Darcy Dugan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Darcy Dugan
Born (1920-08-29)29 August 1920
Sydney, New South Wales
Died 22 August 1991(1991-08-22) (aged 70)
Glebe, New South Wales
Criminal penalty death
Criminal status commuted to life in prison
Spouse(s) Jan Simmonds
Conviction(s) Bank robbery, Prison escapee

Darcy Ezekiel Dugan (29 August 1920 – 22 August 1991) was an Australian bank robber and New South Wales' most notorious prison escape artist. [1][2]

Early life[edit]

Dugan grew up in the inner suburb of Annandale in Sydney.

Career criminal[edit]

During his criminal career, he committed numerous armed holdups, robbing banks[2] and even a hospital.[2] However he became more famous for his daring escapes than for his initial crimes.[2][3]

On 4 March 1946, Dugan escaped from a prison tram which was transporting him between Darlinghurst Courthouse and Long Bay jail.[4] As the tram passed the Sydney Cricket Ground, Dugan used a kitchen knife to saw a hole through the roof, through which he escaped. The tram is still kept today at the Sydney Tramway Museum.[5]

On 16 December 1949, Dugan and accomplice William Cecil Mears (1920-2002) both escaped from Central Police Station, Sydney, during a Court recess. Mears was in Court after being charged with possession of an unlicensed pistol and had subpoenaed Dugan as a witness. During an adjournment for lunch, Dugan and Mears hacksawed through an iron bar in their cell and escaped from the Police complex and onto the streets of Sydney. Police gave chase, but they were last seen as they jumped onto a passing tram.[6]

In 1950 Dugan was sentenced to death, along with a co-offender. An appeal against sentence failed but Cabinet later commuted the sentences to life imprisonment.

After another prison escape, Dugan reportedly left behind a note scrawled on the wall of his cell which read, "Gone to Gowings."[7] The reference to Sydney department store's advertising slogan was slang for many things including "left in haste".[8]

Dugan served a total of 35 years in prison, exactly half of his life. He served his final prison sentence at Long Bay Correctional Centre and was released on parole in 1984.

Final years[edit]

Dugan worked as a rehabilitation officer during his final years of freedom until his health declined. In the 1980s he became a campaigner for prison reform and exposing corruption, living in a prisoners' half way house in Glebe [9]. In 1980, Darcy married Jan Simmonds, who he had met in prison while she was researching a book about her brother Kevin Simmonds, famous for being an escapee and fugitive in the late 1950s.[10] Although they separated not long after, they remained friends and Jan looked after Darcy when his health began to fail upon his final release from prison.

His autobiographical book Bloodhouse was published posthumously, in 2012 [11].


Dugan died in the Sydney suburb of Glebe from Parkinson's disease on 22 August 1991.[12] He was buried at Rookwood Catholic Cemetery on 29 August 1991.[13].


  1. ^ "Larrikin thief's last gamble marks his grave". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2002-11-06. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Celebrity criminals". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2006-01-18. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  3. ^ N.Lipson & T.Barnao. 'As Crime Goes By - The Life and Times of "Bondi" Bill Jenkings. Published 1992, Ironbark Press, Australia.(ISBN 1 875471 14 6) - Chapter 5, 'Darcy and Me'.
  4. ^ "Bakery Bulletin" (PDF). Hurstville City Council. 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  5. ^ "Sydney Tramway Museum". NineMSN Getaway. 2001-07-19. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  6. ^ "Two Prisoners Escape From Central Police Station". Trove. 1949-12-16. Retrieved 2012-05-07. 
  7. ^ "Slang - Gone to Gowings". ABC Radio Canberra. 2002-01-22. Archived from the original on May 26, 2006. Retrieved 2007-07-29. 
  8. ^ http://www.slang-dictionary.org/Australian-Slang/T/84/Gone_to_Gowings
  9. ^ The Glebe Society, 2016, Darcy Ezekiel Dugan, https://www.glebesociety.org.au/?street=darcy-ezekiel-dugan-1920-1991 (1920 – 1991)
  10. ^ http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/simmonds-kevin-john-11690 Article, Simmonds, Kevin John (1935–1966) by Anne Gollan—"Kevin John Simmonds (1935-1966), gaol escapee, was born on 22 August 1935 in Sydney, son of Australian-born parents John Simmonds, labourer, and his 16-year-old wife Sheila Mary, née Finn."
  11. ^ Darcy Dugan and Michael Tatlow, 2012, Bloodhouse, Harper Collins, http://www.harpercollins.com.au/9780732295523/#sm.000c8wj0p12die0jreg1yo9s2lovv
  12. ^ Sydney Morning Herald, 28 August 1991. Death Notice. Darcy Ezekiel Dugan.
  13. ^ Rookwood Catholic Cemetery. Mortuary 2. Area 7. Grave 1590.