Read spent only 13 months outside prison between the ages of 20 and 38, having been convicted of crimes including armed robbery, firearm offences, assault, arson, impersonating a police officer and kidnapping. While in Pentridge Prison's H division in the late 1970s, Read launched a prison war. His gang, dubbed "The Overcoat Gang" because they wore long coats all year round to conceal their weapons, were involved in several hundred acts of violence against a larger opposing gang during this period. Around this time, Read had a fellow inmate cut both of his (Read's) ears off in order to be able to leave H division temporarily. While in his early biographies Read claimed this was to avoid an ambush by other inmates, by being transferred to the mental health wing, his later works state that he did so to "win a bet". The nickname "Chopper" was given to him long before this, from a childhood cartoon character.
Read was ambushed and stabbed by members of his own gang in a sneak attack when they felt that his plan to cripple every other inmate in the entire division and win the gang war in one fell swoop was going too far. Another theory is that James "Jimmy" Loughnan, a longtime friend of Read, with Patrick "Blue" Barnes, wished to benefit from a contract put on Read's head by the Painters' and Dockers' Union. Read lost several feet of intestine in the attack. At the time Read was serving a 16 and a half-year sentence after attacking a judge in an effort to get Loughnan released from prison.[Loughnan would later die in the Jika Jika fire at Pentridge in 1987.
In 1992, Read was convicted of shooting Sydney Michael Edward Collins in the chest. The incident took place in Read's car, which was in the driveway of Collins' residence at Evandale, Tasmania. The bullet was recovered from the backseat of the vehicle, and Collins named Read as the shooter. Pleading not guilty, Read was found guilty of grievous bodily harm, a downgraded charge from attempted murder, and sentenced as a "dangerous criminal" to indefinite detention. He walked free early in 1998. In 2002, Read was again questioned over the disappearance of Sydney Collins, who is still on the Australian Missing Person list after going missing under suspicious circumstances.
Read claimed to be involved in the killing of 19 people and the attempted murder of 11 others. In an April 2013 interview with the New York Times, Read said “Look, honestly, I haven’t killed that many people, probably about four or seven, depending on how you look at it.”
Ste....Surely it should be R.I.P. all the people he murdered