ON THIS DAY – December 20, 1940

FERNTREE GULLY

Found guilty of the murder of Alfred Thomas Atherton, 35, hotel useful, on the 20th of December, at Ferntree Gully, Morris Ansell, 19, metal polisher, of Victoria Street, Carlton, was sentenced to death by Mr. Justice Martin in the Criminal Court. The Jury added a strong recommendation for mercy because of Ansell’s youth. In the course of evidence at the trial, Mrs. Atherton, wife of the murdered man, said that she had been living apart from her husband. About eight months ago she met Ansell in a house in South Yarra, and two months later went to live at Ferntree Gully, and later at Victoria Street, Carlton. She had hoped to obtain a divorce so that she could marry Ansell. According to police evidence, Ansell confessed that he shot Atherton. An sell had said that he had arranged to go with Atherton to Ferntree Gully, where he Informed Atherton that Mrs. Atherton was working. Before leaving home he had placed his pea rifle under his coat. When walking along the road to Boronia, Atherton had said to him (An sell): ‘I suppose my wife is running about with other men. If I thought that she was in trouble I would kill her.’ Ansell told the police: ‘I said to myself I will kill you first.’ Ansell then said that ‘Atherton turned his head and I shot him.’