Woman denies Clavell held them hostage


One of four woman trapped in a massage parlour with fugitive gunman Rodney Clavell describes him as a gentle giant and denies they were held hostage.


The woman, who describes Clavell as a good friend, says the death of South Australia’s most wanted man has “broken my heart”.

“He did not keep us hostage, he did not threaten us, he did not hurt us … If it wasn’t for us he would have got shot by the police and it was by him shooting first,” she told Network Seven’s Today Tonight program on Monday.

The woman said she begged Clavell not to take his life.

“I begged him to the very last second and he turned around and asked me not to ask that question.”

The woman said she walked out onto the street, crying because she heard a gunshot and knew what happened.

“That’s why I was hysterical,” she said.

“Not because of my trauma, because my friend was going to kill himself.”

Clavell was found dead by police on Thursday afternoon after the siege at a massage parlour where the 46-year-old is believed to have remained holed up for days.

The former prison guard had been on the run for more than two weeks after breaching a firearms ban, which had been part of his strict parole conditions.

A police tip-off led them to the brothel on King William Street, where he had taken refuge apparently armed with a rifle and a cache of ammunition.

The woman said they realised they were trapped when police arrived.

“It was too late. Couldn’t get him out the back, couldn’t get him out the front. (We were) trapped,” she said.

She said she blocked the entrance and locked the back door as they watched the ordeal unfold on television, describing it as “lies”.

Clavell also told her to answer a text message from the police asking if she was safe.

“I said, `look we are all fine, we all want to be in here, we are not hostages and we are fine,’ and I hung up. That’s all they needed to know,” she said.

“I knew at the end of the day what would happen. We both did. But we both tried as best we could to make it as good as we possibly could.”

She described Clavell as a gentle giant who “wanted to be a good man and do good for society” and was a committed Christian, praying to the end.

She said Clavell made her promise to tell her story to clear both their names.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.

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