ON THIS DAY…… 26th September 1934

After a retirement of about three hours the jury found John Hope Boles guilty of the murder of Kathleen Dorman aged 28 years on this day in 1934. They added a strong recommendation to mercy. Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy, before whom the case was tried in the Criminal Court, sentenced Boles to death, adding that the recommendation would he forwarded to the proper quarter. Boles was charged with the murder of Miss Dorman in July, 1933. He was arrested a year after the murder at Ensay, near Omeo, where he had been working as a rabbit trapper. Mr. Mulvaney, who appeared for Boles, indicated that the defence would be a plea of temporary Insanity. He called evidence to show that Boles had talked of suicide before the murder, and he also called psychiatrist, Dr. Godfrey, to prove that Boles was of neurotic temperament. Boles, in a statement from the dock, said that his relationship with Miss Dorman were of the most innocent kind. Both of them were passionately In love, but when he lost his employment he could think of nothing but suicide. When he called on Miss Dorman for the last time he intended to leave her, and then take his own life. He had no recollection of events immediately before or after the murder, and it was not until some time after he left Miss Dorman’s house that he realised that he had done something terrible.  Boles, who was greatly affected while making his statement, concluded saying: “Whatever happens to me now whatever the verdict may be, no one can feel the terrible horror that I feel when I realised what I had done to her the only one In this world that I loved and adored.”


ON THIS DAY…… 26th September 1903

Rathor than submit to an order made by the police magistrate, requiring him to pay a small sum weekly towards the State pension drawn by his mother, a, wood merchant, named T. J. Powell, doing a good business in Autumn-street, Geelong West, was arrested, and taken to gaol on this day in 1903 to undergo a two week’s imprisonment, being the alternative to the non-payment of the money.


On this day …….. 26th September 1803

Joseph Samuel was an Englishman legendary for the manner in which he survived execution. Convicted for robbery in 1795, he was sentenced in 1801 to transportation to Australia, one of 297 convicted felons aboard the vessels Nile, Canada and Minorca. Security in the early penal settlements of New South Wales was reinforced by the isolation of the colony: guards trusted the Australian wilderness to kill any convicts who attempted to escape. Samuel succeeded in escaping and, with a gang, robbed the home of a wealthy woman, and in the process, a policeman named Joseph Luker, who was guarding her home, was murdered. The gang was hunted down and quickly captured, and during the trial, the woman recognised Joseph Samuel as one of the culprits. He confessed to robbing her home, but denied having murdered the policeman. The other members of the gang, including the leader, were acquitted due to lack of evidence, but because the woman identified Samuel, he was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. On 26 September 1803, Samuel and another criminal, convicted of another crime and not a member of the same gang, were driven in a cart to Parramatta, where hundreds of people had gathered to watch the execution. Nooses were fastened securely around their necks from the gallows and after they were allowed to pray with a priest, the cart was driven away. This was the common method of hanging of the day, and caused death by slow strangulation. Not until the latter half of the 19th century did the British employ the drop method, which breaks the neck. The ropes used were made of five cords of hemp, which enabled one to hold 1,000 lb (~450 kg), for up to five minutes without breaking, more than sufficient for human executions. The other criminal ultimately died by strangulation, but Samuel’s rope snapped and he dropped to his feet, sprained an ankle and collapsed. The executioner hastily readied another rope, also five-hemp, and placed it around Samuel’s neck, forced him onto the same cart, and drove the cart away again. The other criminal was still kicking weakly at this point. When the cart drove out from under him, Samuel fell again, and the noose slipped off his neck, whereupon his boots touched the ground. The executioner was sure to have fastened the noose securely around his neck, and as he stood Samuel up to try again, the crowd had become boisterous, calling for Samuel to be freed. The executioner very quickly readied another five-hemp rope, ordered the cart driven back, forced Samuel onto it, fastened the noose around his neck, secured it very carefully and tightly, and then ordered the cart driven away. The rope snapped, and Samuel dropped to the ground and stumbled over, trying to avoid landing on his sprained ankle. Now the crowd stood around in an uproar, and another policeman, watching on horseback, ordered the execution delayed momentarily, while he rode away to find the governor. The governor was summoned to the scene and upon inspection of the ropes, which showed no evidence of having been cut, and the other criminal, who was successfully executed with an identical rope, the governor and the entire crowd agreed that it was a sign from God that Joseph Samuel had not committed any crime deserving of execution and his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment instead. Parramatta’s town doctor tended to his sprained ankle.


