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Sydney - A man who lived on the run in the harsh Australian bush for seven years while wanted for the murders of two women, Friday pleaded guilty to the crimes.
Malcolm Naden was the nation's most wanted fugitive until his capture a year ago in a remote cabin in the hinterland of the north coast of New South Wales state after an intense manhunt in rugged forest.
The 39-year-old pleaded guilty in the New South Wales Supreme Court to 18 charges, including the murders of 24-year-old mother Kristy Scholes and his cousin Lateesha Nolan, reports said.
He also pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated indecent assault on a 15-year-old girl in 2004, attempting to kill a police officer while on the run in 2011 and break-and-enter offences related to his time as a fugitive.
Naden went into hiding in June 2005 after Scholes' body was discovered in his family's home in Dubbo.
At the time he was also wanted for questioning by police over the disappearance of his cousin who was last seen in January of that year. Her body has never been found.
The families of the victims welcomed his guilty pleas.
“Nothing's going to bring my daughter back, but at least now we don't have to go through the ordeal of a court case,” Nolan's father Mick Peet told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Tony Scholes, the uncle of Kirsty Scholes, said his family was emotional but pleased.
“Sitting around, waiting for this man to be captured, it's been a big ordeal for all of the family,” he told reporters.
Naden's ability to evade authorities evoked comparisons to famous 19th century Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, who was seen as a working-class hero despite murdering three police officers.
But when he was finally captured sheltering in a cabin fitted with motion sensors, he reportedly told police: “Thank God it's over. I've had enough.”
Police have previously alleged that Naden broke into remote farmhouses during his years on the run, stocking up on supplies and weapons for use while living his rugged lifestyle.
He will face a sentence hearing on April 24. - Sapa-AFP