Free O'Meally


Donated by Barry York

Museum of Australian Democracy collection

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.