Friday 14 August 2015

Eight Days in Glenfield

During the week of the 2nd to 10th July 1968, Wally Mellish, a minor criminal and car racketeer, managed to hold the attention of the NSW Police Commissioner, and over 30 policemen.  Wally was holed up in a fibro cottage at Glenfield, with his girlfriend, Beryl Muddle, and her baby son.

Police had come to the cottage to speak to Wally about some stolen car parts, and to deliver an arrest warrant for car theft.  Wally, who had been released from gaol five months earlier after serving a sentence for stealing, did not wish to engage with the police, and fired a shotgun over their heads. Thus began the dramatic week, which made headlines not only in the local Campbelltown Ingleburn News, but also in the Sydney papers. 

Norm Campbell – local newspaper photographer for the Campbelltown Ingleburn News at the time, tells the story.  “Wally Mellish made some outrageous demands, so Police Commissioner Allen decided to take charge and gave Mellish an army rifle. Mellish said he wanted to marry his girlfriend; I think it was Beryl Muddle, and so he arranged for the wedding. Then Mellish wanted to join the army. The whole thing was a real farce. They closed off Glenfield Rd to the Crossroads, that was one of the most amazing things that happened.”

Ultimately Wally gave himself up on the proviso that he be allowed to join the army and go to Vietnam “to make up for the trouble I have caused”.  He was taken to Ingleburn Army Camp to be interviewed by Army officers, and then taken to Morisset Hospital near Newcastle for psychiatric treatment.

To add an interesting twist to the tale, years later in his book “Bristow – Last of the hard men”, author Kevin Perkins claimed that Wally had been part of a car-stripping racket, which was being investigated by the Motor Squad, and who were about to be arrested and charged. One of the racketeers arranged for someone to see Tim Bristow about it (Bristow being a larger than life private eye and enforcer), and Bristow arranged for them to bribe their way out of it through the Motor Squad. Unfortunately, Wally couldn’t afford the bribe, and, upset at being left to be the fall guy, staged the siege. It was said that Commissioner Allen had rushed to the scene to try and keep a lid on a police scandal!

Written by Claire Lynch


Sydney Morning Herald

Campbelltown Ingleburn News

“Bristow : last of the hard men” by Kevin Perkins, 2003

Police Commissioner Norm Allen, Wally Mellish, Beryl Muddle, and the Reverend Clyde Paton, after Wally’s surrender.

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