While notorious characters often gain headlines, internet, TV and radio coverage the people behind them, their families and friends rarely do. Although popular media often portrays criminals as violent, mindless monsters for those that love these men (and women) they are still husbands, fathers, lovers and parents. It is rare to hear about the private life of these unlawful figures. Gloria McSweeney wife of jail-breaker and armed robber Harold McSweeney shared her life with such a man.

Remains of the jail gates after prisoners smashed through them with a truck

Remains of the jail gates after prisoners smashed through them with a truck

22 years ago, Harold John McSweeney – Harry to those who knew him – had become a household name. McSweeney was the mastermind of what became known as the “garbage truck escape”. Along with 3 others he commandeered a garbage truck doing a pick up inside Boggo Road Gaol and smashed it through the front gates of the prison. While on the run, Harry robbed banks and armoured vehicles. McSweeney was eventually recaptured, after surrendering to Channel 7 News presenter Frank Warrick at Crows Nest near Toowoomba. Gloria McSweeney, Harry’s wife was witness to it all.

Harold McSweeney (Left)

To say she is a colourful character is an understatement. Gloria McSweeney has been a champion kick boxer, prison councillor, drag racing driver (she drove a Toyota Celica called “Kickboxer”), hosted 4 Triple-Zed “Prisoner Show” and also a “crim” herself. The defacto wife of Harold McSweeney, Gloria had an intimate insight into the mind and machinations of a man that few ordinary people thankfully never had to know. To her however he was special.

Together since he was a ‘pimply-faced, smart-arse’ Gloria was the most important person in Harry’s life, as he was hers. Gloria carries on her body several tattoos showing her devotion to her husband. Thursday 28th August 2014 on True Crimes we speak with Gloria about her life and her life with Harry

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/169116677″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”200″ iframe=”true” /]

For this and more crime & ghost stories listen to Australia’s longest running true crime show “True Crimes” – presented by Jack Sim on 4BC Nights with Walter Williams. Thursday evenings 9.35pm on Radio 4BC.

Experience Boggo Road Gaol through Tours and Events

Our policy is to allow people who claim a connection with Boggo Road to tell their story, in their own words, without editing so long as it is not libelous or defamatory. Sometimes what they say is challenging and even incorrect as memories can be fallible, however it is still their story. Readers can decide whether they believe her account or not. Relatives do not believe Gloria’s story that she was in a relationship with Harold. Harry McSweeney was married before he went to jail and was still married at the time of his death.


Brisbane has a fascinating Haunted History. Jack Sim manager of Brisbane Ghost Tours loves nothing better than finding old ghost stories and trying to discover whether there is any truth in the tale. A great Brisbane oral tradition is the story of the “Haunted Hobo”. Told by homeless men and Queensland Railways workers in the 1940s, 50s and 60s the story centred on a brutal murder which happened at Victoria Park. While many people still do not believe in ghosts, Jack has found that ghost stories are rarely fabricated out of thin air. Almost invariably ghost stories circulated before the digital age were sparked out of a real incident – a death, tragedy, crime or murder. The hard part is finding that original incident. While carrying out research at the Queensland State Archives, in a musty old crime file, Jack found the answer to this old Brisbane ghost story that he first learned of from his Grandfather in the 1970s…


The spirits told “Darky” to kill

When hobo Harry Brown was found murdered in 1937 police had a mystery on their hands. There was some difficulty identifying him. His fingerprints were not known to them (i.e. he was not a “crim”) and detectives suspected that “Brown” was not his real name. Harry was an itinerant railway worker, living with other workers in a camp at Normanby in Brisbane. Harry had travelled the state in the company of a younger man whose mental condition had begun to deteriorate; believing that he could speak to the dead Harry’s friend became increasingly paranoid. Spirits told “Darky” to kill. The men at the camp were increasingly concerned that their demented co-worker was dangerous.

Close midnight “Darky” brained his friend with an iron bar and cut Harry’s throat. Harry’s mutilated body was found later that night. By the early 1940s railway workers believed that Harry’s ghost lingered near the place where he was murdered. Queensland Railway engine drivers during their training were warned about the ghost which was said to appear on the railway tracks below the Normanby overpass. Engine drivers were advised to slow their trains as they approached the bridge and to keep an eye open for this spirit.

Want to hear about more local ghost stories? HAUNTED BRISBANE contains 13 Haunted Sites and Ghost Stories. Buy your copy on www.jacksim.com.au

HAUNTED BRISBANE: Ghosts of the River City - Jack Sim

Experience a HAUNTED BRISBANE Ghost tour on a walking tour or coach tour.

For this and more crime & ghost stories listen to Australia’s longest running true crime show “True Crimes” – presented by Jack Sim on 4BC Nights with Walter Williams. Thursday evenings 9.35pm on Radio 4BC.

Designed By Marketing Eye