25th of March, 1999 and a helicopter heads for Silverwater Prison in Sydney. It hovers, briefly lowering almost to the ground in the exercise yard, just long enough for one prisoner to break from the crowd and run to the door. He gets in, the helicopter turns, and flies away. Shots are fired, guards aren't too sure what to do, the helicopter pilot is working under duress, the woman holding the gun on him nervous and tense. John Reginald Killick had just been broken out of Silverwater Prison by his female accomplice and latest girlfriend Lucy Dudko, but they were on the run for a very short time, before he's returned to prison, and she's convicted to do her own stretch.
WANTED JOHN & LUCY is John Kerr's book on the escape, and on the lives of both John Killick and Lucy Dudko. The stories of both these people are, in their own way, kind of sad. Killick is a career criminal and gambler who, from a very young age, just found the path to quick money preferable to working for a living. Despite the number of times he was caught, jailed, escaped, jailed again. Lucy Dudko on the other hand, born in Russia, trapped in a marriage to a very nasty piece of work; found love and kindness in Killick and she was prepared to do whatever it took to stay with her man.
Told in that wonderful, conversational tone that John Kerr has, this is a frequently moving story. There's obviously something about John Killick - he might be a career criminal and pretty unrepentant about what he is, but he seems capable of sustaining and garnering great friendship and love - his ex-wife is a staunch supporter, ex-girlfriends seem to stay close (even if their families are underwhelmed). From the book it looks like more than just charisma too, it seems that he's a genuine and very likable bloke. Lucy is a sadder figure, an unhappy marriage to a very manipulative, controlling man, her decision to leave Alex Dudko and take up with Killick undoubtedly meant that both of there lives were made considerably more difficult. Despite a short period at trying to go straight, maybe to get a normal life going with Lucy and her daughter, somehow Killick and Lucy didn't seem to getting a break. Alex Dudko's pursuit of them was single-minded and quite ruthless and personal set backs aren't something that Killick's well equipped to deal with.
It's easy to see the sensational side of this story. The escape method was pretty spectacular, the players almost script-written to order. The career criminal, an older man; the young, foreign, exotic, sad, fragile woman who turns to crime for the man she loves. There's a lot more to it, and WANTED JOHN & LUCY reminds us that true crime stories are about real people.