81 with a bullet

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81 year old John Gilbert Gordon of Brisbane was sentenced to two-and-a-half years behind bars last week. Mr Gordon inserted 0.22 calibre bullets into live detonators and sent them via the postal service with threatening letters to a number of public officials and political leaders such as Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens, Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott, Westpac Bank CEO Gail Kelly and then Brisbane Catholic Archbishop John Battersby.

Gordon’s campaign of terror was aimed at venting his anger over a number of topical social and political issues which included the asylum seeker debate. One of the threatening letters Mr Gordon sent was sent to the Virginia Palms Motel in Brisbane which, at the time, was housing foreigners seeking asylum. The letter read ‘Any motel in Australia who houses (asylum seekers), will bear the bombs and as a result pieces of your motels will land in Canberra’.

The Australian Federal Police identified Mr Gordon as a suspect after an indentation from a letter he had sent to Mr Abbott in which he identified himself matched up to the other threatening letters.

Read more about the case and the other letters Mr Gordon wrote at www.brisbanetimes.com.au.
Read more from www.couriermail.com.au

Comment – Not a terrorist at 81?

By every definition of the word, Mr Gordon is a terrorist. He made himself one when he endangered the lives of postal workers, parliamentary staff and many others by sending explosives through the postal service. Yet, in their headline, the Courier Mail doesn’t call him what he is, a terrorist, but instead, labels him a cranky old man. If Mr Gordon was an Arab Muslim around the age of 40, I really do wonder how different the title would be. I also question if the same man would get only two-and-a-half years in jail for committing the same acts of terrorism. I am sick of reading articles in the newspaper that stink of racial profiling and age stereotyping.

Mr Gordon was given a slap on the wrist for a crime that terrorised and could have killed members of our community. Regardless of how you feel about the policies of our politicians, the viewpoints of Catholic Archbishops, the business tactics of the CEO of a large bank and the rights of foreigners seeking asylum, we live in Australia and everyone should be free to have their own views (to an extent and within the law of course). The law has failed to pass down a judgement which will deter future explosives and threats from being sent to public figures. Mr Gordon is expected to serve less than a year of his two-and-a-half year term in jail.

Do you think the judgement was too lenient?

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Written by Drew

Starting out as a week of work experience in 2005 while studying his Bachelor of Business at Swinburne University, Drew has never left his post and has been with the company ever since, working on the websites digital needs. Drew has a passion for all things technology which is only rivalled for his love of all things sport (watching, not playing).


Total Comments: 38
  1. 0

    I read the newspaper articles: Terrorist yes – deranged poor olde bugger also – but I think that just like the IT hackers do he exposed some flaws in our ‘not perfect’ societal world:
    1 – Oz post dont have a high speed mail scanner that would detect bullets/excess mass ? Try getting a bullet/detonator thru airport security. All letters should have a barcode ? Parcels do.
    2 – He had personal issues with the stresses of normal life like caring for someone so his GP didnt notice any ‘flags’ ? What medications if any was he on ? Insight this week illustrated that ‘minefield’ !!
    3 – sentencing – what guidelines did the judge have to follow – what precedents have already been set? At times the judicial system seems to have a lot to answer for. Hang him – now that would be a deterrent indeed ? nope that only occurs in deranged ‘backward’ countries like Malaysia.

    Interesting indeed.

  2. 0

    Whilst I certainly don’t condone what this man has done, John Gordon expressed the feelings of a lot of people. You can’t compere an 81 year old Australian man who has probably fought for this country and paid his taxes, to an 40 year old Arab Muslim.
    My son,a low income earner, has ongoing health problems. Yesterday he went to the chemist and paid full price for his prescriptions. A couple there, obviously newcomers , who could not speak a word of English produced a health care card and received several prescriptions for free. When my son commented to the pharmacist, she told him he needed to come by boat.
    Maybe Mr. Gordon will eat better in prison than he he is at home. He won’t have to worry about the next electricy bill etc.

