Australia's 'most wanted man' arrested
Murder suspect, charged over 2005 death of his cousin, apprehended by police after more than seven years on the run.
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2012 09:40
Naden, who escaped a similar operation in December, was bitten by a police dog during the raid [Reuters]

A murder suspect dubbed Australia's most wanted man, who eluded officials for seven years by hiding out in dense forests, has been captured, police said.

Malcolm Naden, a 38-year-old former slaughterhouse worker, was charged on Thursday with the 2005 strangling death of a cousin and other violent crimes.

Naden was heavily bearded, barefoot and wearing muddy clothes when New South Wales police found him just after midnight at a remote house near the town of Gloucester, about 260km north of Sydney.

“Australia's most wanted man is behind bars,'' Andrew Scipione, the commissioner for New South Wales Police, said. "He has been in this area for a number of years. He knows it better than the back of his hand."

He vanished from the home he shared with his grandparents near the rural city of Dubbo in 2005, shortly after his 24-year-old cousin, Kristy Scholes, was strangled in a bedroom of the house.

He quickly became a suspect in the killing and officials, aware of his sharp survival skills, believed he was hiding out somewhere in a vast stretch of unforgiving and heavily forested terrain.

About 50 police officers had been searching for Naden around the clock since December, when police say he shot and wounded an officer during a raid at a campsite.

Naden was taken to a hospital under heavy guard for treatment of the wound to his leg after a police dog bit him in the raid, which was prompted by a tip to police.

Police found a loaded semiautomatic rifle on the property but said no shots were fired during the arrest.

He was charged with one count of murder in connection with Scholes' death, two counts of aggravated indecent assault related to a 2004 attack on a teen, and shooting with intent to murder in relation to the campsite raid in December.

Naden is also a suspect in the disappearance of his cousin Lateesha Nolan.

Her father, Mick Peet, said police contacted him with the news of Naden's capture.

"I sort of felt like falling to the ground on my knees,'' Peet told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio. "I'm just glad we're on the road to some kind of recovery to find out what happened to my daughter and some closure.''

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