– 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

Deep connections are the most important aspect of my existence. I don’t care if people don’t know what they want. I love books. I’m cynical of love stories, although I’m romantic. I adore gardens. I like women who challenge me. I love the rain as an excuse to stay inside and dream. I'm furiously impatient. If I ask you a question best to tell me the truth as I'm likely to already know the answer. I'm a carnivore. I continuously underestimate the magic of fresh flowers in my home. I love warm rain in the summer. My mood elevates to epic proportions when the sun shines. Tell me not to do something and I'll do it twice and take photos. Running is my antidepressant. I loathe lies. I rarely forgive a lie. Loyalty and honesty are my most noble virtues, and I value them more than anything in other people. I love to love, and am able to fall in love very quickly, although it's only ever happened once. I understood myself and fixed myself only after destroying myself. My greatest excitement comes from deliberately getting lost in foreign cities. I can be extremely loud and frighteningly silent. I hate insinuations. I love storms. Justice for all. I'm a proud man, but welcome the influence of the feminine soul. I have two sisters. I’m a dreamer. I’m a deep thinker. Don’t deal with guilt trips or drama that well. I'm extremely stubborn and persistent. I'm brilliant at keeping secrets. I love driving. I become absolutely and completely lost while watching a burning fire. When the toast pops from the toaster I’m never ready and shit myself. I play the guitar, but require much improvement. Solitude and warmth of the sun are perfect together. I’ve been married once and now divorced. I’m a music junkie. Chocolate mousse is the shit. I curse too much. I find it difficult to make friends. I spent four years as a firefighter. I’ve run my own company since 1991. Bright lights, big cities. I’ve been an executive producer of a feature film. Some people don’t care, and that’s the biggest let-down of the human race. There are cures and solutions for many evils, but no remedy for the worst of them all - the apathy of human beings. The sound of the Italian language being spoken is as good as my favourite music. I hate corrupt cops. I relentlessly and passionately pursue anybody and anything that sets my soul on fire. I'm a dog lover, and all my dogs are considered family members. I have an obsession with photography. I have some close friends who are household names, but shall always remain anonymous. I’m crazy but not lazy. Losing a soulmate has hurt me badly. My two young sons are the nucleus of my universe. I love airports. I love freedom. If you are dishonest or disloyal, I can erase you from my life and memory immediately and permanently. I yearn to explore, dream about and discover as many friendships, deep connections and places, one possibly can in a lifetime.
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