On this day …….. 26th September 1896

An inmate of the Lunatic Asylum at Sunbury, names John O’Brien made his escape on the 26th of September 1896, got on the railway line and walked towards Footscray. He was followed by a warder on horseback, but through the horse, breaking, down a ceed any further. A telephone message was therefore sent to the Footscray police and Senior-Constable McGrath and Constable Gierck proceeded to Victoria street, near where they met the escapee. He was detained here for the night, and sent back next morning in charge of warder. It appears that O’Brien, who is a powerful man, has been an inmate of the asylum for 9 years, and has often shown signs of violence, but although he endeavoured to avoid arrest, he submitted quietly when he saw no chance of escape.


On this day …….. 25th September 1957

Australia’s relative remoteness from the major populated countries of the world made it a strategic location for testing of British atomic weapons in the 1950s. Initial tests were conducted at the Montebello islands, off north-west Western Australia. In 1953, Britain’s first atomic test on the Australian mainland was carried out at Emu Field, in the Great Victoria Desert of South Australia, about 480 kilometres northwest of Woomera. Several years later, testing was moved to Maralinga, a remote area of South Australia, and the home of the Maralinga Tjarutja, a southern Pitjantjatjara Aboriginal group. “Operation Buffalo” involved four open-air nuclear test explosions at Maralinga, commencing in September 1956, and continuing through to October 22. The next series of tests at Maralinga was codenamed “Operation Antler”. These tests commenced in September 1957, with an explosion of one kiloton on 14 September. The second, much larger explosion took place on 25 September 1957, and yielded six kilotons. A third detonation took place from a balloon at a high altitude. Acid rain fallout was reported from as far away as Adelaide. The tests at Maralinga left a legacy of radioactive contamination. Cleanup operations were insufficient to combat radiation poisoning among Australian servicemen and Aborigines who were at Maralinga during the tests. The site was formally handed back to the Maralinga people under the Maralinga Tjarutja Land Rights Act in 1985. In 1994, the Australian Government made a compensation settlement of $13.5 million with Maralinga Tjarutja, in relation to the nuclear testing.

On this day …….. 25th September 1891

Wangaratta’s small but enthusiastic Salvation Army community turned out on this day to see their beloved commanding officer General Booth at the Wangaratta Railway Station. The General, who was on his way to Sydney, had time only to lean from his carriage as the train passed the station and shout to his followers to “fight sin, fight the devil, fight misery and fight drink”, before proceeding onto Albury. At Albury, where a change of trains was required for the trip onto Sydney, the General had more time to greet another enthusiastic crowd of supporters.


ON THIS DAY…… 25th September 1902

A former resident of Colac, James Reit, died at the Geelong Gaol on this day. He at one time occupied a good position, but fortune ceased to smile on him, and he came to an untimely end.


On this day …….. 25th September 2000

On the 25th of September 2000, 17-year-old Jevan Wright was killed while surfing at Blackfellows Point near Elliston on Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. During an inquest in February 2001 the Coroner stated “All experienced surfers, particularly people who surf on the West Coast of South Australia, must be aware of the risk, however remote, of shark attack.” The coroner’s report also noted that “Mr Geoff Wright, Jevan’s father, also made some very sensible observations about the frequency of shark attacks and ways in which this phenomenon might be minimised.” His observations related to tuna farming in Boston Bay and salmon fishing.


