Michael Guider seemed a harmless old loner to the other pensioners in a housing commission estate in Sydney’s south-west where he has lived for the past two-and-a-half years.
The 71-year-old kept largely to himself as he bought and cared for exotic plants, fed the local cats and helped put out other residents’ garbage bins.
No one else in the 14 units at Fairfield Heights knew he was the reviled paedophile who kidnapped, drugged and killed nine-year-old Bondi schoolgirl Samantha Knight in 1986.
‘He’s always been a good neighbour,’ 76-year-old Dorothy Tickner said. ‘He’s always been a nice person.
‘You never know who you’re living next to.’
Michael Guider seemed an almost perfect neighbour to the other pensioners in a housing commission estate in Sydney’s south-west where he has lived for the past two-and-a-half years. Guider, who killed nine-year-old Samantha Knight in 1986, was staying in this unit
Guider kept largely to himself as he bought and cared for exotic plants, fed half a dozen stray cats and helped put out other residents’ garbage bins. A Sulu bin stood in his kitchen a day after he was arrested for allegedly breaching the conditions of his release from prison
It was only on Thursday morning when police came to take Guider away that anyone gave much thought to his quirks or realised they might have a monster in their midst.
Guider had been living secretly in a tiny unit at the back of a neat blond-brick block of apartments since about six months after he was released from prison in 2019.
His new home was 450m from Fairfield Heights Primary School, the same distance from AQUAKIDS Swim School and just 260m from Kids World Kindy in the same street he was being housed.
Guider, who preyed upon children for two decades, was three years into a five-year extended supervision order (ESO) imposing strict conditions on his release.
About 8.10am on Thursday, officers from the Child Abuse and Sex Crimes Squad’s Extended Supervision Order Investigation Team came knocking and took him away .
Police will allege Guider breached his ESO by using his phone to ‘search for images that depict children’ and ‘access and view material classified as refused classification or X18+’.
Michael Guider was arrested on Thursday morning for breaching conditions relating to his five-year extended supervision order. Neighbours said the basketball-size tumour visible in this photograph below his waist has been removed since his release from jail in 2019
Michael Guider kidnapped, drugged and killed nine-year-old school girl Samantha Knight (pictured) in 1986. She was snatched from near her home at Bondi and her remains have never been found
The alleged offences occurred over seven months between February 23 and September 25
After a brief appearance at Fairfield Local Court the child killer was returned to prison.
Before moving to suburbia, Guider had been living in a jail-run halfway house and his whereabouts were not even known to his victims.
Ms Tickner has lived next door to Guider since he moved into her block and the pair got on well, although she said with hindsight some of his behaviour was a bit weird.
‘When he came here he told us he would not come into our units,’ she said.
‘And we wouldn’t be invited into his.
‘We only knew him as Michael. He wouldn’t give us his surname. He wouldn’t give us his phone number.’
Guider’s lifelong interest in horticulture was obvious at his flat on Friday. A bag of mulch sat outside the door near a spade. There were flowering potted plants outside the flat and orchids on the window sill
Guider never spoke of his past, did not mention any family and rarely had visitors.
Ms Tickner said a couple of men had occasionally come to the flat.
‘He said they were his carers,’ she said.
Ms Tickner said Guider was ‘always polite’.
‘Just a normal guy to us. It’s hard to take in,’ she said.
Her secretive neighbour would bring up her mail, water her plants and when she went on a holiday she asked him to look after her unit.
Fairfield Local Court heard on Thursday that Guider was suffering a heart condition and had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
‘Now and again I’d order KFC and I’d get some for him,’ Ms Tickner said.
‘Then he told me he had diabetes and I didn’t get it anymore.’
Next door neighbour Dorothy Tickner was stunned to learn Michael Guider was a child killer. ‘He’s always been a good neighbour,’ the 76-year-old (pictured) said. ‘You never know who you’re living next to’
Guider fed stray cats that came to his unit and named some of them Fluffy, Beauty, Checkout Chick, Checkout Chick’s Mother and Ginge. One of them is pictured
When Guider arrived he had a basketball-size hernia below his waist which Ms Tickner said was removed during a month-long hospital stay in mid to late 2020.
He had also shaved off most of the bushy grey beard that was Guider’s other most recognisable feature when he was released from prison.
‘You never saw him in anything other than track pants,’ Ms Tickner said.
