The 'postcard bandit' could be settling down on Coast

AUSTRALIA's most notorious bank robber "the postcard bandit" wants to live on the Sunshine Coast with a woman he met three months after he was imprisoned 15 years ago.

Now housed at Woodford Correctional Centre in the south, Brenden James Abbott has told the Queensland Parole Board he plans to live "on a quiet acreage at Cooroibah" if they agree to release him.

He has mechanic work lined up in Brisbane's north and wants to spend time with his 23-year-old son, who was born while he was a fugitive.

The parole board is scheduled to meet today to make a final decision on the 53-year-old's freedom.

Abbott, who is serving a 25-year sentence, became eligible for parole in 2011 but his full-term release date is in 2020.

He infamously escaped prisons in both Western Australia and Queensland where he had been serving time for robbing banks.

In an affidavit for authorities, Abbott said he "accepted total responsibility for my choices and actions of the past".

"Though my offences were not of a compulsive, opportunistic or sexual nature, they were however seriously violent," he wrote.

"Since then, I have been provided with the tools of knowledge and direction from Queensland Corrective Services, and through my own therapeutic means, reflected on my past and fully understand why I made the poor choices I did, and sincerely regret the trauma and misery I have left in my wake."

Jail break chairs used by notorious postcard bandit, Brenden Abbott to escape from a Queensland prison.
Jail break chairs used by notorious postcard bandit, Brenden Abbott to escape from a Queensland prison. Peter Waddington

Documents with details about Abbott's parole application to live with partner Tilly Needham are before Brisbane Supreme Court because he has argued the parole board is taking too long to make a decision.

Flora Cheng, in an affidavit on behalf of the parole board, said the board formed a preliminary view Abbott was unsuitable for release as he still posed an unacceptable risk to the community.

Records show he had seven major behaviour breaches while in prison but none since 2005.

Abbott is wanted in SA and WA for further offences.

Ms Cheng revealed the board did grant parole subject to WA extradition but when WA authorities did not pursue that path, parole was rescinded for further consideration.

Abbott was on the run for about five years after escaping from a WA jail.

He became one of Australia's "most wanted" as he committed crimes in Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia.

Legend suggests he was sending postcards to police while he was on the run.

But his lawyer Chris Nyst revealed in an Australian Story instalment in 2003 that police media generated that false story after finding Abbott had left behind photographs of himself at a house while missing.

"Kind of backfired a little bit on the police ... it captured the imagination of a lot of people in Australia and it turned Abbott into, I suspect, a little bit of a folk hero," Mr Nyst said. 

What they said...

Cooroibah partner Tilly Needham: "From the onset of Brenden's incarceration, I have witnessed and experienced exceptional growth within Brenden. I am fully aware Brenden will have conditions set for/while on parole. We will adhere to and abide by all conditions the parole board imposes, ultimately resulting in Brenden completing this period without incident."

Lawyer Chris Nyst: "I still think he has a great deal to offer as a worthwhile contributor to society. His has been a rocky journey thus far, but there seems to me little reason to think he cannot turn his life around, and perform as a responsible member of the extra-mural community."

Sunshine Coast psychologist Donna Eshuys: "Psychological consequences of long-term incarceration may represent significant impediments to post-prison adjustment for those such as Mr Abbott. Therapy for Mr Abbott should include addressing the sometimes subtle but nonetheless broad-based and potentially disabling effects of institutionalisation, the persistent effects of untreated or exacerbated mental illness or the pathological consequences of supermax confinement experience by his many years of long-term isolation."


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