The Stoccos' last stand: Our cops involved as manhunt ends

RRESTED: Gino and Mark Stocco were arrested near Dunedoo on Wednesday. Photo: NSW POLICE
RRESTED: Gino and Mark Stocco were arrested near Dunedoo on Wednesday. Photo: NSW POLICE

SPECIALLY trained police from Armidale and Tamworth helped to arrest fugitives Gino and Mark Stocco on a property near Dunedoo on Wednesday, bringing to an end an eight-year manhunt across three states.

The dramatic arrest comes after the father-and-son had criss-crossed NSW and Victoria, and are suspected of crimes across the Barwon and New England commands where there have been reported sightings, close calls or evidence left behind of the two near Glen Innes, Warialda, Bingara and also near Coolatai.

Coolatai farmer Shelly Durkin was in shock when told of the arrest by The Leader after fearing for months the pair would return.

"It's a massive relief," she said. "I didn't think [the arrest] was going to happen ... I'm just a bit blown away."

The Durkins had 72 tyres punctured with drills, firearms stolen and an $80,000 damage bill after the alleged run-in with the Stoccos, who used to live and work on the remote property.

"We've resorted to sleeping with guns in our beds, you just need to know you've got something to have if you need it," she said. "[Last night] will be the first night we won't have them next to the beds."

Mrs Durkin said they had no idea the pair were wanted by authorities when they first employed them.

"They did all the [alleged] damage to us, $80,000 worth of damage, and we got the ball rolling and we tried to do everything just to warn other people," she said.

A getaway car with links to the Stoccos loaded with suspected stolen goods including firearms, camping and other equipment was discovered after a search of an industrial shed in Glen Innes in August.

Earlier this month, New England police confirmed investigators were still trying to piece together the material discovered which allegedly been linked to different crimes committed throughout NSW. 

They knew the bush very well, they knew all the ways and times to avoid police

Acting Assistant Commissioner Clint Pheeney
Acting Assistant Commissioner Western Region Clint Pheeney addresses the media in Dubbo. Photo: BROOK KELLEHEAR-SMITH.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Western Region Clint Pheeney addresses the media in Dubbo. Photo: BROOK KELLEHEAR-SMITH.

The firearms seized from inside the shed were allegedly stolen during a break-in of the Durkin's property in May.

Barwon police are still investigating that break-in, but no warrants or charges have been laid over any incident across the New England North West.

While the Stoccos allegedly resisted police to the very end and were forced to the ground just before midday Wednesday, the police operation cornering the pair unfolded over almost 24 hours as heavily armed and specialist police moved into position on the property at Elong Elong.

The Leader understands several senior officers from the New England were involved in the coordination of the operation on Tonniges Rd yesterday while several local police bolstered the ranks of the State Protections Support Unit (SPSU) who surrounded the "Pinevale" farm.

Oxley Superintendent Clint Pheeney who is Acting Assistant Commissioner of the Western Region is overseeing the police operation and said yesterday the manhunt had been very intense.

"They knew the bush very well, they knew all the ways and times to avoid police," he told media.

Acting Assistant Commissioner Pheeney said no firearms or ammunition had been located yesterday but searches were still ongoing, and the pair were likely to be the subject on intense questioning by investigators for sometime to come.

Mark and Gino Stocco. Photo: NSW POLICE

Mark and Gino Stocco. Photo: NSW POLICE

"A very intense operation that has spanned a number of states," he said, likening the pair to "gypsies" who moved around with ease.

"This has crossed at least two policing regions."

The hunt for the elusive pair stepped up in recent weeks after the alleged shootout with police near Wagga Wagga but officers were preparing to dig in for the long haul to catch the two.

The Leader understands New England police, as well as officers from Barwon and Oxley, had been placed on standby should the manhunt have continued further north into the Western Region.

This story The Stoccos' last stand: Our cops involved as manhunt ends first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.