ON THIS DAY ……… 5th February 1936

A remarkable, story of an alleged attempt to poison a Brunswick married couple by sending them a poisoned pudding through the post was related at the Brunswick Court on the 5th February 1896, when Dorothy Davies, married, a needlewoman, of West Brunswick, was charged with the attempted murder of Harry Sumbler, confectioner, of Brunswick, and his wife, Margaret Sumbler. In evidence it was stated that Sumbler and his wife received a pudding by post on the 12th of December. After Mrs Sumbler took a bite she thought it tasted bad and spat it out. A small quantity was given to a kelpie dog, which died within an hour and a half. Expert evidence was given that ground poisoned wheat had been sprinkled over the pudding and that analysis showed that the pudding contained sufficient poison to produce death in an adult. The police produced a statement alleged to have been made by Davies, admitting the crime, in which she said that she had known Sumbler for many years. She used to help him look after his shop and did other work for him. Because there was too much work in the shop he obtained the services of Margaret O’Connor, whom he married last year. Because of the way he treated her and took a fancy to Margaret O’Connor she became aggrieved with both him and her and in December decided to send to Mr and Mrs Sumbler a pudding with something on it to make them sick. She got some poisoned wheat she had for poisoning mice. She ground the wheat into powder, sprinkled it on top of the pudding, and replaced it in the cover. She intended only to make the Sumblers suffer as they had made her suffer. She did not know it would kill anybody. Sumbler told the Court that after his marriage Mrs Davies was aggressive towards him and he told her that it would be best for her to stay away. Once he had an argument with her and she went towards a gun. On numerous occasions she had threatened him, and once she said she would put a bomb on his roof. He denied having proposed to Mrs Davies.



ON THIS DAY ………….. 3rd of February 1913


Henry Dorrington aged 30, was arrested on the 3rd of February 1911, on a charge of having shot with intent to murder his mother, aged 70 years, in Clifton Hill. When the police arrived at the house they found Mrs. Dorrington bleeding from a wound in the fore head, caused by a bullet from a pea-rifle. Dorrington said to his mother, “You asked me to shoot a cat, and the gun went off and shot you” Mrs. Dorrington said “No you asked me for five shillings, and when I would not give it to you, you shot me.” The wound was not serious, and after being treated at the hospital Mrs. Dorrington was allowed to go home.



ON THIS DAY – January 26, 1937


Evidence that she had repulsed the accused when he had tried to kiss her in a cowshed was given by Ida Reynolds, married, of Nilma North, when Jack Evison, aged 44 years, woodcutter, of Nilma North, appeared on a charge of having shot at Mrs. Reynolds on January 26 with intent to murder her. Mrs. Reynolds said that she had known Evison for two and a half years. He had worked for her husband at different times. “About a week before the shooting occurred,” she said, “I was working in the cowshed milking with my husband and Evison. My husband left the shed, and Evison tried to kiss me. He leaned on my shoulder. I objected, and he then put his arm about me, and I smacked him. He said, ‘Don’t split, or I’ll blow your brains out.’ “I told my husband, who discharged him. I saw Evison on January 23 and paid him a cheque at the gate. He asked me whether I was frightened of him, and I replied, ‘You must think I am a calf.’ On January 26 I saw Evison at 8 am. He called out ‘Ida,’ and pointed at something on the road. I went down to investigate. He was at the gate, and I was within eight yards of him. He said, ‘Come here,’ but I took several paces backward, as I became suspicious when I saw nothing on the road. “Evison was bending down and flashed a gun to his shoulder, saying, ‘I am going to shoot you dead.’ I ran to the cow-shed, but had gone only a few yards when I felt a sting in the right forearm and side, and heard the report of a gun. My husband appeared with a pitchfork and ran after Evison. I said, ‘Be careful; he has reloaded.” First-constable Derham said in evidence that he had asked Evison why he had shot Mrs. Reynolds, and Evison had replied, “It had to come to a finish ” Evison pleaded not guilty and reserved his defence. He was committed for trial at the Supreme Court, Melbourne, on February 15. Bail was refused.



ON THIS DAY – January 23, 1933

John Barber, aged 24, attacked his wife, failing in an attempt to murder her, in a house at Mount Evelyn on this day, John Barber, fatally wounded himself with a sawn-off pea-rifle. Barber’s wife was working as a domestic at Mount Evelyn, and he went to see her. A quarrel occurred, and Barber produced a pea-rifle and aimed it at his wife, who was nursing a baby. She struck the barrel upwards, with her arm, and the bullet lodged in the ceiling. Barber then struck at his wife with the stock of the rifle. She fled, and on hearing another shot she returned to the house, and found her husband lying seriously wounded on the floor.



ON THIS DAY – December 28, 1915

Francis Elliott (34) was, at the Criminal Court, convicted on a charge of attempting to murder Arthur Henry Mace, driver, at Box Hill on the 28th of December. It was alleged that the accused, on the evening of December 28, called at Mace’s house and a disturbance took place. He left after threatening to shoot Mace and Mrs. Mace. Mace and his wife went to bed and were aroused about midnight by the report of a gunshot. The walls of the house were marked with gunshot pellets. The accused was remanded for sentence. Elliott received 5 years hard labour.

