Heathcote author Pat Kennedy writes 'first comprehensive history' of Long Bay Jail

Pat Kennedy at the gates to Long Bay. Picture: supplied
Pat Kennedy at the gates to Long Bay. Picture: supplied

Heathcote author Patrick Kennedy already knew a lot about his subject when he set out to write what he says is the first comprehensive history of Long Bay Jail.

Kennedy grew up in the adjoining street and his parents and sister worked in the jail hospital for varying periods over 30 years.

His father was the nurse-in-charge from 1953 until his his untimely death in 1973, and his mother then worked in the operating theatre until 1985.

Official opening of the State Penitentiary in 1914.

Official opening of the State Penitentiary in 1914.

Kennedy’s 272-page book, titled Long Bay, is with the publisher, and is due for release in February next year.

His previous works include a history of Heathcote, From Bottle Forest to Heathcote – the Sutherland Shire’s first settlement, and You Must See Some Terrible Things – his account of his time as one of Australia's first intensive care ambulance paramedics.

Kennedy said the idea of a book on the prison came to him while he was writing a history of Malabar, where he lived until he moved to Heathcote after his marriage in 1980.

The history dates back to 1909 when the original women's prison opened and trams delivered felons from the city.

“It took me four years to complete and weaves true crime into painstakingly researched history,” he said.

Kennedy said the book took readers inside “those cold hard walls”.

It was “full of stories about some of the most dangerous felons this nation has ever seen,” but focused on a handful of well-known criminals.

They included Russell “Mad Dog” Cox, who escaped from the supposedly escape-proof high security unit Katingal in 1977.

“Cox was on on the run for 11 years but, happily, is now free on parole and a reformed man,” Kennedy said.

Other inmates to receive close coverage included Peter Schneidas, who killed Kogarah prison officer John Mewburn in 1979, and former Corrective Services Minister and MP for Heathcote, Rex Jackson, who was jailed for corruption in 1987.

Kennedy also focused on gang members jailed after the Milperra bikie massacre in 1984.

As a paramedic, he attended the shoot-out between the Comancheros and Bandidos, in which seven people were killed.

“I treated some of the more than 20 survivors,” he said.

Visit: longbay.net.au and http://bit.ly/2gk6XdP