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Alleged Australia killer on the run wins role in movie

SYDNEY -- A man wanted over a beheading murder who was eventually captured in the Australian Outback auditioned to be a film extra while on the run — winning the role of a policeman in a homicide thriller.

Jonathon Stenberg, 46, sparked a major manhunt in late June after fleeing his home in northern New South Wales following the decapitation of his neighbor, who was reportedly left with a hat where his head should have been.

During the six days he spent evading authorities, Stenberg turned up in the remote Queensland town of Winton, where a casting call was under way late last month for extras for a murder film called “Mystery Road.”

“I've held a number of casting auditions, but for a guy who is Australia's most wanted to come through your door is most unusual,” said Mark Ingram, second assistant director on the film starring Hugo Weaving.

Stenberg was the first person to audition in the town, telling Ingram he saw the casting poster in a gas station and wanted to make some extra cash.

“He came across as a really nice guy, a really nice guy. He even went and got me a cup of coffee. We were going to use him,” Ingram told AFP.

“He came across as one of those kind of guys who you can trust. Ironically, we were going to cast him as a police officer.”

But Stenberg, who used his real name and described his address as “back of truck” on his audition application, could not wait around for the film team's call telling him he had secured the bit part.

Ingram said he tried getting in touch on his mobile phone two days later but it went unanswered.

Stenberg later emailed him to say “it was nice to meet up but I've headed up to the Northern Territory because I've got a chance of a job,” he said.

It was not until he saw news reports about Stenberg, reportedly a builder and security guard, being captured in a major manhunt near Darwin that Ingram realized who he had been dealing with.

“He wasn't hiding (when he was in Winton),” said Ingram, who provided photographs to the Australian media showing Stenberg at the audition. “He gave me his name and number.”

Stenberg was arrested on June 27 in the Outback north of Darwin after his abandoned car was found near the Northern Territory capital.

Stenberg, a former army corporal, was sent on Wednesday to Sydney from the Northern Territory where he will face charges of killing Edward “Ned” Kelly on or before June 21.

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