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The most infamous jail killings in Victoria

The most infamous jail killings in Victoria

DOUBLE murderer Barry Robert Quinn was set alight inside Pentridge Prison 30 years ago today. We take a look back at the state’s most infamous jail murders.

PRISON killings in Victoria are rare but seldom subtle. Take the killing of double murderer Barry Robert Quinn, which happened inside Pentridge Prison 30 years ago today.

Quinn shared a cell with a man just as violent and deadly as himself. That prisoner’s name was Alex Tsakmakis, a businessman and Ivanhoe family man who, in 1978, had murdered professional runner Bruce Lindsay Walker over a dispute involving a vintage Plymouth car. Walker disappeared while on a fishing boat trip with Tsakmakis. His body was later found washed up at Point Lonsdale; his hands and feet bound with chicken wire. In a desperate bid for money to fund his murder defence, Tsakamkis shot two innocent people at close range while robbing a Hawthorn Tattslotto agency. He shot the husband and wife owners in the head.

Miraculously, they survived. For his crimes Tsakmakis was jailed for life.

Tsakmakis built a reputation as a “power-mad psychopath” in prison. In 1983 he was convicted of assaulting a prison officer and was transferred to the jail’s notorious Jika Jika maximum security unit. He managed to run one of the most lucrative drug markets across the Victorian jail system, arranging for other inmates to be bashed as part of his crime lord campaign. It was at Pentridge where Tsakmakis co-existed with Barry Quinn, a man whose violent reputation preceded him.

Quinn was known to bait the volatile Tsakmakis. One night, while an R-rated movie depicting sexual violence was played in the jail unit, Quinn pushed it too far by taunting Tsakmakis about the rape of a former girlfriend. Tsakmakis stewed on it overnight. The following day — about 9am on July 4, 1984 — the two were in Day Room 2 watching TV soap opera The Restless Years. Tsakmakis doused Quinn with modelling glue and then gleefully flicked lit matches at him. Quinn desperately tried to avoid the tiny flames, hiding behind a table. One of the “match bombs” caught Quinn, ignited the flammable glue and turned him into a fireball. The room filled with thick black smoke as Quinn bounced of the walls in agony. It took prison officers some time to reach Quinn because of the high-security time-delay door-opening system in Jika Jika.

Photos later presented in court showed black marks on the walls where, in complete terror and desperation, the burning prisoner had brushed across them. When prison officers finally did get to Quinn they tried to put the fire out with an extinguisher, before using a blanket. Quinn died at The Alfred hospital with burns to 85 per cent of his body. Within the ranks of his fellow inmates, Tskamakis became known as “The Barbeque King” after the Quinn incident. He copped solitary confinement after the fatal assault and was sentenced to 10 years for manslaughter — a sentence to be served concurrently with the term he was already serving. Eventually he was allowed to interact with other inmates... one of whom killed him.

RUSSELL Street bomber and bandit Craig Minogue, then aged 26, was serving a 28-year minimum term for the fatal March 1986 bomb attack on police headquarters. The car bomb blast killed a young constable, Angela Taylor, and injured 22 others.

As an inmate, Minogue was not known for using the prison gymnasium equipment but put some dumbbell weights to use after stuffing a couple into a pillowcase. On July 22, 1988, Tsakmakis was taking lunch on a tray to a group of prisoners in the maximum security industry yard when Minogue beat him in the head with the pillowcase containing the 5kg weights. In a statement, a prison officer said of the attack: “Tsakmakis picked up a tray to protect himself and there were a couple more swings. “He (Minogue) was hitting him around the head with full force in a round-arm action.” Tsakmakis suffered a fractured skull and brain damage. He died six days later. Minogue’s was a self defence argument — he said he killed Tsakmakis in the belief that Tsakmakis was going to kill him. Minogue was sentenced to serve a concurrent murder term.

