ON THIS DAY – February 24, 1902


The trial of Richard Henry Wills for the alleged murder of Edward Woods at Dingee on February 24, commenced in Bendigo before Judge A’Beckett and a jury of twelve. All the evidence had been taken and Mr. Murphy had finished his address to the jury when the court adjourned at six o’clock. The evidence of Dr. Gaffney (who made the post-mortem) was to the effect that the blow causing death was struck while Woods was lying on the ground but Drs. Hugh, Boyd and Murphy called for the defence, are of contrary opinion, declaring it to be possible that the blow was struck as deceased was rising up. Wills has been calm in demeanour throughout. Wednesday Evening. The Dingee murder case was concluded in the Supreme Court at Bendigo today. Judge A’Beckett summed up impartially, and the jury after seven hours retirement returned a verdict of manslaughter. The prisoner was remanded for sentence.


On this day ………… 24th February 1934

A search by the police failed to reveal any trace of the two indeterminate prisoners, Raymond Brown (24) and William Bentley (27), who escaped from Beechworth gaol, in North East Victoria on this day in 1934. The men were regarded as dangerous characters and one of them has been sentenced to three floggings and three years’ Imprisonment. They made their escape In a few minutes, as the alarm was raised almost immediately but they succeeded in eluding the warders, though both were dressed in prison clothes. The inspector general of penal establishments, Mr. Akeroyd, said, Brown and Bentley would soon have been released on parole but when they were captured they would begin their indeterminate sentences all over again. Brown has been in prison since 1930 and began his indeterminate sentence in June. Bentley has been in gaol since 1929 and his indeterminate sentence began in November 1932. Indeterminate prisoners at Beechworth worked outside the confines of the gaol walls.



On this day ………… 24th February 1925

A human skull was found floating In the water near Cremorne Point, Sydney, New South Wale, on this day in 1925. There are unmistakable signs of violence on the skull, which had been in the water over a fortnight. Above the right eye socket there is a fracture four inches-long extending across the bridge of the nose to an inch below the left temple, evidently the result of a violent blow. Lower down on the face there was an other jagged gap in the nasal bone.



ON THIS DAY – February 24, 1951


Detectives charged a 15-year-old Glen Waverley boy with the manslaughter of a 12-year old shooting companion. The dead boy was Brendon Thomas, of Derna rd., Ashburton, who was hit by a richocheting bullet while shooting at Scoresby on February 24. He died in Alfred Hospital on March 15 from a wound in the abdomen.


On this day ………… 24th February 1984

In Australia, the first heart transplant occurred under the direction of Dr Harry Windsor. The patient died within just a few days after his body rejected the new organ. The era of successful heart transplants in Australia can be attributed largely to the influence of Dr Victor Chang. Victor Peter Chang Yam Him was born in Shanghai, China, on 21 November 1936. Chang’s mother died of cancer when he was just twelve years old, and this was a deciding factor in his choice to become a doctor. He came to Australia to complete his secondary schooling in 1953, then studied medicine at the University of Sydney, graduating with a Bachelor of Medical Science with first class honours in 1960, and a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery in 1962. After further study in England, and becoming a Fellow of both the Royal College of Surgeons and American College of Surgeons, he joined the cardiothoracic team at St Vincent’s Hospital in 1972. Chang was instrumental in raising funds to establish a heart transplant programme at St Vincent’s. The first successful transplant under the programme was performed on a 39 year old shearer from Armidale on 24 February 1984, who survived several months longer than he would have otherwise. Arguably, Chang’s best-known success was when he operated on Fiona Coote, a 14-year-old schoolgirl, on 7-8 April 1984. Over the next six years, the unit at St Vincent’s performed over 197 heart transplants and 14 heart-lung transplants, achieving a 90% success rate for recipients in the first year. To compensate for the lack of heart donors, Chang developed an artificial heart valve and also worked on designing an artificial heart. Victor Chang was murdered on 4 July 1991, after an extortion attempt on his family. The murder was related to transplant waiting lists. Within less than two weeks, Chiew Seng Liew was charged with the murder, and Jimmy Tan was charged as an accessory. The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, to enable research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of heart muscle diseases, was launched in honour of Victor Chang on 15 February 1994.



