Police capture Malcolm Naden
CAPTURED earlier this morning on a private property near Gloucester, Malcolm Naden is the country's most wanted man no longer.
The 38-year-old was arrested barefoot and sporting a bushy beard just after midnight when officers from the Tactical Operations Unit and Dog Unit surrounded him on the Mid North Coast property.
Police say Naden was taken without incident and did not use the loaded semi-automatic weapon found in his possession.
His arrest comes three months after he allegedly shot an officer near Nowendoc.
Assistant Commissioner Charlene York, the commander of Strike Force Durkin which was set up to capture Naden, says she never doubted the operation would succeed.
"Our people were operating in extremely difficult conditions and we had to adapt our strategies along the way," Ms York said.
"However, we always understood that every day brought us closer and that our tactics would prevail.
"This was a game of patience and I am very proud of everyone involved."
Naden has been taken to Taree Police Station and has undergone a medical check.
A former abattoir worker he has been on the run since disappearing from his grandparents' home in west Dubbo in 2005.
Days before he left, his 24-year-old cousin and mother-of-two Kristy Scholes was found strangled in the bedroom of the home.
Naden is also a suspect in the disappearance of another of his cousins, Lattes Nolan, as well as the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl.
He hit the headlines in December when he allegedly shot and wounded an officer during a raid on a remote campsite near the village of Nowendoc, also in the state's north.
Since the shooting, around 50 officers had been involved day in, day out in the hunt for Naden.
Police say they are questioning him in the mid north coast town of Taree, where he is expected to face court later on Thursday.
NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione says the arrest is a tribute to many elements of the NSW Police Force, who came together and operated in a very tough environment.
"I want to pay tribute to those people from the Tactical Operations Unit, the Dog Unit, the Air Wing, our general duties police and other specialist units whose work has been invaluable, Mr Scipione said in a statement.
"Everyone who contributed can stand tall."
Earlier this month, police issued a warning to residents of Gloucester and Nowendoc after new information indicated Naden was armed with a .22-calibre semi-automatic firearm and ammunition.
A $250,000 reward was posted for information leading to Naden's capture.
Opposition Leader John Robertson said the police's sustained efforts would mean Naden would be brought to justice.
"After all their hard work and over a lengthy period of time they have managed to capture someone who has shown how difficult he is to capture and why he was Australia's most wanted criminal," Mr Robertson said.
"But all their hard work has paid off and we will now see Malcolm Naden brought to justice before our court system."