There were finally three verbal confessions by Ryan (played in this re-creation by Bill Hunter) saying that he had shot the prison warder. None was signed by Ryan, who only signed documents saying that he would give no verbal testimony.
Why did Ronald Ryan, a seasoned criminal, suddenly feel the need to tell all to the police? Was he 'verballed’ as such unsigned confessions are called? These days 'verbals’ are virtually impossible as police have to record on video all interviews they carry out in connection with a crime, following extraordinary revelations of police corruption uncovered by various police royal commissions.
Criminologist Professor Gordon Hawkins presents a chilling case for doubt about the validity of the damning unsigned confessions of Ronald Ryan, but in the 1960s the public, and therefore the jury, would have been much more trusting of the police. Whether as a result an innocent man was hanged, there is at least a reasonable doubt, as Professor Hawkins so eloquently explains.
The simple but striking re-creations, well directed by Stephen Ramsey, effectively set the scene and lead us into the heart of the Professor’s arguments.