Special Feature: A necessary respect - the small legend of Karl Crawley

The three screws didn't know much about guns. They thought the big, dark automatic that Karl Crawley was pulling out was a Luger. But Kar7 didn't care whether the screws could recognise a Colt .45 when they saw one - just so long as they had enough cop to do what they were told. -Freeze, you bastards!

If you're a screw in Mountjoy Prison and Karl Crawley points a gun at you - you freeze. Because you know this guy is no cream puff This is the guy whose belly has been cut open so many times that it ~ scarred and mauled like it's been run over by a tank track. He's been in and out of prison so often they've got a special cell for him. He's been declared insane maybe a dozen times and he ~ got forearms as thick as piano legs and fists like hammers and he ~ used them since god knows when to knock lumps out of anyything in a uniform. So, watch it, take it easy.

But what the hell kind of gun is that, and where did he get it?

Karl was telling them to open Mick's cell. Then he'd get the others out. The Littlejohn ~ and the UDA blokes. It

was going to be dicey, getting up out of the high security basement and then out of the prison itself And then his troubles would be only starting. Already that young screw was looking a bit too carefully at the Colt .45. Fuck him, this wasn't Karl Crawley ~ first escape and it wouldn't be his last. The first time he did a scarper was in St. Philoomena's. And that was all of fourteen years back ...

Part 1  - On the run

The buses went this way and that way - but which one went into town? Karl Crawley was nine years old and the reason he didn't know much about dealing with . buses was that he had spent all but four or five months of those nine years in orphanages.

It was just after six in the evening when Karl wen t over the wall and legged it away from St. Philomena's. The first thing he'd done was buy some sweets with money he had stolen in the orphanage before escaping. Now he had enough money left for the bus fare home. But this was Stillorgan and home was in Harmonstown, somewhere over on the other side of the river. That meant getting a bus into town and Karl didn't know howto do that.

He wandered down to Stillorgan village and found an old man standing at a bus stop. Karl, in the neat corduroy jaccket and short pants that was the orphanage uniform, asked the old man if this was where you got the bus into town. The old man was nice. He invited Karl back to his nearby home for tea.

Back at St. Philomena's Karl Crawley's brother, Mick, was getting the business. Where's Karl? Before the great escape Mick had decided togo over the wall the next day and had arranged to meet Karl in town - so there was no way he was going to squeal on where Karl might be headding for. Clatter, thump, clatter.'

The cops, alerted by the nice old man, arrived at the house while Karl was having tea. The cops were nice. They gave him a ride in the back of their big blue Consul squad car. They chatted to him. One of the cops gave him two shillings. Karl was fascinated by the big torch in the back of the car. When the kids from St. Philomena's went on an outing to town each Christmas the most coveted present to come back with was a torch. You could have great crack shining the torch around the dormitory at night and you could use it to read under the bed Clothes.

But this cop torch was huge - a big square thing with a handle. A thing like that would light up the dorm like a

searchlight. '

By the time the squad car arrived back at St. Philomena's Karl had nicked the torch.

That was 1961.

Part 2 - Someone to be reckoned with

Karl had been handed OVer toSt. Philomena's in 1958, when he was six. It was run by the nuns and-discipline was strict, ten times worse thanThe Bird's Nest Home in Dun Laoghaire , where he had been left when he was three months old.

Bernadette O'Boyle , from Donegal, was' still a teenager when she married Larry Crawley in Dublin in the Forties. Her first child, Paddy, died of tuberculosis at the age' of two. Her next child, a daughter, was born in 1945. She had three more daughters, in 1946, 1947 and 1948. In 1950 she had a son. She had six more sons, in 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956 and 1958. By then her husband's haulage business was gone - and so was he, to England.

Karl Crawley was the eighth child, born on April 21, 1952.

Most of the sons served time in orphanages. The Bird's Nest HOme was the first, and for Karl that lasted six years. He left the orphanage via Harcourt Street Hospital, where he had a protracted stay. The reason for the stay was severe bruising. In the child's mind memories of beatings mixed with the memory of a fall, talk of blood poisoning and sugggestions that he might be sent to Cherry Orchard Fever Hospital. Instead he was sent home. After about a month at home he was handed over to St. Philomena's in Stillorgan.

Mick Crawley was sent there, too. And Philip and David and Tommy and Paul Crawley. Philip was taken home by Mrs. Crawley the same day she handed in Tommy and Paul. Karl was then about eight and Tommy and Paul were about six years younger. Until then Karl hadn't known they exissted. Hey Karl, these are your brothers, look after them.

Sometimes there were a couple of dozen kids in the orphanage, sometimes a lot more than that, maybe eighty. Kids came and went but the Crawleys stayed on month after month, year after year. Them and the kids known as the mongolies - the kids afflicted with Down's Syndrome.

Like any place where kids gather in numbers there was toughness, violence, antics that were careless, ruthless or ·cruel. You looked out for yourself and your own. Although Karl was younger than Philip and Mick he had early on assumed the responsibility of leadership, which meant making himself someone to be reckoned with, top cat.

As well as the usual playacting, kicking up a row, dashhing through dorms and wrecking the beds, there were acts of violence aimed at asserting strength, punishing opponn'ents or knocking the wind out of potential rivals.

Outside, getting your eye dyed meant catching a thump that left you with a black eye. In here it meant a guy comming up to you with a big smile on his face and his arm jerks up and flick, he's painting your eye with the little brush from a bottle of nail varnish.

Or it's the small hours of the morning and the Crawleys lie awake until everyone else is asleep - even the woman in the curtained-off area at the end of the dorm who's job is to supervise the kids and report any misdeeds to the nuns. (And who was the unwitting source of supply of nail varnish.)

Then Karl and his brothers would slide out of bed, lie on the floor, creep along under the next bed and the next. The whole dorm apparently at rest, and below the beds the Crawleys moving inexorably towards their victim. Put a pillow over his face, and for twenty seconds or so the wakking, gasping kid is subjected to a storm of punches to the body. '

Then scatter, creep and slide back to bed before the howls bring the woman and the nuns. But the kids know :the who and the why and nobody messes with the Crawley brothers.

Part 3 - This isn't kid stuff - it can kill you

Violence is how things work. Sometimes you get caught doing something you shouldn't and the nuns , give you a: thumping. Other times you get away with ',', it. Sometimes you get done over for something you didn't do. Back in The Bird's Nest, all the kids sitting on benches lined along the wall. You, come out here. And in front of everyone you got walloped. Or watched your broother being walloped. The same in Philomena's, except it was the nuns coming into the dorm at night - I want you, and you, and you. And, clatter.

