Prisoner Stories 3 – Charles Kenneth Apjohn Carter
Charles Kenneth Apjohn Carter
International fraudster, swindler and thief.
Ever heard the saying ‘a champagne taste on a beer budget’? It is a saying that I have certainly grown up with. Charles Kenneth Apjohn Carter is simply synonymous for making the very, very best of a bad situation. At one time he broke bread with the best of Brisbane, now he is enjoying hominy with the worst of Boggo Road Gaol.
Known alias: Charles Kenneth Carter, Charles Kenneth, Charles Kennett and Nick Carter.
Native Place: India
Age: 37 Years
Height: 5 feet 10 ½ inches
Weight : 11stone 6 oz
Remarks: Appendicitis Scar, Long scar and mole on right temple, shrapnel scar above left kneecap.
Ever heard the saying ‘a champagne taste on a beer budget’? It is a saying that I have certainly grown up with. Charles Kenneth Apjohn Carter is simply synonymous for making the very, very best of a bad situation. He had falsely stated his worth for all to see…. Meanwhile pinching everything he can get his hands on!
Perhaps the most remarkable case of “False Pretences” to have ever graced the halls of Boggo Road Gaol; Charles Kenneth Apjohn Carter had swindled people out of their hard earned money over three states in Australia in the previous months. He had at each turn, escaped justice. His run of luck finally ran out when he was arrested at Murwillumbah and brought back to face five charges of passing a dodgy cheque and theft in the Police Magistrates Court in Brisbane in 1927. Found guilty, Carter was sentenced to two and half years inside Boggo Road Gaol.
He was a most gifted crook, having been born in India to a British family; he had spent most of his young life in England. In turn, he had gained himself the knowledge to pass himself off as a right proper gentleman of the highest order.
Passing himself off as an Air Marshall, Major, Captain and golf professional at various points, he had hob knobbed around Brisbane, Warwick, Sunshine Coast and Southport with the finer classes of society. Carter dressed himself in the finest uniform of a Royal Air Force Officer complete with distinguished war medals. Arriving in Brisbane, He had recruited a woman of disrepute to take his arm and pull of this charade as “Major” and Mrs. Carter “honeymooning” in Brisbane promising her wealth. Of course, this was all just part of the swindle! When it came time to face the court, the mysterious Mrs. Carter had been ripped off too! Carter had passed her a dodgy cheque, just like all the others. None of his self-imposed titles were at all true. The plain truth of the matter was, Carter was enlisted as a mechanic in the R.A.F in 1917, had been discharged and had re-enlisted in 1918 before deserting and turning to crime.
Charles Kenneth Apjohn Carter is known all over the world for his antics. He had been charged and sentenced for fraud in the London. He was charged and declared insane in Edinburgh and served four years in an Asylum, again for fraud. There were warrants for his arrest in Canada, where he had passed himself off as a decorated pilot, even planning himself an elaborate banquet in Winnipeg, but obviously, the banquet never went ahead as he had yet again disappeared. He then allegedly went to California where had smuggled Chinese migrants into America via Mexico. All of this prior was to his assault on the good people in Australia.
No doubt about it, Charles Kenneth Apjohn Carter, was a gifted crook and swindler. You would think a stay in Boggo Road would have taught the refined, proper English speaking lad a lesson. Not so! His exploits went on and on. Obtaining money by fraud in Brussels and Cherbourg, eventually ending up back in the UK where it all started some years prior… again before the court.
Certainly his story is one of pure fantasy, He had an inflated sense of self… and if everything else wasn’t enough. He published his autobiography in 1936, under yet another alias Charles Kennett. The Stormy Petrel is sadly out of print. However a copy is held at the National Library in Canberra.
Do yourself a favour, check out the remarkable story of Charles Kenneth Apjohn Carter further. It has certainly been one of the most fascinating and at times hilarious stories I have had the privilege to share.
This Sunday, you can hear more stories from a prisoner’s perspective. Larry Campbell, a former prisoner at Boggo Road, will guide you through some of the most turbulent years of the Gaol’s history. To book tickets for our fascinating prisoner tour click here.
This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here.