ON THIS DAY…… 25th September 1905


Elizabeth Isabella Christina Hubbard, a dwarf girl who was recently tried and acquitted on the charge of having poisoned her mother, Sarah Ann Robins, at Richmond, in September 1905, confessed to the crime. After the trial she had gone to live in a house in Kensington, where her stepfather and, her baby were. In a conversation with the detective she admitted to the crime, and said that the stepfather was the father of her child. Her mother was aware of what had taken place.  She was very fond of her stepfather, and while her mother was at the hospital they shared the same room. Detective McMannatniy gave the girl an hours to consider whether she should make a statutory declaration. At 3pm Rosina, in company with Mrs. Smith, with whom she is staying, and her stepfather Robins, attended at the court, and the detective took her be fore Mr. Byrne, secretary to the Law Department. There she made the following declaration : “I, Rosie Hubbard, of Percy street, Kensington, single woman, solemnly and sincerely declare that I remember making a statement to Detective Burvitt in the Melbourne Gaol, accusing Robins of murdering my mother. That is absolutely untrue. My reason for making that statement was to save myself from being convicted for the murder of my mother. I now admit giving my mother quicksilver and arsenic at intervals, as she often knocked me about, and was jealous of me, as she said my stepfather and I carried on with one another.   I am sorry for what I did to my mother, but she annoyed me, and called me such terrible names that I was determined to do it to her I am making this statement to clear innocent people.” In his report Detective McMannamny points out that it may be said that, knowing no harm could come to her, she having been acquitted, the woman has made this declaration to clear Robins. Although a few points remain to be cleaned up, they can’t affect the result as far as any further prosecution is concerned. Her declaration goes to prove that the guilty person escaped justice, and no matter at whose suggestion she made the statement, no charge can be preferred.


On this day …….. 24th September 1852

An interesting a attempt of an escape was made by three prisoner on the 24th of September 1852. Three prisoners, had by some means obtained possession of a small saw and a jemmy bar, which they used to cut away part of the roof, half an inch steal plate. The prisoners had also stollen fat from the kitchen which they carefully filled up the hole, remarkably matching the colour of the fat to the ceiling. Before the prisoners could escape Warden Brodie noticed the fat on the ceiling and on examining realised there was a large hole. Warden Brodie succeeded in getting the jemmy bar, but could not find the saw. Immediately on finding this out, the warden applied to the visiting Justice of the piece for an order to put the men in irons, which was granted.


On this day …….. 24th September 1928

The Coniston Massacre was the last known massacre of Australian Aborigines. Occurring at Coniston cattle station, Northern Territory, Australia, it was a revenge killing for the death of dingo hunter Frederick Brooks, who was believed to have been killed by Aborigines in August 1928. Constable William Murray, officer in charge at Barrow Creek, investigated and came to the conclusion that the killing had been done by members of the Warlpiri, Anmatyerre and Kaytetye people. There were no witnesses, and apparent inconsistencies in Murray’s report were never questioned. Murray took matters into his own hand. Over the next few days, up until 30 August, he shot 17 members of the Aboriginal tribes he believed were responsible, and claimed his actions were made in self-defence and that each tribal member he had killed was in possession of some item belonging to Brooks. In the ensuing weeks, Murray again encountered several groups of Aborigines while investigating another non-fatal attack on a settler named Nugget Morton at Broadmeadows Station. Together with Morton, one other white man and an aboriginal boy, Murray embarked on a campaign of revenge, during which another 14 Aborigines were killed. Murray was never punished for his actions. On the contrary, the Board of Enquiry members were selected to maximise damage-control. It was believed at the time that Murray’s actions were appropriate for the circumstances. The Central Land Council organised the seventy-fifth anniversary of the massacre, commemorated near Yuendumu on 24 September 2003.


ON THIS DAY…… 24th September 1945

Nine soldiers who were under sentence in the Geelong Gaol escaped on the 24th of September 1945 at 2.50pm. The men were serving sentences from six months to two years. According to the army authorities, the prisoners were in a mess room and, in a sudden rush they placed a long form against the wall and in quick succession, leaped over the parapet. The escape was seen by two sentries stationed on the wall, but by the time they had descended the men had disappeared. Army regulations do not permit the sentries to fire on prisoners to prevent them from escaping. The local police quickly organised a search but the men could not be found. It is known that four of the men were alleged to have accepted a meal from a farmer and then stolen some money. When the farmer said something the men handed back the money and left. All nine men were found within the Geelong area and taken back to the Gaol.