Murder of Wife and Daughter

ON THIS DAY – June 14, 1935

GUILTY OF MANSLAUGHTER

“I am not guilty! I am Innocent! God knows I am not guilty!” With those words Clifford Earl Smiles, aged 31 years, motor mechanic, of Warleigh road, West Footscray, burst into sobs in the dock of the Criminal Court on September 18 after a jury had found him guilty of the manslaughter of his wife and child. The jury had deliberated for a little more than three and three-quarter hours, having left the court at 5.15 p.m. Smiles was remanded for sentence.

Smiles was charged with having on June 14 murdered his wife, Edna May Smiles, aged 24 years, and his daughter, Norma Elizabeth Smiles, aged four months. The bodies of Mrs. Smiles and her daughter were found in the gas-fllled kitchen of their home at Warleigh road, Footscray, on the morning of June 14. The Crown alleged that Smiles had suffocated his wife and had then placed the dead body, with the baby, which was then alive, in the kitchen, turning on the gas at the stove to make it appear as if Mrs. Smiles had committed suicide and gassed the baby.