The Attempted Escape of Peg Leg Pete
The prisoner known as Peg Leg Pete had been in and out of prison since 1958 for violent crimes. In August 1985, he attempted to escape from the arts and crafts room in the Assessment Centre, located in the former Fremantle Women's Prison. He staged a mock escape, intending to use it as a diversion while taking his time to actually escape.
At 9:50am during a Tuesday morning art class, Peg Leg was allowed to go to the toilet block. He did not return and the alarm was sounded at 10:15am. As Peg Leg was a talented artist, he used a copy of the security key he made from memory to let himself in and out. Taking bread, milk and cheese, he snuck between buildings, lifted a concrete slab and lowered himself into a drain.
During the subsequent search, prison officers inadvertently moved a cupboard over the concrete slab, trapping Peg Leg underneath. He was there for two days, rainfall slowly filling the drain. On Thursday night, he managed to tunnel sideways through the drain and came out beside the cupboard. He then crawled under a wire fence, through a window back into the arts and crafts room, and entered a manhole in the floor, hiding under the floorboards.
The next day, fellow prisoners stood over him painting in their art class. As the room was locked up for the weekend, Peg Leg emerged from his hiding space in the evening and began constructing a makeshift ladder to hoist him over the perimeter wall. Assembled with picture frame wood, broom and mop handles, and bound together with masking tape and rope, it would not support his weight.
On the Monday, the ladder was found propped against the wall between No. 5X and No. 5 Gun Posts, his unique footprints in the surrounding earth - his attempt to convince the guards he had escaped. A renewed search began, with the Police Tactical Response Group called in to help. During another search of the art room, officers lifted up the floor boards and found Peg Leg Pete in his hiding place, who upon discovery, stated he was frustrated and "going off his head." The officers told him to "shut your mouth and lie still", after which he was taken back into custody.