There were more sides to Mark ``Chopper'' Read than books about his life, and probably no more so than when he lived in Tasmania.
For a crook who chopped off body parts - his ears, others' toes - Mark Brandon Read's move to Tasmania in 1991 was a tree change before it became trendy.
And he almost pulled it off until he shot former bikie boss Sidney Collins at Evandale in 1992.
A few hours after the shooting, Launceston CIB detective Bob Coad nearly ran Read's taxi off Country Club Road at Prospect to arrest him.
``Chopper jumped out and put his arms in the air and said he wasn't armed,'' the now retired Mr Coad said.
Police had been watching Read for a few hours in the casino, not wanting to take him down at the roulette wheel and risk a public shoot-out.
It turns out he wasn't armed.
Mr Coad later interviewed and charged Read for the shooting, which saw him jailed at Risdon for five years.
Despite committing his last major crime in this state, Read, who died on Wednesday, was clearly at a career crossroads when he lived in Tasmania.
A retired senior police officer remembers Read as a father who liked to show off his newborn even if it was in the Hobart Men's Gallery.
``I always found him reasonably personable, quite frankly,'' said the officer, who asked to remain anonymous.
``He'd settled down, he married (Mary Ann Hodge), he'd done his time and every time I saw him, he was carting his young fella around.
``In that period he was very respectful towards the police and he didn't cause any grief . . . he was a shocking sight with his ears cut off . . . but his mellowing and reformation were well under way.''
Hobart forensic psychiatrist Ian Sale found him a fascinating character and was saddened by news of his death.
Dr Sale assessed Read in an attempt by solicitor Michael Hodgman to get his client out of indefinite detention for shooting Mr Collins.
``By the time I got to see him, he was already a bit of an ageing villain,'' Dr Sale said.
``He was a very articulate man, very intelligent, a raconteur, always very congenial with me, but I don't think I would have liked to have been in his vicinity if' he'd had a skinful.''
Dr Sale told the Supreme Court that there was no reason based on mental health why Read should be incarcerated at Risdon indefinitely.
``I must confess I held my breath a bit when he came out and hoped I was right,'' Dr Sale said yesterday.
``He found his other career and was an amazing success.''
Former detective Coad struck a lasting friendship with Read's dad, Keith, who lived at Ravenswood at the time, and received Christmas cards from both father and son.
He described Read as personable and an egotist who was dangerous but mainly for other criminals rather than the public. ``He was always very closely attached to his dear old dad, who, in turn, idolised Chopper,'' Mr Coad said.
``He was a character in his own right . . . he had dealings with some of the worst bloody criminals, particularly in Victoria, because if someone did a stick-up, he wanted some of the bloody takings.''