We have Detained Chris for Childhood Dementia

Last Wednesday, 30th August, we “detained” Little Heroes Foundation CEO Chris McDermott at the notorious Adelaide Gaol.

The Detain for Dementia campaign aims to shed light on the challenges faced by children affected by dementia while raising funds for vital research and support programs. Thanks to all individuals and businesses who answered our call, sponsoring Chris’s detention.  Every contribution makes a difference in bringing us closer to finding a cure for childhood dementia, as well as supporting programs that provide much-needed assistance to children and families in their daily lives.

Chris willingly spent more than 28 hours locked behind bars, symbolising the struggles that these children and their families endure every day. Read along and enjoy Chris’s “diary” of how the 28 and a half hours inside the jail went for him:

My 28 ½ hours in Adelaide Gaol

The cells doors closed at 11am and I’m locked in for what looks to be almost 27 hours. This place is creepy, fascinating, fun, but most of all definitely creepy. The inexplicable behaviour started not long after the team and I arrived here this morning at 9.30am.

Somehow my glasses randomly broke unexplainably – no one knows how. They are broken beyond repair, and more damaged than if someone had accidently trodden on them. Now I can’t see clearly but accidents happen, I guess.

Then, my cell door locked for 5 minutes just before 11. No one knows why. No body knows how, but no one could open it. We pushed and pulled with no success. We went to get help and finally when it arrived, the door opened on its own accord. Very strange.

Then there’s the whistling.

I was whistling within just minutes of entering the Gaol for some reason, and I never do that. But it’s a sign, according to the onsite Paranormal expert that something or someone is here. He wouldn’t elaborate. Eventually, Sam exclaimed “Shut up will you! You’re spooking us!”.

What I didn’t know, that I later found out the others knew, was the story of past inmate Charles O’Leary, who was notorious for his whistling all through the days and nights. And to make matters worse regarding good old Charles, he was buried right on the outside wall of my cell.

It’s 11:13am and I have been locked in here officially for 13 minutes. 27 hours might be more of a struggle than I originally thought.




12 noon; First group of sightseers come thru. A little shocked to see the Cell occupied but a nice break from the eerie silence and my own thoughts.

4pm; The visitors have become scarce over the last few hours but thankfully the nearby Kookaburras keep life interesting. The sun is dipping behind the prison walls and the cold is closing in.

The odd creak and crack of this old building keeps you on your toes but no signs of anything non-human just yet. Hunger pains aren’t apparent but a meal from Jamar’s is close at hand, just 4 short hours to go (well, hopefully short anyway).

5pm; Security has arrived. Darren has the first 7-hour stint from now until midnight. The dinner shift! He’s already flagged what was a meal for 2 (Leith and I), will now be a dinner for 3. Why not.  Hope there’s some wine in the mix!!!!

6pm; 5AA’s own Leith Forrest arrives to prepare for the show from 8 to 12. I’m relaxed as ever, but it promises to be a fun evening.

8pm; Show time. We are on air at 5AA with LHF (Little Heroes Foundation) – Detain for Dementia being the overarching topic. Leith is a good man. Very supportive, but I hope this works or it could be a onetime only moment. One of the LHF mums is waiting for our call, but having a dinner party with friends at the same time could make it a little messy!

8:30pm; Surprise time. Chris Jarmer, host of the magnificent Jarmer’s restaurant has arrived pushing a trolley, and I can see part of a massive T-bone steak protruding out of the bottom of the lid. My mouth waters at the sight and smell of it!

And a bottle of Red. This is… awesome!

9pm; Time to eat. Oh, my goodness, I’ve had a few dry diabetic biscuits and nothing else today, so excuse me, but I’m tucking in! Oh yeah, you best believe the Rusden red is empty already.

9:30pm; Leith, Chris Jarmer and I are standing at the entrance to my cell, talking during an ad break and wrapping up the segment when the thick, metal door that locks the prisoners inside their cell block opens on its own. It opens slowly, meticulously and without a jerk then stops on its own accord. There is no wind. There was no one there… “OR WAS THERE!?” I thought to myself.

That was spooky. Even for 3 grown men…

Nothing else happened, but that made no sense at all… just saying.

Midnight; Show is over. That was fun. And a little creepy at times. Keith Conlan was a star. Love him. Chris Jarmer is my new hero. As for Leith, I’ve said enough nice things about him. Its schnitty time soon for Leith, to repay the favour.

4:22am; And not a second later. The cold in the Freezer Cell that I now inhabit is unimaginable. How did anyone survive in these conditions back in the day? There can be no sleep. There is no space to think or sleep, it’s all consuming of considering ways to not feel the cold. And of course, how to survive the dark hours of the night.

Wee time. It’s better out here than in there…

Bugger! I suddenly remember Matt Watson’s jacket that he lent me (Sam’s husband – now of Detmold). It’s like a thick snow jacket and dare I say, it’s as warm as it can be in here now. Can I? Could I? I will and pass out to sleep at last? 4.32 was my last recollection of time.

6:03am; And my sleep is over.  Oh well, it was a good 80 minutes. It’s planes, trains and automobiles time. Rowdy buggers they are. Love that choice of flight path. Oh well it was good while it lasted. And there goes that Kookaburra again. Don’t they sleep?

I say g’day to Kath, my very generous and polite security for the night. And our search for a coffee begins.

7am; Mr. Uber arrives and its coffee time. It’s also clean up time and a sniff of my dinner’s leftovers from last night. Thanks again, Chris Jarmer.

7:20; Sam from 5AA returns for a wrap up of events. He was slightly disappointed I wasn’t scared out of my brain. They have been great supporters and are showing some interest in being an even bigger part of next years ‘Detain for Dementia’ events. I can’t think that far ahead at the moment. One hour at a time!

7:50; ABC’s turn and I think I went too far as one of the girls was scared out of her brain. Sometimes my filter doesn’t work very well. Oh well, it made for good radio. Thanks ABC, very kind,

8:30; 7 hours to go, unless there’s a late flood of donations. For a rare time, I hope not, 28 hours is almost perfect. The tours are beginning again, and I have had a great chat with Alan who’s been taking tours thru the Gaol for almost 25 years. He was in Dept of Corrections before this for almost the same amount of time. He’s a true gentleman with an amazing manner and plenty of experiences with the spirits of this Gaol, he made me have a serious rethink. Some men tell no tales.

9:30am; School kids start filing thru in big numbers, fascinated by the history of this place as I hear them talking from the confines of my cell. Some poke their head in thru the wide and are shocked to see me in there. “There’s a bloke in there!” I hear them say as they quickly move on. Some stay for a chat. It breaks the monotony.

12 noon; 3 hours 30 minutes to go. It’s still cold in the Freezer but the clock is ticking, and my time here is nearing completion. What a great experience. Lucy and Nadia drop in for a clean-up. A “proper” one rather than a man’s attempt like I tried to do. They push me aside, tell me to get out the way, hand over a can of Coke Zero and I obliged.

1pm; The “Paranormal” meter that hasn’t made a sound or flashed a light for 26 hours is lying beside me in my cell.

It starts to go crazy! Not just the odd light but a full book. It’s out of control and shows no signs of stopping. I can’t help but think it’s as though someone is trying to tell me something.

Weird! I can’t explain it. Just another weird moment in this weird 28 ½ hour experience.

3pm; Lights still flashing. It quietens for a minute or 3 then goes off again. Slightly concerning at this point… who or what could be with me right now?

3:30pm; Not a second later. My bag is packed. Cell is clean.

My time here has come to an end. Until next time!