On This Day – December 17, 1942

Florence Maddalon aged 27, of South Yarra was found not guilty on a charge of having murdering her husband. Mrs Maddalon, collapsed on hearing the verdict of not guilty on the 17th December 1942. Her husband, Gulseppe Maddalon aged 40 was found fatally shot. She was also acquitted on a charge of manslaughter. Her defence was self defence.


On this day …….. 17th of December 1914

Two kangaroos and six wallabies presented to the Ballarat City Council by Mrs George Russell, were placed in the Gardens as the nucleus of a zoo. They were found dead on this day. An emu was placed in the same enclosure and was unaffected. The Council is offering £10 reward for the discovery of the destroyer. It is believed that a dog did the mischief, but a veterinary surgeon is of opinion that the damage was done by the emu.


ON THIS DAY – December 17, 1932

Accused Man’s Insanity.

William John Daly, 54, was charged at the Bendigo Court with the murder of Emily Louisa Cherry, 48, at Woodvale, on this day in 1932. Counsel for the accused said that Daly was mentally unfit to plead. A jury found Daly not guilty on the grounds of insanity. Daly was ordered to be detained during the Governor’s pleasure.


On this day …….. 17th of December 1945

After overpowering a guard a prisoner escaped from a military detention barracks at the old Geelong Gaol on the 17th of December 1945. The prisoner managed to climbed into the guard’s tower where he overpowered an elderly returned soldier who was on guard duty, using the butt end of the guard’s rifle, he violently striking him in the face. It was some time before the guard was discovered. In the meantime the telephone to the tower was cut and the prisoner then let himself out of the gaol.


ON THIS DAY…… 16th December 1972

Edwin Eastwood famous for the Faraday School Kidnapping in 1972, and Michael Pantic escaped from the Geelong Gaol on the 16th of December 1976. The men tunnelled though two doubled skinned brick wells, cut through a padlock to an outside excise yard and scaled the external wall and were able to steal a car to make his get away, before the men parted ways. Eastwood walked into the Wooreen State School in Gippsland on the 15th of February 1977, where he kidnapped a teacher and nine pupils, forcing them into a van. While driving off, he collided with a truck and held the driver and his partner hostage. Soon another log truck came along and Eastwood waved it to a stop, and took the drive and his mate hostage. The next to arrive was two lady’s towing a caravan, which where also taken hostage. Once Eastwood had sixteen hostages, he demanded a ransom from the Victorian Government of US $7 million, weapons, 100kgm of heroin and cocaine, and the release of seventeen prisoners from Pentridge. One of the hostages managed to escaped and notified police. Once Eastwood realised that one of his hostages was gone he fled the seem with the remaining hostages, locked in the campervan. A police block and gunfire at Woodside was enough to stop Eastwood, where he was shot below the right knee and re-captured. Eastwood was charged and pleaded guilty to 25 charges, including 16 counts of kidnapping and was sentenced on 8 November 1977 to 21 years with a non parole period of 18 years. Eastwood was released in 1993 after choosing to decline parole offered in 1991.


On This Day – 16th December 1923

Swamps turn to ice, goannas frozen in subtropical Queensland It’s rare that you’ll find ice outside of an esky filled with beer or a freezer full of fish in subtropical Rockhampton, Queensland. But according to Adelaide’s News on 11 December 1923, a rare weather event turned swamps into ice sheets and led to the untimely deaths of a number of goannas. “Today, large lumps of jagged ice fell during the progress of a storm between Raby Creek and Eastbrook stations,” the News reported. “Trees were stripped of leaves and branches, and long streamers of bark were broken loose. Two large swamps in the track of the storm were filled to a depth of 2 feet with a solid mass of ice, which did not melt for six days. Numbers of goannas were frozen in the mass

On this day …….. 16th of December 1994

Perth is the latest destination for UFO’s according to security guards who claim to have been followed by strange lights around the central business district overnight. National UFO Reporting and Sightings Hot line spokesman Ross Dowe said the sighting was the fourth since last weekend, with other UFO sightings in Victoria, South Australia and NSW. Mr Dowe said three security guards reported seeing a bright orange object, about the size of a semi-trailer, at 3am today, and that five people reported seeing a UFO flying over the Sale RAAF base, east of Melbourne, last Sunday. He said the reports stated the people had seen a number of small lights three times within 10 minutes. At the third appearance the lights merged together and exploded above the RAAF base, lighting up the sky, he said. In Orange, a farmer claimed to have seen an aqua blue object with a silver flame at about 9pm on Saturday night. Mr Dowe said a woman who was driving on Tuesday night in Adelaide said she became engulfed in a “dense, dusty fog” and experienced electrical problems with her vehicle. The woman reported being near the site of a research paddock which had its crop flattened in one corner into the shape of a circle.


On this day …….. 16th of December 1928

An Italian fruiterer in Ballarat excitedly Informed the police that he had found a bomb in his yard,. A soldered tin, weighing 3 lbs., was taken possession of by the police. It had a piece of fuse attached and another piece of fuse, which had been lighted, was found close to the tin. When It was opened the tin was found to contain sand and cement.


On this day …….. 16th of December 1857

Beechworth drinkers were surprised and delighted when on this day in 1857, three local hotels offered the luxury of ice with their drinks. The ice was from North American, where the lakes were frozen for winter, a large quantities could be sawn up and shipped to Australia as ballast, packed in straw. To transport the ice from Melbourne, a fast horse drawn wagon was used. It came to be known as the Express Wagon or the Ice Wagon.


