top of page

Katherine Knight is 'top dog' in Sydney's tough Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre

Katherine Knight is now at tough Aussie prison Silverwater - right, the crime scene after she butchered her boyfriend in his bed
Katherine Knight is now at tough Aussie prison Silverwater - right, the crime scene after she butchered her boyfriend

One of my highlights of 2021 was bingeing Aussie prison drama Wentworth so finding out that Katherine Knight is 'top dog' of her prison really sent my imagination in to overdrive.

I won't lie, Joan Ferguson has become one of my all time life heroines, to the point I want to take up fencing and wear leather gloves. But is she as fearsome a cellmate as the 'cannibal killer' Kathy K?

In 2000, Katherine Knight was the first (and so far only) woman to be given a full-life sentence without parole in Australia, and for good reason. Her fearsome temper resulted in the death of her partner, John Price, who she killed, skinned, and then butchered, decapitating him and boiling his head in a pot on the stove. She had planned to feed him to his three kids, going as far as setting places for them at the table of the family home.

The police who attended the scene were so traumatised by what they saw that they are still struggling to cope with the experience. Knight was found unconscious on the kitchen floor, a suicide note falsely labelling Price as a paedophile. She survived her suicide attempt and will now spend the rest of her days in Australia's highest security women's prison.

Katherine Knight with her tragic victim, John Price
Katherine Knight with her tragic victim, John Price

And unsurprisingly, her reputation means the other women incarcerated with her don't fuck with her. Ever.

While little has been revealed about Knight's day-to-day life in prison, thanks to 2017 book Green Is The New Black, we have gained some fascinating insights in to how she exists behind bars - and it could be a plot straight from Wentworth tbh.

Here are a few of the most enlightening points of James Phelps' book...

Prison officers call her 'the Boss'

"She's the top boss of the jail. She takes no crap from anyone and absolutely gives it to the guards. If you come in to search her cell, she will stand in front of you with a smug face and scream at you. She will demand to watch you search the cell, and she will not leave the area. 'No, I'm f***in' staying here!' she'll scream. You have to use force to get rid of her, so we just leave her there and let her watch. It isn't worth the hassle. And every time you pick up something, she'll be like, 'What are you touching that for?' She knows everything that goes on in the jail, and whatever she says goes. I think she has that level of respect because of her crime. Because she was so brutal. "She has a lot of respect in the inmate population, that's for sure. They simply do not f*** around with her, and that's a fact. Most of the other heavies get respect for being tough. Other crims fear them. But Knight doesn't really have a record of violence while in jail. I would actually say she hasn't even had a single jail charge since she's been inside. Even the guards respect her a bit. She's the boss, put it that way. She would be the boss of any pod."

She has a prison job making headphones

"A typical day for Knight, starts at 7am every morning when she wakes to go to one of the most tedious jobs in prison. She makes headphones. That's her job. She's stuck in a factory every day, from 8am to 1pm, making headphones on a big, loud machine."

She is constantly monitored

"Four guards flank her. They watch her every move and are with her every day."

Katherine Knight is a brilliant artist

"She's an incredible artist. But she never signs anything she does - and never will. She doesn't want anyone making money off her name because she killed someone. She doesn't want some sick person buying her art because they think what she did was cool. The thought of someone hanging something on their wall just because she is a killer repulses her. She's amazing with pencil, paint and also pottery. A lot of her pottery is on display in the foyer at Mulawa. She has allowed them to sell a lot of it to raise money for charity and the jail - without her signature, of course."

Katherine Knight with her first husband David Kellett
Katherine Knight with her first husband David Kellett
Kath Knight's cell is 'homely' and full of crochet

"Her cell is the same size as every other cell in the wing. It's a one-out [single person] corner cell at the end of the wing. She has a bed, clothes, and the centrepiece of her room is a big old table that she uses for making art. She also sits at that table to write letters."

Her room is very cluttered. She had s*** everywhere. She had been there for a long time, and it was like she'd kept everything she'd ever been given. Not many people ever got to go in her room. She keeps it very private. It was her private space. She crochets and has heaps of blankets and things she has made. There's wool piled everywhere. Lots of knitted things. She has tried to make it as homely and warm as possible. She's going to be there until she dies, so she has made it her home, a place she feels comfortable in."

Her nickname is 'The Nanna'

"We called her the Nanna. She is a mediator at Mulawa. She's someone who sorted out problems before they got serious. She would pull the girls in and try to get them to sort out whatever it was before it ended up with someone going into segro [segregation] or getting more time added to their sentence. She would stop girls stealing from each other, and stop girls from fighting. But she never did it by standing over anyone. She never raised her hands to anyone. She was just someone who everyone loved."


bottom of page