Gordo's drive for justice
DUE to a notorious helicopter escape from Silverwater's maximum security prison the MRRC in March 1999, a lot of people know me.
I have written two books, Gambling for Love and The Last Escape. They contain stories about some of the most infamous prisoners in Australian history. Men I have met and sometimes befriended.
Sometimes the most memorable people you meet in jail aren't notorious.
A truck driver named Gordon Parsons is one of these men.
In 1983, at the age of 18, he was sent to Maitland Gaol - at the time one of the hardest prisons in New South Wales.
When the governor saw him he knew he would be a target for the sexual predators.
Enter William John Munday - better known as Billy. The governor asked him to keep the predators away.
Normally Munday would have been the first predator to strike. He was doing 54 years for murder, kidnapping, rape and other violent crimes. Billy fancied a boy.
But there was an affinity between Gordon and Billy. Both of them had been incarcerated in the brutal boy's home in Tamworth, Endeavour House. So big bad Billy Munday protected Gordon.
Munday always said that Tamworth made him the killer he became. He had been bashed, terrorised, tortured and starved while there.
Gordon went there twice for a total period of two years.
George Freeman, Arthur Stanley "Neddy” Smith, James Finch, Archbold "Mad Dog” McCafferty, Kevin Crump and Peter Schneidas were all sent to Tamworth. Responsible for at least 24 murders between them.
This is why, to me, Gordon is exceptional. He not only experienced the horrors of Tamworth, but at the age of 12 he was sent to Charlton Anglican Home for Boys at Ashfield for being a passenger in a stolen vehicle.
On his first night there he was brutally raped.
Although he ran away no one, including his older brother, believed his story. He was returned to Charlton where he was raped again.
After a while he was sent to Daruk where things got worse. Not only was he sexually assaulted and raped on numerous occasions - he was illegally sedated and circumcised.
When the operation was botched he was rushed to hospital but the damage was done. His penis has never grown since and he can't have sex or have children.
He has never married and has many other medical problems due to the abuses inflicted on him.
He was bashed and scarred at both Mount Penang Boys' Home and Tamworth.
During the six years he spent in boys' homes he was also subjected to aversion shock therapy at the Acute Unit at the Prince of Wales Hospital.
Despite all of these atrocities committed against him by people paid to protect him, Gordon took a different approach to the one taken by Munday and Smith etc.
They all became killers.
Taught to drive just before he was released from Mount Penang, and attracted to the sense of freedom and safety in a cab, Gordon became a truck driver.
It didn't mean he gave up. On the contrary he tried for 40 years to get justice. And for more than 30 years he drove and lived in trucks while he sought justice.
I have a soft spot for truckies. My old man worked for Yellow Express from the mid-'30s until the late '50s.
When he severely damaged his back trying to lift a refrigerator onto the back of his truck he had to give it away. It broke his spirit.
That won't happen to Gordon. He drives different types of trucks. And although his body has been broken, his spirit never will be.
At the moment he owns and drives a B-double. He drives long distances to all parts of Australia.
Mainly he operates in Queensland and New South Wales.
He sleeps in them because it makes him feel safe. Occasionally he will stay in a motel or stay with friends, of whom he has many around the country.
His truck is his home. Armed with a large collection of Slim Dusty tapes he is ready to take on any jobs no matter the distance.
The offences he went to jail for were mainly driving charges. He was once accused of a more serious crime but was found to be innocent.
"Are you bitter about what happened to you?” I asked him.
"Nope,” he said, pursing his lips. "I just want justice.”
And justice is something he has fought for. For 40 years he tried to get the authorities to listen to him.
Eventually a dedicated team of police not only believed him - they did something about it.
Finally for Gordon and others who suffered similar atrocities, justice is being done. It is never too late.
When I asked Gordon if he had any complaints about the trucking industry today he made the following comments:
- Truckies travel long distances. Toilets should be provided along the way. (He was once done for "taking a leak in a parking bay”).
- The trucks from the big companies like Toll and Linfox seem to have an unfair advantage. (Gordon's truck can't go past 100km/h but he is often passed by these other trucks travelling much faster.)
- Cars are the biggest hazard on the road for truck drivers.
- It is imperative for drivers to get some sleep.
- Truckies, particularly sub-contractors, are subject to a lot of harassment from police, the RTA and numerous fines for minor things.
- The big companies put enormous pressure on sub-contractors to deliver faster than possible without taking risks.
How to fix the problem?
Easy, says Gordon.
All truck drivers stop working during the Christmas period.
That will force a change of attitude.
As I said at the start: Gordon is one of most memorable men I have met.