81 with a bullet

John Gilbert Gordon was sentenced to two-and-a-half years behind bars last week.

81 with a bullet

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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    2nd Aug 2012
    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.
    Nan Norma
    2nd Aug 2012
    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.
    2nd Aug 2012
    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
    2nd Aug 2012
    Whilst I agree with you lasaboy. I also agree with Nan Norma.

    2nd Aug 2012
    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.
    Kevie from Buderim
    2nd Aug 2012
    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.
    2nd Aug 2012
    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.
    2nd Aug 2012
    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.
    2nd Aug 2012
    terrorist by definition - olde idiot by default
    2nd Aug 2012
    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.
    3rd Aug 2012
    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.
    2nd Aug 2012
    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.
    2nd Aug 2012
    2nd Aug 2012
    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
    2nd Aug 2012
    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?
    Nan Norma
    2nd Aug 2012
    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.
    2nd Aug 2012
    Judge him on his mental state, not his age. Being 81 is no excuse.
    2nd Aug 2012
    Thats so true, we all Know who put him in Jail, IT WAS NOT THE POLICE!

    2nd Aug 2012
    C'mon Drew - this bloke isn't a terrorist, he's just a stupid old fool, with an obsession about asylum seekers. He's just plain stupid, and probably suffering from the onset of dementia - and what he did wasn't cunning, wasn't well-thought-out or carefully-planned to injure or kill dozens of people.

    Bullets without the weapon they're designed to fit in, are little more than firecrackers if they explode. And to give you my background, I'm a Vietnam Vet, a Military Engineer qualified in mine warfare and all types of explosives.

    A terrorist is a person who cunningly plans and carefully plants explosives, to do maximum damage to civilian personnel, with a major agenda for ideological change.

    This bloke received the sentence he deserved, and the judge had a vast amount more information as regards the circumstances and sentencing options, than what we have, or what has been reported in the press.

    A number of years ago, an elderly neighbour (I think he was about 79) threatened Water Supply workers who came onto his property to carry out water main repairs, with a loaded rifle.
    He was quite belligerent and acted way beyond any reasonable person as regards trespass. The Water Supply workers had every right to be on his property, there was a Water Supply easement on the plans.

    The judge took a very dim view of his actions and jailed him for 3 yrs and had all his weapons removed from him, and his firearms licence taken from him. He did not serve the full 3 yrs, as he soon became a sufferer from dementia and died not long after his release.

    I believe this "silly old bugger" has been adequately sentenced, and no doubt he will receive an early release because the obvious signs of dementia will soon become apparent.
    2nd Aug 2012
    My mother is 94 and worried about having dementia. She is no more forgetful than she ever was. Stop looking for excuses for stupid behaviour, regardless of the age of the perpetrator. We have created the environment where people have ready made excuses for just about any sort of action. Time to learn that responsibility is not a four letter word, unlike those actual ones that are thrown around and overlooked by the majority, who then complain about society's downhill progress.
    3rd Aug 2012
    There seems to be a genuine concern of Mr Gordon's health. But once again, just because of his age alone, I see the words, cranky old man, dementia, silly old bugger, idiocy etc. History oft repeats itself, and a guy named Guy Fawkes once planned, and installed explosives under the Houses of Parliament, to blow up the named buildings and so called government of the time. Today in this (modern world) we find ourselves, the taxpaying voters, pushed to the limits of taxation!
    Mr Fawkes was not an old man suffering from the above mentioned in Mr Gordons case. He was someone who became stressed and overburdened by the life imposed upon him by people who did not care. People who ruled and belonged to a clever and devious organisation who's rules were different from the ordinary. For which you all vote!
    In Mr Gordon's case, It would suffice to say, that people of that same ilk, also do not care if he was on this earth, this Australia, where he lived, may have been called upon to fight, where he married and bought up his family!
    And he has slowly watched the reason for all of this begin to disappear!
    Pass the Ductape
    3rd Aug 2012
    Apart from vilifying the man - has anyone given any thought to the message he was trying to purvey? The comments from people on this article kind of says it all really - most just appear to want to hang, draw and quarter the bloke. That suggests to me that people in glass houses shouldn't throw the proverbial stone
    3rd Aug 2012
    We know what he was trying to get across. We all dread the walk to the letterbox and try not to ask what will be the next budget breaker we receive. Protest by all legal means and we will get behind and support you, because we DO get the message.
    Nan Norma
    3rd Aug 2012
    From another site on lifes choices,it has been proved would not get behind him.
    3rd Aug 2012
    Poor Mr Gordon/ I do not condone "sending bullets through the post" or similar stupid behavior but my heart does go out to him as we do not know his circumstances, whether he is trying to cope with just everyday living, looking after someone. etc. I would really like to learn whether he has family understanding and love. Perhaps a little "holiday" in prison would provide him with respite, care, and even a cooked meal or two! Please don't condemn before all the circumstances are known.
    3rd Aug 2012
    It sounds farcical. The media gets excited to use the word bullet (shock, horror). I suspect there is more than a bit of an an egg-beat in this story. Getting to be some slow news days despite the Olympics.

