By Amy McQuire, September 11, 2013, Tracker Magazine.
NATIONAL: It was a moment seven years in the making. The night the biggest manhunt in the nation’s history – Strike Force Durkin- came to an end with the capture of Malcolm John Naden – a fugitive who had killed two young Aboriginal mothers in Dubbo in 2005.
Naden was captured on March 22, 2012 in rugged bushland near Gloucester in the Barrington Tops, following an escalated operation. Naden had shot and wounded a police officer in December 2011 and had narrowly avoided captured shortly after.
Earlier this year he plead guilty to the murders of Lateesha Nolan, his first cousin and a mother of four, and Kristy Scholes, the partner of his cousin and a mother of two. He also plead guilty to a number of break and enter charges and for the attempted murder of a police officer.
He received a life sentence for the murder of Kristy, and a minimum 21 years for the murder of Lateesha.
For Detective Inspector Bryne Ruse, who was heavily involved in the investigation since the moment Naden went on the run, the night of Naden’s capture was almost a spiritual experience.
“The feeling I got was like I was falling backwards down a pipe looking at the stars fly away from me. It was spooky but exhilarating the same time. And the rest of the night was sleepless.”
A reenactment of StrikeForce Durkin.
Detective Superintendent Mark Willing said “it was an amazing moment, a surreal moment to be honest.”
“I think for many many people. We invested so much time to the capture of Malcolm Naden, to finally have him in custody is a moment the organisation will look back on in years to come as one of the proudest moments.”
For the first time, the full details of the extensive police operation to capture Naden will be revealed on Channel Seven’s True Force: Behind the Line program
The 90-minute documentary drama pieces together police interviews and original police footage with re-enactments of Naden’s time on the run.
Malcolm Naden is played by Worimi-Biripi actor Dominic Dates and many of the scenes are shot at the actual places Naden inhabited – including at the property where he was finally captured.
It is the first time the real story of Naden has been shown on Australian screens.
Mr Dates told Tracker he had researched Malcolm extensively in order to get the character right.
“It’s just a really hard area to place him. To be able to murder… that’s really psychopathic… There could be hundreds of answers as to why he did it. It’s still one of those things that will never be answered.”
Producer Brad Cone told Tracker he had followed the story over the years, but got serious about filming a bigger story once Naden was caught on March 2012.
A big part of his motivation was breaking down the myth of Naden.
Mr Cone grew up in the Hunter Valley, and knew about Naden.
“There was talk as you can imagine – of him breaking into some of our relatives’ places.
“I heard all these stories, I heard a lot of stuff. It wasn’t until I went to a meeting witht eh boss of homicide and the boss of Operations Durkin. They sat me down and took me through the entire operation from the initial time to the end… they mentioned Stewarts Brooke (the scene of a Naden break-in), and said “you wouldn’t know that place.”
But Mr Cone does know that place – he has relatives there.
“I’ve got to say that that was a big part of my motivation. There was perception around the country areas –where Malcolm was – that he’s not harmless. While he’s been out here he hasn’t harmed anyone. There wasn’t any kind of ill feeling towards him.”
This film paints a very different picture – one of a psychopathic killer who showed little remorse for his victims and enjoyed killing.
When Naden was taken to the banks of the Macquarie River in Dubbo, where he said he had buried his cousin – Lateesha – he made an admission that was “chilling”, according to detective Paul Mangan.
He smiled when detailing how he had killed the beautiful mother of four.
“That was one of the moments where I felt genuine fear about what he was saying,” Detective Mangan tells the program.
“He had quite a look of delight on his face. He smiled and he had quite a piercing stare as he told what he had done.”
Mr Cone says that it’s important the world knows what kind of man Naden is and he hopes this documentary brings some form of justice to the family.
“The public don’t know enough about what the family have gone through. All these years there’s been fleeting appearances on TV, but at the end of the day, that’s six young kids who are going to grow up without their mothers.”
Mr Dates says his heart goes out to the family.
“They’re the ones that I feel for. They’ve suffered through this whole thing. Hopefully this sort of gives people a vision of what they have gone through having those two family members taken away from them.”
*Malcolm Naden – Australia’s Most Hunted will premier tonight at 8:30 on Channel 7.