CAREER criminal Matthew Charles Johnson, the self declared “general” of Barwon Prison, tried a Minogue-style defence after being charged with murdering fellow inmate Carl Anthony Williams in their maximum-security unit on April 19, 2010. Johnson, an armed robber and gunman acquitted of murdering a young man in Pakenham, has more than 160 criminal convictions against his name. Disciplined in the ways of personal fitness and prison regimes, he is unbridled when it comes to matters of violence. A granite-like figure at 188cm tall, Johnson will be best remembered for crowning unlikely gangland boss Williams to death with an iron bike seat pole inside Barwon Prison’s maximum-security Acacia Unit. Before that fatal assault he was no stranger to jail violence, having been convicted and sentenced for an aggravated burglary committed on another inmate. In a separate incident inside Barwon jail, Johnson and four other inmates kicked and rammed their way into Acacia Unit 4 to bash deadly career criminal Greg Brazel. Williams was serving a 35-year minimum term for crimes including organising the gangland murders of crime figures Jason and Lewis Moran, and drug players Michael Marshall and Mark Mallia. In full view of security cameras, Johnson walked up behind Williams on the morning of April 19, 2010, and bashed his head in like a watermelon with a seat pole taken from the unit’s exercise bike. Letters and taped prison conversations revealed Johnson viewed Williams as nothing more than a “fat sook”. Johnson claimed he killed Williams in self defence after a third inmate told him that Williams was planning to kill him with billiard balls in a sock. Crown prosecutor Mark Rochford, SC, said during the murder trial that Johnson killed Williams because Williams talked to police about an investigation. The jury heard Johnson was the head of a feared prison gang dubbed the “Prisoners of War”, or POWs, whose hatred of anyone who assisted authorities with anything was well known. Johnson was found guilty of murder, and jailed for life with a 32-year minimum term. Justice Lex Lasry said the self-defence argument was “fanciful”. “It was a killing which appears to demonstrate your belief that you have some special entitlement to kill when you think it appropriate or your ego demands it, according to some meaningless underworld prison code,” the judge said. GANGLAND tensions were the most likely motive behind the prison killing of a bloke named Gary Leslie Harding, who admitted his role in the murder of Painters & Dockers union chief Pat Shannon while implicating two other men. It was just before closing time at the Druids Hotel in South Melbourne on October 17, 1973, when Shannon was shot dead at the bar. Harding, fearing retribution, came forward and told police he’d pointed Shannon out to gunman Kevin Taylor after the hit was ordered by Shannon’s rival Billy “The Texan” Longley. Harding told police he’d acted as the spotter but had expected Shannon to be warned — not killed. A Supreme Court jury found Harding and Taylor guilty of murder, and death sentences were later commuted to life behind bars. In reality, it was a death sentence for Harding anyway. On September 13, 1975 — almost two years after the Shannon hit — Harding was stabbed to death with a sharpened table knife in his Pentridge Prison cell. Said the warder who found the body: “I have never seen stark terror on a man’s face until tonight. I will never forget the look until I die.” Taylor, who had reported Harding’s murder to the warders, was suspected of the jail killing. He said he’d watched television for a few minutes and then walked around the exercise yard. Taylor stated: “I then returned to the inside of the division and I went to Gary Harding’s cell. When I got to the door it was partly open and I walked into the cell and then I saw Gary Harding in a crouched position with his head on the table and arms by his side. “I thought that Gary was mucking around and I grabbed him ... Gary fell back on to the floor and on to his back. “I could see blood on his chest.” Evidence from other prisoners suggested Taylor had been carrying a prison knife, made out of sharpened tin, strapped to the inside of his arm above the wrist. Taylor was charged with Harding’s murder, but the evidence fell flat at a coronial inquest when the inmates changed their stories.

One prisoner, however, testified that Taylor had threatened Harding for linking him to the Pat Shannon shooting. “I became fairly good friends with Gary Harding when we were in D Division,” that prisoner stated. “Gary told me on two occasions while we were there that he knew Kevin Taylor was crook on him for telling the police what happened and Taylor regarded him as an informer. “Harding told me that because of this he knew that Taylor was going to stab him.” In the end, Taylor was not committed to stand trial. It was reported that Taylor later yelled to the prisoner who testified: “You are a f---ing dog and a police informer and you’ll be next on the list.” ACCUSED armed robber Darren John Parkes was on no one’s list when he was fatally stabbed in his cell at Port Phillip Prison in March 2006. He brought about his own demise. One time butcher’s apprentice Rosario Giuseppe Giammona, 28, was on remand at the jail when he fatally stabbed Parkes, 29. Parkes was facing trial for the attempted murder of South Melbourne fruiterer Benedetto Riccardi who was robbed of $15,000 in takings before being carjacked and shot. Riccardi survived but was rendered a paraplegic.

Parkes was on remand for attempted murder and multiple counts of armed robbery, burglary and theft and other charges. According to Giammona, Parkes lunged at him with a knife but dropped the weapon, which Giammona then used against his attacker. The fateful confrontation happened in Parkes’ cell in the Scarborough North unit. The men shared adjoining cells. The deadly encounter began at 4.25pm, when Giammona entered Parkes’ cell. A prison officer said in court that he heard a commotion from his nearby office and heard a man scream, “What have you done to me?” The officer witnessed Giammona walk from the cell and into his own, before a heavily-bleeding Parkes stumbled out clutching a pillow to his back and sheet to his front and calling for help. Parkes was stabbed to the chest, back, both arms and left leg. On the floor of the cell, officers found knives and a round metal spike with a sharpened point and makeshift handle. But the shiv used to stab Parkes was in the toilet of Giammona’s cell. Giammona stated that Parkes had earlier come into his cell and shown him two makeshift knives, and left a sheath on his bed. Giammona said he later approached Parkes in Parkes’ cell demanding he remove the sheath for fear it would be found and linked to him. According to Giammona, Parkes attacked him with a knife while saying: “Here, hang on to this as well.” Giammona said Parkes dropped the knife, so he picked it up and stabbed Parkes in self defence. He pleaded guilty to defensive homicide, for which he was sentenced to eight years with a minimum of six. Victoria’s worst serial killer, Paul Steven Haigh, is also a prison killer. In November 1991, Haigh, then aged 35, killed fellow prisoner Donald Hatherley who was hanged in his cell. A court heard that, before the Hatherley murder, Haigh was upset that Hoddle Street gunman Julian Knight had slain one more person than he had. ARTICLE FROM:

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