On This Day – September 24, 1954


A fight in a Bacchus Marsh cafe on September 24 last, and the subsequent running down of a 23-year-old man, had its sequel in the Criminal Court today when two brothers from Thornbury and a Northcote youth were charged with murder.

The three charged are Frederick Charles Clark, 22, labourer, Herbert Ernest Clark, 21, labourer, both of Gooch Street, Thornbury, and Thomas Allan Rowe, 20, labourer, of Northcote.

They pleaded not guilty to the murder at Bacchus Marsh of Eric John Trotter, 23, tool-maker, of Sunshine.

Opening the Crown case, Mr H. A. Winneke, KC, said that Trotter had been knocked by a motor car driven by Frederick Clark, with Herbert Clark and Rowe as passengers.

Mr Winneke said that Trotter and two friends named, Allan and Showell had set out in a small Morris car for a Sunday in the country.

Trotter died soon after he and one of his two companions were knocked down by a Ford sedan car, allegedly containing the three accused, following a cafe brawl with the three accused.

They had arrived in Bacchus Marsh at 8 p.m. and had had three drinks at the Border Inn Hotel, before going to a cafe where they met the three accused “who had been drinking freely.”

A fight had started and Trotter and his companions had left and had then gone up the street. As Allan was turning the car round Herbert Clark and Rowe came along-side and smashed in the side curtains.

Mr Winneke said that one of the accused men had been heard to call out: “Wait on . . I’ll get the car and chase them.” Near a turn out of the town Allan had stopped the Morris because he was having difficulty with the cut on the side of his face.

Allan got out on the driving side under the light and the other two came round to inspect his face.  Meanwhile Frederick Clark had turned the Ford and the other two accused got in to chase the Morris.

A witness had heard one of the accused say: “Hurry on. We’ll run the . . off the road.” Mr Winneke said that Trotter was inspecting Allan’s eye when the Ford came along at a high speed and swerved in close. It had hit both men, crashed into the right hand side of the Morris and then swerved across to the other side of the road and hit a post. The three men had got out of the car and escaped.

Trotter, who had received a brain injury, two broken legs and a broken arm, had died 15 minutes after being admitted to the Bacchus Marsh Hospital.

The next morning Frederick Clark had been captured on the Western Highway and the other two had been caught later at Melton Station.