Postcard Bandit a political prisoner says former guard
THE prison guard who watched over 'Postcard Bandit' Brenden Abbott during his Queensland jail term says it is a travesty he will serve more time than infamous killers.
Hans Andersen, a warden at Woodford Correctional Centre in the 1990s, said the convicted bank robber who supposedly embarrassed authorities while on the run and escaping jail had become a "political prisoner" and is likely to rot in his cell.
Abbott, not due for release until 2033, gained notoriety in November 1989 when he broke out of Fremantle Prison in Western Australia dressed as a guard. He was arrested in Surfers Paradise years later and served time in Sir David Longland Prison at Wacol before escaping in 1997.
He was dubbed the "Postcard Bandit" by detectives - who'd found pictures of the fugitive when raiding a house he'd previously stayed at - who came up with a story that he'd sent postcards to police while on the run. However, those close to him say it is a myth.
After finishing his jail term in the Sunshine State last year, Abbott was extradited to Perth to serve the remainder of a 16-year sentence.
But Mr Andersen, who worked closely alongside the 54-year-old, said he wrote to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk last year claiming it was a waste to keep Abbott behind bars.
The Ipswich local, who also guarded Phillip Graeme Abell, the killer of Gold Coast police officer Damian Leeding, said it was ludicrous that Abell would likely end up serving less time than Abbott, who he felt posed little threat to society.
"He's become a political prisoner," Mr Andersen said.
"They (Western Australia) just want their pound of flesh.
"You have a guy who has been a model inmate, who has served a lot of time.
"There needs to be an overhaul of our prison system and our justice system. It's a very sad situation."
The comments were made in the lead-up to the 21st anniversary of Abbott's escape from Wacol and only days before his 55th birthday on May 8 this year.
Mr Andersen suggested to the Government that Abbott would be of more use if he was given parole and made to share his story with young people.
Abbott's sentence runs out in Casuarina Prison in 2033 but he is expected to be eligible for parole in Western Australia in 2026.
Southport criminal lawyer Chris Nyst has represented Abbott for decades and said it was unfortunate that his client's breakout from prison in Queensland in the 1990s became a bone of contention in the lead-up to an election.
"I think politics got in the way of good sense in Abbott's case and I think that's reflected in the way he's spent a disproportionate amount of time in prison in comparison to offenders ... who have committed much more serious crimes."