You got out of St. Philomena's sometimes. Sunday morrning, everyone lined up in their black berets and gabardines and getting a penny to put on the plate in the church. Or an outing - where the nuns would break the kids into groups and put an older boy in charge of each group. And you could keep them all in line through fear - because now you had her on your side.

Paddy Andrews died on a Monday. He'd got a hammerring. Karl had got one too, for something or for nothing much, just a routine hammering. And the kids came up the stairs and walked into the room, same as always, and Paddy Andrews was lying there and the nuns were fussing over him and one had a mirror near his mouth to see if he was still breathing. Then a woman doctor came up and looked at him and told them they were kidding themselves, Paddy Andrews was a goner.

Which was when Karl went over the wall and had to be brought back by the nice coppers in the big blue Consul. Because they'd killed his pal Paddy Andrews and if Paddy was a bit wild Karl was wilder and odds on they'd kill him too.

And even years later, long after he knew that Paddy Andrews had died not from a beating but from -a burst appendix, Karl would talk about how they had killed his pal Paddy Andrews, they beat him up and he died from it. Lesson: this isn't kid stuff - it can kill you.

You could handle that if the rules were straight - but the rules changed. I want you, and a nun was taking Karl down the steps to the basement with the big furnace and the coke all around. He'd stolen a pound from the tailor's room, ten two-shilling pieces. It was the nun with the hurley stick that she used on the back of your legs and the big teeth sticking out on her face like a vampire and before she could do a thing Karl had the poker that they used for the furnace and was smacking it off her head.

The nun went down on the ground and lay there, groanning. Karl stood there, and for a second he thought of finishhing it off. He turned and ran up the stairs, went to bed, told no one, shocked by what he'd done and the fear of what would come of it.

All that came of it was a couple of clatters next day.

Lesson: sometimes you hit back, hard, and they back off a little.

Not long afterwards Karl was pushing a merry-go-round, giving some kids a ride. He swung the seat, causing it to jerk against the centre pole, and in retaliation one of the kids threw a bobbin from a reel of thread. Karl ducked, a window cracked. You don't squeal on others, so when Karl was accused he simply denied breaking the window. He was expelled from St. Philomena's. Lesson: the rules are arbitrary.

That was 1962. Karl was ten.

Karl didn't know it then, but he had only another eighteen months to do of his twelve-year orphannage stretch. After three weeks at home his mother brought him back to St. Philomena's. The nuns

weren't having any of that. They gave him six shillings and sent him off to St. Vincent's, in Glasnevin, run by the Christian Brothers. There, Karl got most of his formal schooling - and more of his informal education of what the world is about. He heard about sex, for instance, about women, and about men who liked boys.

But Karl was getting on a bit now. After eighteen months in St. Vincent's he walked out and didn't come back. Philip had been taken out, and besides, he was growing up and had spent twelve years in a narrow world.

Karl's mother wouldn't take him in, so he slept rough.

But that was alright, there was a big world waiting.

That was 1964. Karl was twelve.

Part 4 - Ma

Bernadette Crawley had a tough life. Poverty more often than not and eleven kids to bring up on her own. At one time, she told friends, she had lived with some of the kids in a shed. The result, with the kids being left in orphanages whenever Ma couldn't cope, did not make for a stable home life, yet remarkable bonds of family affection existed between Ma and the kids.

The relationship between Karl and his mother seemed to swing erratically from love to hate, erupting at times in violent rows. In November 1977 Karl would be charged at the Dublin District Court with assaulting his mother. There would be times when she would call the police to the house and have him taken away.

Yet one of the biggest causes of anxiety for Karl in the prison years to come would be if his mother didn't visit him. On one occasion, having been refused permission to visit, Bernadette Crawley threatened to sit-in in Mountjoy until she got to see Karl. On another occasion a friend callled to the house in Ballybough (to which the family moved from Harrnonstown) and found it stripped of furniture. Karl, in prison at the time, had wanted a leather coat and his mother had sold the furniture to buy one.

Ma had been dealt a tough hand - and she played it. It had been put up to her and she handled it. The problems in her own life would in tum create problems in her chilldren's lives - Ma introduced Karl to shoplifting.

Bernadette Crawley emigrated to Australia in 1977 to live with one of her daughters. She died there last year of cancer.

Part 5 --- Work, crime, drugs and travel

At first, Karl was a bit wary of the world. It never occurs to you that you're good at what you do, until you get out there and see how those guys you thought were hot ain't really that hot. Like, you

walk down the street and you see guys in leather jackets and tight blue jeans and you figure that every guy in a leather jacket and tight blue jeans is carrying a blade and you give them a lot of space.

But then you get to know them and know what they can do ~ and you know they're not worth a toss beside you. You know that you can do it, whatever it is, if it's put to you. You start to feel different, special, alien.

What Karl was good at was the physical things. He wasn't a big guy, but he was a natural athlete. Even way back in The Bird's Nest there was a fire escape that was a thrill to climb. In St. Philomena's there was a trick bar - a gymnastic device - and by and by there wasn't anything Karl couldn't do on the bar. A great way to show off, and he enjoyed it too. Spend half a day swinging by his legs ifhe wanted.

Karl could go up a wall or a drainpipe quicker than most people could fall off one. First - say it's a shop - you go in and buy something, take your time, make sure you're not served first. Gives you a chance to listen out the place.

You can usually tell if there are people upstairs. Up the pipe, in the window, your mate down below to catch the proceeds when you toss them out. Worst that ever happpened was a dog. Stuck it in a wardrobe.

There was work, sometimes, and his mother took him home. Karl usually screwed up, though, after a few weeks. Someone, some boss, says or does the wrong thing - up yours, Karl was off. He was always awkward with strangers, preferred to stick with the kind of people he knew, the kind he could respect, the kind that would show respect.

Which is not to say that failing to hold down a job was always Karl's fault. One job was in a factory, sweeping the floor. The boss points to his Jaguar out in the yard - clean that, Karl. Fair enough. Karl wanted to do a good job. He used Vim. The Jag lost its paint, Karl lost his job.

When he was thirteen Karl lied about his age and got a job as a helper on an Esso truck. He liked the job, travellling up and down the country. It lasted nine months, then the firm did a productivity deal - Karl was made redundant. He has never since held a job for that length of time.

Between 1964 and 1969 Karl enjoyed his longest stretch of freedom, a mixture of work, crime, drugs and travel.

The crime was a natural. It was easy, it was a challenge, it provided money, it was exciting. Smash and grab was a favourite, and Karl's specialty was vaulting over counters for a snatch.

And Karl was one of the best dressed dudes in town.

