Posted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 9:20 am
Brenden James Abbott (born 8 May 1962 in Footscray, Melbourne) is an infamous Australian bank robber known as the Postcard Bandit. During his criminal career he is believed to have stolen as much as AUD$5 million from a number of banks, though very little of this money has ever been recovered. He is currently detained in the Woodford Correctional Centre and is often moved between this facility and the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre.
He has escaped from custody several times using various means. On 24 November 1989, Abbott 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.
A film about Abbott, The Postcard Bandit, was made for television by Nine Films/Pacific Coast Entertainment in 2003 and released on DVD on 22 March 2005.
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 Darwin, Northern Territory in 1998 and is presently serving a 23-year sentence in Queensland for bank robbery and the 1997 prison escape. After serving two years of his current sentence in solitary confinement, he sued the Queensland Government for mistreatment. He was released from solitary confinement in May 2004, but was returned there on a Maximum Security Order in April 2006. Abbott had requested medical attention three times in 12 months, which the authorities deemed suspicious and an indication he was plotting another escape.
Dubbed the Postcard Bandit, media reports in the 1990s said that 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. His five and a half years on the run only came to an end when detectives across the nation pooled their resources and intelligence. Police tracked down a post office box on the Gold Coast, Queensland used by Abbott, leading to the discovery of a pager bill registered to the address where Abbott was living. He was arrested outside of a Darwin laundramat without incident.
It is expected that when his current sentence has been completed he will be handed over to the West Australian authorities where he still has time to serve on prior convictions. Queensland authorities have approved his transfer but WA authorities refuse to accept him. He faces numerous charges including escaping legal custody, armed robbery and impersonating corrections staff in Western Australia, and there are also charges pending in South Australia for armed robbery and other offences. If convicted of these offences, it is unlikely that he will ever be released from prison.
In early 2007, Abbott again applied to be transferred to WA, approved by the Queensland Government. A decision is pending.
Abbott has also applied to the South Australian Government to quash a warrant for his arrest over a 1994 bank robbery, insisting that failure to execute it is an abuse of the judicial process. He argues he is facing a life sentence because he cannot serve his sentences concurrently. SA Police Minister Paul Holloway says he is waiting on a decision from the Director of Public Prosecutions with regard to any possible extradition proceedings.
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