‘Chills me to my bones’: Qld man’s friendship with fugitive

HE KNEW him as "Jim Henderson" - his hard working mate and colleague who he'd share a beer or two with every afternoon and shoot the breeze.

But all was far from what it seemed.

"Jim Henderson" was Graham Potter - convicted killer on the run from the law and wanted for conspiring to murder and drug charges.

It has been nine years since Australia's most wanted man was revealed to be hiding out in Tully, but this week Victoria Police revealed new pictures in an attempt to prompt public help to find him.

Items found in convicted killer Graham Potter’s hideout.
Items found in convicted killer Graham Potter’s hideout.

Even though he remains on the run and likely a long way from the Far North, his identity still sends chills through the small town where he lived under the radar for months.

So great is the enduring fear that a Tully resident only agreed to speak to the Weekend Post on the condition of total anonymity.

He had never spoken to anyone except friends before about knowing him and said he was never approached by police investigating the case.

The pair both lived at Greenway Caravan Park and worked together rolling turf at a transport depot.

"He was my mate," the man recalled. "We used to sit and have beers every afternoon.

"He was the hardest working bloke I've ever seen.

"He was a really simple man. He was not a recluse, he would have a couple of beers with people in the afternoon, he would go and took his dinner.

Graham Potter has been on the run from police for ten years.
Graham Potter has been on the run from police for ten years.

"He wouldn't make many friends but the people that he did befriend were a value to him."

Potter has been revealed as a master of disguises who regularly dyed his hair and even owned a fat suit.

He is known as the "head and fingers killer" because of the brutal way he killed 19-year-old NSW shop assistant Kim Barry in 1981 - cutting off her head and fingers after trying to seduce her on his bucks night.

The Tully man remembered Potter's full beard and could tell his hair was dyed but assumed it was a "middle aged thing".

"Everything was cash with him, he wouldn't find a job with the banana (farms) because they always needed ABN, tax file numbers, bank accounts which he didn't have and he could never really get," he said.

More items from the tent
More items from the tent

"Obviously (turf rolling) was an opportunistic place to work because you got paid cash."

There was only one time when he recalled seeing his normally placid mate "Jim" snap. A group of backpackers were drunk at the caravan park and causing trouble and a furious Potter became enraged.

"Instead of beating the crap out of him (backpacker), he beat the crap out of a 12-inch post," he said.

"(There were) telegraph-like blocks of timber down in the caravan park there, he was trying his hardest to snap them.

19 year old shop assistant Kim Barry murdered by Graham Gene Potter, 23.
19 year old shop assistant Kim Barry murdered by Graham Gene Potter, 23.

"Apart from that one day he never had an argument with anyone, he never had any disagreements with anyone, he was just a general Aussie ocker fella."

The first he knew something was amiss was when he returned home to the caravan park one afternoon in 2010 and found an Australian Federal Police car at "Jim's" residence.

He said police cars were not an uncommon site at the park, but not federal ones.

He would learn of his mate's true identity soon after and said it still "chills me to my bones".

"I want him to be found, he's a horrible man," he said.

"He did horrible things to that young lady (Kim Barry).

Bartrac Toyota at Tully, where convicted murderer Graham Potter worked painting a staff lunch room after fleeing Victoria. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE
Bartrac Toyota at Tully, where convicted murderer Graham Potter worked painting a staff lunch room after fleeing Victoria. PICTURE: BRENDAN RADKE

"At the end of the day, I think everyone deserves to do their time and not be judged on it later in life, but he is not a nice person and he is not a pillar of society in any form."

He lived for months in Tully at the time and no one was any the wiser.

Toyota dealership employee Kellie Palmer admitted she did get a bad feeling from him, but it was only in hindsight she wished she had called police or had him checked out.

He and another man were paid cash to paint an upstairs room of their Butler St business over a couple of weeks.

She recalled telling her young son at the time not to speak to him because she knew "something wasn't right" and saw him oddly tugging on his shirt collar before realising after his identity was revealed it was probably his fat suit.

"I just remember him walking past the window and pulling on his shirt," she said.

"And he always wanted to do the painting after hours when no one else was here."