ON THIS DAY – July 19, 1948

John William McRae, 19, was sentenced to death in the Sale Supreme Court today for the murder of his sister, Hazel Mary McRae, Bairnsdale beauty queen, on July 19. The jury returned a verdict of guilty after a retirement lasting exactly an hour. Some of the large crowd, which included many young women In the public gallery, gasped as Sir Charles Lowe passed the death sentence. McRae’s mother, who had been present in the court during most of the trial, was not there when the jury returned. McRae, who was described as mentally backward, and frequently fidgeted with his hair and clothing daring the trial showed no emotion. Sir Charles Lowe asked him if he had anything to say before, being sentenced, and be replied: “No, sir.” Hazel McRae’s partly-clad body was found In the back yard of her Bairnsdale home on the morning of July 20 with her head bashed and a bullet in her head.