Home Australia The tragic moment that changed Russell Manser’s life forever – sending him on a journey of suffering and resilience

The tragic moment that changed Russell Manser’s life forever – sending him on a journey of suffering and resilience

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Former criminal Russell Mansell (pictured with his girlfriend Liliana Gagic) died suddenly at the weekend after turning his life around.

Russell Manser turned his life around after being sexually abused in a juvenile home and back in prison and entering a destructive downward spiral of crime and violence.

Tributes for the former bad boy and outlaw have poured in after Manser, 56, died unexpectedly on Saturday night.

There were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the 56-year-old’s death and a report was being prepared for the coroner.

He had a history of drug use, including heroin, a habit he picked up in prison as a youth after being sexually assaulted by other inmates.

Manser was open about his stints in rehab and his ongoing battle with addiction and recovery and often shared updates about his life on social media.

READ MORE: Inside Russell Manser’s final days of living large

Tragic story of abuse

Manser’s story of incarceration began at age 15, when he was out with friends on a normal Saturday night and, fueled by drugs, made the decision to steal a ute in Parramatta, in Sydney’s west.

What followed was a dramatic police chase in which the teenager could barely reach the pedals and eventually crashed the stolen car.

“You often drove cars according to the phone books. I’ve seen some kids, one pedaling and the other driving,” he told Daily Mail Australia.

Manser was sent to Daruk Boys Home in Windsor, a town northwest of Sydney, for six months and within days guards sexually abused him.

Former criminal Russell Mansell (pictured with his girlfriend Liliana Gagic) died suddenly at the weekend after turning his life around.

Former criminal Russell Mansell (pictured with his girlfriend Liliana Gagic) died suddenly at the weekend after turning his life around.

“The first night I saw the staff taking the children out of bed and taking them to the toilet block,” he told ABC. Australian history.

‘The second or third night I could smell one of the staff breathing on me, and his breath was like a sewer.

“He took me to the ablution block and sexually abused me.”

Authorities have since urged any man who attended the school between 1965 and 1985 to come forward. In 2018, at least 80 alleged victims were reported to have spoken openly about cases of physical and sexual abuse in the home.

The youngest of six children, Manser grew up in Mount Druitt, in Sydney’s west.

His parents were ‘ten pound Poms’ who emigrated from Liverpool and supported their large family with factory work; Her mother worked in a plastics factory.

“There was no dysfunction, there was no domestic violence or alcoholism in my family growing up in Mount Druitt,” Manser said.

However, Manser couldn’t help but notice the special treatment given to returning inmates who were praised as “military” in his suburb.

These men had new cars, nice clothes, and pretty girlfriends, which appealed to a teenager who was desperately seeking a distraction from what he saw as a life of misery.

‘I always saw people really busting their asses. The only ones who showed any kind of opulence were the criminals,” he stated.

‘Waking up at five in the morning in the middle of winter to walk to the bus stop to go to work in a factory for 10 hours.

“They looked miserable and I wasn’t really attracted to them.”

By the age of 23, Russell Manser (pictured, in his early 20s) had robbed five banks.

By the age of 23, Russell Manser (pictured, in his early 20s) had robbed five banks.

By the age of 23, Russell Manser (pictured, in his early 20s) had robbed five banks.

Manser had just turned 17 when he stole a Porsche from the wealthy suburb of Whale Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches.

He was given a 12-month adult sentence at Long Bay Correctional Center to send a stern warning to other would-be criminals at Mount Druitt.

He detailed a prison guard saying “have fun, guys” as his mattress was thrown onto the floor of a cell he shared with two men in a protection wing of Long Bay prison used to house convicted pedophiles.

Manser admitted he was resentful of the sentence and said that compared to some of the other boys in jail, his criminal history was minimal.

“It was illegal for any of us to be there, the way they did it was illegal because they had to go through the Attorney General,” he said.

‘The courts had no power or jurisdiction to be able to do that directly. The lawyers should have said “this child has been illegally imprisoned.”

‘That lack of contact with family services, child safety and saying that these children are in serious danger. “There is a duty of care there and they did not comply with it.”

