yesterday for a hearing on his extradition to WA on drug trafficking charges. Picture: Stewart McLean
UK national David James Jackson, 57, arrives in Cairns yesterday for a hearing on his extradition to WA on drug trafficking charges. Picture: Stewart McLean

Jet-ski fugitive left a farewell note

WANNABE jet-ski escapee David Jackson left a handwritten note in his Subaru Outback abandoned on the beach at the tip of Cape York.

"If I'm not back by Wednesday, I'm not dead,'' it said.

"But I'm not coming back."

The Brit fugitive, armed with a crossbow and wanted on serious drug charges in Western Australia, was nabbed in the Torres Strait on Monday trying to flee Australia on a jet ski.

The 57-year-old is understood to have made the 150km sea journey to Papua New Guinea but had to turn back to Saibai Island, 5km off the PNG coast, to buy more fuel when he was caught by police.

His action-movie-style escape began when he drove his car into the ocean and unloaded a Sea-Doo jet-ski - packed with fuel and supplies - at remote Punsand Bay on Monday about 7am.

"He was just gonna leave his car in the water, and make a dash for it,'' eyewitnesses exclusively told The Courier-Mail.

"He stuck out like dog's balls. He was suspicious from the get-go."

 

David James Jackson (left in grey) at Punsand Bay allegedly tried to flee Australia via Cape York on a jet ski.
David James Jackson (left in grey) at Punsand Bay allegedly tried to flee Australia via Cape York on a jet ski.

 

Jackson had been spotted in Bamaga trying to buy a compass and a map of the Torres Strait in the days before his foiled bid for freedom.

"When he jumped on his jet-ski he just took off, flat out,'' a witness, who asked not to be named, said.

"It was a dead calm day and he was fairly whistling."

It is understood Jackson made the 50km journey to St Paul's community on Moa Island in an hour-and-a-half.

He then refuelled for the final 100km dash through the coral reef-filled waters of the Torres Strait to the PNG coastline, where he had to refuel again at Saibai Island.

Jackson had been on the run for a month after pleading guilty to possessing meth for sale or supply with an active arrest warrant issued in WA on February 26.

Queensland police, Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force chased him down and apprehended him on mud flats on the east side of Saibai Island.

ABF Northern Commander Jo Crooks said: "Anyone who thinks they can either enter or leave Australia through the region without detection should think again."

 

Jackson is detained by Border Force officers yesterday.
Jackson is detained by Border Force officers yesterday.

 

A federal police spokesman added: "This arrest sends a strong message to would-be fugitives - our reach across Australia is second to none.''

A Cape York man called police earlier this month after Jackson told him he'd only be needing a one-way ticket for the Jardine River ferry.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said Jackson told him he was from WA, had never been to Queensland and had bought the car and jet-ski in Cairns.

He said he took him fishing during his two-day stay at the campsite, but they didn't catch anything.

"He asked how far it was to the tip (of) Cape York and I said the road was shut and the ferry was like $120 for the return trip and he said he only needed one way," he said.

"I said has he got a job there and he said no.

"So that rang alarm bells in my head so we got his number plate checked and it came up clear by local police so I thought this is a man that either is running or just had enough and was going to commit suicide when he ran out of money."

He said Jackson was "nice enough" and had ordered a GoPro which he got sent to Coen post office, said "see you later" and left.

Jackson, was flown to Cairns from Horn Island yesterday with a police escort.

He is due to face the Cairns Magistrates Court on Friday, when WA police are expected to apply for his extradition.