Archibald Beattie McCafferty

Australia's Worst Prisoner

Archie proved to be a handful for the authorities and he was shuffled around to the toughest gaols in the state. Prison officers and psychiatrists regarded him as extremely dangerous. His one consistent and predominant thought was the killing of four more people.

A television crew allowed into the notorious Katingal section at Long Bay Jail interviewed Archie who told a stunned audience that there was nothing that anyone could do to stop him from murdering another four people should he be let out.

Placed on massive doses of tranquillisers to keep him under control, by 1978 Archie had done time in almost every maximum security prison in the state and was considered to be a gaol 'heavy' and an associate of the hardest criminals in the penal system. In April 1980 warders foiled an escape attempt by Archie at Grafton gaol. He had loosened bricks in his cell before prison officers were tipped off and his escape route was discovered. At the time prison officers said McCafferty was probably the worst criminal in the state's gaols.

Police believe that Archie McCafferty was a member of the secret 'murder squad' that was judge, jury and executioner behind the walls of Parramatta Jail in 1981. They believe that the group was responsible for four murders within the prison. In September 1981 Archie was charged with the murder of Edward James Lloyd, who was stabbed to death in his cell. Archie's co-accused, Kevin Michael Gallagher, was eventually found guilty of the murder.

It was proved that McCafferty was present while the murder took place and, though he strenuously denied the charges, McCafferty was found guilty of manslaughter and given a further fourteen years.

Archie protested vehemently against the sentence, claiming that he had been framed. To prove it he named those who were responsible to the authorities. Archie McCafferty automatically became an outcast within the system that had been his home for the best part of his life.

He was now the biggest headache within the New South Wales penal system. For his own protection he was transferred from one jail to the next in search of a permanent home. In November 1981 Archie was caught-red-handed in his cell with 10 foil-wrapped packages containing heroin. The judge sentenced him to another three years imprisonment.

Parklea Prison
Parklea Prison

During 1983 and 1984 Archie was moved repeatedly between Maitland, Long Bay and Parklea prisons under the unofficial, but reprehensible practice called 'Shanghaiing' whereby senior prison staff were able to pass the responsibility for dealing with difficult prisoners on to others.

It was noted in official records that Archie suffered fits of mental disturbance during this period and he was said to be 'off his rocker'. After giving further information to authorities about serious criminal conduct by various prison officers within the prison system, Archie was eventually moved to the Long Bay Witness Protection Unit in 1987.

By now a price had been placed on his head and he was classified as a 'supergrass'. It was in the Witness Protection Unit that Archie was revisited by delusions concerning his dead son. Prison psychiatrists put it down to the fact that he had been sniffing solvents and petroleum and was extremely depressed by the lack of prospects for his future release.

As no parole period had been given it was clear to Archie that he would spend the rest of his life behind bars. But he kept applying for parole. In October 1991 Archie McCafferty's application for parole was heard before Mr Justice Wood. The judge granted him a 20-year parole period dating from 30 August 1973. Archie became eligible for release on parole on 29 August 1993.

Over the years Archie's anger subsided until he was considered safe enough to be placed at the Berrima minimum-security prison south of Sydney. But each year when he applied to be released on parole it was rejected.

Berrima minimum-security prison
Berrima minimum-security prison


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