On This Day – April 12. 1914


Because he could not listen to aspersions being cast upon the green of old Ireland on the day of St. Patrick’s procession, Patrick William Brennan, 45 years of age, a shearer, formerly of Terang, broke into the conversation, at the Kilkenny Inn, Lonsdale street, of a group of youths, who were chaffing one another about the green they were all wearing. One of them pushed him away, and he walked to the doorway and fell dead. Yesterday the coroner (Dr. R. H. Cole) held an inquiry at the Morgue. Sub-inspector H. Harris appeared for the police, and Mr. W.S. Doria appeared for Harold McDougall, 21 years of age, of Lonsdale street, wharf labourer, who had been arrested on a charge of murder.

Evidence was given by a number of persons in the hotel that MeDougall and some companions were joking among themselves. They all had green in their coats, and McDougall said that the green was no good. Brennan came up and told him not to say that again, and McDougall told him to go away. Brennan then called him a name, and McDougall gave him what was described as something between a push or blow on the front of the body. Brennan walked through the parlour to the door, where he appeared to trip on the mat and fall with his head on the step. He was dead when the ambu lance arrived.

Dr. .lohn Brett, of Collins street, who made the post-mortem examination, said that there were superficial bruises on Brennan’s forehead. The heart was greatly dilated, and there was a quantity of vomited matter in the throat, air passages, and lungs. Death was due to suffocation and shock. The matter in the bronchial tubes was not sufficient to cause suffocation without the dilation of the heart. A blow or push on the distended stomach might cause the conditions, or a fall on the stomach against the step.

Harold McDougall said that when Brennan interfered he told him to go away. Brennan then called him a name, and he pushed him away, placing his hand on his chest. It was three or four minutes before Brennan walked out. There was no quarrel between them.

The Coroner.-There is no doubt that an assault took place, whether a blow or a push, and that that blow would account for the vomiting and heart failure.

Mr. Doria.-I submit that the conditions were brought about by his fall.

The Coroner.-When a man assaults another he must take the consequences. I find McDougall guilty of manslaughter, and he will be committed for trial at the general sessions on April 12.

The coroner found that Brennan died from the effects of an unlawful assault committed upon him by McDougall. McDougall was committed for trial, bail being fixed at £50.

ON THIS DAY……. 12th April 1952

On this day in 1952, a woman was killed and seven people were seriously injured when two passenger trains collided head on at Moriac, near Geelong, at 8:15pm. Both engines were derailed, and the first carriage of the Geelong-bound train was telescoped by the coal tender. The dead woman was in this carriage. The trains involved were the 3.25pm passenger train from Port Fairy to Geelong, and the 5.50pm train from Melbourne to Warrnambool, which passed through Geelong.


The Warrnambool-bound train had stopped at Moriac and was shunting into a siding to allow the other train to pass along the single track when the crash occurred. The impact hurled the Warrnambool-bound train backwards and the two engines, badly wrecked, coming to rest 30ft apart. One engine hung at an acute angle on its side and the crew were badly scalded by escaping steam. The crash was heard several miles away and hundreds of people rushed to the scene. Two ambulances were called from Geelong, and ambulance men joined railwaymen and volunteers in freeing the injured from badly damaged carriages.


Many other passengers were slightly hurt or badly affected by shock. They were treated on the spot. Mr. T. Mather, newsagent and postmaster at Moriac, said the noise of the crash startled him and he was on the scene in a matter of minutes. “There was great confusion,” he said. “People on the trains were calling out for help. Many feared a fire would break out. “However, we soon got relief gangs together and set to work to free those trapped in the wrecked carriage. One woman was dead, and a man seemed to be dead or dying.” Special buses were chartered by the Railway Department to convey the passengers to their destinations. The line was blocked, but repair gangs were soon at work clearing the debris.

On this day …….. 12th of April 1865

The notorious bushranger Dan Morgan was the centre of attention in Wangaratta on this day in 1865. In response to many request, his body was put on public display in one of the police cells. Someone took a fancy to Morgan’s bushy beard, and it was flayed off. Someone suggested his head might be useful to Professor Halford at Melbourne University, so it was detached and wrapped in hessian for the trip to Melbourne. Morgan genitals were removed and made into a snuff box. The officials in Wangaratta who took liberties with Morgan’s body had some explaining to do, and were suspended from duty. Morgan is buried in Wangaratta cemetery.


On This Day ……. 12th April 1923

After remaining a mystery for more than, 30 years the solution of the method by which the convict Frederick Clark escaped, from Geelong gaol in 1889 has now been found. A larger brass key was discovered while prisoners were clearing the grounds of the Geelong Supreme Court. It suggests crude workmanship, Investigations proved it was a master-key for every lock in the gaol at the Clark made his sensational escape. Records show that Clark was crafty, clever and incorrigible. Prison officials are unanimous that the key is the solution of Clark’s escape. Clark came to Victoria in 1852 from Van Dieman’s Land, whither he was transported from England in 1847. He spent more time in gaol than out. When he died in Geelong gaol, he had sentences aggregating 85 years.



ON THIS DAY……. 12th April 1952

Albert Edward Quinlivan, 63 year-old driver of a train involved in a fatal collision at Moriac railway station on this day in 1952, was acquitted of a charge of manslaughter by a Jury in the Geelong Court. Mrs. Josephine Ethel Traynor aged 34, of Hawthorn East, died of injuries received in the collision.


On this day …….. 12th of April 1869

William Cook, said to be the best steeplechase rider in the colony was brought into Wahgunyah on this day in 1869 after being injured. Cook had been crushed by a falling horse at Urana Races. The 20 year old died from his injuries.


