Police focus on Cooma in search for escaped murderer

Source: Canberra Times

NSW Police is concentrating its search for escaped murderer Adam John Bowhay on the Cooma area until there is reason to believe he has moved on.

The Australian Federal Police dog unit is helping with the search but weather conditions have prevented the police air wing from being deployed, Detective Inspector Shane Box, the acting local area commander for the Monaro LAC said.

''I'm not saying that he is staying in Cooma, what I am saying is that we have absolutely no information or intelligence to suggest he has gone to any other area,'' Inspector Box said at a media conference at 1pm on Wednesday.

''In the absence of other intelligence, we need to concentrate our search in Cooma until we are satisfied we have done the absolute best we can. He may well have left, yes, but I can't confirm that he has or hasn't. Until we suspect that he may be somewhere else I need to do a thorough job in Cooma.''

Bowhay, now aged 34, was just 18 when he stabbed Steven Jarvis to death at Casino in 1997. He escaped while doing community work for the Cooma council at a Cooma oval on Tuesday afternoon.

It is believed Bowhay, who had been at the work site with two other convicts, had been at large for some hours before the alarm was raised.

''I can't comment on that,'' DI Box said. ''Police acted as soon as they were informed of the situation; we responded appropriately.''

While Bowhay is considered dangerous due to the nature of his original crime police say he has not been violent or threatening in recent times.

''There are no recent threats or any reason to believe he may harm any particular person or groups in the Cooma area.''

He dismissed suggestions the escapee had been spotted in the Snowy Mountains.

''We have no intelligence he is hiding anywhere; we have had a number of people ring us with sightings or suspected sightings (but) there have been no positive sightings of Bowhay.''

Police have spoken to known family and associates but turned up no leads.

''There is no intelligence to suggest he is going anywhere in particular,'' DI Box said. ''We are not aware of any family anywhere around here.

''Police are patrolling the Cooma area as best we can; yes we are monitoring the roads and we are monitoring farms. Road blocks haven't been considered at this stage; there is no intelligence to support the need for roadblocks.''

NSW Corrective Services has told Fairfax Bowhay, who was given a minimum sentence of 16 years, had recently had his parole refused by the NSW State Parole Authority.

It was recommended by the Serious Offenders Review Council that he instead participate in "more approved external leave before being considered for parole".

"He had progressed to the lowest security classification having spent 16 years behind bars," a NSW Corrective Services spokeswoman said.

The body of 42-year-old Mr Jarvis was found in a reserve near the banks of the Richmond River by a couple walking their dog in March 1997. A post mortem revealed he had been stabbed six times in the neck.

Bowhay, then aged 18, and his girlfriend had befriended Mr Jarvis the previous night at a pub in town. After he was killed the pair ransacked their victim's room, taking a small amount of money and a key card which they later tried to use.

They then fled town and were eventually caught in the northern Victorian town of Tallangatta.

Bowhay told his NSW Supreme Court trial that he had killed Mr Jarvis because he had inappropriately touched his girlfriend.

However in sentencing Bowhay, Justice John Dunford said the murder was a "deliberate and callous attack on one of the less fortunate members of the community, who was quite incapable of defending himself".

Police urged anyone who spotted Bowhay not to approach him but to call Triple Zero.

He is described as being of Caucasian appearance, approximately 184cm tall, medium/large build, bald head and clean shaven. He has tattoos around his neck, upper arm and legs.

Bowhay was last seen wearing work gear which consists of a fluorescent yellow shirt and blue and green King Gee brand long pants.

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