Murder behind Luna Park

John Joseph McCarthy aged 45, of Elwood, civil servant, died in hospital on the 6th of December 1938 from injuries received when, it is alleged, he was assaulted in a reserve behind Luna Park. Desmond Patrick Toole a salesman, of Elwood, who was released on bail after having been charged with assault, was rearrested and charged with murder

On This Day – December 6, 1902

With reference to the arrest of Robert Hawkins for the murder of his wife at Bealiba, near Maryborough, on December 6 (particulars of which were wired on Saturday), the police have also ascertained that the life of Mrs. Hawkins was insured for £500, of which one year’s premium had been paid. The post mortem showed that the theory of the accident was quite inconsistent with the appearance of the body. There was a gunshot wound on the thumb which the police suppose was caused by the deceased putting her hand over her face to shut out the sight of the weapon which was pointing at her. The two wounds were quite distinct, and both barrels must have been discharged separately at close quarters, apparently by someone who was taller than deceased, as both charges had a downward course.


ON THIS DAY – December 5, 1953

Neville Read Hudson (29), dry cleaner, of Chirnside Avenue, Werribee, yesterday was sent from Geelong Coroner’s Court, for trial at the Supreme Court on a charge of manslaughter.  The inquest, conducted by Mr. Steedman. S.M., was into the deaths of Charles Maxwell Marshall (29), and Francis Henry Chandler (27), both of Werribee, who were passengers in a car driven by Hudson and which crashed into another car on Princess Highway near Waurn Ponds on December 5. 1952. Hudson was released on £300 bail

ON THIS DAY – December 5, 1915

In the Court of General Sessions on Tuesday Robert Poole, labourer, was charged with the manslaughter of Hugh Kelly, at Carlton, on December 5. The jury found accused not guilty, and he was discharged

ON THIS DAY – December 5, 1936

Giacomo Tarca (30), farm labourer. who was sentenced in Melbourne in March last to eight years’ imprisonment on a charge of manslaughter was deported on the Italian motor ship Romolo, which left Fremantle for Italy on Friday. Local interest in the case was increased by the fact that Tarca was arrested in Perth. Tarca was employed as a farm labourer by Luigi Marchesi, of Lilydale, Victoria. On November 1 last Marchesi disappeared, and on the following day Tarca left the farm. Marchesi’s charred and broken bones were found on the property on December 5, and on the night of December 10, following an intensive search through Victoria, South Australia and this State, Tarca was arrested as he stepped from a train at the Perth railway station. Tarca had been seen on the train when it left Fremantle, and the Perth detectives who were informed, boarded the train at Subiaco. to look for him. The accused man was subsequently sent back to Melbourne, where he stood his trial for the wilful murder of Marchesi, Detective McLennan, of Perth, going to Melbourne to give evidence. Tarca was eventually found guilty of manslaughter and the judge, in sentencing him to eight years’ imprisonment, remarked on the brutality of the case, and expressed the hope that the authorities would deport Tarca when an opportunity occurred. Tarca is a native of Mello, Northern Italy. He came to Australia in August, 1927, and after working for a short time in Fremantle, he went to Victoria, where he obtained work as a farm labourer.

On this day …….. 4th of December 1886

Dangerous circus elephant

Abu, the circus elephant which crushed a 22-year-old woman to death on Thursday, will not be destroyed. The owners of Ashton’s Circus were allowed to decide Abu’s future after Victorian authorities decided that they did not have the power to order it to be destroyed. Circus clown Miss Debbie Wirth, 22, was killed when Abu grabbed her in its trunk while she was walking with the elephant at the circus site in Vermont South. Circus part-owner Mr Mervyn Ashton, said: “It is everybody’s decision, including Debbie’s parents and her fiancé, Douglas Quay, not to destroy Abu. We’ve had a great deal of support from a hell of a lot of local people who have come asking us to let Abu stay in the circus.” The Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Mr Kent, said existing legislation did not cover incidents in which circus animals killed an attendant.

