On This Day ……. 20th April 1875

A letter was received by the Governor of the Geelong Gaol, on this day in 1875, from the Minister of Lands and Agriculture, requesting to be informed when prison labor will be available for works in the Botanical Gardens.


EXECUTED THIS DAY – April 20, 1891

The execution of Cornelius Bourke, convicted of the murder of Peter Stewart at the Hamilton lock-up, took place in the Ballarat Gaol at 10 o’clock on Monday morning. It will be remembered that after sentence was pronounced, some doubts arose as to the sanity of the prisoner, and he was examined by medical men who failed to find any evidence of mental aberration beyond imbecility consequent on old age. The law was therefore allowed to take its course, and on being informed of the determination of the Executive, Bourke listened without emotion, and has since looked calmly upon his fate, his only solace being his pipe and tobacco. He has been most diligently attended by the Rev. Father Rogers, who at first appeared to make little impression upon the condemned man, but within the last few days he was more attentive to his ministrations. However, Bourke was quite resigned to his fate, and when spoken to on the subject on Saturday last said he might as well die now as at any future time, as life was only a few minutes strung out, and that he was now an old man and had nothing to live for. On Sunday he was visited by Bishop Moore, and he slept soundly on Sunday night. On Monday morning he was engaged in religious devotion with Father Rogers in the condemned cell, and punctually at 10 o’clock the Sherriff (Mr Anderson) demanded the body from the Governor of the Gaol (Mr Gardiner) in the usual manner. Shortly afterwards Bourke emerged from his cell with his hands securely bound behind him. He was given over to the custody of Jones, the hangman. The melancholy procession proceeded towards the scaffold, the clergyman, at the same time, pronouncing the service for the dead. There were very few spectators besides the officials and the representatives of the Press. On taking his place on the drop of the scaffold, and his legs being bound together, the Governor asked Bourke if he had anything to say, to which he replied, “No, I have nothing to say. What should I say ?” The white cap was then drawn over his face, and the rope adjusted by the hangman. This being done, Jones, the executioner, was proceeding to draw the fatal bar, when Bourke ejaculated, ” I am choking, I am choking” at the same time moving off the drop as well as he could with his legs pinioned together. A little excitement was caused by this incident, but Jones and some of the officials managed to place Bourke on the drop again, when the bar was drawn and he fell a distance of about 5ft. Death appeared to have been instantaneous, as there was not the slightest contraction of the body or other movement. Thus ended the career of Bourke, and at the formal inquest held it was decided that he had been hanged in a judicial manner. The body was buried within the precincts of the gaol, and destroyed as usual by quicklime.


ON THIS DAY – April 20, 1908


The trial of the railway officials charged with manslaughter in connection with the railway accident at Braybrook. The Stationmaster of Braybrook, who was committed for trial by the coroner on a charge of manslaughter, will not be tried with the engine drivers of the Bendigo tram, but separately.


On this day …….. 20th of April 1908

On this day in 1908, a Bendigo-bound holiday train collided with another heading for Ballarat in the Sunshine rail yards, west of Melbourne. Forty-four people were killed and more than 400 hurt. The Age did not believe in sheltering the victims’ next-of-kin. Down on the rails among the piles and piles of splintered woodwork and the upholstery, their blood and brains splashing the wheels, many more dead bodies and bodies in which there was still life, mingled in frightening sickening heaps in a way that seemed to defy extrication.


On this day …….. 19th of April 1898

Margaret Geary, 4 years of age, residing with her parents at Heathcote. While playing with her little brother, stepped backward and fell into a boiler of boiling water which was standing on the hearth. Her injuries were so severe that she died in great agony.


ON THIS DAY – April 19, 1944



The jury in the Criminal Court this evening found Victor Dowling, a 19-year-old soldier, guilty of the manslaughter of his 15-year-old wife, Jean Dowling, who was shot dead at her mother’s home in North Carlton on April 19. Dowling was presented for trial on a charge of murder, but the jury acquitted him of that charge and strongly recommended him for mercy. Dowling was remanded for sentence.


ON THIS DAY – April 19, 1914



The trial of Betro Callil, warehouse man, on the charge of manslaughter of Rose Despard, telegraphist, was concluded in the Criminal Court to-day. On April 19, deceased was knocked down and fatally injured by a motor car driven by Callil at the intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets. The defence was that the car was travelling at about 10 to 12 miles per hour, and that defendant could not avoid the collision. After the evidence for the prosecution was given, Mr. Justice Hodges said he was unable to see any evidence of negligence, and the jury, by direction, returned a verdict of ”Not guilty.



ON THIS DAY – April 19, 1907


The trial of the young German swagman, Kurnschoenrr, the alleged murderer of William Panton, another swagman, at Woodend on April 19, has commenced at the Central Criminal Court. The evidence was the same as that adduced, at the inquest. Mr. G. W. Maxwell is appearing for the accused, who pleaded that he struck Panton in defence against the latter’s improper and unnameable conduct. The case is proceeding.


On this day …….. 19th of April 1930

Percy Broyd, aged six years, of Whitby-street, West Brunswick, and William Evans, a youth, of Moonee Ponds, were wounded this afternoon while shooting rabbits at Broadmeadows. Both the boys were admitted to the hospital for treatment.


On This Day ……. 19th April 1930

In the Geelong Supreme Court on this day in 1930, Erie Harris Brockwell aged 24, was charged with having murdered Horace Thomas Walpole on the 28th of April 1929. Walpole’s body was found in his motor car on the Queenscliff-road. There were injuries to the head, and a post mortem examination disclosed a bullet in the brain. Walpole had been shot from behind. Senior Detective Siekerdick said that when he interviewed Brockwell on the 29th April, Brockwell admitted that he fired two shots at Walpole. Witness added that Brockwell asked to be “saved from the rope”. He did not mind doing 15 years. Walpole had called him a gaol bird, and he (Brockwell) had fired at him. Brockwell later signed a statement in which he admitted having killed Walpole. Brockwell, in a statement from the dock, said that he was too drunk to remember the incident. He had intended to kill himself, because he was depressed and in ill-health. He engaged Walpole to drive him to Queenscliff, and there had been a quarrel, but he had not fired to hit. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, and Brockwell was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. “The jury took a very lenient view,” remarked the Chief Justice, in passing sentence. Brockwell was sent to Geelong Gaol and released in 1941.


ON THIS DAY …… April 19, 2010

Barwon Prison

On 19 April 2010, Williams died from head injury while incarcerated at Barwon Prison. He was struck with part of an exercise bike by another inmate, Matthew Charles Johnson, who was convicted for the murder, and sentenced in December 2011 to 32 years’ jail. Williams’ funeral was held on 30 April 2010 at St Therese’s Catholic Church in Essendon. In January 2011 it was reported that Williams’ resting place consisted of a nameless plot, without a headstone.


On Saturday morning an accident happened, at the North Old Chum Company’s claim, on the Ironbark line of reef, resulting in the instantaneeus death of one man and the injury of another. The two men, named respectively Thomas Pearce and Steadman, were engaged working in the 250ft. level of the above company’s shaft, when a quantity of mulloch from a slippery place in the shaft fell and almost buried them in the debris. Both, on assistance arriving, were immediately conveyed to the surface, when it was found that the unfortunate man Pearce was quite dead, but Steadman was only slightly injured, and was able to walk to his home. The corpse was conveyed to Sterry’s Goldmines hotel, where an inquest will be held. Both men were experienced miners, and had been for a considerable time working together as mates. Pearce was about thirty years of age and was unmarried. — Bendigo Evening News.