  3. 0

    The definition of a terrorist is someone who incites terror, this guy did that, 81 or not he deserves the FULL weight of the law coming down on him, we do live in a democracy and as such we are allowed to get angry about what we see as wrong, but we should voice that anger in the appropriate way, not subject every one to danger like this idiot did,age is not a barrier to doing wrong, I wonder how this judge would feel if it was his/her mother who received a bomb

    • 0

      Whilst I agree with you lasaboy. I also agree with Nan Norma.

    • 0

      May I point out it was a bullet not a bomb. Those things are designed to take some abuse with out firing (its a safety thing). I even have a vague memories on my father ordering ammo thru the mail many years ago.

      Given the age of Mr Gordon it is likely to be symbolic than and an actual serious threat. like sending a white feather to a coward.
      I do think Mr Gordons actions were unwise, stupid and definatly the wronge way to go about it, he should have know better particularly in these more “sensitive” times.

      What I do find deplorable though is Mr Patchel trying to turn this into a race issue.

      Shame Mr Patchel Shame.

  4. 0

    He did what??? He sent a bullet in the mail to Julia Gillard… It is just as well that he is a hard up pensioner and could not afford a gun to send the bullet by a more direct method.
    I would not be surprised if he doesn’t buy a powerful car and go hooning when he is released from jail… then we will all have something to fear.
    Oh I forgot… hoons are just poor misunderstood people who never mean to hurt anyone.
    I need someone to explain to me why hooning isn’t terrorism… why angry young men seldom get locked up for life threatening activities.

    • 0

      According to the Macquarie Dictionary:
      noun 1. someone who uses or favours terrorising methods of resisting a government or of governing.

      While I don’t think you will find anyone defending hoon drivers, they are not sending explosives through the postal service targeting our political leaders. From every statistic I’ve read… the amount of crashes caused by hoons compared to drunk drivers pushes them out of the spotlight.

  5. 0

    He was a cranky misguided old man but terrorist no.

    Surely you were not serious suggesting such a descriptor, and you really just wanted to flush out some bigots for our entertainment.

    The plan has perhaps not gone well this time, but keep trying with your thought provoking and interesting comments.

  6. 0

    I don’t give a damn who you are, how old you may be, or whatever you reasons for your actions, if you break the law, do the time for your crime. There are no extenuating circumstances for his idiocy. Wonder what type of youth he was.

    • 0

      I agree with you Lindylou. We may get older but we always know the difference between right and wrong and should not not endanger anyone’s life. Age is not an excuse or a reason.

  7. 0

    Well, That’s one way to get free room and board plus first class medical and dental care. Maybe Mr. Gordon as smarter than we all think he is. Whether or not he should go to prison, I subscribe to the “do the crime, do the time” theory of jurisprudence.

  8. 0


  9. 0

    Terrorist or not Mr Gordon is a danger to society.It was not a confused moment that had him commit these acts-same acts as terrorists use-as he repeated his dangerous actions time and time again.If one of these bullets had exploded who says sorry to the victims and their family?Let alone the fear he created with his threats. What is insanity and when do we stop using age as an excuse for criminal acts. He knew what he was doing. Let him pay for it with lots of jail time as a 30 year old would have done

  10. 0

    Mr Gordon comes from a time when wars were fought to protect our borders. Obviously reading and listening to reports of Illegal people landing daily on our northern shores has led to depression of seeing his beloved Australia being sold and given away by today’s politicians. In his mind, Gallipoli, WW11 and Korea just must not have been worth dying for!
    Lets hope that China keeps on buying our iron ore as counties do not get invaded these days…………………do they?

    • 0

      This man must have been very depressed (And no wonder) seeing what was happening. If he is struggling to manage on a pension I can see why.
      Of course this man can’t be allowed to go free but sounds more like he needs to be taken in to care.

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