William O’Meally was sentenced to 27 years in prison for the murder of a policeman in Caulfield, Melbourne, in 1952. He became Australia’s longest-serving prisoner and suffered brutal treatment, including floggings with a cat-o-nine tails, at the hands of authorities in Pentridge Prison. He always protested his innocence.
Donor Barry York writes of this campaign:
I used to be spokesman for the Prisoners’ Action Committee in
Victoria. We had a campaign for the release of Bill O’Meally … I used
to unlawfully correspond with him—screws would smuggle in, and out, a
letter for a dollar per letter. Anyway, I have a lengthy letter from
O’Meally describing the cat-o-nine tails and other ill-treatment he
received. Eventually he was released—after doing the obligatory thing
and ‘finding God’ and promising not to make a fuss. He did, however,
write a book about his experiences.