– The man who escaped from Pentridge Prison with Ronald Ryan – the last man hanged in Australia – has been arrested over a sophisticated, clandestine drug lab discovered in a small Wimmera town.
Peter John Walker, 71, was arrested in connection with the amphetamines lab, found in the rear of Yaapeet’s disused post office. He has been released while the investigation continues.
Mr Walker, a bank robber, escaped from Pentridge with Ryan on December 19th, 1965.
Ryan allegedly shot dead prison officer George Hodson as the warder tried to grab Mr Walker outside the jail. Ryan was convicted of the murder and hanged on February 3rd, 1967. Within two weeks of the escape Mr Walker shot and killed tow-truck driver Arthur Henderson, whose body was found in a bayside public toilet.
The two men had left a Christmas Eve party to buy more alcohol from a local sly-grogger.
Even though the victim was shot at point-blank range, Mr Walker argued the pistol accidentally discharged during a struggle. He claimed Mr Henderson had attacked and punched him.
Police claimed Mr Walker shot him in cold blood because he feared Mr Henderson would tell police of the location of the two fugitives, who were being protected by a friend in Elwood.
The two were later arrested in Sydney on January 5th, 1966.
Mr Walker was convicted of manslaughter and served a further 19 years before he was released in 1984.
He avoided serious trouble for 17 years, working as a house stumper, but at the age of 59 was arrested again.
Mr Walker was charged on March 15, 2001, after police discovered more than 100 hydroponic marijuana plants and nearly six kilograms of cannabis on his Kyneton property.
The dried marijuana was worth nearly $50,000.
Mr Walker pleaded guilty to cultivating a commercial quantity of marijuana and theft of electricity. His lawyer told the court that Mr Walker was an asthma sufferer who smoked marijuana to assist his breathing. The court was not convinced.
In April 2002, he was sentenced to a year in jail and fined $12,000. Police said he was “old school” and refused to talk.
The Yaapeet lab, 416 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, was discovered by police from the Clandestine Laboratory Squad, who, while wearing breathing apparatus, seized drug-making gear, chemicals and a cache of weapons.
Mr Walker was arrested at his Wyndham Vale property, near Werribee, on Thursday.
Police refused to comment on the latest investigation – John Silvester


About Jumpin' Jack Cash

This entry was posted in Armed Offences, Armed Robbery, Drug Possession & Use, Drug Trafficking, Manufacturing and Dealing, Escapee, Homicide, Manslaughter, Prison Crime, Theft, Violent Crime, Weapon and Firearm Possession and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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