A Kind of Justice

Chopper Cowie Pentridge

NEARLY 40 years of emotion welled up in Steve Cowie last Sunday as he watched Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read confess on television to murdering four people, including serial pedophile Reginald Edward Isaacs.

In September 1974, Isaacs had drugged, raped and murdered Mr Cowie’s nine-year-old brother Greg. Watching Read’s interview on the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes, Mr Cowie broke down in tears. There had been justice after all for Greg, he thought.

The Victorian Coroner had concluded that Isaacs had killed himself just six months into a 25-year sentence in D Division Pentridge. If so, Isaacs had taken the easy way out, said Mr Cowie, but an official had told his father that Isaacs “had been assisted in his suicide”.

Read told 60 Minutes just weeks before his death at the age of 58 from liver cancer that he and “Mad” Charlie Hegyalji had bashed and hanged Isaacs, honouring a pact by all the inmates to kill him.

Greg’s sister Sue had once heard Read discuss the death of a unnamed pedophile in jail at a spoken word show in Melbourne.

“My partner said: ‘he’s talking about Greg’s killer’. So I asked Chopper if he had killed Isaacs and he said he hadn’t but knew who did. He told me that one day I would know everything,” she said.

Mr Cowie and his father had agreed that one of them would kill Isaacs if he ever got out of prison.

“Before his trial, Dad bought a rifle and even learnt how to throw knives. His great regret was that he had done nothing when he was just six feet away from Isaacs in the court room,” he said.

The killing of Greg had shattered the Cowie family, according to another brother Chris.

“I remember every Christmas mum used to sit by the tree after our dinner and drink her brandy and just sob,” he said.”

She was so relieved after Isaacs died because Dad wouldn’t end up in jail for killing him.

Greg had been walking in driving rain just a few kilometres from his home near Ballarat when Isaacs picked him up.

Greg had been at a friend’s house but there had been an argument and the mother had sent him home.

Isaacs drugged the boy using sleeping tablets his psychiatrist had given him the day before.

Isaacs was driving to St Albans in Melbourne’s northwest when pulled over by police for a routine check. He told them that Greg, who was lying across the seat asleep, was his son. Isaacs later drove to Wombat Forest in Trentham, where he killed the boy before burying him.

Isaacs had settled in Geelong in 1950 with his parents after migrating from England and soon began to hunt young boys.

In 1964, he was sentenced 10 years for buggery and was paroled in 1972.Isaacs’ death had meant that another family would never know what happened to their son, said Ms Cowie.

Police believe Isaacs was most likely responsible for the disappearance of 13-year old John Landos from a Lorne caravan park in January 1973. His body was never found.

Read also told 60 Minutes that he had killed Sydney Michael Collins, a former Victorian president of the Outlaws motorcycle club in 2002.Collins had given evidence against Read for shooting him in 1992. He also said he had killed Painters and Dockers Union heavy Desmond Costello in 1971.

Despite being acquitted on the grounds of self-defence over the 1987 killing of Saim “Sammy the Turk” Ozerkan, Read said that it had been “outright murder”.

The Cowies gathered at Pentridge last week to remember their brother. They spoke of a bright, outgoing kid who could be a handful at times, like any nine-year old.  

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