Brendon Luke Berichon.
Brendon Luke Berichon.

Former most wanted criminal loose in bushland

"HE'S a dangerous man."

That's how police on the ground have described Brendan Luke Karl Berichon, as a full-scale manhunt to catch the former most wanted criminal continued overnight.

Berichon was last night on the run. His last known whereabouts was drinking from a hose in the backyard of a Pacific Pines home on Tuesday.

While Police Media have played down the manhunt, several officers on the ground have told the Bulletin the search is the top priority for the district, with resources from across the southeast descending on the Coast to find a man with a chequered past who shot at police in the 1990s.

A police source said the hunt is the second time in the past six months that Berichon has done a runner from officers - the latest on a return to prison warrant, running from the cops into a wild bushfire burning in the Pacific Pines, Maudsland area.

Another source told the Bulletin Berichon has a violent past, and a mean streak.

Bank robber and escapee Brenden James Abbott.
Bank robber and escapee Brenden James Abbott.

"He was spotted on Tuesday afternoon at a person's house off the bushland, he'd come out and grabbed a drink of water … we couldn't find him from there," a police source said.

"It's no surprise that he is quite skilled at being on the run, when you consider his background, very slippery.

"He's definitely violent and dangerous."

Berichon's history is part of Australian crime folklore, helping one of the country's most notorious criminals escape prison.

He shot cover fire at police with a high-powered rifle for Postcard Bandit Brenden Abbott during an infamous 1990s prison break.

While on the run with Abbott he was labelled as an "extremely dangerous criminal" who was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder for shooting at two police while on the run.

May 2007: Police escort Brendan Luke Karl Berichon off a chartered plane from Victoria to Brisbane.
May 2007: Police escort Brendan Luke Karl Berichon off a chartered plane from Victoria to Brisbane.

For two days in 1998 Berichon, then aged just 20 and known as Abbott's "apprentice", claimed the title as Australia's most wanted man after Abbott was caught in a Darwin laundromat.

Last year, Berichon was convicted of possessing "electrical antipersonnel device" at Nerang.

Yesterday, a police media spokeswoman said there was no need to issue a public warning about Berichon.

If members of the public spotted him in the street she said they should call the police, the "same as any situation".

The spokeswoman said Berichon was not dangerous and confirmed he was last spotted in the semirural area.

Brendan Luke Berichon.
Brendan Luke Berichon.

The Bulletin can reveal Berichon was last year convicted of breaching bail, the unlawful operation of a motor vehicle at Pacific Pines and the unlawful possession of an "electrical antipersonnel" device.

Born in Newcastle in 1977, Berichon moved to Queensland with his family when he was young.

Berichon first met Abbott in the Sir David Longland Correctional Centre, Queensland's highest security prison, after he was sentenced to two-years in prison for armed robbery.

Abbott was serving 12 years for two armed robberies committed in Queensland after he escaped from Fremantle prison in 1989.

Berichon was reportedly "groomed" by Abbott in prison and threw bolt cutters to the escapees on the day of the jail break before firing at police.

Berichon sitting in the back of police van after his capture in Darwin.
Berichon sitting in the back of police van after his capture in Darwin.

At the time the use of the powerful weapon outside the prison was described as heralding in "a new age of criminal aggression".

Berichon's mother, Julie Berichon, then from Salisbury South of Brisbane, publicly appealed for her son to give himself up while he was on the run.

"We love you. We don't want you getting into any more trouble," she told The Australian newspaper.

A couple who rented Berichon a Victorian cottage in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton told The Age he was a "lovely guy" who handed over four months rent, $4000 cash, in crisp, clean $50 bills in 1998 before he shot at the two police officers.

"Basically, he was a fantastic guy, that's what we thought."

Following Abbott's arrest, there was a $50,000 reward for information leading to Berichon's capture.