‘He was always complaining he couldn’t get shoes to fit. He’s got big feet. I hope they’ve got big shoes in prison.’
Ms Tickner last saw Guider on Wednesday when he paid her back $20 from his pension.
‘If he borrowed anything off me I’ve always got it back again,’ she said.
He also showed her an orchid he had bought.
‘It was a beautiful thing,’ she said. ‘He’s got some beautiful plants in there.’
Lisa, who did not wish to give her surname, lives in a block next door to Guider’s and has a six-year-old daughter. ‘I’m surprised and a bit upset to be honest,’ she said upon learning of Guider’s past. Lisa is pictured outside her unit
Guider’s lifelong interest in horticulture was obvious at his flat on Friday.
A bag of mulch sat outside the door near a spade. There were flowering potted plants against the walls and orchids on the window sill.
Also outside the flat was a box of cat food Guider used to feed strays he called Fluffy, Beauty, Checkout Chick, Checkout Chick’s Mother and Ginge.
Inside, three jars of smooth peanut butter sat on a table near a can of Mortein fly spray and a stained coffee cup with a kookaburra motif.
A Sulu bin stood in the middle of the living room. Plastic containers of cat food rested on the stove with saucepans and a kettle.
Bronwyn Ferguson lives in the same block of units as Guider and knew him as ‘Mick’, a mad fan of the Parramatta Eels. The 62-year-old spoke to Guider most days, mainly about football. Ms Ferguson is pictured with her partner Jeff Mahoney
Ms Tickner said Guider would often catch public transport into the city and liked libraries. He be recently begun recording the numbers of train engines.
‘He goes out quite a bit,’ she said. ‘Lately he’s been trainspotting.’
Guider was let go from the Metropolitan Special Programs Centre at Long Bay on September 5, 2019, after serving 17 years for killing Samantha.
Samantha’s body has never been found and Guider has shown no remorse for her manslaughter, which he once claimed was accidental and most recently said he had not committed.
Ms Tickner remembers the ‘Find Our Sam’ posters that were stuck up all over Sydney, New South Wales and Australia when Samantha disappeared.
‘I remember that beautiful little girl being kidnapped,’ she said.
‘I don’t know how someone can do that.’
Guider had been living in a jail-run halfway house before moving to Fairfield Heights and his whereabouts were not even known to his victims. He is pictured leaving prison carrying two garbage bags holding his possessions
Another neighbour who did not wish to be identified said she could not believe Guider’s history.
‘No way,’ she said.
‘He’s such a beautiful man. The world is full of surprises. I don’t know what to say.’
Lisa, who lives in a block next door to Guider’s, has a six-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son.
‘I’m surprised and a bit upset to be honest,’ she said upon learning of Guider’s past.
‘Why didn’t they tell us?’
Lisa’s husband Jeff was just as shocked.
‘It’s terrible,’ he said. ‘Someone could have let us know. Our kids play out there all the time. It’s good to know he’s locked up now and won’t be coming back.’
Michael Guider was molesting kids for years before and after he killed Bondi schoolgirl Samantha Knight
Samantha’s body has never been found and Guider has shown no remorse for her manslaughter
Samantha Knight’s 1986 disappearance from near her mother’s home at Bondi in Sydney’s eastern suburbs remained a mystery for 15 years.
Michael Guider has never publicly expressed any remorse for killing the schoolgirl and her body has never been found.
She was one of perhaps dozens of children aged two to 16 who Guider molested over many years. His usual method of offending was to drug and then molest pre-pubescent girls.
Guider first molested Samantha when she was living with her mother Tess at Manly in 1984 and 1985.
He snatched Samantha from near her home in Imperial Avenue, Bondi, after school on August 19, 1986.
Michael Guider is pictured left on Christmas Day, 1986, four months after he killed Samantha. He is pictured right clutching a Kodak film packet and developed photographs in 1984, the year he began molesting Samantha
The honey-blonde, green-eyed girl had been seen that afternoon walking the streets in her uniform. Within days, Sydney was plastered with ‘Find our Sam’ posters which described her as intelligent, outgoing and well-spoken.
Guider later claimed he had drugged Samantha with the sleeping pill Normison and she died of an overdose on his lounge while he went out to the shops.
He has since claimed he had nothing to do with her death.
Michael Guider, 69, served 17 years for the manslaughter of schoolgirl Samantha Knight
Many of Guider’s victims were the daughters of mothers he had befriended. He sexually assaulted them during babysitting sessions.
