Blood on the Sand Episode 08: Mark “Chopper” Read Part 1: Defacto Evil – Australian for Crazy

“When I was born my mother said that I was not a gift from God, things went downhill from there…She was devoted to her church and that was it, and you were either with her or against her.”

This will be an introduction for many Americans to a man that all three of us at Blood on the Sand wish we could’ve had a beer with, or Chopper’s favorite drink: The Dirty Father (real thing, the recipe is gross). Born to fricked up parents in a fricked up world; Australia, Mark was the son of Keith Read, a father who volunteered to fight the Japs in WWII, but like, unofficially? Some would say he enjoyed it too much, but his family didn’t! Chopper’s mother Valerie, a seventh day Adventist and even then wouldn’t win prizes for mother of the year, but somehow, some way, they raised Mark to be the heroic figure to a nation, by instantly putting him up for adoption, then re-adopting him after a few years, then ignoring him, punishing him for being a victim, giving him electroshock therapy 60 TIMES! And you wonder why he’s so fricked up! The crazy thing is that those are just the early years, we go through Chopper’s first 24 years, all his first crimes, all his insane stories, everything you’ve never heard about Mark Brandon Chopper Read!

November 17th, 1954. Winston Churchill is serving his second term as prime minister, the first Godzilla movie has been out for a few weeks inspires generations of kids stomping on their toys, Ellis Island closes because people cross on planes or rafts now but never boats, AND, in Melbourne Australia, a star born. Mark Brandon Read, known by most of the world as “Chopper Read” was born to Keith and Valerie. His dad’s last name was actually Pepper, but as we’ll see, later when Mark gets nicknamed Chopper, he realizes, Chopper Pepper sounds like a rejected vegan soft drink, and goes by his dad’s maiden name? Maternal name, Read.

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So throughout all of this, Valerie is also randomly sending Chopper to a mental institutions in an effort to have him declared insane. She thinks that if she can have him declared insane, then god would forgive his sins as not being actions of his own mind. That actually, weirdly, kind of makes sense. If you’re having impure thoughts, but they’re not really your thoughts, how can god hold you accountable for thoughts that aren’t yours? Finally she gets her wish, as one of the doctors is also 7th Day Adventist, and at 15 Chopper is declared clinically insane. FOR THE FIRST TIME. Yeah, stay tuned. Do you want me to tell you how many more times? Wanna guess? So, yeah during these stints he’s given electroshock therapy, and by the time he’s 15 he’s given over 60 sessions of electroshock therapy.

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Quick rundown of his first gang: “The Cowboy looked like death, and fought like the Grim Reaper, The Jew was a kill-crazy head-banging psychopath, and terry the tank was a jolly giant, who could punch a German shepherd dog to death, and once did to prove a point.
I was leading the mentally ill, but in my own way I was the worst of them all. I had the smiling face of a young angel, and a heart so full of tears that there was no room for the blood to flow. As a young guy I was cruel, cold and totally without human mercy, feeling or compassion.”

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1972 – one month each for two charges of assault
1974 – one month for carrying an offensive weapon
1974 – one month for assaulting a police officer
1975 (April) – 6 months for burglary, 2 months for assault and impersonating an officer
1975 (May) – 2 years for armed robbery
1975 (December) – 12-36 months for armed robbery for robbing massage parlors
1977 – released for the armed robbery
1978 – two years grievous bodily harm shooting guy in leg with shotgun, out on bail
1978 – 12 years, abduction /kidnapping ( the judge)
1978 – 9 months added for the breach of parole for shooting the guy in the leg

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