The Beatle Bandit
A Serial Bank Robber's Deadly Heist, a Cross-Country Manhunt, and the Insanity Plea that Shook the Nation
by Nate Hendley
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Pub Date 14 Dec 2021 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2021
WINNER of the 2022 Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book
On July 24, 1964, twenty-four-year-old Matthew Kerry Smith disguised himself with a mask and a Beatle wig, hoisted a semi-automatic rifle, then held up a bank in North York, Ontario.
The intelligent but troubled son of a businessman and mentally ill mother, Smith was a navy veteran with a young Indigenous wife and a hazy plan for violent revolution.
Outside the bank, Smith was confronted by Jack Blanc, a former member of the Canadian and Israeli armies, who brandished a revolver. During a wild shootout, Blanc was killed, and Smith escaped — only to become the object of the largest manhunt in the history of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force.
Dubbed “The Beatle Bandit,” Smith was eventually captured, tried, and sentenced to hang. His murderous rampage had tragic consequences for multiple families and fuelled a national debate about the death penalty, gun control, and the insanity defence.
"With this absorbing, deeply researched tale of a troubled, gun-obsessed bank robber-turned-killer in 1960s Toronto, veteran true crime writer Nate Hendley has scored another triumph." — Dean Jobb, author of The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream and Empire of Deception
"A fascinating, bizarre, important story told by one of the country's top true crime writers. What's not to enjoy? The Beatle Bandit is a hit." — Peter Edwards, Toronto Star crime reporter and co-author of The Wolfpack: the Millennial Mobsters who brought Chaos and the Cartels to the Canadian Underworld
"Nate Hendley has written a page-turner with The Beatle Bandit, about Toronto bank robber Matthew Kerry Smith, who donned a Beatle wig when robbing banks in the mid-1960s Beatles’ era. Hendley’s background as a journalist and narrative writing skills bring to life Smith’s story from childhood into adulthood." — Sharon A. Crawford, author of The Enemies Within Us: a Memoir