ON THIS DAY – April 4, 1917


Sentence of death was passed this afternoon in the Criminal Court by the Chief Justice (Sir John Madden) upon Clarence Victor Sefton, who had been found guilty on a charge of child murder. The victim, an infant, one month old, was the illegitimate child of Sefton, and was born on February 17, in a nursing home at East Melbourne. On the night of March 22, Sefton got it from another, saying that he had arranged to hand it to a woman who wished to adopt it. On the 4th of April the child’s body was found in the Yarra near the Punt Road Bridge. The jury, after a retirement of an hour, returned to the Court with a verdict of guilty. Sefton, in reply to the usual question whether he had anything to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon him; said—”You are making a big mistake; that is all. I am not guilty, not that much” (snapping his finger). The Chief Justice, in passing sentence of death, said cases of the kind required the greatest possible attention, as being of the gravest character, and because hardly a week passed in which some innocent child was not found similarly dealt with. It showed a disorder in the community which was grave and terrible, and one which the law should control. Sentence of death was then passed, and the prisoner, who was visibly affected, was removed to the cells.