For many of the interviewees, the journey they made into the prison, to be photographed as part of this book, was the first time they had returned to Pentridge since being released or retiring up to 60 years before.
The subjects are shown here in the order they appear in the book.
Brian Morley spent less than three hours in Pentridge. Those hours had a profound and lasting effect on him. As a young reporter and news editor in 1967, he was given a big story to cover — Ronald Ryan’s hanging. Brian was excited to be one of eleven witnesses who would stand before the gallows in D Division, and watch as the execution was carried out a few feet away.
On 3 February 1967, Brian stood before those gallows as Ryan was guided out of the condemned cell to the trapdoor. A hood was lowered over his face, a noose put around his neck, and the hangman threw open the trap. The wooden doors crashed back against their iron stops, and Brian was left with a deep trauma. He says it will be with him until the end.
Brian has campaigned against capital punishment since the moment he left Pentridge in 1967. He continues to argue that it’s a futile and barbaric act, and hopes to see it abolished globally.
He returned to D Division, as part of this book, for the first time since 1967.
In 1951, at age 17, Noel found himself in a Pentridge cell awaiting trial for the ‘Abominable act of buggery’, having been arrested at the home of female impersonator Max Du Barry. As a boy, Noel sold newspapers, and his body, on the city’s dark streets. With spare pennies, he would sit in grand picture palaces, and watch the glistening silver screen. He saw the handsome stars, and wanted to be in their shoes.
One evening at Pentridge, a guard casually unlocked Noel’s cell door, raped him, and left. Along with hope, his boyish dreams of the silver screen must have receded into the blackness. He lost himself in misery, and tried to end his life, but was pulled back from the brink by the voices of his ancestors, who promised a better life.
After 40 years, Noel returned to Australia in 1990, and began a reconciliation with his home and his past. Today, he is a recognised figure in the arts world and a Ngarrindjeri elder. His second autobiography And Then I Found Me, was published in 2017.
He returned to Pentridge, as part of this book, for the first time since being released.
Billy Longley, also know as The Texan for his habit of carrying a six-shooter, was a hard-nosed survivor of the bloody Painters and Dockers war of the 1970s. He grew up in Depression-era Melbourne, and calls it the hardest time of his life.
In 1975, he was convicted of ordering the murder of a union official, and was sentenced to life. Pentridge was home for around a decade. He spent five years in H Division during one of its most bloody eras.
Billy would readily say there were things he’d have done differently, if he could. He often gave advice: ‘Don’t make a move without the numbers.’ ‘Always appreciate your mother.’ And, ‘Never trust an automatic.’
Billy died in Melbourne in 2014 and made his last trip to Pentridge as part of this book.