Nicked the clothes. Powder blue jeans, things like that. He was particular about the people he hung around with, even domineering. Hughie, John-Joe, Jimmy, a good team. Headding off down to stroke something - hey, come on, change your clothes, you're not walking up the road with me, dressed like that! It might be doing an orchard, or maybe smashing the window of an off-licence and making off with a few bottles. One's as good as the other. Sheep as a lamb.

The drugs came easy. Later on, they were always around.

Everybody was heavy into cider parties and one sleeping tablet was the equivalent of half a bottle of cider. Better, even. And amphetamines had you buzzing all over. It was about 1967 Karl spent a week in Steeven's hospital after doing too much Mandrax. Sometimes he'd go to the pub with Ma before dinner. She'd take about three pints, Karl would wait for her and drop maybe four Mandrax.

In the summer Karl and some of the guys would travel.

Head for the Isle of Man, work the restaurants for the seaason. One summer, when Karl was sixteen, he and Mick and a guy named Blackie were doing the season and went to eat in a cafe. They were told the place was closed, though there were lots of people in there. A nice way of saying, scram, you're not being served. One thing led to another and the owner got a thumping. That brought Karl's first taste of prison. The price was a £16 fine or a month the hard way. Blackie had got away, Mick used his wages to buyout, Karl had no money. He did the month in the nick. The set-up was handy. The cop shop on the ground floor, the court above that, the nick on the next floor up.

That wasn't Karl's first conviction, though. That happpened when he was working in a hardware shop in Capel Street, as a storekeeper. They were easygoing, let you bring your mate in to help. Karl brought a mate in and one day they left with a load of stuff - fancy cutlery, picnic knives, combs. Karl knew parts of the city - Roches, Bolgers, from shoplifting with Ma, and the pawnshops. But he didn't know any better than to go down Store Street, Karl and his mate sharing out the combs and the picnic knives and they walking right past the cop shop. Hold it there a minute.you two!

The way Karl tells it, the two of them got a going over in the cop shop, got bursted. Ma kicked up murder with the cops. But they also got probation, so that worked out not

Part 6 --- Nicked

By 1969 Karl had got all the warning shots he was going to get. The next one would be for real. It must have been a bit like running down a steep hill with a huge boulder gathering speed behind you.

Karl was going to get smacked, hard. And the nature of the boy and of his experiences were such that he was going to smack right back. Even had he foreknowledge of the horrific experiences that the next ten years would bring it is doubtful if he could have done other than keep running down that hill.

Anyway, as Karl had often told his brother Mick, when it's put up to you, whatever it is, you don't back off from it - you go right at it.

In January 1969 Karl was nicked and sentenced to six months in St. Patrick's on fourteen counts of housebreakking. It was just three months before his seventeenth birthday.

Part 7 - The big manipulation

When you're Karl Crawley and you go into the nick it goes something like this. Except you don't see it all at first. It takes a while before you work it out, figure all the angles. At first

you're just doing your stretch and what happens comes naturally, you don't even think of it as a big manipulation.

When you look at the screws what you see are dummies, one-horse-town bums. Coppers aren't so bad, but there's nothing lower than a screw. Hard men - they think. But they don't know what hard is. And they expect you to do what they say.

And where are they going to learn their job? They learn

it from pulling strokes and watching your reactions. They play their games, try to figure what works, how they can manipulate you. Doing this, sometimes they lean on you, provoke you.

When you're a warder and you get Karl Crawley to lock up it goes something like this. You have a guy who has come to despise authority and who will lash out at it if he feels the need. He doesn't respect you, yet you are responssible for getting him through the day, from breakfast to lock-up, with the least possible trouble. He shows no fear and will do what he wants regardless of the consequences to others or to himself. If you just lock him away they'll call you vicious - if you give him enough freedom to create trouble they'll call you negligent.

And the screws are doing this for a living. Their careers are affected by the way they handle you. Take Soldier. This was much later on, in Mountjoy, when Karl was someeone to be reckoned with, a con with a fierce reputation. Soldier was a big thick who used to be in the British army. One day he says the Governor is coming down later.

"Right, Karl. When he comes along you come over to me and ask me for something. Any stupid thing. And I'll say no, and you be polite, right?"

There's an ounce of tobacco in this for Karl, so he plays it cute. The Governor comes down and Karl toddles over and asks Soldier if, sir, I could please have a brush, sir, to sweep the cell, if it's not too much trouble, sir?

And Soldier squares his shoulders and says, "Fuck off, I'm busy."

And Karl tries to hold in the giggles and does his thank you, sir, and shuffles off. And Soldier makes points with the Governor for having this tough guy well under control. Karl gets his ounce.

Sometimes it's just a gift of a porn magazine, from a screw, a little gesture of humanity. You take it, but you know that he's just trying to make points with you. Maniipulation. Other times it's a bit of the heavy. And that's how you manipulate right back. Pick someone, as high up as possible, hold him responsible. If I get it, you get it.

Usually the reaction is that it's best to leave that headcase alone. Sometimes you have to make good the threat. Noothing personal, but they have to know that you mean what you say. Maybe wait a week, pick your time, then do it.

Maybe you do the screw. Maybe you damage something.

Like the lights. That would become a regular. And one day the Governor gets frantic and shouts that every time you break one of those light fittings it costs him £38 to fix it. Thank you sir! Now you know just how much bother you can promise, at thirty-eight quid a go.

You can't let them run your life for you. Sure, they'll thump you, you'll thump back, you'll get hurt, but what's new? It's fifty-fifty, the screws have a job to do, but you have a life to live. And it's all a big manipulation. A fucking man-ip-you-lay-sszer, right?

Part 8 --- The Drum

karl Crawley's transition from ordinary decent crimminal to some kind of legend was a seamless one. He would spend three quarters of the next decade in prison, mostly in short sentences, always for crimes

of a relatively minor nature - housebreaking, stealing a car, stealing drugs from chemist shops. His violence would be confined within the community of crime and punishment Pmostly against police and warders, a couple of times lashing out at civilians in an attempt to prevent capture.

He would be declared insane twelve times and declared sane twelve times - probably the only person on the island who can point to twelve testimonials to his sanity. He would make thirteen escape attempts. His stomach would be opened a dozen times as a consequence of his actions, until surgeons said they could operate no more without killing him. A special cell would be set aside for him in the basement of Mountjoy prison - the Crawley Cell.

The thing was, they thought they could tell Karl what to do, which is what jailers are paid to think. Karl didn't like being told what to do. He was impudent, scornful. A cold, contemptuous response to an instruction from a warder:

"Fuck ... you. "

He was put on report for insubordination and the Governor of St. Patrick's looked Karl up and down and told him he was here to learn a lesson. I bet you never thought there was a place like this.

