Police take closer look at claims of Outback 'survivor'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 April, 2006, 12:00am

A man's claim to have survived 10 weeks stranded in the Outback, eating frogs and leeches, is coming under police scrutiny, after doubts emerged about his tale of being drugged by a group of Aborigines and left for dead in a shallow grave.

The inquiry comes amid growing scepticism over Ricky Megee's account of how he became separated from his car on a remote desert road then wandered off into the wilderness. At first he told rescuers that his car had simply broken down, but then claimed he was drugged by a hitchhiker and dumped in the desert.

Mr Megee, 35, who lost half his body weight as a result of the ordeal, was yesterday standing by his account and offered to appear on television and eat frogs to convince those who doubted his story.

'To have survived out there for so long and then be told I am making it up makes me sick,' he told the Sunday Territorian newspaper in Darwin. 'I will take any lie detector test on earth. I will eat frogs on camera to prove I did it out there. I couldn't make this up if I tried.'

His ordeal allegedly began in late January when he was driving along the Buntine Highway, a dirt track that links Western Australia with the Northern Territory.

He stopped to help three Aboriginal men whose car had broken down, agreeing to drive one of them to the nearest petrol station. He claims he was given a spiked drink, passed out and regained consciousness to see the men ransacking his car. He confronted them but said he must have been stabbed with a syringe containing drugs. 'I blacked out again and the next thing I know I woke up with no shoes in a shallow grave with black plastic over me. Dingoes were scratching at the plastic.'

For reasons he has yet to explain, Mr Megee says he left the road and walked into the bush, where he was forced to drink his own urine as he became dehydrated. After wandering for a week, he found a creek and then a small pond, where he camped for two months.

He was found by stockmen from a remote cattle ranch on April 4, weighing just 45kg - less than half his normal weight.

Mr Megee, from Brisbane, admits he is 'no angel' and was convicted of drug-related crimes a decade ago - but he insists he is telling the truth. He is hoping to sell his story to a television network but is also the subject of scrutiny by Northern Territory police.

'We are investigating how Megee came to be where he was in the bush,' a spokeswoman said. 'We are also investigating the whereabouts of his vehicle.'