On this day …….. 4th of December 1886

Extraordinary ghost story

AN extraordinary ghost story has been doing the rounds of Horsham during the last day or two, the foundation for which, after due enquiry, we have been unable to trace. A man covered with a white sheet, with a black coffin on the back of it, is supposed to have made his appearance, and gone through a number of absurd antics. If anyone is fool enough to be acting in the manner referred to, we shall not be surprised to hear that he has been brought to his senses by a sound thrashing, or placed hors de combat by the contents of a revolver. People are not likely to be very particular in the means they use in bringing “ghosts” to their senses.

On this day …….. 4th of December 1896

Knocked from train

Daniel McKay, a fireman with the railways, was injured in an unfortunate accident while shunting on this day in 1896. He was knocked from the top of the engine by the overhead wire, falling to the track where his right leg was severed, and his left leg badly crushed. McKay was taken to Wangaratta by special train, and was conscious for the whole journey, and able to make his will. His signature, it was said, was steadier than the signatures of all the witnesses. McKay died two days later and was buried in the Benalla Cemetery.

On this day …….. 4th of December 1904

Falling horse

James Wessan, a resident of Brunswick, was treated at the Melbourne Hospital on
this day in 1904 for an injury to his head owing to his horse falling over.

ON THIS DAY – December 4, 1938

Story of Incident In St. Kilda Reserve


While he was gathering bottles about 3.15 a.m. on December 4 in Spencer street, St. Kilda, Claude Fox, rubber worker, of St. Kilda, saw a man grab another man, pick him up and drag him beneath the wires of a fence towards a reserve. This was portion of the evidence given today at an inquest into the death of John Joseph McCarthy, 45, public servant, of Elwood. Desmond Toole, 27, of Elwood, a salesman, was committed for trial on a charge of murder.  McCarthy died in the Alfred Hospital on December 5. Toole. who was present at the inquest, did not give evidence. He was allowed bail in £500 with two sureties of £250 each. Fox, in evidence. said he called out to the man dragging the other one, but there was no reply. He continued dragging the other away into the reserve. Witness could hear groans coming from the man being dragged. Fox said That he called two constables, and they saw Toole moving away from where McCarthy was lying on the ground. McCarthy’s right-hand trouser pocket was turned inside out and his shoes and socks were lying about 15 yards away.

Accused’s Story

Constable Cock, of St. Kilda. said that when he arrived at the reserve McCarthy was lying on the ground unconscious, his face covered with blood. When he asked Toole what had happened, Toole said the man on the ground was a pervert and had attacked him, and he had given the man a good hiding. He had later undone the man’s collar and tie and taken off his shoes and socks in an attempt to revive him There was no money in McCarthy’s pockets. Toole’s hair and clothing were not damaged. Dr. R. S. Smibert, who examined McCarthy at the hospital on December 4, said death was due to cerebral haemorrhage, and the injuries were consistent with McCarthy’s having received a pummelling about the face. Charles Hope, of East St. Kilda traveller, said he met McCarthy and a friend on December 30. They visited some hotels, and after having supper at a cafe he left McCarthy at 130 a.m. to go home. McCarthy was then quite sober.


ON THIS DAY – December 4, 1931

Edward Leeming. aged 19 years, salesman, of Bon Beach, was committed for trial on charge of attempted murder. Clarence Holford, commercial traveller, said that Leeming and he had been at St. Kilda on December 4.  Leeming had a revolver, and witness tried to get him to put it in his pocket. They walked along Carlisle-street, and Leeming said that he would throw the revolver, over a fence. Instead of doing so he fired at Holford, and the bullet entered his abdomen. A statement alleged to have been made by Leeming was read in court, Leeming stating the revolver had exploded accidentally. Leeming was also committed for trial on two charges of housebreaking and stealing.




An inquest was held on the body of Bertha Elizabeth Whitford, a domestic servant, 29 years of age, who was admitted to the Melbourne Hospital on November the 30th, and died in that institution on December the 3rd. The Coroner, in his finding, said “the death of the deceased was undoubtedly due to blood poisoning brought on by an operation, and the evidence points to Florence Hope as being the person who performed the operation, and I find that the cause of death was blood poisoning, and that Florence Hope is guilty of wilful murder. Mrs. Hope was committed for trial at the Supreme Court criminal sitting to be held on February the 15th next. Bail in accused’s own recognisance of £200 and on a surety of £200 was allowed.