A MAN accused of rape who allegedly hid in the air conditioning system of a bulk carrier that berthed in Newcastle and was trying to flee the country will remain behind bars until his next court appearance in August.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been charged with sexual intercourse without consent and sexually touching another person without consent before he allegedly attempted to illegally leave Australia.
Police said the 31-year-old bought a yacht in the northern NSW town of Yamba and set off, but activated emergency flares after running into trouble on Saturday morning.
A bulk carrier bound for Newcastle came to the man's aid and towed the yacht south, but the crew soon discovered the tow line had snapped and the skipper of the smaller vessel was missing.
With concerns that the man may have fallen overboard, the NSW Police Marine Command was alerted and conducted an extensive search of the 220-metre long ship while it was anchored in Newcastle.
What began as a possible rescue mission ended with the man's arrest after he was eventually uncovered hiding in an on-board air conditioning vent.
The man was arrested and refused bail in Newcastle Local Court on Monday.
He faced a Sydney court on Wednesday, where he did not apply for bail and it was formally refused.
Magistrate Scott Nash adjourned the matter to August 19.
Police will allege in court the man deliberately cut the tow line and planned to hide aboard the bulk carrier until it departed for Malaysia.
NSW Police Marine Command Acting Superintendent Joe McNulty said on Wednesday the search was complex, given the size of the ship.
"It would be a very long trip stuck in an air conditioning vent," he said.
"This is a bit bazaar. It started as a search and rescue and turned into an arrest.
"He was surprised that we found him."
Australian Border Force Superintendent Graeme Campbell said the search that uncovered the man came after the 20 crew members of the ship twice looked for the suspected stow-away.
Superintendent Campbell said the case was "highly unusual" and that police and border patrol officers searched for more than two hours before they found the man - who was believed to have been on board for about 24 hours.
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