Arthur 'Slim' Halliday: The Houdini of Boggo Road

Arthur Ermest Halliday, 1937.
Arthur 'Slim' Halliday rose to prominence in the 1940s as Boggo Road’s most persistent and infamous escape artist. For sheer variety of methods, no one else matched him. During his prison career he made six known escape attempts, two of which were successful.

He was originally sent to Boggo Road in 1939 to serve a five-year sentence for house-breaking. As it turned out, he got into so much trouble at the prison he ended up serving ten years.

His first escape from No.2 Division happened in January 1940, when he scaled the roof of the new workshop and threw a rope over a blindspot in the prison wall. The spot he escaped from became known as 'Halliday's Leap'. A massive police search took two weeks to locate him, and he was captured after a high-speed car chase through Caboolture.

In December 1946 he went over the wall at 'Halliday's Leap' again, this time with two other prisoners, sparking one of the biggest manhunts in Queensland’s history. Halliday and one of his accomplices were captured four days after the escape, hiding in the mangroves near Nundah Creek. The third man was caught shortly afterwards.

He was released in 1949, but was sent back to Boggo Road in 1952 for the murder of taxi driver Athol McGowan. He tried to escape through the roof of the workshop in 1953 after setting fire to mattresses, but was overcome by the smoke. In 1959 he was caught loose in a cellblock after ingeniously bending open his cell door with an improvised pulley system. After this attempt he was confined under special restrictions, being constantly watched and strip searched. His bed was bolted to the wall, and his cell door had extra bolts fitted.

Halliday was eventually released in the late 1970s, and he died in 1987. Today he is a major historical icon of Boggo Road.

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