Owen Van Duren, 37, and his ex-special forces brother Shane, 43, arrived in Darwin last Sunday (Aug 26) after sailing for six weeks, reports the Daily Mail. (See story here.)
The pair had departed Phuket on July 7.
Van Duren had been in a Thai jail for six months, and fled on the yacht, a Nautitech Open 40 sailing catamaran built in 2015 named Pina Colada, while on bail.
The boat had been chartered from Elite Yachting at Phuket Boat Lagoon and was to be returned on July 21.
“We are obviously very concerned for the well-being of the crew,” Jurg Hofer, Managing Director of Elite Yachting Co Ltd, told The Phuket News at the time as the heavy weather was the tail end of the storm squalls that sank the Phoenix on July 5.
“The guests went out sailing on the 7th of July with an expected return date of the 21st of July and did not return.
“All the authorities have been informed in Thailand and other countries – but we have not any further information,” he added, noting that “a lot information had already been posted through social media,” Mr Hofer said.
According to the Daily Mail, local Darwin news portal NT News reported that Owen Van Duren was taken into custody by Northern Territory Police when he arrived in Darwin on Sunday, but was soon released.
“Australian authorities had also accused Van Duren of the mid-flight assault, but prosecutors withdrew the charges on Friday and sealed his freedom,” said the report.
“Thai prosecutors are believed to have prevented Australian authorities from proceeding with the charges, News Corp understands,” the report added.
It is not clear if Thai authorities will apply to have Van Duren extradited to face the assault charges, noted the Daily Mail.
A Border Force spokesman said the catamaran had been tracked for weeks before it arrived in Darwin, adding, “The vessel in question may have been stolen.”
Owen’s brother Shane, a former Australian soldier, is currently serving a suspended sentence following a violent confrontation with police and the RSCPA in 2015, the Daily Mail added.
Van Duren, 41 at the time, broke into the RSPCA centre in the Canberra suburb of Weston to claim his black Belgian shepherd, ‘Kalu’.
The dog, which he uses as an assistance animal for post-traumatic stress disorder, had been removed from his care due to neglect concerns.
In the ensuing trial, the prosecutor said Van Duren was on the RSPCA’s radar after his last dog was put down due to neglect, reported the ABC. (See story here.)
Van Duren allegedly cut through three fences to get to the dog.
Police and an RSPCA inspector went to Van Duren’s home, where they found the dog, but Van Duren allegedly refused to hand over the animal and ran out of the back door with it.
“You're not getting the dog,” he told them, according to court documents.
When police tried to arrest him, Van Duren allegedly punched Constable Daniel Neit twice in the jaw, after which the pair wrestled on the ground.
“RSPCA senior inspector Catherine Croatto then stepped in, but Van Duren allegedly put his arm around her neck and put her in a choke hold, saying he would kill her,” the ABC reported.
“I’m going to f****** kill you,” he said.
“You’re dead b****… dead inside a year.”
Shane Van Duren spent 46 days in custody, and later plead guilty to assault and strangulation charges, report the Daily Mail.
The dog was later returned to Van Duren, who received a two-and-a-half year suspended sentence.
“He's where he should be, he’s where he belongs. He’s good. The family are happy,' he told the ABC outside court.
Van Duren served in East Timor where he was confronted with traumatic experiences – including the death of personnel in 1999 and 2000, Chief Justice Helen Murrell told the ABC last year.
Magistrate Beth Campbell in hearing the initial trial, described Van Duren’s actions as an “explosive loss of self control”.
“Something is wrong for this man to act with so much aggression,” she said.