A place like this? Karl was looking at the Governor and thinking, I can take a thousand times what you can dish out. You're looking at a throwback from a kinky fucking nun factory, you are.

Three days Number One, four days Number Two, someething else Number Three. Number One was bread and water. Number Two was bread and water with a bowl of porridge in the morning. And for Number Three they put margarine on the bread, or something like that. So what? Karl could take that and not be beholden to anyone.

He was released in July 1969 and was back inside in Sepptember, for housebreaking. This time he got depressed as well as rebellious. He put his athletic talents to use and climbed onto the roof. When they got him down they deeclared him insane and sent him to The Drum, Dundrum Mental Hospital, for three months.

In Apri11976, in the course of a habeas corpus hearing in the High Court the Clinical Director of Psychiatry of the Eastern Health Board, Dr. Brian McCaffrey, would be asked if Dundrum was suitable for Karl Crawley.

"No, my lord. The patients in Dundrum Mental Hospital are different from Karl Crawley's type. Most of them are psychotic individuals who have had schizophrenic illnesses, psychoses of different types - he is different from them."

The then Chief Fsychiatrist of Dundrum, Dr. John J. Smith, would be asked if he considered "that from Karl's point of view Dundrum is an appropriate place to have him?"

"Well, no, I would not regard it - I would agree with Dr. McCaffrey that it is not the ideal situation to treat his type of case."

"Well, is it an appropriate place to treat his type of case?" "No, I do not think it is appropriate to treat his type of case."

"Do you consider that the presence of Karl in Dundrum has any effect on the institution as a therapeutic institution?"

"Oh, I do, yes, it is quite disruptive."

The prison authorities would between October 1969 and September 1975 send Karl Crawley to The Drum twelve times. When things got too rough The Drum would be used to hold Karl down, sedate him with drugs. Dundrum Mental Hospital would be used as what Dr. Brian McCaffrey would describe in the High Court as "a chemical strait-jacket."

Part 9 --- The spoon trick

At first The Drum was just another challenge. Karl and another patient got up on the roof and stayed there for four hours. It even had compensations of a kind. Karl first mainlined - injected drugs intravenously - in Dundrum. A patient who was in the hospital for treatment of drug addiction provided an injection of Dicoonal. After two or three minutes the great feeling started, Karl lying sweating in his cell, and it lasted for about five hours, thinning off at the end.

In . January 1970 Karl carried out a dangerous escape, involving a long jump from a house onto the outside wall of The Drum. He got down from the wall, chased by the screws, ran througha number of back gardens, fell through a glass house, gashing his hand, and was fmally caught in a football field. It may be that this attempt went some way to prove Karl's sanity, as he was transferred back to St. Patrick's.

Further rows with the screws. The cell was damp, he reefused to clean it. He was put in the cellar, which was four cells in the basement.

A screw comes in. What happened to this spoon, where s the handle? Only the bowl of the spoon remained. Karl had swallowed the handle. They x -rayed him in the Mater Hospiital, found nothing, declared him insane and sent him back to The Drum on February 6: Karl swallowed another spoon on February 20. He was taken to hospital and passed the spoon after three days. They took him back to Dundrum.

He swallowed another spoon.

Having taken his defiance as far as he could by impuudence and violence Karl had stumbled on a bizarre way of manipulating the authorities. They could lock him up, punish him with bread and water, put him in solitary, push him around - but they were obliged to look after his health.

Anytime they thought they had him snookered he could pop something in his mouth and they would have to take him to hospital.

They began x-raying him daily. Karl was put in an isolaation cell. There he swallowed part of a ventilator grill. In a fight with a patient he got a punch which caused the metal to perforate his stomach. On March 20 three pieces of metal were removed from his stomach in St. Kevin's Hospital. He contracted pneumonia and spent four months in the hospital. When he left the hospital, with three months of his sentence left to serve, he weighed 575, stone.

Part 10 - "I know karate!"

Three months after his release fr~m St:Patric~s Karl was back in prison, this time Mountjoy, after stealing and crashing a car. He was certified insane' and disspatched to The Drum three days before Christmas 1970. On Christmas Day he arid another prisoner used a rope made of bed sheets to climb out of the ball alley to freedom. The authorities left the bedsheets hanging from the ball alley. Two weeks later another pair used them to escape.

Karl went home to Ma in Harmonstown, and went to bed. His sister, Geraldine, woke him with the news that there were cops downstairs. Geraldine went down to see what the cops were after, while Karl dressed. Geraldine came back and told Karl that they were here to ask Ma to let them know if Karl came home.

Karl went down: to the parlour and the two shades got a bit anxious. We could grab you and hold you.

"Yeah, I know."

One of the shades stuck his chin out and said, "I know

karate !"

Karl was amused. "Yeah, I know." "Would you not give yourself up?"

Karl agreed, but said he wanted a couple of hours. He would come down to the cop shop then. The cops left. Karl went into town and met an aunt. She fixed him up with clothes and money and he did a fade to England. After six weeks he was arrested. The night before they sent him back he swallowed a spoon.

That was February 1971. Karl was nineteen.

Part 11 - Asking for it

The following months were a chaoticnlix.fure· of viollence, isolation, sm. ashing cells, swal~owing operations and attempts at escape. Karl wore Irons whenever he was released from his cell.' On one occasion, while being chased on the roof, he fell thirty feet and broke his left elbow. According to prison documents, "he is usually involved in any fracas and is quick with his fists if annoyed by any other person ... he is adept at climbing and has already scaled the roof of this institution on three occasions."

While being held in The Drum in July 1971 he climbed onto the roof of the hospital, protesting against being sent to The Drum and demanding that he be taken back to Mountjoy. The next month he set fire to his cell in the hospital.

He was released in September and was back in Mountjoy on another twelve month sentence less than ten weeks later. Had he sat back and accepted his sentencing, life would have been a lot easier, for everyone concerned. But the rationale for his insistence on some kind of independence and control of himself was articulated as, "I won't let them break me." Later on he would refine this, using the old slogan, "I'd rather die on my feet than live on my knees."

Over the period of this latest sentence the prison authoorities would test that resolve.

Part 12 - The chemical strait-jacket

On Christmas Day, Karl and two other prisoners climbed to the, roof of Mountjoy ina protest' over the Christmas food. The protest lasted for twenty eight hours, with the prisoners throwing slates into the prison below. Karl fmally came down after insisting that police and the prison doctor be present to ensure that he wouldn't be beaten by the warders. .

The punishment given for this was 57 days on bread and water.

