I’m a journalist at The Advertiser newspaper in Adelaide, and have more than 20 years experience as a reporter and sub editor at The West Australian in Perth and The Advertiser. My passion is writing and reviewing true crime books. Forget fiction – there are few things as fascinating and fantastical as the evil that men – and women – do.
I began writing at the local newspaper in my home town of Manjimup, in Western Australia’s south-west, starting out as a 13-year-old work experience student filching cigarettes from the Journalist-In-Charge. From 14-17, I was a football correspondent – thirty bucks for 500 words hammered out on an old electric typrwriter.
In 1990, aged 17, I was plucked from a Manjimup apple orchard by The West Australian to become a cadet journalist, where I was instantly hooked on the police scanner, chasing ambulances and spending endless hours at sieges and crime scenes. After moving to The Advertiser in 1995 – specifically in search of the weird crime the city was famous for – I won the SA Young Journalist of the Year award in 1996 for my crime reporting. I’ve won several other awards over the years for my work as a reporter and as a sub-editor.
Rather than “weird crime”, I became fascinated with a more traditional villain – bank robber and fugitive Brenden Abbott, known as the Postcard Bandit. I have written two books about him – No Fixed Address – the Hunt for Brenden James Abbott (1999), which was adapted for the telemovie Postcard Bandit (2003) and the bestselling Australian Outlaw – the True Story of Postcard Bandit Brenden Abbott (2006), which was shortlisted for the Ned Kelly crime-writing awards and republished worldwide as The Outlaw’s Story (2007). Click on the thumbnails on this page if you would like to buy any of these books.
I returned to The West from 1999-2003 but went back to Adelaide in 2003, where I’m now Night News Editor at The Advertiser, engaged in the dark art of daily news production. Our newsroom generates stories for Adelaide’s Messenger newspapers, The Advertiser, the Sunday Mail and our website, AdelaideNow.
In 2007, I finally found the Adelaide story I’d been looking for and the following year, received an ArtsSA grant to fund the research of Dead By Friday – How lust and greed led to murder in the suburbs. It took five years to research and write and another year to be published.
It has turned out to be one of the most extraordinary true crime stories I’ve ever encountered, with a cast of characters that a fiction writer would dismiss as simply unbelievable.
What kind of hitman eats the murder contract in a sandwich?
– Derek Pedley