Boggo S2 E 16 – From the Headlines – Four More Prisoners Swallow Wire
Prisoners often cause themselves harm to escape the confines of gaol, if only for a short time. In the 1970s a new era of prisoners were in Boggo Road Gaol, with them came new methods of injuring themselves and others. Gaol Director Jack Sim and Research Coordinator Sue Olsen discuss an important discovery in a 1974 newspaper.
In a remarkable acquisition to our collection. We came across newspapers from the Courier Mail on the last two days in January of 1974. Interestingly, on the front page of the Courier Mail from the 31st of January 1974 there was an article pertaining to Boggo Road Gaol.
4 More Prisoners Swallow Wire
Four young prisoners swallowed wire that was formed into crosses and a fifth prisoner lost his nerve at the last moment and produced his cross to officers.
The crosses were the patented idea of John Andrew Stuart , a lifer, they were made with two sharpened pieces of wire bound with rubber. When swallowed, the crosses would spring open in the stomach and cause incredible pain and often bleeding and necessitate an urgent trip to hospital and the surgical removal of the cross.
It was suspected that a trust prisoner had distributed the crosses to the five prisoners.
Stuart was in the gaol hospital at the time after his fifth operation for the removal of wire crosses from his stomach. Stuart was serving a life sentence for the Whisky Au Go Go Nightclub murder case.
It seems that there was a John Andrew Stuart cult forming in the prison under which these young prisoners formed the misguided views of Stuart. This incident is only one of many.
At this same time in Brisbane, we were in deep water, quite literally. Christmas 1973 and January 1974 Brisbane had seen weeks of heavy rain. At the time, there was also no Wivanhoe Dam to store the massive amount of water. Consequently, Brisbane was inundated with flood water.
The Prisoners actions by swallowing the wire drew the ire of Mr F. W Gardiner, staunch Labour Party Law reform member. He said, that during a state of emergency these actions took valuable medical resources away that could have been used in flood work.
Flooding brings with it Mosquito born disease and bacterial infections from wading through filthy water. Brisbane was in a serious crisis. There is no doubt the last thing the Brisbane hospital needed was four prisoners intent on harming themselves.