The Villains in my Home Town- part 6.
O f all the villains I drew for the TV News over a two year period, there was one that could be called a celebrity villain. He was one of those crooks of Irish descent that Australians have enjoyed glorifying, in a line from Ned Kelly on down. The media had given him a moniker:
"Dubbed the Postcard Bandit, media reports in the 1990s said that Brenden Abbott sent postcards of his travels to the police who were chasing him. But the "postcard bandit" story was a media invention. The "postcards" were photos from a holiday Abbott took with another prison escapee, Aaron Reynolds, in 1989/1990, including an infamous picture of Reynolds outside the Dwellingup police station in Western Australia. While Reynolds was arrested within weeks, Abbott went on to establish himself as a professional fugitive, using self-taught skills in make-up to create convincing disguises, computers to create false IDs and electronics and weapons to dodge alarms and rob banks" (Wikipedia)
"Abbott escaped from custody several times using various means. On November 24, 1989, he made uniforms that resembled prison guards' at Fremantle Prison assisting his escape, and in 1997 he escaped with four other dangerous criminals from Sir David Longland Prison in Brisbane, under a hail of gunfire from an external accomplice, after sawing through cell bars and cutting through four external perimeter fences."
I'm not sure whether that jailbreak was related to the other one I illustrated (see part 2, 11 april).
"Abbott has been on the run three times, for six months in 1986/1987, and most famously as Australia's Most Wanted Man from 1989-1995 (five and a half years) and from 1997-1998 (six months). He was eventually caught in the Northern Territory in 1998 and is presently serving a 23-year sentence in Queensland for bank robbery and the 1997 prison escape."
I told the story in After the Snooter of how I was supposed to be on standby to run into town and sketch him in the courthouse when he was finally captured and brought into Brisbane for arraignment, with crowds packing the sidewalks to get a look at him. I dropped the ball on that one and was awol when the call came through, but I did get to draw him when his trial came up a few months later (see above). I just regret that it was a somewhat lacklustre effort. The court was crowded, security was tight, and I couldn't get close enough to do the kind of character sketch I had done well on a few previous jobs (and would still do on a few later ones).
However, note the big yellow cage with the bulletproof glass. I had already drawn this on one occasion, for which I failed to tape the News program and have no record of it except the illustrated anecdote in the Snooter. The camera zoomed for a close-up of Abbott, which isn't much of a drawing:
and of the judge, which is even less worthy of scrutiny.
In fact, it even zoomed in on that godawful figure on the far right.
Abbott was further glorified in a TV movie (IMDB), titled The Postcard Bandit, which is on Dvd. I haven't seen it.
There's at least one book about him, reviewed here in Dec 2006.
"I have to dips me lid to Derek Pedley for conducting interviews with Brenden Abbott without ending up as his cellmate. WA & QLD journalists will know that conducting interviews with prisoners in these two states is fraught with danger, as it can easily be defined as illegal on the whim of the authorities.
The handsome happy snap (1 of 2 photos on the cover - perhaps a before and after photo?) on the cover and the subtitle, belie the tale behind the cover, of a beleaguered life of a kid from a struggling lower-middle class family, dissatisfied with his lot, and going for the lucky dollar in fine colonial tradition of battlers, cops & robbers."
And being securely locked up hasn't kept him out of the news: Fears as 'Postcard Bandit' seeks hearing--September 18, 2006
"NINE years after his prison break, authorities are so concerned about the security risk Brenden Abbott still poses they are hesitant to take him out of prison for court appearances. Abbott, 44, is appealing a decision by Queensland Corrective Services to reject his application to cut his 25-year sentence by a third for good behaviour..."
Labels: court sketching