Since migrating from the UK at the age of 14, Robert "Bertie" Kidd has called Australia home - even if he has spent large chunks of his adult life behind bars.

One of the country's oldest and most notorious criminals, Kidd, now 81, was outraged to discover Australia plans to deport him to Britain when his latest stretch - 11 years for a series of armed robberies and burglaries in Sydney - is up next month.

In a letter to the ABC, Kidd - who was 71 when jailed, and who led the so-called "great-grandfather gang" - vowed to fight the deportation order "boots and all". His daughter called the order "inhumane", saying the former 'Ten Pound Pom' had no one to support him in England, which he left in 1948.

Kidd's criminal career began in the late 1960s, when he was jailed for two years for forging A$10 notes. He became known for his safe cutting and blowing skills, was involved in horse doping and acted as a standover man.


His most infamous attempted crime was "the great plane robbery" of 1982, in which he smuggled himself into a wooden crate on an aircraft carrying A$1 million in notes from the Reserve Bank to regional banks.

Caught when the gloved hand of an accomplice was spotted closing the crate trapdoor at Rockhampton in Queensland, Kidd received four years for that audacious plan.

In his letter, Kidd said he had always thought of himself as Australian. He enlisted for national service at 18, he said, did his training and "was prepared to go and fight for country".

"No one has ever said to me, 'be careful, they may send you back to London'. I would have laughed at that, as I am an Aussie," he wrote.

Kidd was suspected of fatally shooting two Sydney gangland men, Roy Thurgar and Des Lewis, in the early 1990s. Former NSW assistant police commissioner Clive Small told the ABC the murder weapon - a sawn-off shotgun, found years later - belonged to Kidd. However, police could not prove he pulled the trigger.

According to Small, by the late 1990s Kidd was "associated with some of the biggest drug dealers in NSW". The former senior officer said he had no sympathy. "Bertie Kidd has for the whole of his life been a nasty, vicious, violent criminal. I don't think he's held an honest job for one day ... I'd hate to think that my money was now going to pay his pension."