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Profile: Brian Bourke Back
Ronald Ryan

Brian Bourke interview 10 October 2005

You formed your own views of Ronald Ryan and they were somewhat different to those of Philip Opas.

That doesn't disturb me that I've got different views to Phil.

Fair enough. What were your views about Ronald Ryan?

I thought he was a likeable larrikin. He was a fellow who was really up until this stage a sort of a petty crim, he was a burglar and all that sort of stuff and I had pretty close contact with him particularly during the committal. I was out to see him the day after he landed. They flew him back to Avalon. One of the problems of the trial of course was an alleged admission that he made on the plane back to the homicide fellows, those sort of things can't happen now because they've got to be recorded on tape but whether he made the admission or was verballed, I don't know. He was a pretty talkative fellow, he might have. But it didn't change my life in the sense that I thought a really innocent bloke had gone to gaol. I was terribly upset about the death penalty and I mean that's what Barry Jones and everybody was on about: the death penalty. I mean if Ronny hadn't been hanged, well this trial would have just be in oblivion now, no one would have known anything about it. But I didn't have much doubt about his guilt.

Yes I just want to pick you up on that. You actually thought he did kill the warden.

The great thing about being a barrister is you never judge anybody but I I didn't have any real reservation about his guilt. I was terribly upset about the hanging, I can remember the morning that he hanged, it was an awful day.

Conducted for the Bar Oral History project by Juliette Brodsky in Owen Dixon Chambers East and filmed by Stewart Carter (People Pictures)


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