However, they couldn't immediately go ahead with the punishment. He had to be sent to The Drum, first. With spoons being kept out of his reach, Karl swallowed a small battery from a radio and a piece of a bed spring. He was brought to the Mater Hospital and operated on. He was then declared insane and sent to The Drum. (Another prissoner who had copped on to the swallowing trick had been taken to the Mater at the same time and escaped from the hospital.

During the next three months Karl was to go through his worst experience yet. He was confined in solitary for the period, twenty-four hours a day, released from his cell only 'for visits.

The staff of Dun drum, charged with running a mental hospital fora variety of patients suffering from psychoses, hallucinations and major mental disturbances, could do little but incarcerate Karl. In the 1976 habeas corpus case the Eastern Health Board's Clinical Director of Psychiatry, Dr. Brian McCaffrey, was asked, "When Karl Crawley is present in Dundrum during any of the eleven or twelve occasions is anything more than simple maintenance being achieved?"

"I would say that I would think- that most of the treattment there would be just custodial care."

"Keeping him drugged for a period of time?"

"Well, that was done in'72, yes my lord, I think as a preventive measure to keep him from escaping and hoping that it might stabilise him. I think the drug treatment would just keep him in a chemical strait-jacket for months or whatever time it was, and once it was taken away he comes back as the same Karl Crawley."  

Karl, drugged to the gills, began talking out loud and answering back. The side effects of the drugs - stiffened muscles, feelings of apprehension, biting his tongue, a feelling that his legs were up in the air - left him with' a terror of Serenace, a drug sometimes administered ill food or tea and later caused him to refuse food for a time, for fear that it was doctored. The experience also left him with a deep fear and hatred of Dundrurh.

Medical records show that Serenace drops were adminisstered to Karl Crawley at various periods both in Mountjoy and in Dundrum, on at least two occasions as much as thirty drops per day. Serenace is a colourless, tasteless, odoutless drug which has a calming effect, which slows down the recipient's perceptions and actions, but which does not render him or her unconscious. It produces exxcellent results in the sedation and treatment of psychotics. Karl Crawley is not a psychotic. The physical effects can be frightening, producing symptoms akin to those associated with Parkinson's Disease. The recipient experiences muscle stiffness, tremor, drooling, and when walking shuffles like an aged person, with head down and arms hanging by the sides.

The medical records show that Karl also received regular doses of such tranquilisers as Artane, Nydrane, Valium and Largactil as well as such anti-depressants as Librium and Valamin. He also received sleeping tablets such as Mogadon and Lentizol, as well as vitamins and painkillers to help reduce the pains in his abdomen resulting from successive operations.

In a psychiatric report on Karl, conducted for the 1976 court case, Dr. Brian McCaffrey concluded that "for Karl, the essential part of being a human being is to be ... able to consciously assess what is going on around him and to use his brain." The barrage of drugs took away that ability for those three months and Karl went back inside his head.

When they released him from solitary Karl had lost conntrol of his motor function and had to be taught again how to walk.

Part 13 - Bread and water

It wasn't over yet. Karl was declared sane and sent ba.ck to Mountjoy on March 17, 1972. Three days later, the day before his twentieth birthday, he was sent to Porttlaoise Prison to serve the 57 day bread and water punishment imposed after he climbed onto the Mountjoy roof on Christmas Day.

Having just spent three months incarceration. as an innsane person, Karl was now to receive a stiff punishment for the act committed only days before he was declared insane.

Much of his time in Portlaoise was spent in solitary connfinernent, several weeks of it in total silence. The method of inflicting the punishment was two or three days on bread and water, then two or three days on normal rations.

He was given a scruffy prison suit to wear, shoes the length of the table. lie was put in The Digger, a punishment area. He was instructed to paint his cell. Lilac, he was told, would be a nice colour. Karl painted the cell lilac. The next day, July 9, he pushed his bed against the door, jamming it. He took a page from the News Of The World and rolled it up to form a tube. He inserted the tube in a ventilator panel. Then he sliced the mattress and set fire to it. He had prepared the paper tube as a breathing apparatus as he didn't believe the screws would be in too much of a hurry to break down the door.

Okay, Crawley, you can have another twenty-one days bread and water for your Guy Fawkes effort in there. Him and his bleedin lilac.

When Karl was released from Portlaoise in September there were four cops leaning on a squad car outside. the prison. The shades were doing a John Wayne number. "There's a bus leaving for Dublin in twenty minutes. If you're not on it we'll talk to you later."

Part 14 - The Base

District Justice Herman Good looked down from his bench and saw handcuffs around Karl Crawley's . wrists. He asked why this was and was told of Karl's history of violence and defiance. Good suggested that if he had to be chained in court he should not be there but in a mental institution. He put the case back for a week to hear medical evidence.

By now, March 1973, Karl was becoming something of a permanent fixture in Mountjoy. In for a month, out for a month. Good could subsequently say merely that the case was "sad" and hope that psychiatric help would be provided. It wasn't.

The violence, swallowing, climbing on the roof and drugging in The Drum continued. On July 17 Karl was seggregated in The Base of Mountjoy, locked up for 23 hours a day.

The Base is "B" Basement, a segregated unit used priimarily for prisoners - such as sex offenders, UDA members, two English men convicted of a particularly horrible murrder, the Littlejohns etc. - who must for their own safety be kept apart from other prisoners. It is also used as a punishment area, where unruly prisoners can be put in soliitary confinement.

Confinement in The Base became a regular feature of Karl's imprisonment. In May 1974 the prison Medical Offiicer; with the approval of the Governor of Mountjoy, orderred that Karl's removal from The Base was "not to be connsidered." Since then, on any occasion on which Karl has been sent to Mountjoy, even on short sentences of months or weeks, even on remand, he has been confined in the isolation unit. There is a cell there known to inmates and staff as "the Crawley cell."

Karl's athletic abilities and long experience of defying prison restraint are such that he can easily escape from normal handcuffs or even a strait-jacket. As a result he was, whenever removed from his cell, fitted with Figure Eight irons. Figure Eights are metal bands linked together withhout a connecting chain. Placed around the wrists, they leave the prisoner's forearms clamped together, with the hands facing away from each other so they cannot touch.

The prison authorities deny that such instruments are used. In a document, under the signature of the Chief State Solicitor, drawn up for an abortive attempt to take Karl's case to the Court of Human Rights in Strasburg, the authoorities deny that Figure Eights were used on Karl, "nor have they been used in living memory on any prisoner." This is untrue. A person who regularly visited Karl in prison wittnessed the use of Figure Eights and recalls having to roll and light Karl's cigarettes during the visits.

Part 15 --- "Working my ticket to the Mater"

In The Base the swallowing tactic took on a new significance, even though surgeons in The Mater Hospital had warned a year earlier that any. further operations to remove objects from Karl's stomach could be fatal.

