ON THIS DAY – April 27, 1929

On the 27th April 1929, Edward Arthur Jenkins was admitted to the Geelong Hospital in a pitiful state. He was suffering from shock and puncture wounds and was spitting up blood. Jenkins had four stab wounds to his chest, abdomen and elbow. Jenkins was admitted to the wards and received treatment which in spite of, he died at 7.45am on May 5, 1929. The marriage of Edward and Lillian Jenkins was never a happy one, and they had frequently separated and reunited over the years. On December 13th, 1928, they separated for the final time. Lillian lived at a number of places over the next few months which always resulted in Edward (known as Ted) making a disturbance and forcing Lillian to move once again. Lillian Jenkins moved into 70 Mercer Street in Geelong, the fruit shop belonging to Bartolo Natoli three weeks prior to the murder. The fruit shop was located downstairs of the two story building with a number of rooms upstairs. It was in one of these rooms that Lillian and her toddler child resided. On the 27th April, 1929, Ted visited the shop a number of times, attempting to see his wife and reportedly arguing with Natoli and calling him a “black dago bastard”. His brother Charles, reported that Lillian had appeared on the balcony at one stage and had thumbed her nose at her husband in “an offensive manner”. Charles also stated that his brother became “excitable” when under the influence of alcohol. Other witnesses state that Jenkins had been observed drinking at the fruit shop earlier in the day. Jenkins himself admitted that he was under the influence of liquour in his deposition taken before his death. At around 9.30pm, Jenkins returned to the shop in Mercer Street, in another attempt to talk to his wife Lillian. At the time, Lillian’s sister and brother were visiting her. Once they had entered her bedroom, Lillian and locked the door behind her. All witnesses stated that Jenkins had knocked but when refused entry became angry and started kicking at the door. Lillian’s sister and brother in fear had climbed through the window onto the balcony and were making their way to the street. Lillian had screamed out and Natoli came to her aid. Witnesses heard Jenkins say to Natoli “You come up here you dago bastard and I will throw you down the stairs”. Natoli rushed up the stairs to Lillian’s aid and was greeted by Jenkins who kicked him in “the privates” and punched him in the face. Natoli grabbed a knife and scuffled with Jenkins who was stabbed 4 times during the altercation. Jenkins was armed with a piece of wood with which he struck Natoli. Lillian managed to get past the struggling men and rang the police. Constables Robinson and Bennett arrived on the scene to find Natoli holding Jenkins in an upright position as if to stop him from falling down the stairs. When the Constables investigated they found Jenkins to be covered in blood. Constable Robinson asked Natoli if they had been fighting and whether he had stabbed Jenkins to which Natoli replied he had. Natoli then handed over the knife and was taken to the police station. Natoli was reported to be calm and answered all questions when asked. Constable Robinson reported that he knew Edward Jenkins and that he “was a desperate man when drinking but alright when sober”. Jenkins had an extensive criminal history with charges for unlawful assault and larceny and obscene language dating back 10 years. Bartolo Natoli went to trial in the Geelong Supreme Court on the 15th August 1929 charged with Manslaughter. He was to be tried twice as the first jury failed to reach an agreement. The second trial found that Natoli was not guilty and he was acquitted of all charges.