Guider played a ‘game’ called statues with some victims in which he ordered them to stand still while he exposed himself and touched their genitals.
He took thousands of images of the children he violated while they were unconscious. Some of his victims have not been identified.
In 1996, Guider was sentenced to a minimum 10years and six months for 60 offences committed against 11 children between 1980 and 1986.
Four years later he was convicted of further sex offences against children but his release date was extended by only six months.
While in custody he was linked to Samantha Knight’s disappearance.
Guider was charged with Samantha’s murder in February 2001 but pleaded guilty to manslaughter under the weight of damning evidence including a confession to his brother Tim.
He was sentenced to 17 years with a non-parole period of 12 years to date from June 2002. The maximum sentence expired last year.
Efforts to keep Guider in custody beyond his original sentence failed and he was released on an extended supervision order which will last for five years.
Bronwyn Ferguson lives in the same block of units as Guider and knew him as ‘Mick’, a mad fan of the Parramatta Eels.
The 62-year-old spoke to Guider most mornings and afternoons, mainly about football.
‘He never talked about family,’ she said. ‘I was busting my guts to know if he had a wife or kids but he was really standoffish.
‘There was this lady who used to live here. She used to say, “There’s something about him I don’t trust but I can’t put me finger on it”.
‘You’d invite him in but he’d never ever come inside. If we’d go to his place he wouldn’t let you in either. Now it all makes sense.’
Ms Ferguson’s partner Jeff Mahoney, who spends weekends at the Housing NSW estate, had his own concerns about Guider.
‘I had me susses – sure did,’ the 61-year-old said. ‘I said to Bron, “There’s something about this fella – I think he’s been to jail”.
‘Something didn’t marry up for me. There was just something about this fella.’
One day Mr Mahoney had gone to Guider’s front door, which the paedophile opened while naked.
The pair had sometimes shared a beer – which would be in breach of Guider’s release conditions – until Guider told him he was a recovering alcoholic and Mr Mahoney called time on their drinks.
Mr Mahoney claimed one day he had been standing with Guider when a group of pre-teen schoolgirls walked down the street.
‘He said, “They’ll be nice when they’re a bit older – they’re very pretty”.’
No pubs, playgrounds or porn -Michael Guider’s 56 conditions
Michael Guider sexually abused perhaps dozens of children and killed nine-year-old schoolgirl Samantha Knight in 1986
Michael Guider’s freedom was subject to 56 strict court-imposed conditions overseen by a Corrective Services department supervising officer (DSO) for five years.
His address must be approved by his DSO and he must abide by a 10pm to 6am curfew.
No other person can enter and remain, or stay overnight, at his approved address without being cleared.
Guider must wear an electronic monitoring device and provide a weekly plan called a ‘schedule of movements’ three days before it is due to start.
He cannot go to any of the following places without approval: day care centres, pre-schools and schools, amusement parlours, amusement parks and theme parks, cinemas, libraries and museums.
He cannot enter camping grounds and caravan parks, children’s playgrounds, parks and any areas with play equipment provided for children.
He cannot go to pools, playing fields and sporting facilities, concerts, theatre shows, movies, events and activities intended for the entertainment of children.
And he cannot visit any residence where he knows that someone aged under 18 ordinarily lives.
Guider was housed at the Nunyara Community Offender Support Program Centre in Sydney’s Long Bay prison complex until March 2020. Nunyara is pictured
Places used solely or mainly for the sale or display of sexually explicit material, or for providing sexual services or sexually explicit entertainment are also off limits.
Guider must not possess or use alcohol or illegal drugs and submit to testing for both.
He cannot enter any licensed premises including hotels, bars and clubs – but excluding cafes and restaurants – without approval.
Guider must not approach or have contact with anyone he knows or ‘reasonably should know’ is under 18, other than ‘incidental contact in a public place’ unless he is in the company of an approved person.
His supervisor can notify anyone Guider associates with who has children in their care of his criminal history and can stop him from seeing anyone he or she tells him not to.
If Guider wants to see a sex worker that can only be done with the approval of the supervisor, who also must be told if he starts a romantic relationship.
He will need permission to join any club or organisation and any social media network.
He cannot change his name from Michael Anthony Guider – which Daily Mail Australia has previously revealed might not even be his real name – without approval.