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Little danger to community in hunt for fugitive

Police have reassured residents in Cobram and surrounding districts there is little danger to them in the hunt for wanted fugitive Graham Gene Potter.

JESSICA GRIMBLE May 16, 2013 5:00pm

Police address media at a press conference this afternoon.


Police have reassured residents in Cobram and surrounding districts there is little danger to them in the hunt for wanted fugitive Graham Gene Potter.

Purana Taskforce detectives overseeing the hunt for Potter have received information he may be staying in the Riverina area.

They have arrived in Cobram and are working with local detectives and uniformed police to speak with people and businesses regarding a number of unconfirmed sightings as recently as six weeks ago.

They believe Potter — who they labelled ‘‘Australia’s most wanted man’’ — could be in Cobram or Tocumwal and working or have worked as a fruit picker or labourer.

‘‘My message would be the community — if we thought he was a concern to them, we would have a lot more police here and we’d be going through everything,’’ Detective Superintendent Gerry Ryan of Purana Taskforce told the Cobram Courier this afternoon.

‘‘Even though he’s got a history of murder, he’s a person that hasn’t come under the notice of police for over three years.

‘‘We know he likes being in small country towns and he befriends the towns and he won’t hurt the local community.’’

Potter, 55, has been on the run since he failed to appear on bail for conspiracy to murder charges at Melbourne Magistrate’s Court on February 1, 2010.

 

Despite a number of sightings in Queensland and several nation-wide public appeals, Potter has managed to evade police capture for more than three years.

Potter is facing criminal charges of conspiracy to murder and is wanted in relation to serious Commonwealth drug charges.

Since Potter failed to appear at Melbourne Magistrate’s Court in February 2010, Victoria Police and the Australian Federal Police have been working closely together and with other state law enforcement agencies to try and determine his location.

Potter was last sighted by local police in Tully, Queensland, south of Cairns and north of Townsville, on August 28 when he ran from a vehicle during a routine police intercept.

An extensive search was carried out and his camping equipment was seized by the Queensland Police Service.

It is believed the 55-year-old was residing in a local caravan park in Tully for about six weeks prior to his detection by police.

Detective Superintendent Ryan said calls to Crime Stoppers and Cobram Police Station this morning had reinforced the sightings in the area.

‘‘We are aware that Mr Potter is capable of living rough and camping out so there is a chance he could be staying in caravan parks or camping in remote areas of the Riverina,’’ Detective Superintendent Ryan said.

‘‘We also believe there is a possibility that local growers or farmers could unknowingly be employing Mr Potter as a labourer or picker.

‘‘We are asking those employers to consider carefully who they are providing lodging to or employing and to make reasonable enquiries about their prospective employee’s identity.’’

Detective Superintendent Ryan said police were aware Potter, while living in Queensland, was in a relationship with a woman and believed that was a possibility in this area.

‘‘He may well be with people and in a relationship with people who don’t know who he is,’’ Detective Superintendent Ryan said.

‘‘We (also) believe there is a person or number of people who actually know where he is and we call those people to come forward and assist us.’’

Potter is described as Caucasian, 175cm tall, medium to solid build, brown eyes, fair complexion with brown greying hair and a ginger beard. He has a gold sleeper earring in both ears, wears glasses and regularly wears a gold chain around his neck.

Potter has a propensity for changing his appearance and has used a number of aliases including Josh Lawson, John Page, Jim Henderson and Peter Adams.

Detective Superintendent Ryan said a firm description of Potter today was not available.

‘‘He does wear wigs and other forms of disguide, but his general appearance... if you are a good observer you could still identify him,’’ Detective Superintendent Ryan said.

A $100,000 reward was announced in February 2011 for information leading to Potter’s capture and it stands today.

Anyone who sights Potter is advised not to approach him but contact 000. Anyone with any information regarding his whereabouts is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au

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