Escape from The Base would be extremely difficult, The Mater would be easier. Besides, there were nurses over there. Nicer than screws. Pop something into your mouth and they have to take you to hospital. Karl called it "Worrking my ticket to The Mater."

In October 1974 Karl began arranging an escape attempt.

He would work his ticket to the hospital, members of his family would spring him. A smuggled letter, explaining the details of the plan, was intercepted by the authorities in early November. Karl had been explicit in the letter and he was unaware that it had been nobbled. On November 14 he swallowed a couple of bedsprings and pieces of broken glass. He was taken to The Mater under heavy guard. The plan was bust.

Still in The Mater on November 25, Karl crawled through a toilet window and escaped. He made it only as far as Berrkeley Road, yards from the hospital, before he was caught.

Part 16 --- The Great Escape

It was around nine o'clock one evening in July }975 that Karl asked to be taken to the toilet. Two officers must be called when a prisoner is taken out 0 f his cell, in The Base so, counting the duty officer, there were three warders there when Karl returned from the toilet. Karl produced a Colt .45 and ordered the screws to put their fucking hands up, quick.

Karl ordered a screw to open the cell of another Base in mate, a man with a history of violence and armed robbery. When the other prisoner emerged from his cell and saw Karl with the gun and the three screws grabbing air he beegan laughing. Karl standing there, muttering shurrup for chisake under his breath, the three screws looking at one another, trying to figure what's going down. Karl gave the other prisoner the gun, the giggling continued, a screw jumped. The great escape was over.

Karl had taken a book called Yoga and Religion and cut away all the bits that didn't look like a Colt .45.

After the escape attempt Karl held onto the blades he had used to cut the book, keeping them in his mouth. The screws knew he had them but could do little about it. If they tried to jump him he would swallow the blades, he threatened. Him being Karl Crawley, they knew he wasn't kidding. They finally jumped him in the shower, when he had hidden the blades in his clothes.

Part 17 --- The deaf ear

Until 1975 the Karl Crawley saga was known only within the community of prisoners, warders, prison officials, doctors and lawyers. Justice Herman , . Good's brief intervention in 1973 was the only hint that there was a world outside all of this. In 1975 Bernaadette Crawley talked to Mairin de Burca, then operating an Official Sinn Fein Citizen's Advice centre. De Burca tried all the officialchannels. She wrote to the President of The High Court. No reply. She wrote to her local TD, Garret FitzGerald. No reply.

Justice Hugh Kingsmill-Moore, a retired member of the Supreme Court, had been instrumental in closing down Marlborough House, a notorious reform school for boys. Having met him on a couple of occasions, de Burca rang him, went to his house and explained the background to the Crawley case. Kingsmill-Moore, disturbed by what he heard, wrote to the then Minister for Justice, Paddy Coooney. Cooney wrote back that the matter was "receiving attention." It wasn't and didn't.

The Prisoners' Rights Organisation took up the case.

Their view was that Karl had become entrapped in a cycle of prison, sedation, defiance, release, crime and return to prison and that eventually he would do serious harm either to himself or someone else, and that the willingness of the prison authorities to simply facilitate this cycle, without making any attempt to break it, was neither helping Karl nor protecting society.

That point would later 1Je made by consultant psychiaatrist Gabriel Nolan in a psychiatric assessment of Karl preepared for a court report. After stating unequivocally that "Karl Crawley is not insane," Dr. Nolan wrote, "The quesstion arises, what happens when he has finished his current sentence in ten months time? The most likely outcome is that after a very short period of freedom he will again find himself in trouble and in prison." ,

On June 18 and July 8 1975 eight members of the PRO picketed the Circuit Court in Chancery Place when Karl appeared there on a charge of assaulting a Garda (he was later acquitted). On the second occasion the picketers beecame the first people to be arrested under Section 4 of the Offences Against The State (Amendment) Act, 1972. Six of them were sentenced to a year each in prison.

The Act had been brought in to deal with emergencies and had been opposed by Fine Gael's Paddy Cooney on the grounds that there would be a "temptation to use the Act, for purposes other than those intended and that the tempttation would be yielded to." Paddy Cooney was Minister for Justice when the temptation to use the Act against the piccketers was yielded to.

The picketers did not, eventually, go to prison. The PRO continued agitating on the Crawley case and Bernadette Crawley appeared at press conferences arranged by them, to plead on her son's behalf. The ear of officialdom remained deaf.

Part 18 - An old wound

On August 24,1975 'Karl Crawley's 'cell was found bloodstained. He said that he had swallowed bed springs and parts of plastic cutlery. He was Xrayed in the Mater Hospital that day and the two following days but nothing showed up. (Later on, some of the plastic utensils were passed naturally.)

On his return to Mountjoy from the Mater on August 26 Karl was convinced that he would be declared insane again and sent to The Drum. He had two pieces of wire from a bed spring and a plastic refill from a biro. He opened an old wound in his left side, just above the hip, and insertted the wire and the refill. He hoped to use the wire to pick the window-lock in The Drum and the refill was to write letters that could be smuggled out. Concealing them inside the wound was the safest way of getting them past the screws.

The following day Karl was assured by the Medical Officer that he would not be sent to Dundrum. Hl'l tried but failed to retrieve the wire and, refill from. inside his body. He was in pain and suffering a discharge. On August 28 he wrote a letter to the Medical, Officer, explaining his fear of Duridrum and what he had done with the wound.

The next day, while exercising in the .yard during the one' hour a day he was released from The Base, Karl escaped from his handcuffs and climbed the wall of the main prison building. two warders, one of .whom fell and was injured, got him down. Meanwhile, the Medical Officer had opened Karl's 'letter and arranged to have him brought to the.Mater Hospital. Tlie wire 'andbiro refill wertl, eventuallyremoved,

Part 19 - Produce the body

"Sir I had a copy of this filled out proper but it was taken bacuse I got help with it. This happened months ago and I felt like givein in but thats what they want so Im sorrey if this one isent grate but its the best I can do. Karl Crawley."

From March 1974 Karl had begun tinkering with the legal machinery in an attempt to make it workforhim. He sought an order of habeas corpus from the High Court 'on the grounds that his form of imprisonment was it threat to his health. '

I am not serving a penal servatude sentence like the warrrent says I was sentenced to serve. I am been confined as a lunatic yet if I were mad or insane or had a character dissorder I should not be placed in the hands 0/ people who will dam mage me more by there own igonorance. I have been declared insane by the same people in this prison 11 times. ; .

