Women Criminals in Australia

Green is the New Black, the hilariously titled book written by James Phelps was released this month, with readers in shock and awe about what females get up to in prison.

Australia is home to some pretty interesting women who are now behind bars for various crimes. We are home to women who are murderers, drug dealers, child killers, a cannibal, and women who commit crime for their partners. There are a mixed bag of women who sit behind bars. Following is a brief overview of some of these women.

Katherine Knight

Katherine Knight is one of the most interesting, and terrifying women in gaol. While she is known as ‘nanna’ to those who live with her in gaol, she committed one of the most horrendous crimes which shocked Australia and gave Katherine Knight the first ever ‘never to be released’ sentence for a woman in Australia.

Katherine Knight is Australia’s answer to Hannibal Lecter. While she claims she doesn’t remember what happened the night her defacto partner, John Price, the crime scene showed the brutality of John’s final hours. Katherine used her skills, which she learnt while working at an abattoir, to kill and skin John. She then cut meat off his dead body and cooked it up for John’s kids. It is alleged she tried the human meat, but ended up throwing it to the dogs.

Katherine Knight looks like she could be anyone’s grandmother, but committed one of the most horrendous crimes in Australian history.

Rebecca Butterfield

Rebecca Butterfield is Australia’s most feared inmate within the corrections system. She has been moved from gaol to gaol just to give correctional officers a break from her.

In a controversial move, her sentence was extended as she is ‘too dangerous to be released’. Butterfield was originally sentenced to a minimum of three years for assault, she is now imprisoned indefinitely.

Butterfield is known for her self harm attempts and attacks against corrections staff. She has set herself on fire, cut her own throat, and managed to murder her cell mate when she was housed at Emu Plain Correctional Centre, a minimum security women’s correctional centre. The victim was Bluce Lim Ward, who Butterfield stabbed 34 times using one of the knives the women had access to for cooking. Bluce Lim Ward was due to be released the month after her murder.

Rebecca Butterfield is Australia’s most dangerous prisoner. She is currently imprisoned indefinitely.

Lindy Chamberlain

The term ‘a dingo took me baby’ is one of the most famous lines related to Australian culture. Unfortunately, these words were the result of a tragedy, involving the death of nine week old Azaria Chamberlain. Her mother, Lindy Chamberlain, stated a dingo had taken her baby, but was convicted of the murder of Azaria and was sentenced to life in prison.

Chamberlain submitted appeals to clear her name, which were rejected. A Royal Commission into the death of Azaria Chamberlain found Lindy Chamberlain innocent of her daughter’s death, and she was released from gaol.

Australian’s, to this day, are still divided on the subject of Lindy Chamberlain’s innocence.

Lindy and Azaria Chamberlain, on holiday in the Northern Territory, just before Azaria went missing.

Alo Bridget Namoa

Alo Bridget Namoa is the youngest criminal on this list, at the age of 19. Namoa and her husband Sameh Bayda are known as the Islamic ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ and are accused of plotting a terrorist attack.

Namoa is the first woman in Australia to carry a terrorist classification. Her and Bayda held documents which dictated how to carry out a terrorist attack in a way which would cause the most damage. Also found was an ISIS flag and propaganda. Both Namoa and Bayda are facing life imprisonment pending their trial.

Alo Bridget Namoa is the first female inmate in Australia to be classified a terrorist.

Rachael Pfitzner

In October 2007, a suitcase was found floating in a duckpond in the the suburb of Ambarvale, in Campbelltown NSW. A couple of children who were playing at the duckpond that day fished the suitcase out of the water and made a gruesome discovery, the body of three year old Dean Shillingsworth.

Pfitzner was found guilty of the murder of Dean. It is alleged Pfitzner killed Dean because he reminded her too much of Dean’s father, Paul Shillingsworth. She stated in the court “I tried to love Dean, but I didn’t see him as a child”. Pfitzner was sentenced to a maximum of 25 and a half years imprisonment. Due to the nature of her crime, she is held in protective custody.

Rachael Pfitzner being escorted to gaol after being sentenced to 25 years inmprisonment.