Brenden Abbott

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Brenden James Abbott
BrendenAbbott mugshot.jpg
Brenden James Abbott
Born Brenden James Abbott
(1962-05-08) 8 May 1962 (age 55)
Other names The Postcard Bandit
Occupation Bank robber
Criminal penalty 25 years imprisonment (13 years non-parole period)
Criminal status Remanded in Custody
Conviction(s) Bank robbery, Prison escape

Brenden James Abbott (born 8 May 1962) is a convicted Australian bank robber. He is reported to have stolen and hidden millions of dollars, and was dubbed "the postcard bandit" by police seeking media coverage.[1]

Abbott has been imprisoned in Woodford Correctional Centre and Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, and held in both mainstream and Supermax conditions. He was moved to Brisbane Correctional Centre in August 2011, and is detained under severe Supermax-style conditions.[2] Though scheduled for release in 2020, he faces further charges in two other states.[1]

A film about Abbott, The Postcard Bandit, was made in 2003.[3]


A former ward of the state of Western Australia, Abbott continues to suffer anxiety and related health disorders, as noted in a semi-biographical work, Australian Outlaw, by Derek Pedley. As a hearing-impaired 12-year-old in November 1974, he was maltreated at Hillston Boys Home.[citation needed] Abbott attended Eastern Hills High School in Mt Helena and was considered an average to good student. His watercolour "Little Boy Blue" was painted after the November 2009 national apology to Forgotten Australians.

The biography also mentions his affliction with chronic suppurative otitis media, a painful, recurrent middle-ear disease prevalent in Western Australia's north-west,.[4] From infancy Abbott had bilateral perforated ear drums for which limited medical and rehabilitation services were available.

Prison escapes[edit]

Abbott escaped from jail twice, and also fled from police during questioning at the Nollamara police station in 1986. Uncharacteristically, his escape from Sir David Longland Prison at Wacol in November 1997 involved actual force rather than an implied threat of force. In that instance Brendon Berichon, a young former SDL inmate, fired warning shots[citation needed] overhead from the outside of the fence. The offenders alleged that this occurred in panic, when the three escapees' escape plan went awry.

On 24 November 1989, a Fremantle Prison escape earned Abbott his lifelong notoriety as a criminal genius, and ultimately led to his permanent and erroneous branding as "the postcard bandit." In the escape, Abbott and another inmate jumped from the roof over the high limestone prison walls, in fake guards' uniforms which Abbott had made in the prison tailor-shop.

Fremantle Prison, built in the 1850s originally as convict prison, had a long history of escapes. Like Sir David Longland Prison, it was decommissioned by the government due to substandard conditions in the years following Abbott's escape.


Abbott was on the run for six months in 1986/1987; as Australia's Most Wanted Man from 1989–1995 (five and a half years), and from 1997–1998 (six months). He was eventually caught in Darwin in 1998 and is, as of March 2015, serving a 23-year sentence in Queensland for bank robberies and the 1997 prison escape. After serving two years of his current sentence in solitary confinement, he sued the Queensland Government for mistreatment.[5] He was released from solitary confinement in May 2004 and returned there on a Maximum Security Order in April 2006, after he requested medical attention three times in 12 months. After years in mainstream, Abbott was again returned to Supermax solitary confinement in August 2008 and then released back into mainstream detention in the days preceding a judicial review hearing into his back-to-back Maximum Security Orders, in October 2009.

Media reports in the 1990s said Abbott sent postcards of his travels to the Western Australian police. However, the story was a WA police media unit concoction;[1] The "postcards" were photos Abbott lost while running from police with Aaron Reynolds after the Fremantle Prison escape, and were intended for his friends and family. They included a picture of Reynolds outside the Dwellingup police station. While Reynolds was arrested within weeks, the fugitive, Abbott, went on to establish himself as a "professional" bank robber, using self-taught skills in make-up to create convincing disguises, computers to create false IDs, and electronics to dodge alarms.

His five and a half years on the run came to an end when police tracked down a post office box on the Gold Coast, Queensland used by Abbott, which was found to contain a pager bill registered to the address where he was living. Confronted by police at a Darwin laundromat he surrendered without resistance—as he typically did each time he was arrested.

