Manhunt in Ararat

The police airwing helicopter hovers over Green Hill Lake during the search for Andrew Darling, who left Corella Place early on Sunday morning. Picture: PETER PICKERING

The police airwing helicopter hovers over Green Hill Lake during the search for Andrew Darling, who left Corella Place early on Sunday morning. Picture: PETER PICKERING

THE Ararat region was once again plunged into a heightened sense of fear and insecurity at the weekend when 42-year-old, Andrew Darling fled Corella Place in the dead of night.

The notorious child sex offender was last detected at the correctional facility on Warrak Road shortly after 2.30am Sunday morning.

He triggered an alarm after cutting off his electronic tracking bracelet.

Despite extensive searches of the local area, Darling, who has bush survival skills and is known to frequent licensed venues had been on the run for almost 36 hours when The Ararat Advertiser went to print yesterday.

Police released a new photo of him as part of the statewide hunt to track him down.

They have urged rural landowners in the Ararat area to remain vigilant around sheds and outhouses on their properties and to report anything suspicious to police. Also any residents who notice stolen food or clothing should contact police.

Darling's breach isn't the first involving the Corella Place facility since it was opened eight years ago, and is the third in 12 months. Fellow resident Sean Carmody-Coyle was arrested at a bus stop in Ararat in March after more than 30 hours on the run.

The fact public safety has again been compromised by an absconding resident has raised the level of anxiety among the community.

It is the second time in five years Darling has breached his parole conditions.

The first occurred in 2009 when he left Victoria a day after his release from prison. He was arrested almost two weeks later in Queensland.

Darling was released on parole from Port Phillip Prison on May 20, 2009, after serving a nine-year sentence for the rape of a 13-year-old girl.

He assaulted the girl in her bed after breaking into her family's home to commit a burglary.

Darling is described as fair-skinned, about 176 centimetres tall with a medium build, blue eyes, and light-coloured close cropped hair. It isn't known what he was last seen wearing, but he is known to wear camouflage clothing. He also has both ears pierced, and tattoos on his right lower leg, back and arms.

Members of the public are warned to stay away from Darling and to phone Triple Zero (000) if he is sighted.

Fugitive Task Force detectives continue to be assisted by local police in the search for him.

A Department of Justice spokesperson said Corrections Victoria is supporting police to locate the resident.

"Police are still searching for a 42-year-old Corella Place resident who breached his court-ordered curfew and left the facility unaccompanied early Sunday morning," the spokesperson said.

"Police were immediately notified after the resident's electronic monitoring bracelet alerted staff that he had left the facility on Sunday."

The spokesperson maintained security at the facility where Darling is one of up to 40 residents housed is of the highest standard.

"Residents at Corella Place are members of the community, not prisoners, who are subject to onerous conditions set by the court, including not leaving Corella Place on their own.

"They are subject to the highest level of supervision and the toughest restrictions available outside jail.

"Electronic monitoring alerts staff if a resident leaves the facility unaccompanied, as it did on this occasion."

The sex offenders, including rapists, housed at Corella Place have completed their prison sentences but are considered unacceptable risks to the community.

Residents are members of the community subject to onerous conditions set by the court, including not leaving the facility on their own. They have a curfew but are taken on escorted day trips.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop