Rory Jack Thompson

What he did and how he did it.
There’s a house at 99 Hill Street that is probably more notorious than any other in West Hobart. It was the scene of a murder in 1983.
An excerpt from  Gregory Kratzmann’s book “A Steady Storm of Correspondence – Selected letters of Gwen Harwood 1943-1995” ISBN 0 7022 3257 2

“It is called self-sufficiency. We have it in West Hobart by tottering 100 yards to the corner Greek to get the vegetables from his Greek friend’s farm, or bread from his Greek friend’s bakery. The Greek Church of St Vlodymyr is just along the street, separated from the corner shop by a row of Dickensian terrace houses in one of which a bizzare murder took place;a CSIRO marine biologist facing a custody suit butchered his wifeand tried to flush the bits away. One finger got stuck in the sewage grating near the river 2 miles away; the West Hobart drains began choking up. Then the police started digging up the drains . . .  a great folklore has grown up. Every one knows someone who was nearby at the time and heard terrible screaming but thought it was just another domestic. Everyone knows someone whose little boy looked over the fence and saw THE HEAD and had to be put under a psychiatrist. Everyone knows someone who could tell by the look in his eye that he was mad. (He was found not guilty but insane; however he was sane enough for the CSIRO to use him as a consultant while he was in his cell. How do I know? Well I know someone . . .)”

Newspaper articles?

The Examiner

Rory Jack freedom flight foiled

BY MELANIE ALCOCK 06 Jul, 1999 11:14 AM

Wife killer Jack Newman was arrested on a Melbourne- bound plane just minutes before take-off after a daring daylight escape yesterday. Police snatched Newman _ formerly known as Rory Jack Thompson _ while he was sitting on an Ansett flight, less than 90 minutes after he had escaped from Risdon Prison. Newman, a former CSIRO marine scientist, was gardening solo outside the prison about 8am yesterday when he flagged down a Metro bus and travelled to central Hobart. There he withdrew $490 from an automatic teller machine, caught a taxi to Hobart Airport and boarded the plane. To board the flight, Newman, 57, had to go past security at Hobart Airport dressed in the full khaki prison garb and a black beanie. It is still a mystery as to how Newman, a minimum security prisoner since 1993, had access to an ATM card with sufficient funds for an airline ticket. Newman, who chopped his American wife into 91 pieces with a hacksaw in 1983 and flushed her body parts down the toilet, was last night behind bars in maximum security. Ironically, Newman, who was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity, would have been eligible to apply to the Supreme Court to be released under special legislation to be proclaimed in November.

Slicer enjoyed taking different approach in court

18 Sep, 2009 12:09 PM

JUSTICE Pierre Slicer steps down from the Tasmanian Supreme Court bench today without a regret.

Widely regarded as freely spoken and fair, the 65-year-old’s decision to retire reflects a wish to more thoroughly explore other avenues – many of them within the legal profession and many of them human rights-related.

The judge has had, to say the least, a fascinating career, encompassing more than 18 years on the bench.

And the activist, former Marxist and once-arrested protester is fiercely proud of what he has achieved.

“I think I have shown young people you can work within the law but still remain true to yourself,” he said.

“You can be different.”

He agreed to become the first director of the State’s Legal Aid Commission back in January, 1991.

“Why’d I do it? At the time it was to be my last commitment to public service,” he said, chuckling.

A few months later he was surprised to learn he had been nominated for the judicial role.

But the then-Mr Slicer was ready for a new challenge.

“I had confidence in my skills, and I thought I could bring something to the bench,” he said.

“But the role itself has its own constraints and I certainly felt a sense of `strangeness’ at the beginning.

“I also felt I was a touch different – the others (judges) came from more … orthodox backgrounds,” he said.

But one of his most memorable – and infamous – cases came well before his appointment.

Justice Slicer acted for Tasmania’s most notorious murderer after Martin Bryant, the late Rory Jack Thompson, who killed his wife.

“I was working at the Tasmanian Aboriginal Commission at 11.30am when I got a call asking me to go to the court,” he said.

“So I did. Justice (Mervyn) Everett had summoned me.

“The jury was already panelled and he asked could I start at 2.15pm because Thompson had no lawyer.”

He agreed.

“I had to get to know him and he had to get to know me,” Justice Slicer said.

“We connected over my knowledge of US politics, and we ended up having this deep meeting of minds – he believed I was someone who could do the job.”

He recalled Thompson struggling to comprehend the furore surrounding his horrific crime.

“He couldn’t understand why everyone was so upset about him dissecting the body – after all, he thought, she couldn’t feel any pain because she was already dead.

“He just couldn’t understand. His academic intelligence was extreme but he was emotionally deficient.”

Thompson later escaped from Risdon Prison and got on a bus bound for the airport.

“He would have made it except one of the passengers recognised him – God knows what a shock that must’ve been!”

Rory’s Story – Link to Secret Tasmania

Rory Jack Thompson – Mad Scientist


2 Responses to Rory Jack Thompson

  1. Richard Thompson says:

    A woman says she and her 5-years old daughter recognized him and beat a hasty retreat back to their residence to call police.

  2. It is a common mistake to call every marine scientist a marine biologist (as in Gregory Kratzmann’s book). Rory Thompson was a physicist, a physical oceanographer and theoretician.

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