Chopper's letters up for auction

LETTERS written from Risdon Prison by the infamous killer Mark ``Chopper'' Read will go under the hammer today, with some proceeds going to charity.

Theodore Bruce Auctioneers and Valuers in Sydney will auction the dead criminal's memorabilia, which includes 18 handwritten letters from Chopper to television journalist Renee Brack, a brass Jack Daniel's Zippo lighter engraved with ``Mark Brandon Read 1000%'' and a Christmas card written with a poem.

The letters are dated from June 25, 1992, to August 9, 1993, when Chopper was in Risdon Prison, and discuss his coming trial.

Auctioneer Lee Stone said the estimate for the Chopper lot was $5000 to $8000 and it was the most viewed lot online.

Brack, now a Sydney writer, decided to auction the items after realising she needed to do a clean-out.

She was the first television journalist to interview Chopper in Tasmania in 1992 about his first bestselling book.

Chopper pointed a gun at Brack's head while playing Russian roulette for the camera.

Afterwards, Chopper considered Brack to be a ``mate'' and wrote to her from prison.

Brack plans for some of the auction proceeds to help one or two charities of her choice.

She said she had had a fair idea that Chopper would play Russian roulette, and while she wanted to know his version of the deadly game, what happened was unexpected.

``I was so ill-prepared for that; I was still smiling when the trigger went off,'' Brack said.

``You don't assume something like that in any given second is going to happen.

``My father could never watch it.

``It was more sort of surprise.

``I'm not an easily shocked person and things have a delayed reaction with me, because when I was sitting at dinner that night, I had a loss of appetite and was thinking about it.

``The reality of the possibility dawned on me then, like a deer caught in headlights, to some degree.''

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