Man­hunt launched over al­leged ar­son at­tack


A MAN­HUNT is on for a fugi­tive fa­ther and son who are be­lieved to be re­spon­si­ble for a mil­lion- dol­lar fire north of Townsville and a string of other of­fences at ru­ral prop­er­ties in three states.

Con­victed crim­i­nals Gino Stocco, 57, and his son Mark Stocco, 35 ( right), from Ing­ham, have re­port­edly been on the run for eight years from po­lice in Queens­land, NSW and Vic­to­ria.

Po­lice have is­sued a public alert to help find the pair, who they be­lieve could be re­spon­si­ble for a num­ber of thefts and prop­erty of­fences.

The Stoc­cos were jailed for sev­eral months in 2007 in Vic­to­ria af­ter they stole the iden­ti­ties of a priest, a soldier serv­ing in Iraq and ac­quain­tances to fi­nance a fake lux­ury lifestyle on a yacht.

Their latest ac­tiv­i­ties came to light af­ter NSW MP Mark Coul­ton posted an al­leged vic­tim’s story on Face­book.

The post said a cou­ple hired “John and Mark” as care­tak­ers for their ru­ral NSW prop­erty in April last year.

The un­named woman said the pair per­formed all jobs as re­quested un­til the re­la­tion­ship soured and they left.

In the days and weeks that fol­lowed, the cou­ple had more than 72 tyres slashed, three firearms, a 200- litre diesel fuel tank, 500 litres of diesel fuel and other tools stolen, and more than 30 fences cut.

“This is what they are do­ing to us,” the woman said

“From talk­ing with po­lice and other vic­tims we be­lieve they have been tar­get­ing and ha­rass­ing ru­ral peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties for years, in­clud­ing ar­son, vi­o­lence, ma­li­cious dam­age and as­sault.

“They have al­legedly left stock with­out wa­ter in a drought. Don’t think they won’t be in your area – we have re­ports from Queens­land to Vic­to­ria.”

The Stoc­cos are wanted for ques­tion­ing over an ar­son that left a Bam­ba­roo farmer with burns af­ter he fought a fire that de­stroyed al­most $ 1 mil­lion worth of equip­ment last Au­gust.

The cane grower had to bat­tle in­tense heat in an at­tempt to save his new trac­tor, prized cus­tom- made boat and farm­ing truck parked in two sheds just me­tres from where his fam­ily were sleep­ing.

Queens­land’s stock and ru­ral crime in­ves­ti­ga­tion squad has is­sued a warn­ing to land own­ers to ver­ify the iden­tity of any­one they em­ploy.

“If you are advertising for as­sis­tance on your prop­erty, please be aware that not ev­ery per­son who an­swers your ad has a le­git­i­mate rea­son for as­sist­ing you, or has your best in­ter­ests at heart,” a state­ment from the squad said.

Both men are about 175cm tall with brown eyes, of slim build and cau­casian ap­pear­ance and may be driv­ing a 2012 Sil­ver Nissan Navara and/ or a white 2008 Toy­ota LandCruiser.

The reg­is­tra­tion num­bers of the ve­hi­cles are un­known. Any­one with any in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the where­abouts of the men should con­tact Po­licelink on 131 444 or Crimestop­pers on 1800 333 000.

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