On one occasion Karl got help from the English bank robber Keith Littlejohn in making an application. The applications were turned down by the High Court on the grounds that the warrants committing Karl to prison were valid and the conditions of his imprisonment "even if true would not affect the legality of his detention." Any commplaints about the conditions should go to the Minister for

Justice, not the courts. " '

Karl was trying all the angles. In November he wrote to the Supreme Court, appealing the rejection of his appliication, and had a stroke of luck. The appeal came into the hands of Mr. Justice Henchy, who was then serving on a committee examining psychiatric services and who had some interest in the area. On January 27, 1976 the Supreme. Court directed: "It is ordered and adjudged that the said Appeal be allowed and that the said Order of refusal by the High Court beset aside accordingly and in lieu thereof it is ordered pursuant to Article 40 of the Constitution that the Prison Governor do produce the body of the said Prosecutor before the President of the High Court again and sent to The Drum. He had two pieces of wire

Part 20 - For the benefit of everybody

The chief witness on Karl's behalf when the case was heard, on April 8 1976 was Dr: Brian McCaffrey, . Clinical Director of Psychiatry to theEastern Health Board, who had been called in by the defence to provide psychiatric evidence, and who had ,interviewed Karl four times. Karl was by now represented by solicitor Pat McCartan and barrister Patrick McEntee.

Karl's mental condition had been diagnosed by McCafffrey, and was agreed by other doctors in the case, as socioopathic.

McCaffrey was asked by the President, "If you were faced, as an expert in this field, with the problem of a perrson who was violent and had the diagnosed condition that you have diagnosed as pertinent in this case, is major trannquilisers one of the treatments appropriate to him?"

"Because Karl is not psychotic and therefore in touch with reality, one can talk with him and get through and therefore the need to use drugs could be absent in handling Karl's condition."

A NECESSARY "Could the use of drugs, if one were not in the particuular institution, be undesirable?"

"Oh, yes, my lord, those drugs have serious long-term side effects on the heart condition from which an indiviidual can die - aplastic anaemia and other conditions 0and therefore they should not be used indiscriminately. One should be extremely careful about prescribing these."

Dr. Samuel Davis, then Medical Officer at Mountjoy, was asked what treatment Karl was under.

"What do you give him?"

"The ordinary valium or something like that." "What do you give him?"

"What do I give him? I only give him stuff for pains and aches."

"Does he get sleeping tablets?"

"He gets sleeping tablets from time to time, yes."

"The position is that he is generally kept at a low level?" "Well, we try to sedate him; we keep him at a low level." "Is that for his benefit or the institution's benefit or the benefit of both?"

"For the benefit of everybody."

Prison medical records show that during that period Karl was receiving one Valium V daily, two Valamin antisants nightly and four Ponston painkillers a day. For three months up to the previous January he had been receiving Serenace drops (unknown to himself), ranging from three per day to thirty per day.

Drugs were so free and easy within the prison system, Karl claimed, that any time he felt the need he had just to ask the screws for a couple 'of Smarties and there you were.

Part 21 --- The Four Star Hotel

It was agreed by all the psychiatrists involved in the case that Karl be diagnosed as a sociopath. That his experrience of society, combined with his own personality, is such that he reacts aggressively against authority and does so regardless of the consequences to others or to himself. In his Judgement, the President of the High Court, Justice Finlay, summarised the medical evidence.

He is not, on the agreed medical evidence, either now or consistently a person who is insane, nor does he suffer from a psychotic disease. He does not come within the orrdinary definition of a psychopath. No evidence was adducced before me, nor any suggestion made on behalf of the Respondent (the Governor: of Mountjoy), that he was feiggning any part of this condition. Some minor conflict apppears in the medical evidence as to whether the Prosecutor (Karl Crawley) has been at any relevant time even temporrarily insane or of unsound mind but I have come to the conclusion on the evidence that at some periods at least the disturbance of his personality has been so acute that it rendered him-for some time legally of unsound mind.

From the evidence of his childhood history Justice Finnlay concluded: The origin of this condition is almost cerrtainly an upbringing largely in institutions after a broken marriage of his parents which, having regard to his innate personality and intelligence, was almost unbelievably cruel. Whatever its origin it manifests itself in an aggressive and continuous hostility to authority and to the features of society which represent authority. To this is added a higher-than-average intelligence and an unusually athletic physique and capacity. In pursuit of this hostility the Prosecutor is apparently endowed with a physical courage tantamount to recklessness.

The application for habeas corpus, the effect of which would have been to release Karl from Mountjoy, was refussed. The President ruled that his medical needs, "as distinct from his psychiatric needs," had been met by the authoriities, that the restraints employed were for the purpose of protecting Karl from himself. While expressing sympathy with Karl's case, the President added, "I must construe the entire concept of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment as being not only evil in its consequences but evil in its purpose as well."

The psychiatrists involved had agreed on the need for a specialised unit which would cater for Karl and other prisooners, their number estimated as between six and twenty, who respond aggressively to the imposition of authority but who are not insane. This would be a custodial unit with trained staff and special facilities. Karl himself had suggestted such a unit when asked by Dr. McCaffrey what form of custody and therapy he would consider proper - but Karl had been reluctant to have this mentioned in court as it might seem he was asking for "Four Star Hotel facilities." The President of the Court said in his ruling that such a unit would be "most desirable," but added, "it is not the function of the court to recommend to the Executive what is desirable nor to fix the priorities of its health and welfare policy."

Karl went back to Mountjoy.

Part 22 ---- Some sort of understanding

Something had happened which changed Karl Crawwley's status in the community of crime and punishhment. It may have had something to do with Karl getting older. The psychiatrists had agreed that sociopathic tendencies diminish from the middle to late twenties. It may have had something to do with the growwing dissatisfaction among the psychiatrists in Dundrum at being used to administer a chemical strait-jacket. It may have had something to do with the fact that Karl's case had attracted attention outside the world of prisons and mental hospitals. (Internationally renowned lawyer Cedric Thornnberry became involved in the case for a time, until he was called away by the Steve Biko case in South Africa.) The fact that the PRO was still agitating was an embarrassment to the authorities.

It was probably a combination of these things.

Whatever, Karl was not sent to The Drum again. His last incarceration there was in September 1975. In June 1976, Karl swallowed three pieces of wire from a bedspring in order to get sent to the Mater Hospital. Karl feared that he would not be released from Mountjoy the following month, as scheduled, but would be held for his Colt .45 antics. He figured that the hospital would make a better base for an escape attempt.

The three pieces of wire were removed by surgery. This was Karl's last use of the swallowing tactic. As far back as June 1973 surgeons at the Mater had warned that any furrther operations would be at the risk of his life.

