The Dutchy Holland I knew
Dutchy Holland was an institutionalised criminal - but one of an unusually corteous and thoughtful disposition. By Jason O'Toole
Jason O'Toole, 20 Jun 2009
The remains of the infamous Paddy “Dutchy” Holland, who died yesterday in his sleep, will be brought back to Ireland for burial next week by his friend and lawyer Giovanni Di Stefano.
The 70-year-old pensioner, who was serving an eight-year sentence in the UK for allegedly participating in a botched abduction, was hoping he’d be acquitted during his upcoming appeal. Sadly for him, it was not to be. Holland – who had bad heart – died in his prison cell on the Isle of White. He was what’s best described as an institutionalised criminal – having spent a staggering 26 years in prison, which amounts to more than a third of his life.
It’s almost a year since I first met the infamous Dutchy last July. I visited him in Wandsworth Prison, London to conduct a memorable ‘Hot Press Interview’. It was his first major interview in over 12 years. Sadly, it also turned out to be his last.
Holland might have been renowned as a hardened criminal, but I found him to be an affable character. I’ll always remember how, after my two-hour visit with Holland, it dawned on me that he was the first criminal I'd spoken to who didn’t use bad language during the course of our interview.
A few days after our chat, Holland wrote to thank me for coming to visit him. He ended the letter by saying: ‘The next time you come to England drop in to see me. Goodbye for now. God bless, Paddy.’
If nothing else, Holland was a very courteous criminal.
After reading my interview with him, Dutchy phoned me one day to say how he’d enjoyed the article. However, as far as Dutchy was concerned, I had made one error that slightly irked him. I had written that he’d dressed up as a woman on one occasion while robbing a bank; it was a tidbit of information I had taken from a book about Gilligan’s gang.
“I’ve got a bad enough reputation as it is – I don’t want to be accused of being a transvestite as well!” Dutchy said good-humouredly.
“Before I go, I’ve got a word of advice – never leave your car unlocked because somebody can plant drugs in it and get you arrested!”
I had no idea why Dutchy was passing on this titbit of information to me. He passed on many more titbits to me the past 12 months. I must have received at least a half dozen phone calls, as well as the occasional letter, from Dutchy. And when he called, he would always be offering some advice. He would also constantly urge me to stop writing about crime. “I’m concerned about you. Writing about criminals is a risky business – and you have a young family too look after,” he told me during his last phone call to me.