Dangerous criminal on the run after escaping police custody

Police are searching for prison escapee Adam Bowhay. They warn anyone who comes in contact with him to dial 000.
Police are searching for prison escapee Adam Bowhay. They warn anyone who comes in contact with him to dial 000. Contributed

A MURDERER is on the run in NSW after escaping custody at Cooma where he is serving 23-years for a ruthless crime spree which left a trail of destruction across the state's North Coast.

Adam Bowhay, 34, fled a work release program about 1.15pm today and not been seen since.

The convicted killer was just 18 when he and his young girlfriend led police on a hunt from Coffs Harbour to the Northern Rivers where the body of 42-year-old Steven Jarvis was found.

According to court records, the teenage runaways fled their homes near Sydney in February, 1997 and headed for the mid-North Coast where they stole a number of knives from Macksville businesses and camped out at Nambucca Heads.

From there, they set off for Byron Bay where they stole a car and crossed the Queensland border to Beaudesert before returning south to stay with a friend at Kyogle.

They then travelled to Casino where they met a local man Steve Jarvis at the Oxford Hotel who gave money to Bowhay to buy the group drinks.

The three left together and headed for a park on the banks of the Richmond River, where Steve's body was found with several stab wounds to his neck.

After hitching a ride to Grafton and stealing a car, the teenagers made it across the Victorian border to Tallangatta where they were arrested by police.

Bowhay later told a court he his girlfriend had survived on the proceeds of the break-ins near Coffs Harbour and drug pushing at Byron Bay and Ballina where they successfully "ripped off" dealers by passing crushed Panadol off as hard drugs.

While Bowhay originally denied responsibility, he later admitted to using the knives he had stolen from Macksville to stab Mr Jarvis.

Excerpts from court transcripts posted on line reveal Bowhay punched Mr Jarvis in the head and began "hacking into his throat" with a knife before jumping on his chest and kicking him to ensure he had "killed him good enough".

Asked why he stabbed Mr Jarvis, Bowhay told the court "Because mate, look at the way he talked to my girlfriend, touched her...he was probably a child molester".

He said Mr Jarvis "probably should still be alive but if he hadn't pulled a knife on me, if he had treated my girlfriend with a bit more respect then he wouldn't have got it, would he? Anyone who doesn't treat her with respect will get the same thing".

Bowhay was sentenced to 23 years with a non-parole period of 16 years.

He would have been eligible for release next month.

He is described as caucasian, about 184cm tall with a medium/large build and bald head.

He has tattoos around his neck, upper arm and legs and was last seen wearing a fluorescent yellow shirt and blue and green King Gee brand pants.

Police have warned anyone who comes in contact with him to dial 000.

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