Fugitive wanted for murder won part as policeman in murder mystery film while on the run
AN Australian fugitive won a small part as a policeman in a murder mystery film after he auditioned while on the run for allegedly decapitating a man.
As police were on his tail, Jonathon Stenberg, a former soldier who served in Iraq, found himself in a remote Queensland town, where a crew was seeking locals to play bit parts in a thriller, Mystery Road, starring Hugo Weaving, from The Matrix.
The film's second assistant director, Mark Ingram, was pinning up audition posters outside a pub in the small town of Winton when he was approached by the alleged murderer.
"This gentleman came up and said hi, said he was passing through town and wanted to earn a few extra dollars," Mr Ingram said.
The film makers were not yet ready to audition, so Stenberg returned 20 minutes later with coffees and biscuits for the crew. He was the first to audition and won a role as a policeman.
"He was great – very polite and well-spoken and he seemed really keen to help out on the film wherever he could," said Mr Ingram.
"Ironically, because of his military background, we cast him as a policeman."
The crew phoned Stenberg for his costume size – with no reply – and then emailed a formal offer to the fugitive who wrote back to say he "had to go up north" and could not take the role.
"He showed us a heap of photos of experiences of him in Iraq and I questioned him quite a bit about what his experience was and what he'd done, because I was a bit interested in him," the film's unit manager, Ralph Belcher, told ABC Radio. "I found the gentleman interesting and we were looking at other ways that we could probably use him in the movie." The day after the audition, Stenberg's car was found thousands of miles away, near dense bushland in the Northern Territory. After a six-day massive manhunt involving helicopters and dogs, he was caught hiding last Sunday in a heavily camouflaged hideout south of Darwin.
Stenberg, 46, is accused of killing his neighbour in northern New South Wales, Edward Kelly, 54 whose headless body was found in his ramshackle home two weeks ago. The head has not been found. It is believed the murder could be linked to long-running neighbourly dispute.