THE $50,000 bounty on the head of the state’s most wanted man, Malcolm Naden, needs to be quadrupled if authorities are fair dinkum about capturing the suspected double murderer.
That’s the call from opposition police spokesman Michael Gallacher, who has accused Police Minister Michael Daley of not doing enough to ensure an end to Naden’s five years on the run.
Senior police have confirmed for the first time they have forensic evidence Naden has been hiding out in the Hunter Valley.
The Sun-Herald has been informed a spotter plane with an infra-red camera picked up a night image of a man in dense bush in an area of the Hunter known as Barrington Tops.
Naden is believed responsible for a string of burglaries in the Tops, including one in which a .22 rifle was stolen.
‘‘We need to be more proactive because it is fairly safe to say Naden isn’t simply going to put his hands up,’’ Mr Gallacher said yesterday. ‘‘The community needs to have confidence this matter is being investigated seriously and he is being tracked down.’’
Mr Daley said the government set rewards based on police recommendations and investigators had yet to request an increase.
Police are conducting tests on muddied bedding from an isolated Cobark River homestead that Naden is believed to have broken into.
Property owner Frances Grant, a former barrister, said the uninvited visitor left her feeling violated: ‘‘You don’t know if he is just going to stop at sleeping in your bed ... Nearly everyone I have spoken to would like the police to be consulting more with the people in the area who have expert knowledge of the terrain and who understand the country and its heart. They know how difficult it is.’’
Homicide squad acting Commander John Lehmann said the fact that the investigation was led from Sydney did not adversely affect how it was run. Specialist and local police were being used. Mr Lehmann believes Naden is ranging beyond the Barringtons and did not rule out upping the bounty. ‘‘It is a bit unfair to have criticism saying our people only know about crime in the city,’’ he said.