ON THIS DAY – 16th December 1898

The nude body of an unknown young woman, which was found floating in a box in the Yarra River near Chapel-street Bridge on the 16th December 1898, had, it is estimated, been in the water for about a week. Deliberate murder was first suspected, but the post-mortem examination conducted by Dr. Neild indicates that death resulted from the use of chloroform administered, it is supposed, for the purpose of performing an illegal operation.

The box was first seen by some boys, one of whom, having previously had experience of a coroner’s court, had his suspicions aroused by the way it was floating, and reported the matter to the police. The box, when dragged ashore, was found weighted with a heavy stone tied on by a strong wire clothesline. In pulling the box ashore they broke a portion of the side away, revealing the foot and leg of a human being. On arrival at the morgue the body was found to be bunched into the box, the head being forced into one corner, and the whole tied parcel wise with a clothesline. There was no clothing on the body, but a flour bag was loosely wrapped round it. The bag is branded “Alex Clement, Snowdrop patent roller flour, Wangaratta.” The body was finely developed, and is that of a woman under 30. The hair is closely cropped, and the fingers covered with needlemarks. Identification is likely to prove difficult, as the features are distorted in addition to being in a decomposed state. Every indication leads to the belief that the deed was committed under the influence of chloroform, probably as an illegal operation was about to be committed, the woman being enciente. The stomach has been forwarded to Dr. Blackett, the Government Analyst, to make sure that suffocation was not caused by the action of poison.


ON THIS DAY – December 16, 1936



While standing on the Hume Highway, near Kalkallo on December 16, Frances Lovell, aged 47 years, retired farmer, of South Yarra, had his arm impaled on the door handle of a passing motor truck and was dragged a mile and a quarter before the truck stopped, according to evidence given at the Coroner’s Court to-day, when the inquest was held into Lovell’s death. Lovell, it was stated, had been watching a friend attend to the radiator of his car. When the truck stopped he was dead. The coroner committed the driver of the truck, Hewitt Edwin Smith, of Yea, for trial on a charge of manslaughter. Smith, giving evidence, said he did not know that his truck was dragging Lovell, and he had no knowledge of the accident until a man waved to him to stop. Lovell, it will be recalled, was accompanying some friends to Wagga when the fatal accident occurred,

ON THIS DAY – December 16, 1915


The sad story of the tragedy at Youarang, near Katamatite, on December 16, when the wife of a settler and her three children were the victims of a demented Hindu hawker was told in the Criminal Court on Tuesday, before Mr Justice Hood and a jury. The Hindu, named Butchan Singh, was placed on trial on a charge of the murder of Lucinda Pugsley and her three children, the youngest only 15 months of age. Mr Woinarski, K.C., Crown Prosecutor, conducted the case for the prosecution, and Mr Maxwell (instructed by Mr J. Barnett) appeared for the accused.

David Pugsley gave evidence of discovering the bodies of his wife and children after the tragedy, and, cross examined by Mr Maxwell, said that Singh had travelled the district for 20 years and bore a good reputation. He had known that the accused had a delusion that people were trying to poison him since August last, and had told him it was humbug. Constable James Slater, of Dookie, who arrested the accused, said that when he said that accused must come with him, accused replied, ‘All right, boss; me go where you like.’ When asked by Constable Curruthers if he knew why he was arrested accused replied ‘No.’ When asked, ‘Did you shoot Mrs Pugsley and her three children?’ be replied, ‘Yes, I shot the four of them,’ and when further asked, ‘What did you kill them for?’ said, ‘We bad friends, I suppose.” He appeared to be quite rational, and sober. Mr Maxwell said that the defence was that the accused was insane at the time the act was committed.

This man, as a fruit hawker, had lived a lonely life for 20 years, known widely, but only in a kind of way. No motive could be suggested for the crime against these people, Detective Patrick O’Sullivan, stationed at Benalla, gave evidence that the accused had an excellent reputation, and had for some time stated that people were trying to poison him. Dr Thomas Murphy said that he thought that at the time of the act the accused was dominated by the delusions from which he had been suffering for twelve months. They were the result of a diseased brain. He did not think such a man would know, that he was doing wrong. Dr James A. O’Brien, Government medical officer, said that he thought that the accused, when he committed this act, was suffering from a fixed delusion. It was possible that in such a state he would not know the nature of his act or that he was doing wrong. Mr Justice Hood — Can you put your finger on any fact that would be inconsistent with insanity? Witness — The only thing that made me doubtful was that to me he denied all knowledge of the crime. Mr Justice Hood said that undoubtedly this woman and children had lost their lives through the accused. The only question was whether he knew what he was doing or that he was doing wrong. It seemed clear that he had the delusion that people desired to poison him. The crime itself was one not likely to be committed by a sane person. He was on friendly terms with these unfortunate people, and the fact that he killed not only the woman, but the children, seemed to indicate insanity.

The medical evidence supported the plea of Insanity, and that the accused did not know that he was doing wrong. If the jury was satisfied that he was insane when he killed this unhappy woman and children he was not guilty on the ground of insanity; if they were not satisfied as to that they must find him guilty. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the ground of insanity. The accused, who had sat in the dock throughout the trial without moving, was ordered to be detained daring the Governor’s pleasure. .