ON THIS DAY – November 23, 1914

BEECHWORTH

William Braslin was known by police as a Chinese camp loafer. He first came to their attention in July 1883 when William, his brother Frank, and another man named William Rowe were charged with wilfully setting fire to Sue Wing’s hut at the Chinese Camp. The boys were remanded for 8 days and bail was set at 100 pounds each. In August 1889 William was charged again, this time for throwing stones at a Chinaman’s house and smashing windows. On the 3rd of April 1892, at the Feeding the Dead festival, William was charged with using vile language and fined forty shillings, plus two and six in court fees. It was heard in the camp that William had married Christina Robinson, mistress to Ah Tune.  On the day of William’s murder, Ah Tune had been at the Braslin’s house for most of the day, only leaving to purchase wine. At 6.30 pm Ah Tune returned to the house where he stoked up the kitchen fire and started to cook some meat. William asked him what he was doing, to which Ah Tune replied “making supper”. William then told him to get out of his house. Ah Tune, took the pot off the fire and threw it in to the back yard and left, only to return 15 minutes later. Finding William drunk and lying on the floor, Ah Tune began to kick William violently for 15 minutes. Christina tried to stop Ah Tune only to be punched in the face. After the vicious attack Ah Tune went back outside, collected his meat, washed it and began to cook again. William was put to bed by his wife Christina but spent most of the night groaning in pain, complaining that his ribs were hurting, and by morning William was spitting up blood. His face was black with bruising from his forehead to below his nose, his eyes were blood shot and bleeding from their sockets. Christina dragged William out onto the street where a passerby offered to take him to hospital, however he was dead on arrival.  The post mortem examination of William’s body showed that there were a number of bruises about the face, head, arms and chest. Three ribs were fractured on the left side, puncturing the lung. The wall of the stomach and intestines were congested and inflamed. The liver was very hard, both kidneys were large and pale, and the spleen was ruptured due to the ribs being fractured. The left lung was punctured by a rib and had completely collapsed. Dr Herbert Walker’s opinion was that the cause of death was due to the ruptured spleen.  Ah Tune was found to be guilty of the murder of William Braslin and was sentenced to death. He was then transferred to Melbourne where this sentence was later changed to 10 years hard labour in Pentridge prison. Ah Tune was previously known to the police as a violent person after the murderous assault on William Henry Clifton, a boot maker, on the 17th of May 1910. One particular night Clifton visited Christina’s working house with a bottle of wine which he shared with Christina, William Braslin and Ah Tune. Later that night Ah Tune started a fight with Clifton by kicking him in the chest. He then tried to gouge his eyes out before attacking him with a tomahawk, cutting him on the left side of his forehead, about an inch long and half the thickness of his skull. After the fight Christina tried to stitch his head, before taking him to the hospital. Ah Tune was remanded before the court, and the jury within 15 minutes, had established it was nothing more than a drunken squabble and found him not guilty of grevious bodily harm. Ah Tune was discharged after being remanded in the Beechworth Gaol for seven days.  William’s wife Christina (Cush) Braslin, nee Robinson, was no stranger to the law herself, known by many for running a brothel in the Chinese camp Beechworth. In March 1910, she served 3 months for assaulting her late husband with a bottle, as well as 6 months for vagrancy. In April 1911 she served 3 months for obscene language. Christine died in the Ovens District Hospital on the 25th of April 1915, five months after her husband.