From now on Karl Crawley would still be subject to separate confinement in The Base, he would still have his special cell, still be handcuffed during visits or on any occaasion he left The Base. But The Drum was no more. Karl and the prison authorities had reached some sort of understandding. He retained some sense of himself as an independent being; they would have him under some sort of control. When Karl was released from Mountjoy in July 1976 he had served a sentence of two years and five months, the longest he has served. Apart from that stretch he was averaaging nine months in and three months out. That pattern was to change little. Just over a month after his release from Mountjoy Karl was back in the District Court, charged with "entering as a trespasser and larceny."

Part 23 - A sentimental journey

On the day he was released from Mountjoy, July 7 1976, Karl got an intravenous injection of Tiunal, a barbiturate, from a friend, a drug addict. Welcome home. That night he met his old mates in a pub.

Most of them were hooked on something. After that, life was a shower of Smarties. Everything from hash to heroin. Tablets, mainlining, smoking.

Go to a pub in the evening and it's nine pints. Know how much nine pints costs? Drugs are cheaper, easier, and they pass the evening just as well. Better.

You can't rip off a barrel of Smithwick's from a pub and carry it home on your back, but you can do a chemist shop and go home with a week's high in your pocket. And if you're going to rip off drugs where better than from the Grand High Altar, the JWT of Mental Travel Agents ÈDundrum Mental Hospital? And who in Dublin would know better than Karl the set-up and the ins and outs? In October 1976 Karl went on a little sentimental journey. He broke into The Drum and stole £132 worth of drugs. And fixed up inside. And was caught in the grounds, stoned. And got three months for it.

There was an appeal to the Supreme Court against the High Court rejection of habeas' corpus, but Karl was never in prison long enough to facilitate the process. An appeal was prepared for the. Court of Human Rights in Strasburg, but that court won't deal with cases which haven't gone through every domestic legal process.

So Karl went in and out, confined in The Base whenever he went inside. Dr. Brian McCaffrey was given permission to see Karl whenever he deemed it necessary. At one point Tommy> Paul, David and Mick Crawley were in Mountjoy, upstairs doing time, while Karl was down in The Base. The authorities would let one brother at a time go down to chat with Karl, maybe play some chess. .

"It was just like St. Philomena's."

Part 24 - The Bank job

Life hasn't changed much. Into prison, out, drugs, chemist shops, into prison. The odd stroke, like the 200 pairs of jeans he tried to nick from Roches Stores (caught, three months). The odd fight, like the time he bumped into this guy in a pub in Summerhill - they didn't like each other much. Karl refused to shake hands, the two went outside, agreed it should be a clean fight, fought, then went back in together for a drink.

Some fights weren't that clean. Karl has some knife wounds mixed in with the scars from the surgeons' scallpels.

In 1980 Karl attended Coolmine Rehabilitation Centre to kick the drug habit. He spent time in hospitals, got dissability benefit because of his wounds, for which he must continue taking medication. He got a free bus pass. He worked for a while at roofing, with his brother Philip.

Karl pulled a bank job, a couple of years back. Being Karl, he didn't bother with all the paraphenalia of the professional heisters - the lookouts, the bagman, the sawnnoff, the safe house. Karl jumped over the counter, grabbed a handful of tenners and jumped back again. When he ran outside the guy who was driving the getaway car had got the butterflies and was already a couple of streets away. Karl ran, with the bank clerks running after him.

When you vault over a counter you put your hand on the counter - and you leave fingerprints behind. And the cops had taken enough dabs from Karl to paper a room. He was arrested next morning. He got out on bail and a couple of weeks later, three in the morning, he was asleep in a flat in Summerhill when Joe-boy and Peter (who had by now got rid of the butterflies) came in with hammers, looking for the money. Karl, in his underwear, jumped through the window and out-distanced the hammer merrchants as smoothly as he had the bank clerks. He got a broken hand out of that episode - and £1,800 in a crimiinal injuries claim. He had got only £900 from the bank job.

Part 25 - "I could have been..."

Some who know Karl Crawley say that he has changged in recent years, become less aggressive, more arrticulate. He has steered clear of jail for almost two years and says he has been trying to go straight, although he's not sure where going straight would take him.

In the early years Karl's willingness to take any risk in order to assert himself against authority carved around him a space within which he could retain a certain independence, a necessary self respect - albeit at a terrible price to himself.

In the mid-I 970s his jousts with authority, using the law as his lance, served the same purpose. Now, not unaware of his resemblance to Paul Newman, he promotes a Cool Hand Karl image, knowing that the small legend of Karl Crawley can act as some kind of defence should he go back inside.

Bread and water is gone as a punishment. The Base is now used mostly for holding those who can not in safety mix with other prisoners. When it is used as a punishment, to isolate dissident prisoners, it is usually only for a few days, not for weeks. (Except for Karl, for whom The Crawwley Cell still exists, always waiting.) Prisoners are still disspatched to The Drum, but not as often or as apparently blithely as before.

What changes have occurred have not been because of any decision by the Department of Justice to forge an overall policy for the penal system which might make of the jails and The Drum anything other than temporary reestraints. The changes have been piecemeal responses to pressure. According to experts in the field of prisons and psychiatry the psychiatric support given within the overrcrowded system is little more than self protection for the authorities. If someone is known to be suicidal they will get attention which may, even if only temporarily, divert such intentions. It is embarrassing for the authorities when prisoners hang themselves.

The special unit, custodial but therapeutic, which the psychiatrists involved in the 1976 court case (including the Clinical Director of Psychiatry of the Eastern Health Board and the Chief Psychiatrist at Dundrum) agreed was needed and which Justice Finlay thought "most desirable," is not being built.

On April 21 of this year Karl Crawley was thirty. On, that day he was facing an old charge of breaking and entering a chemist shop to steal drugs. It was also the day that British police tentatively identified a body discovered in Yorkshire last August as that of Geralldine Crawley, Karl's sister. The woman appeared to have been murdered.

Karl didn't turn up in the court on the chemist shop charge and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Karl isn't sure what happens next. He thinks that maybe a stomach that's been minced and mauled might prove to be a breeding ground for cancers and the like, so without self-dramatisation he doesn't reckon on being around to see forty. He has no plans. Maybe he'll write his life story and call it The Last Of The Hard Men. Then, he laughs at that because, shit, there's no such thing as a hard man. It's what happens to you that makes you what you are and, well, when it's put up to you you can't back away from it. There's no glory in that. It makes you do vicious things, it gets vicious things done to you. But that's just the way it is. Where's the choice?

Karl tries to sum it up. "Look, I didn't set out to bb Karl Crawley ... I ... I could have been ... " He looks around for an example.

" ... a brilliant ... book-keeper, or something."

Then he thinks about what he's just said. And smiles, big and open and bright as the sun going down. • .