    He sounds like a mentally incompetent, silly, cantankerous old bugger. While I am not suggesting anyone do it (good God, even paper tissues should carry a health warning according to some), you can throw .22 cartridges into a fire and you barely hear the pop. The bits go nowhere. Maybe he pulled and used the little lead bits, who knows. It is not clear how he 'inserted' them into a detonator, but it is likely the 'detonator' bit was a fizzer as well.

    It is London to a brick that the silly old codger has a few kangaroos loose in the top paddock. Anyone asked him what day it is?
    Pass the Ductape
    4th Aug 2012
    Yes - well, he probably was a cantankerous old bugger but the real question is - why did this poor old bugger feel he had reached a stage in his life where he believed he had little choice but to act as he did?
    And it's very easy for our authorities to prosecute and put away in jail, anyone who is old, infirmed, broke and can't afford a good defence team; it's never been any different. What a great legal system we have. Makes one feel really proud!
    Nan Norma
    4th Aug 2012
    I did suggest he should have perhaps just been taken into care.
    4th Aug 2012
    If he doesn't receive the appropriate sentence, others would use it as an excuse to do the same thing or maybe worse. Hope he has an advocate to keep an eye on him and make sure he's ok.
    4th Aug 2012
    It sounds like a mental health issue not a criminal one. While it is appropriate to get angry about getting old and the treatment one receives, or lack of it, and the actions of government sometimes defy description, he can't go around threatening people. Likewise he can't flash his willy in a public place -by way of example of another common 'no-no' (which he was not guilty of).

    What should be the concern is why he hasn't received diagnosis and treatment previously to reduce his distress and help him manage his anger.

    Perhaps he has been resistant to seeing a doctor, maybe there are money limitations. He is old, a carer and there is apparently nothing about priors, so he does not fit the mold of a dangerous terrorist. He is a very naughty boy who has overstepped the mark and been nailed by the judge for it.

    A worthwhile newspaper would follow up on some of the apparent deficiencies evident: -who cares for him, why didn't he receive help prior, can he afford medical treatment and so on; and
    - ensure he receives proper medical support in the pokey and when he exits that place.

    I'd say the newspapers are more interested in sensationalism and move on to the next patch of blood or evidence of misfortune.

    4th Aug 2012
    Maybe he did it to escape his living situation and to have someone care for him for a while; perhaps he was hoping for a longer sentence.
    If that wasn't the reason, his actions were not those of an 81 year old with all mental faculties in order; that should have been taken into account and for that reason he should not be in prison.
    Pass the Ductape
    5th Aug 2012
    Good point!
    Though perhaps he just reached an age whereby he'd had the misfortune to have witnessed many injustices, perpetrated against those who never really deserved it - as opposed to those who actually committed the injustices and got away with them? I can easily see that one might reach a stage where one decides they need to do something about it - whatever that might be!
    As this was likely the case, the old bloke took an extremely unfortunate and radical approach to the subject, but was also probably aware that if he did get caught out, doing what he was doing, he could end up in jail!
    Quite possibly, he then thought - 'What the hell -the world sucks anyway!'
    5th Aug 2012
    Well Drew - your topic was - was the sentence too lenient ? Just put some bullets down a page with the scale running from: 'hang' down through 'throw fruit while in stocks' passing '40 lashes' onto '500 hail marys' and then 'a $1000 fine' finishing with '20 hrs public mess cleaning' and at the end 'a warning' and see what gets the most ticks. Done
    5th Aug 2012
    I would tick the "bullet" that said "warning" I think and give our Courts, and possibly the police etc more authority and time to deal with the "babies" we have created! After all if a 16-year old cannot be blamed or prosecuted for serious misdemeanors because they are "too young" why shouldn't Mr Gordon be warned because he is too old!!!!
    6th Aug 2012
    my heart goes out to Mr Gordon here is an OLD man that has been through a hard time looks after his Old partner and who disapproves of our government on many issues I do not feel he intended to harm with the bullets as they need to be entered into a firearm to do any damage he needs understanding maybe a little TLC I know age is not an excuse but it could be a reason for his actions just to be heard and taken notice off prison is NOT the answer him & his partner need to be taken into care to give him a little of the same that illegal boat people receive
    6th Aug 2012
    Yes, if he was a Muslim he would have had the book thrown at him. But he’s not, he’s very old and confused, there’s a difference.
    Nan Norma
    6th Aug 2012
    Sounds like he was very depressed and fed-up with politicians. He expessed what a lot of us are feeling. Maybe that was the only way he was able to get his message across.I hope he did.
    8th Aug 2012
    Agree Nan Norma at least you show some empathy.I guess he has seen so many changes and not all, for the better in Australia.Change can be a good thing sometimes.We have enough resources in OZ.All this export from N.Z Canada etc,we do not need our farmers work so hard.

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