ON THIS DAY ……. 12th April 1942


Leslie Edward Mansfield, aged 15, said to his mother after he had shot his father twice in the dining room of their home in Mordialloc on this day in 1942, “Now go to sleep, mum, you will have some peace.”

Mansfield was charged with murder to which he pleaded not guilty, but the trial came to an abrupt end when Mansfield’s counsel announced that the boy was willing to plead guilty to manslaughter if the murder charge was withdrawn. The Crown concurred. Mr Sproule said that Mansfield’s father had not been in the best of health, frequently came home drunk and was abusive and violent to his wife. Dr Clarence Godfrey, psychiatrist, said that the boy had a great attachment for his mother to the exclusion of all others. Mr Justice Gavan Duffy said it was a horrible case. “One cannot help feeling deep sympathy with the boy,” he said. “There was no possibility of his being treated in the ordinary manner.” The jury found Mansfield guilty of manslaughter and added a strong recommendation to mercy.

On this Day – April 12, 1895

Rush of Water in a Sewer Tunnel, Six Men Drowned.

An accident occurred this evening in No. 1 section of the Hobson’s Bay main sewer, which is under about the center, of the River Yarra, and in Mr. A. J. Robb’s contract at Spottiswoode. The soil, which consists of soft sand and clay, suddenly gave way, and the water rushed into the air-chamber, imprisoning six men. In consequence of the slippery nature of the soil it was found necessary to work under compressed air. The air-chamber was built in a tunnel, and the pressure under which the men worked was 27″. At 20 minutes past eight this evening, Watson, one of the Metropolitan Board’s engineers, was about to enter the air chamber, when a man inside, named Burke, pushed him back and shut the door in his face. Looking through the glass in the door Watson saw the water rising. Burke proved himself a hero. There was apparently no chance of saving his own life and of the others in the chamber, and he closed the door to save the lives of the men in the tunnel. Efforts have been made to pump the water out, but up to the present with no success. Buchanan, the engineer for the contractor, and Burke and four other men were in the chamber, and no doubt they have all been drowned.

Later.–The names of the men supposed to have been drowned are – John Buchanan, James Burke (boss of the shift), Thos. Johnson, Martin Gabriel; Joseph Jackson, and W. Foster. The water broke through the heading just beyond the air chamber. A fitter who was in the air chamber, letting air in preparatory to going into the face with iron plates, saw Buchanan, with a light in his hand, beckoning to him, and then in an instant the light went out and all was darkness. No bodies have been recovered.

On This Day – April 23, 1918

Death followed a simple wound received recently by John Jinks, 27, married, of Spencer street, West Melbourne.

On April 11, he was working as a lorry driver at the Spencer street railway station. When carrying a bag of oats to his lorry he brushed against a case from which a piece of loopiron protruded. He received a slight cut on his hand. A few days later tetanus supervened, and he died today in the Melbourne Hospital.

On This Day – April 11, 1892

At Shepparton Assizes to-day, before the Chief Justice, John Molunphy was charged with the murder of his son in law, Thomas Meaney. On April 11 deceased was quarrelling with his wife and ill-treating her, when hearing his daughter’s cries for help the prisoner ran into the room and cut Meaney’s throat. He then went to the police station and gave himself up. His Honor summed up in favour of a verdict of manslaughter and the Jury returned that verdict. Prisoner was remanded for sentence.

On this Day – April 11, 1914


By the train which arrived at Ballarat at 3 o’clock on Tuesday from Linton, James Williams came under escort as a prisoner, charged with the attempted murder at Linton on Monday afternoon of Sarah Bass. He had been brought before Mr. F. Kennedy, J.P., and remanded to appear at Ballarat next Tuesday. Williams was lodged in the Ballarat gaol. Sergeant Rogerson states that Williams told him he came from Bite Bite station, in the Ararat district, some days ago, and, beyond giving his name, refused to say anything further.

It appears that Mr. C. McCook, manager of the Mount Bute estate, near Linton, engaged Williams as a general hand, to start work on Tuesday, but on Monday Williams was required to relieve another member of the staff, who had gone to the races. By direction he drove to Linton and brought the mail in. About a quarter past four, after inquiring of Archibald McCook, 12, and Clarice McCook, 13, son and daughter of the manager, if their parents were at home, and receiving a negative reply, Williams learned from the children that the housekeeper, Sarah Bass, was in the kitchen, and he walked in that direction. Soon after this Williams was seen approaching the men’s hut, from the direction of the homestead. He was holding his head with his hands, saying, “My poor head is splitting.” It was then discovered that Miss Bass was badly cut on the head, and was lying unconscious in the kitchen. Williams was secured and handed over to the police.

To-day (Tuesday) Miss Bass is cheerful, and appears to be out of danger. One wound at the back of her neck is four inches long, and required six stitches to be inserted by Dr. Donaldton. There are four other wounds in the back of the head, three exposing the bone, which was also cut. Miss Bass states that Williams asked her for a drink of hot milk and water as he had heartburn. She supplied him, and he called for a second drink. While he was getting this she saw Williams take down a butcher’s meat chopper from the wall, but she did not guess his purpose. Immediately afterwards she received a blow on the back of the neck, and remembered no more until some time afterwards.

On this day …….. 11th of April 1907

An unfortunate accident happened to Mr. Michael Bowles a farmer, of Wharparilla, near Echuca. He was engaged chaffcutting, and while on the stack dropped the knife which he was using. It fell amongst the hay, and in stooping to pick up another Bowles accidentally knelt on the knife, the blade of which entered the side of the knee joint, causing a painful wound.