Danielle Cronin | 11 November 2011 | Brisbane Times
A bank manager hankers for an “ordinary, suburban life” again after “2½ years of pure hell” involving a crime that would inspire Tom Clancy, a celebrated writer of thrillers.
It centres on a heist involving “Irish revolutionaries”, a carjacking and a syringe filled with a poisonous substance that would swiftly cause death unless the victim took an antidote.
The target was 51-year-old John Thomas Forrester – a suburban father who worked at the Bank of Queensland branch at Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast.
Mr Forrester said today it has been a “dramatic couple of years”.
“At this stage, I just want to put things behind me,” he said.
The drama unfolded in April 2009 when Mr Forrester reported he was carjacked by Irish revolutionaries and forced to take $40,000 from the branch.
A “poisonous substance” was injected into his neck and Mr Forrester would only receive the antidote if he complied with the carjackers’ order to steal $40,000 from the bank to fund their cause.
The prosecution cried nonsense. The defence argued Mr Forrester had followed the bank’s instructions when confronted by robbers.
In the Southport District Court this week, a jury found Mr Forrester not guilty of robbing his own bank after hearing a story described as bizarre and Hollywood-esque.
Mr Forrester’s counsel, Bill Potts, has practised criminal law for about 30 years and this was “one of the most remarkable cases” that he had been involved in.
Mr Potts was certain the criminals were not Irish terrorists, saying the perpetrators were probably “laughing down their sleeves at the moment”.
But he was sure that Mr Forrester’s only option was to follow the instructions of the carjackers.
Mr Forrester reported the incident to police, had injection marks in the back of his neck and his car had been torched by “persons other than him”.
The prosecution could not prove Mr Forrester had a financial motive to steal from the bank and the missing $40,000 had not been recovered.
In fact, Mr Forrester had obeyed the bank’s instructions when confronted by robbers – don’t be a hero and hand over the cash because “no amount of money is worth a human life”.
Mr Potts described his client as a pillar of the community.
“He’s a good man, a decent man, a family man,” he said.
He could also understand the scepticism surrounding Mr Forrester’s report because it was a “speculator” series of events.
But Mr Potts said the public was also unconvinced decades ago when Lindy Chamberlain reported a dingo took her baby Azaria.
More recently, some people were also sceptical about reports that a fake bomb was placed around the neck of Sydney schoolgirl Madeleine Pulver.
Mr Forrester had been through “2½ years of pure hell” and just wanted to go back to being an “ordinary, suburban” father.
Mr Potts said his client was back at the bank branch yesterday.