The Perth gazette and Western Australian times/15 March 1867
|The Perth gazette and Western Australian times (1867)
15 March 1867
Probably no event in the colony ever tickled the risible faculties of the public, than did the escape of the notorious convict Moondyne Joe on the afternoon of Thursday last week. Much of the amusement felt arose from remembrance of the theatrical exhibition made of Joe by the Acting Comptroller General when he was last captured — chaining him to a post in one of the yards, and Mr Hampton improving the occasion by addressing the assembled prisoners, and pointing out to them Joe's sad condition, as an example of what would befall them if they went and did likewise. Joe's ingenuity in making his escape from his apparently hopeless condition has gained him many sympathisers, who express an opinion that he has earned his freedom, more especially as Mr Hampton is said to have told him, when he saw him put into the cell which had been specially prepared for him, that if he managed to make his escape again, he would forgive him. That cell was made wonderfully strong, as much so as iron and wood could make it, and in it Joe was kept chained to a ring in the floor or wall, allowing a movement of about one yard, in heavy irons, with one hour's exercise daily in one of the yards. The Surgeon, however, reported that a greater amount of open air was necessary for the maintenance of health; consequently Mr Hampton selected a position in the angle of the wall at the back of the yard of the Superintendent's house, and there Joe was set to work at stone breaking under the eye of the sentry upon the prison walls, and the warder of the chain-gang working in the yards. How long he was so employed we know not, but on Thursday afternoon on being visited by the warder, the prisoner was gone and in his place was a neatly contrived dummy. It seems that the broken stone had been allowed to accumulate until it got to a considerable height, and together with that unbroken which Joe had been allowed to pile around him, concealed his person below his waist from the view of the sentry and the warder, and chance which Joe did not allow to escape. His plan must have taken some time to execute, for the first thing was to provide a means of getting through the wall, a work of considerable labour... The hole ready through the wall into Mr Lefroy's yard, Joe then prepared for his exit by sticking his hammer upright and with some umbrella wire he had got possession of, he formed a shape something of a man's shoulders and arms. Upon the top he placed his cap and having slit up the sleeves of his jacket and shirt, managed to slip out of them and leave them upon the frame he had constructed; then having got rid of his irons and divested himself of his trousers, got through his hole in the wall...