In November 1936, Ronald was sent to Rupertswood, Sunbury, the Salesian Order’s school for orphaned, wayward and neglected boys. Ryan escaped from the school in September 1939 and worked with his half brother in and around Balranald, New South Wales. Spare money that he earned was sent to his mother looking after his sick alcoholic father. At the age of twenty, Ryan had saved enough money to rent a house in Balranald and eventually settled there with his mother and three sisters, worked as a labourer and kept out of the hands of the law. Ryan’s father stayed in Melbourne and died a year later aged 62, after a long battle with miners’ disease, phthisis tuberculosis. At the age of 23, Ryan returned to Melbourne where he was employed as a storeman. On the 4th of February that year at St Stephen’s Anglican Church, Richmond, he married Dorothy Janet George, a secretary, educated at a private school, who had rebelled against her wealthy parents.
Ryan had a long list of criminal chargers and these first started in 1953 when he was acquitted on a charge of arson. In 1956, Ryan used a number of forged cheques to pay for his gambling debts, and was only placed on a good-behaviour bond. Although, by 1959, Ryan was virtually a professional criminal, leading a gang that broke into many shops and factories. After been in custody by the police in April 1960, he and three accomplices escaped from the police, but were recaptured after several days later. On June 17, Ryan pleaded guilty to eight charges of breaking and