ON THIS DAY – February 2, 1923

A nude decomposed and decapitated body of a young woman in a bag in the River Yarra, was found on this day in 1923. The body was recovered by Detective McGuffie and two constables after they had dragged the river for three hours. A communication was received at police headquarters that two men had been seen at 11pm driving onto the Anderson-Street bridge. A witness Mr. Harold Montrose Sharkey Lloyd, of West Melbourne, told the police that he was about to cross the bridge at 11pm when he saw two men drive up in a motor car and stop suddenly near the kerbstone close to the bridge on the south side of the Yarra. The rear light of the car was obscured by a piece of cloth or bag and the headlights were dimmed. Soon after the car stopped two figures. Mr. Sharkey Lloyd says, emerged from the shadows of the bridge carrying a heavy object. The engine of the motor car was running at high speed. Mr. Sharkey Lloyd saw in the actions of the men something ominous and walked back to the end of the bridge where he hid himself in the darkness. Soon afterwards he saw the men lift what he thought was a coffin, to the railings of the bridge, they looked round to see that no one was watching and then threw the object into the river. There was a loud splash as the object struck the water. Immediately afterwards the men walked hurriedly off the bridge and jumping into the car drove off rapidly towards Richmond. Mr. Sharkey Boyd suspected that the men had committed a murder and had disposed of the body by throwing it into the river. He ran along the road and communicated with the criminal investigation department. After three unsuccessful attempts to bring this object to the surface he recovered a heavy bag which was taken to the river bank and opened. Spectators who had gathered were horrified at the discovery, that it contained the decomposed body of a woman, thought to be aged from 15 to 18 years. The body had been decapitated and the head was found inside another bag. The dead woman’s hair appeared to be auburn or dark brown and was plaited. In the bag were also about a hundredweight of blue stone, used as a sinker. The state of the body indicated that death had taken place some months previous. From evidence obtained it was determined the body was that of Bertha Coghlan who was buried shortly after her death, and that fearing discovery of the crime its perpetrators had it brought to the city and thrown into the Yarra.



On This Day – 1st February 1907

At the central police court Richard Crofts, who was employed by Mr. Thomas M’Lennan, farmer and grazier, as a cook, was presented on two charges of forgery and uttering. Evidence was given that accused forged the signature of his employer to a cheque for £20, and cashed it at the local branch of the Bank of Australasia on 19th January, and that on 20th January be cashed another forged cheque for £40. Crofts, who had nothing to say, was committed for trial at the Geelong Supreme Court on this day in 1907.



ON THIS DAY ………… 1st February 1902


 Ernest Dowell, aged 19, was arrested on a charge of having murdered an old man named John Membrey. The deceased was being assaulted by a crowd of boys in York street, Prahran, when the accused happened to come along. He joined in the attack, and, striking Membrey, knocked him down, his head striking the kerbstone. He was taken to the Melbourne Hospital, were he died from the injuries.

ON THIS DAY – February 1, 1925


William Patrick Marshall, a contractor, of Cowwarr, Victoria, aged 26 years, was found guilty in the Criminal Court, of having, at Cowwarr, on February 1, caused strychnine to be administered to his wife, Agnes Marshall, with intent to murder her. He was also found guilty of having caused strychnine to be administered to his wife at Heyfield on February 6. There were two alternative charges of having caused strychnine to be administered to his wife, thereby endangering her life. Sentence of death was recorded against the accused.

Mr James McArthur, after the jury had returned a verdict of guilty on the first count and the first two charges acted under section 504 of the Crimes Act and instead of pronouncing sentence of death, ordered to be entered on the record. The case will now be considered by the Executive Council.


On this day ………… 1st February 1858

The first balloon flight in Australia occurred on 1 February 1858. Constructed in the UK, the balloon was imported into Australia by the manager of Melbourne’s Theatre Royal, George Coppin. The launch took place at Cremorne Gardens near Richmond. William Dean lifted off at 5:52pm and landed near Heidelberg at around 6:30pm. Two weeks later, Dean again lifted off, this time reaching an estimated altitude of 10,000 feet before decending onto the road between Collingwood and Brunswick Stockade.



ON THIS DAY – February 1, 1980

Three men were committed for trial for the murder of missing businessman Mr Roger Wilson. After the decision one of the accused, Mr Christopher Dale Flannery, called the coroner’s inquest a “kangaroo court”. The coroner, found that Mr Wilson, 32, was murdered on the 1st of February at Pakenham, outside Melbourne. Mr Hore found that he died of gunshot wounds “unlawfully, maliciously, and feloniously” inflicted by Mr Mark Alfred Clarkson, 29, Mr Christopher Dale Flannery, 31, and Mr Kevin John Henry Williams, 39. Mr Hore agreed with counsel assisting the inquest, Mr John Hassell, that there was insufficient evidence to commit Mrs Kathleen May Flannery, 29, for trial on a charge of murder. The coroner said the six-week-old inquest had sat for 30 days and he was not troubled by his findings. Asked if he had anything to say, Mrs Flannery said: “I have nothing to say, except that I am not guilty of these charges. This has been a kangaroo court and if you want to get me for contempt, away you go”. Photo of Christopher Dale Flannery known as Mr Rent a kill.


On This Day – 1st February 1860

On this day at the Geelong Gaol, James Blackburn was charged with breach of regulations by the Overseer of Labour,  and was given 48 hours in solitary confinement on bread and water by the Governor.

Cooper Dixon was charged with disobedience of orders by Turnkey Staines and was also given 48 hours in solitary confinement on bread and water by the Governor.

On this day ………… 1st February 1893

On this day in 1893, Brisbane and its surrounds were hit by the worst flood since European settlement. After eight days of solid rain, the Brisbane River rose seven metres above its usual level and caused more than 2 million pounds worth of damage to the city. This photo was taken at the intersection of Market and Mary Streets. A similar but less destructive flood had struck three years before, so fortunately, many locals were prepared for the 1893 disaster. Unfortunately, many who escaped the earlier flood unscathed were complacent, “and watched in disbelief as the waters rose and engulfed their possessions”. Almost three weeks later, the flood waters finally subsided.



ON THIS DAY – 1 February, 1924

On this day the body of Norman Alfred List was found on the bank of a creek in Pakenham had caused the deaths of the four victims of the shooting tragedy at the Melbourne Botanic Gardens on the evening of January 23rd. His victims were: – Frederick McIlwaine, Miriam Podbury, Eugenie Strohheicker, and John Moxham. After the inquest held at the city morgue, the coroners opinion was that death was due to hemorrhage resulting from a wound in the left arm that he had inflicted with razor. There was nothing to suggest that the man was insane at the time of his death. It was also his opinion that the man had been dead for 4-5 days.



On This Day – 1st February 1947

A state government decision was name on this day to reopen the Geelong gaol in Myers-street, which was used as a military detention barracks during the war.