, On This Day – October 23, 1897

The inquest concerning the death of Mrs, Lyfield, whose body was found in the Merri River on October 23, was concluded at Warrnambool on Tuesday. Henry Lyfield, husband of the deceased, was present in custody. Mrs. Snell, daughter of Lyfield, re-examined, gave important evidence. She said that on one occasion during last harvest Lyfield came home drunk. He first struck deceased with a horse-collar, after which she ran into her room and locked the door. He followed and struck the door with an axe, sending it through. She then opened the door, and he first struck her with his fist and then on the head with an axe, inflicting a wound from which blood flowed freely. At the same time he threatened to kill her. On the following day deceased went away, and did not return home for about a month, witness further said. It was on Tuesday, 13th October, she heard the screams and struggling in the room occupied by deceased and her husband. On the Friday following she saw the body in the straw-shed. Before leaving the house that night her father said to her and her daughter, ‘Don’t speak to anyone about your mother. If anyone asks about her say she went away on the Tuesday. If you do not I will serve you as I served her.’ The coroner then summed up the evidence at length, and the jury, after retiring for 10 minutes, brought in the following verdict :— ‘That on the night of Tuesday, 13th October, at Rosebrook, the deceased, Catherine Lyfield, came by her death by violence at the hands of Henry Lyfield; also, that Henry Lyfield, feloniously, wilfully, and with malice aforethought, did murder the said Catherine Lyfield.’ The accused was then committed for trial at the Supreme Court at Port Fairy on November 17.