Manser was sexually assaulted by two men just hours after arriving at One Wing, a notorious protection unit used to house convicted pedophiles.

He remembers the prison guard saying “have fun guys” when his mattress was thrown to the floor of his cramped cell.

The teenager was abused a few nights later by a third inmate, who offered him his first injection of heroin in exchange for his silence.

Russell Manser (right) was a teenager when guards sexually abused him at Daruk Boys Home. Three decades would pass before he spoke about his ordeal.

Russell Manser (right) was a teenager when guards sexually abused him at Daruk Boys Home. Three decades would pass before he spoke about his ordeal.

Russell Manser (right) was a teenager when guards sexually abused him at Daruk Boys Home. Three decades would pass before he spoke about his ordeal.

Russell Manser was a notorious bank robber who spent 23 years behind bars. In the photo, CCTV of one of the bank robberies.

Russell Manser was a notorious bank robber who spent 23 years behind bars. In the photo, CCTV of one of the bank robberies.

Russell Manser was a notorious bank robber who spent 23 years behind bars. In the photo, CCTV of one of the bank robberies.

In an evaluation four weeks after his arrival, a psychologist stated that there was a high probability that he was being sexually abused in Long Bay.

Manser emerged from prison a shell of his former self and with a heroin addiction.

He then robbed five banks in the early 1990s, on one occasion stealing $90,000 from the Commonwealth Bank in Lane Cove, north of Sydney.

Manser committed five robberies in a few months, never stopping to consider the impact he was having on terrified employees and witnesses.

Russell Manser (pictured) turned his life around in his later years, where he helped other abuse survivors, prisoners and former prisoners.

Russell Manser (pictured) turned his life around in his later years, where he helped other abuse survivors, prisoners and former prisoners.

Russell Manser (pictured) turned his life around in his later years, where he helped other abuse survivors, prisoners and former prisoners.

At the age of 23, the career criminal had been sentenced to 15 years behind bars, with a non-parole period of seven and a half years.

Upon his release, Manser started his own business as a fitness instructor, got married, and welcomed two children into the world.

However, the brief period of peace was interrupted by memories of her abuse, which were becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

His marriage broke up and Manser numbed the pain with drugs and alcohol, returning to his trademark robbing banks, this time leaving fingerprints.

Back behind bars, he realized that “many things” needed to change.

The sudden death of Russell Manser has sparked an outpouring of tributes.

The sudden death of Russell Manser has sparked an outpouring of tributes.

The sudden death of Russell Manser has sparked an outpouring of tributes.

After seeing the announcement of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Manser received the boost he needed.

He wrote to the commission and was visited by a representative, before finally receiving an apology from the New South Wales government and compensation, three decades after he was abused at Daruk Boys Home.

When asked about the possibility of confronting his abusers in Long Bay, who he claims are dead, Manser asks what purpose it would serve.

“It doesn’t give me any closure, I’ve worked a lot on that in regards to holding on to resentments and what that’s accomplishing and, you know, I’ve really worked hard to let those things go. Some days it’s hard,” she said.

Manser said he closed his mind when he accepted that what had happened to him in Daruk and Long Bay had not been his fault.

‘It takes a lot of practice, it takes a lot of time. “I want a sense of peace,” she said.

Manser Hen later led an advocacy group that helps abuse survivors, prisoners and former prisoners connected with legal advice, treatment and rehabilitation.

It all started when other inmates began to suspect that he was snitching to the police when he was actually on the phone to the Royal Commission.

After he announced this in the prison yard, several inmates asked how they could share their own stories of abuse.

‘That’s basically where the Voice of the Survivor was formed. I had this way of making people tell me their stories and feel at ease,” he said.

He was forced to liquidate the charity last July.

“It’s been very difficult lately,” Manser told Daily Mail Australia at the time.

‘The directors have decided to put it into voluntary liquidation because we are not having the same volume of clients due to the response to these claims.

“It’s just not viable for us to continue.”

When asked what advice he would give his teenage self before losing control of his life, his answer was simple: “Believe in yourself.”

“Now I sit in boardrooms with these types of lawyers and my junior asked me how can I talk to these people,” he said.

“I told him I just believe in myself, and it was one of the first times I said it openly.”

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