Chopper Confesses: 'I Murdered Four People'

Australian criminal-turned-author Mark "Chopper" Read confessed to four murders in a television interview given days before he died from cancer.

Read spent 23 years in jail, but was never convicted of murder - despite claiming over the years to have been involved in the killing of 19 people.

He shot to fame after the film about his violent life, Chopper, starring Eric Bana, was made in 2000.

In his interview with Australian current affairs programme 60 Minutes, recorded in Pentridge Prison in Melbourne, Read said he was determined to set the record straight.

He was speaking 16 days before his death earlier this month from liver cancer, aged 58.

"This is the last interview, the last picture show," said Read, who found fame in Australia after swapping his life of crime for novel-writing, including 1993's How To Shoot Friends And Influence People.

"Four is all you're getting and that four, that's it. Four, that's it. That's it. I haven't killed any more than that," he said.

Read said he felt no remorse. He felt "nothing at all" during the killings - three shootings and the hanging of a child-killer in his jail cell.

Among his alleged victims were two unsolved murders - the shooting of influential union member Desmond Costello outside a Melbourne hotel in 1971 and the death of Sydney Collins, national president of the Outlaws motorcycle gang, who has been missing since 2002.

Read was just 17 when he claimed to have shot Costello and said he "can't really tell you why, I haven't the faintest idea and ... I couldn't care less", although he claimed Costello had been "insulting" him.

Collins was killed after he turned Read in for shooting him in the stomach over a money dispute, which he dismissed in the interview as a "petty offence".

Read went to jail for six years over the incident and was determined to exact revenge.

He got his chance when Collins showed up to one of his stand-up comedy performances in 2002 and approached him for an autograph afterwards, asking that "bygones be bygones".

"This time I was shooting to kill him," Read said. "I stuck him in a hole and filled the hole in."

He also claimed to have killed a paedophile child-killer whose death was recorded as a suicide in Pentridge Prison in 1974.

His other victim was a man known as "Sammy the Turk", who Read was acquitted by a jury of killing after claiming he shot him in self-defence.

He admitted: "When I killed Sammy the Turk that wasn't self defence, that was outright ******* murder."

During his criminal career, Read claimed to have been stabbed seven times, shot once, run over by a car, had a claw hammer embedded in his head and to have been made to dig his own grave.

His most notorious act was persuading a fellow inmate to hack off both of his (Read's) ears, so he could gain access to a prison's mental health wing during a war between rival factions.

Police in Australia said they are investigating Read's claims.