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Tue, May 09, 2006

Helicopter Jailbreak Mastermind Australian Librarian Freed On Good Behavior

File This Under "T" For Time Served

It's not everyday we get to report the latest news concerning a pistol-packing librarian who sprang her boyfriend from the pokey by hijacking a helicopter... but after spending seven years behind bars for hijacking the helicopter and using it to break her boyfriend out of an Australian maximum security prison, Lucy Dudko was freed from Dillwynia Correctional Centre in New South Wales Monday.

As is typically the case in many similarly ill-considered plans, Dudko's story is one of what extremes some will go to for love. The Australian Associated Press reports it was March 1999 when Dudko, a librarian, brandished a gun during a helicopter flight over Sydney, and ordered the pilot to land in the exercise yard at Silverwater Jail.

The pilot did as he was told, and landed the helicopter so Dudko could pick up John Killick, who was serving time for armed robbery. The reunited couple then flew off, to the romantic sounds of cheering prisoners and a hail of bullets from the guards firing futiley below.

After spending six weeks on the lamm, the happy couple was caught by police. Killick was shown back to his cell, and given additional time by the Department of Corrections to better appreciate his surroundings; Dudko received a 10-year prison sentence on charges of helping Killick escape, assaulting the helicopter pilot, taking a taxi driver hostage, and possessing a gun -- but later had her sentence reduced three years for good behavior.

"I don't call it a love story," said Christine Gyllins, chaplain at Dillwynia, about Dudko's experiences. "I call it a manipulation story and I think her strength is that she will never be manipulated by anyone again."

The chances that Dudko could be again be manipulated by Killick, at least, are slim. The AAP reports the soonest the couple could be reunited is 2013, when Killick comes up for parole.

And speaking of parole... under the terms of her freedom, Dudko cannot visit or telephone Killick under her own parole conditions. She is, however, allowed to write to him.

FMI: www.dcs.nsw.gov.au

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