ON THIS DAY – February 24, 1939


After inquiring into the death of Walter Insall (65), a pastrycook of East Malvern, who was fatally injured when knocked down by a motor truck near his home on February 24, the coroner committed John Wade for trial on a charge of manslaughter. Witnesses alleged that the truck failed to stop after the accident. It had no lights, they said, and appeared to be on the wrong side of the road. After the accident Wade was charged with driving under the influence of liquor.


ON THIS DAY – February 23, 1935


Zillah Rowe, aged 29, domestic, of Cohuna, who was charged before the Supreme Court with the murder of an unnamed child, on February 23, was found guilty of manslaughter. The jury added a strong recommendation to mercy. Evidence was given by Plainclothes Constable Trewarne that he went to a room in the Courthouse Hotel, Bendigo where Rowe was employed on the night of February 23. Upon searching the room he found a suitcase containing the body of a newly born child. A piece of cord was tied about its neck. Rowe in evidence said she had no recollection of any of the events which followed the time when she went to bed on the afternoon on February 23 feeling ill. She did not know she had given birth to a child. Rowe was remanded for sentence.


On this day ………… 23rd February 1933

George Blyth had a lucky escape from death at Coramba, NSW, on this day in 1933 when trying to guide a heat exhausted bullock onto a road. Blyth suddenly felt the ground give way. He let go of the animal and fell down a disused mine shaft, 27 metres deep. About half way down the shaft, the bullock passed him and crashed to the bottom. Blyth landed on the animal and survived the fall, while the bullock had broken it’s neck and dead. Although he was battered and bruised, Blyth managed to climb out of the mine shaft.



On this day ………… 23rd February 1908

A child, aged 3 years old, daughter of John Sloan, of Mirboo South, Gippsland, Victoria, while playing about the homestead, dislodged the top plate of a stove, which was leaning against a tree, with the result that it fell on the child and broke her neck.



On this day ………… 23rd February 1887

At the Kew Court a repulsive looking Italian, named Neparto Viutomto, was brought up for being found at night on certain premises without lawful excuse, and for unlawfully assaulting a man named William Anderson. The evidence showed that about midnight on the 23rd of February the prisoner was seen to enter the window of a bedroom of the Surrey Hotel, Balwyn, in which three young children were sleeping. The man Anderson and two other men, attempted to capture the prisoner, when he fought like a wild beast, and bit a large piece of flesh from the hand of Anderson. After some struggling, the prisoner was overpowered, and his captors then tied him with rope and convoyed him to the police lockup. The prisoner made a statement to the bunch in broken English, but he could hardly be understood. The judge sentenced him to 3 months in gaol.



ON THIS DAY – February 23, 1921


A verdict of guilty, with a strong recommendation for mercy, was given in the Criminal Court before the Chief Justice, when Alexander Irvine, of Napoleon street, Collingwood, bootmaker was charged with having unlawfully wounded Janet Irvine, aged 17 years, his daughter, at Collingwood, on the 23rd of February. A charge of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, was found by the jury to have been unsustained. Janet Irvine said that her father appeared to have been intoxicated when he attacked her. lrvine was a good father except when affected by drink. The Chief Justice said that Irvine had given way, while intoxicated, to a violent outburst of passion. The offence was serious, but, having regard to his previous character, accused would be released on his own recognisance to be of good behaviour for 12 months.



ON THIS DAY – February 23, 1885


Martha Needle is one of our more interesting criminals from Melbourne past, and is only one of five woman executed in Victoria, on the 22nd of October 1894. Over a spate of months Needle would murder by poisoning her husband, 3 children and future brother-in-law. Martha was born near Morgan, South Australia in 1863, an attractive woman with a kindly disposition she grew up in a violent and abusive household, and had shown signs of mental instability from an early age. On the 23rd of February 1885 little Mabel Needle died after a short illness. Martha stated that she “seemed to fade “. Martha later collected 100 pounds (2016 – $40,000) life insurance on Mabel’s death. After exhuming the victims it was found that Needles had used Arsenic to poison all.