Attempts to transfer[edit]

During Abbott's Queensland sentence, Western Australia twice refused Abbott's transfer applications in 2005 and 2008 to return to the state to complete his sentence. In 2004 Queensland authorities approved an interstate transfer[6] but Western Australian Attorney-General Jim McGinty refused to accept him.[7] In early 2007, Abbott re-applied to be transferred to Western Australia and that was approved by the Queensland Attorney General in 2008.[8] However, former WA Corrective Services Minister, Margaret Quirk, promptly released a media statement rejecting Abbott's bid to return home. Abbott has unsuccessfully applied for transfer to Western Australia four times in response to outstanding warrants. In May 2010, Glenn Cordingley of the Sunday Times in Perth, cited an unnamed WA police source who alleged that Western Australian authorities "had a cell waiting" for Abbott, although there had been no official confirmation of such.[9]

On 4 May 2016, Abbott was extradited to a prison in Western Australia to serve out his sentence of 16 years, nine months and two days that he was serving for armed robberies and his role in the Fremantle Prison riots at the time of his escape in 1989 (12 years, six months and 24 days plus an additional one-third additional penalty of four years, two months and eight days in forfeited remissions for escaping custody under the law then extant).

On 16 January 2017, Abbott was sentenced to an additional five months imprisonment for the 1989 escape.

He will be eligible for parole in Western Australia in July 2026, and his Western Australia sentence will expire in July 2033. If no further charges are laid against him, he will remain on parole in Queensland until July 2040, when he will be 78 years of age.

Armed robbery[edit]

A 1994 warrant for questioning remains in place with Adelaide Criminal Prosecutions Branch for one count of armed robbery in Glenelg, South Australia. In mid-2008, Brenden Abbott applied for an interstate transfer to South Australia to address the outstanding warrant. The application followed official statements by Adelaide detective Sid Thomas, in The Advertiser in 2008, that detectives were travelling to Queensland to question Abbott at Woodford Correctional Centre, although no such interview has ever occurred. In December 2010, Abbott's application for a South Australian transfer was approved by the Queensland Attorney General, and the South Australian Attorney-General's decision is pending. On 12 June 2011, The Advertiser reporter, Nigel Hunt incorrectly reported that Abbott had filed for a Supreme Court Judicial Review regarding the application to transfer to face the charges.[10] Hunt's story concludes with an unnamed source's suspicions that Abbott could have committed not just the one he is sought for questioning over, but multiple robberies in South Australia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Nyst, Chris (defence lawyer)."The Usual Suspect" Australian Story (program transcript), 27 October 2003
  2. ^ Steven Wardill (9 September 2011). 'Postcard Bandit' Brenden Abbott relocated to Brisbane Correctional Centre, scene of his jailbreak. The Courier Mail. Retrieved on 30 October 2012.
  3. ^ Buchanan, Matt. (26 May 2003). Born To Run. Sydney Morning Herald.
  4. ^ Terrible report card on hearing loss in schools. ABC News (Australia), 19 November 2012
  5. ^ Townsend, Ian, "Postcard bandit" sues Qld Govt over mistreatment in jail. The World Today. 20 October 2000.
  6. ^ AAP, Postcard Bandit can move to Perth, The Age, 7 July 2004
  7. ^ O'Donnell, Mick, Postcard Bandit hopes for transfer to WA, The 7.30 Report (transcript), 7 July 2005
  8. ^ Hansen, Peter (11 March 2007). Abbott faces parole limbo. Sunday Mail.
  9. ^ Glenn Cordingley (15 May 2010). WA police waiting for Brenden Abbott release. Sunday Times. Retrieved on 30 October 2012.
  10. ^ Nigel Hunt (12 June 2011). Postcard Bandit may be on the move. The Sunday Mail. Retrieved on 30 October 2012.
  • AAP, Postcard bandit denied computer, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 March 2006
  • Pedley, Derek, Australian Outlaw – The True Story of Postcard Bandit Brenden Abbott, Sly Ink, 2006. ISBN 978-0-9775440-1-1
  • Pedley, Derek, No Fixed Address – The Hunt for Brenden James Abbott, HarperCollins Australia, 1999. ISBN 978-0-7322-6664