Part One: The King v Andy Albury [2024]

He’s been called the Northern Territory’s own Hannibal Lecter and is one of a select few that has been sentenced to remain in an NT prison for the term of his natural life.

But the NT’s justice system still has to deal with the few remaining rights that Andy Albury can exercise. One of those is a statutorily-mandated status review of the circumstances of his incarceration.

The Supreme Court of the Northern Territory is an iced-wedding-cake abomination of a thing, surpassed only in its plus-sized baked-goods-ugliness by the NT parliament sitting kitty-corner to it on the fringes of Darwin’s CBD.

Last Thursday morning I arrived at Court `early, expecting a crowd in Justice Jenny Blokland’s court where she would preside over the semi-regular status review of the convicted murderer, the prisoner Andrew Christopher Albury.

I needn’t have been worried about getting a seat. Three wigged-and-gowned barristers were seated at the bar table, two representing agents of the carceral state—the Directors of Corrections and Public Prosecutions—and Senior Public Defender Ambrith Abayasekara from the NT Legal Aid Commission representing Albury.

The only others in Court were Court staff and retired Detective Senior Sergeant Dennis Hart—who along with Detective Sergeant Les ‘Chappy’ Chapman had arrested 21-year-old Albury in late November 1983—and Zizi Averill from the local NT News.

On the in-court monitors 62-year-old Albury shuffled into the tiny video room at the Holtze prison, bedraggled, un-shaven, un-kempt, muttering obscenities and threats to kill his lawyers.

“I want to kill my lawyer!”

Albury railed and ranted, referring to a “screaming match” with his lawyer.

“Got him in a room he’d kill him,” “I’d like to shoot him,” “I want to kill my lawyer, at least that way I’ll get a new one.”

Ambrith Abayasekara leapt to his feet and stepped out to call the prison, asking that Albury be taken out of earshot of the video room microphones. He returned a few minutes later, frustrated that he was unable to contact his client on a dead phone line to the prison. Albury re-entered the video room, walked to the table immediately under the video camera and disappeared from view, his head cradled in his arms on the table for the duration.

Albury’s stream-of-consciousness rant continued until the customary off-stage three knocks heralded Justice Blokland’s arrival on the bench and the opening of formal proceedings.

“I’ve been in solitary for forty-one years,” “I’m back in my cell, why don’t you kill me? … Can you please kill me … Shoot me to death,” “I’m continually self-harming … get me out of solitary.”

A bloodied long-sleeve white silk cowboy shirt

Following his arrest in November 1983 Albury told Detectives Hart and Chapman that he’d used a broken bottle to mutilate and kill the Aboriginal woman Gloria Pindan on Darwin’s Mitchell Street while he was drunk, following which he’d taken off his bloodied long-sleeve white silk cowboy shirt and thrown it in a nearby bin, where it was later found by police.

Following the discovery of Gloria Pindan’s body NT police trawled Darwin’s inner-city pubs, looking for a their most likely suspect of a ringer— an unskilled cattle station labourer—in town on a spree. Albury, not a ringer but an abattoir worker, was quickly located—with a new clean shirt but bloodied trousers—in the Vic Hotel and he soon made incriminating admissions to detectives.

“I grabbed this gin, took her over into the lot and killed her,” “I started to kick her, and hit her, then I got one stubble beer bottle top and started to cut her. After I finished cutting her, I pulled out her eye and left her there.”

On 5 July 1984 Andy Albury was convicted by a jury and, as required by NT legislation at the time, sentenced to imprisonment for life.

Over the years Albury made numerous “confessions” to crimes that—usually following substantial time wasted by detectives from southern jurisdictions—he was found not to be responsible for.

As Albury indicated in his rants to the Court last week, he has spent a large part of the last 40 years in solitary or segregated incarceration, and it appears for good cause. He was segregated during his initial incarceration in the maximum security B-Block of the old Berrimah Prison. Regardless, in 1988 Albury put a garden hoe through the head of fellow inmate John Michael Knox.

Jim [Morrison] told me to …

Albury claimed that long-dead singer Jim Morrison had ordered him to attack Knox. “Because Jim told me to. He talks to me. He tells me to do things. I’m pretty happy for the moment – he’s letting me sleep on the bed. Usually, he makes me sleep on the floor.”

Albury was found not guilty of attempted murder on the grounds of insanity, and on top of his sentence for the murder of Gloria Pindan, was detained at the Administrator’s pleasure and later moved to the Alice Springs prison.

There it appears that during a ‘friendly” cricket game he was given a cricket bat that he used to bash a fellow inmate in the head, fracturing his skull. This time Albury reckoned he was receiving instructions from the actor playing Detective Sergeant Don Beech in the long-running British police procedural program, The Bill.

Later, when before the Local Court in Alice Springs for a later assault on an Alice Springs prison officer, Albury told sentencing magistrate Daynor Trigg that he should: “Give me a day or another life sentence,” adding: “See you next time—and there will be a next time.”

Albury has reportedly sent several death threats to NT Ministers of the Crown. In 2014, a fake bomb threat to the NT Ombudsman’s office that led to the evacuation of the Darwin CBD was traced back to Albury in Berrimah Prison.

Next: In Part Two I’ll look at the most comprehensive assessment of what it is that so troubles Albury, and how the NT’s carceral system has struggled to deal with him.