ON THIS DAY – July 4, 1984


In Pentridge Prison, Alex Tsakmakis shared a cell with double murderer Barry Robert Quinn. They had a tense relationship and Quinn would often bait his hot-headed inmate to cause trouble. One day he pushed Tsakmakis too far. Quinn brought up the memory of the rape of Tsakmakis’s girlfriend, taunting him about it. Tsakmakis retaliated the next day. It was about 9am on July 4, 1984 and Quinn was in Day Room 2 watching TV soap “The Restless Years”. Tsakmakis doused him with model glue and then flicked matches at Quinn as he tried to hide behind a table. A newspaper at the time reported that it was the fourth match Tsakmakis flicked that set Quinn alight. Tsakmakis stood in the cell doorway and watched him burn, refusing to allow prison officers to get in and help. The room filled with thick black smoke and Quinn ran around the room in agony. Photos presented to the court later showed black marks on the wall from where, in complete terror and desperation, he had collided into them. When prison officers finally reached Quinn they tried to put the fire out with an extinguisher, before using a blanket to smother the flames. Quinn refused to tell police who was responsible for the assault, in fear that his family would be targeted. He died at the Alfred hospital with burns to 85 per cent of his body. Tsakmakis’s actions that day gave him the nickname “the barbecue king”. Also in 1978, Tsakmakis murdered professional runner Bruce Lindsay Walker, allegedly over a dispute involving a vintage 1935 Plymouth car. The two had gone out on a fishing boat, but only Tsakmakis returned. Walker’s body washed up at Point Lonsdale soon after with his hands and feet bound with chicken wire.

Tskamakis was murdered in Pentridge on July 22, 1988 by Russell St bomber Craig Minogue, 26. He was hit up to seven times with a pillow case full of 5kg gym weights and suffered a fractured skull and brain damage. Photo of Barry Quinn.