SE­CRET PHO­TOS OF WILDMAN KILLER

POR­TRAIT OF A PSY­CHO KILLER LIV­ING IN THE WILD

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - FRONT PAGE - HOLLY BYRNES NA­TIONAL TV WRITER

SHROUDED in army-style over­coat, a cam­ou­flage kit­bag slung across his back and a loaded ri­fle in hand, these are the in­cred­i­ble pho­tos that show how dou­ble killer Mal­colm Naden man­aged to evade the po­lice dur­ing seven years on the run.

Naden was filmed by a se­cret po­lice sur­veil­lance “bush cam” while strid­ing through near-im­pen­e­tra­ble un­der­growth in the rugged moun­tains close to Glouces­ter, 40km west of Ta­ree on the mid-north coast of NSW. Elu­sive and adept at steal­ing the cloth­ing and sup­plies he needed to stay hid­den, po­lice likened search­ing for Naden as “like look­ing for a ghost”.

But, an­gry about the Ned Kelly-style myth that has built up around Naden’s years on the run, De­tec­tive Su­per­in­ten­dent Michael Will­ing, who led Strike Force Durkin, has painted a very dif­fer­ent pic­ture of the man now serv­ing a life sen­tence in Goul­burn’s max­i­mum se­cu­rity prison for the murder of Dubbo mother Kristy Sc­holes and his cousin La­tee­sha Nolan.

“He wasn’t a master bush­man, he just got very lucky. He’s a patho­log­i­cal killer who would kill again,” Det Supt Will­ing said.

The pho­to­graphs did not come to light un­til af­ter the fugi­tive was ar­rested on March 22 last year, fi­nally end­ing his 2460 days on the run.

Some­one who knows only too well how eas­ily Naden was able to es­cape de­tec­tion as he moved through the bush is Jer­a­lyn Pick­er­ing, who be­lieves she only nar­rowly es­caped be­com­ing Naden’s third vic­tim.

Ms Pick­er­ing had come face to face with Naden in two ter­ri­fy­ing en­coun­ters while act­ing as care­taker of Misty Moun­tain health re­treat, near Kempsey on the NSW mid-north coast, in Oc­to­ber five years ago. Her stun­ning tes­ti­mony, Naden’s chill­ing con­fes­sions plus never-re­leased po­lice footage from Strike Force Durkin fea­ture in an ex­tra­or­di­nary Chan­nel 7 docu-drama to air this week.

Iso­lated and de­lib­er­ately de­tached from the noise of city liv­ing, Pick­er­ing and those liv­ing on the prop­erty around her had “ab­so­lutely no clue’’ of the man­hunt for the dan­ger­ous killer when she star­tled a man try­ing to break into one of the huts. It was only when she yelled out at the stranger “and he jumped behind the build­ing’’ that she re­alised “there was some­thing just wrong about him (and) the sit­u­a­tion’’.

In the fol­low­ing days she felt as if she was be­ing watched while swim­ming naked in a nearby creek.

On the night of Oc­to­ber 30, Pick­er­ing was wo­ken by an LED torch blaz­ing into her room and some­one rat­tling the han­dle of the cabin. Her screams scared the in­truder away, but it is what Ms Pick­er­ing dis­cov­ered the next morn

ing that seemed most chill­ing. A hand­writ­ten note read: “Nice moles.’’

The in­truder had been watch­ing her, so closely and while she skinny-dipped, to re­mark on the dis­tinc­tive moles on her back.

Po­lice con­firmed it was Naden af­ter dust­ing the re­treat’s kitchen for fin­ger­prints.

Mal­colm Naden: Aus­tralia’s Most Hunted airs on Wed­nes­day at 8.30pm on Seven.

Po­lice cam­eras rigged up in the NSW bush cap­tured im­ages of then fugi­tive Mal­colm Naden; and (left) Jer­a­lyn Pick­er­ing feels lucky to have es­caped the dou­ble mur­derer.

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