Prison Escape – Moondyne Joe


Moondyne Joe, also known as Joseph Bolitho Johns, was born in 1826. He was a famous criminal in Western Australia during his time. He was originally sent to jail because he was a thief.  It was 1848 when Moondyne Joe and his friend, William Cross were caught for stealing food. They were both sentenced to two years in prison. The pair of thieves were transferred from prison to prison. In April of 1853, they were released from the prison. It didn’t take long for Moondyne Joe to get himself arrested again. He was arrested for stealing a horse.

The Horse Thief

Moondyne Joe was on the run to avoid the penalty for stealing the horse. The authorities had been tracking him down and they caught him after a mere 2 days. His personal possessions were sold for under 20 cents (Canadian dollars), and he was sent to jail for another 3 years. Yet again, he waited out his sentence. He later received work as a charcoal burner. However, it didn’t take much time for him to lose his freedom yet again.

Ox Murder

In 1865, Moondyne Joe was blamed for shooting and killing an ox. Despite the little evidence, and his claims of innocence, he was arrested. He was given another 10 year long sentence. Unlike his other crimes, from whence he claimed he was guilty, he vowed to escape the prison as he believed the punishment was unjust. He followed through with his claims, and he escaped.

Moondyne Joe’s Burglary Spree

Moondyne Joe and one of his fellow inmates had escaped from the prison and they went around the town preforming burglaries. He got away with this for two months! When the authorities finally caught him, he was placed in solitary confinement. He was placed in a specially made cell that was extremely reinforced. He was allowed to go outside to exercise, and he used this opportunity to escape. He spent two entire years trying to hide himself.

The Wine Cellar

Moondyne Joe was caught once again, whilst stealing from a wine cellar. In 1871, he was pardoned for this crime. He then ended his criminal career.


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