On this day …….. 27th of December 1902

The strange conduct of the young man Frank Dunnemann, who on the 27th December, at Fitzroy, shot at and wounded a young lady, formed the subject of his trial for attempted murder at the Supreme Court. It will be remembered that the young people met first in Broken Hill, where Miss Elkins was appearing with a variety company, and residing at an hotel kept by the accused mother. Then she went to Adelaide, and accused followed her. She came across to Melbourne in December, pursued still by her ardent lover. She tried to be cool with him, and finally refused to have anything to do with him. She confessed to having written letters couched in loving terms to the accused. One night, while she was returning to her home in Fitzroy, the accused met her in a quiet street, and in the course of an altercation a revolver he was carrying exploded, the bullet striking the young lady on the forehead. The young man was chased by a bystander, whom he shot at, and missed. Then he pointed the revolver at his own head, and, firing twice, inflicted two wounds in the forehead. He was found lying behind a bush, and subsequently near the same spot a letter, signed by the accused, was discovered. It was addressed to Miss Elkins’s mother, and bade ‘farewell to all.’ It was full of curiously misspelt words, and aimed at in forming the world of the accused’s love for ‘his Connie, without whom I cannot live, and so I want to make sure she is dead.’ For the defence it was stated that the accused, who is only 20 years old, was subject to fits, and had been hit on the head some years ago. The plea of impulsive insanity was accordingly put forth. The jury brought in a verdict of wounding with intent to murder, and Judge Hodges recorded a sentence of death, saying that he did not feel justified in passing it.


ON THIS DAY – December 23, 1924


Charged with having attempted to murder his wife, Beatrice Miller, on the 23rd of December, Walter Wells Miller (48), painter of Earl-street Windsor, was placed on remanded by Mr. F. Wilmot to appear at the Prahran Court on the 2nd of January. Bail was fixed at £200 with one surety of £200. Detective-Sergeant Piggot asked for the remand until the 2nd of January, when, he said he expected to be able to proceed. ‘There have been strained relations’ he stated, ‘between this man and his wife. She sued him for maintenance. He went away for a few weeks but returned to her and they have recently been getting on fairly well, though there is another woman in the case. Two other people— a man and a woman— occupy front rooms in the house. They were still in bed when Miller got up a few minutes before his wife on Tuesday morning. She prepared the morning meal, pouring some milk into her own cup. She says that her husband poured the tea into the cup. He says that he is not sure about this. It may have been that morning or the previous day, that he poured out the tea. Mrs. Miller left the room for a few minutes, and, on returning, took a sip of tea. Miller then went to work, and she drank the major portion of the tea. Almost immediately, she felt ill. As she grew worse, and showed symptoms of poisoning, she called out for assistance, and the man and woman in the front rooms gave her an emetic. In this way she got rid of most of the poison. A doctor was sent for and he took possession of the cup, which contained a white or greyish mixture. It was sent to the Government analyst, who has reported that it contained a poison. The woman was sent to the Alfred Hospital, where she is how out of danger. Mrs. Miller states that, on at least two previous occasions, she has experienced symptoms of poisoning. Asked by Mr. Wilmot if he had an objection to the remand, Miller replies ‘I am not guilty. That’s all I know.’


ON THIS DAY – December 4, 1931

Edward Leeming. aged 19 years, salesman, of Bon Beach, was committed for trial on charge of attempted murder. Clarence Holford, commercial traveller, said that Leeming and he had been at St. Kilda on December 4.  Leeming had a revolver, and witness tried to get him to put it in his pocket. They walked along Carlisle-street, and Leeming said that he would throw the revolver, over a fence. Instead of doing so he fired at Holford, and the bullet entered his abdomen. A statement alleged to have been made by Leeming was read in court, Leeming stating the revolver had exploded accidentally. Leeming was also committed for trial on two charges of housebreaking and stealing.


On This Day – November 29, 1946

A young returned soldier who is alleged to have chased and threatened to kill his former fiancee with a Japanese Samurai sword, was committed for trial in the Fourth District Court yesterday.  Charles Francis Wright (22) docker and painter. Spencer St., West Melbourne, was charged with having entered a dwelling by night with intent to commit a felony. Mr Addison, P.M., committed him to the Supreme Court on December 9 with bail of £50 and surety for the same amount.  Greta Marie Watkins, porteress, Parliament Pl., East Melbourne, to whom Wright was once engaged to be married, broke down while giving evidence and wept bitterly. She said that at 11.15 p.m. on November 29, as she was walking in Parliament Pl. Wright grabbed her by the arm and said, “I want to take you to a beautiful spot to see the Crucifix.” She refused to go with him. Wright said. “I will come back with a couple of hand grenades and I will kill you.” Later as she was sitting outside the guest house she saw Wright coming down the stairs with something in his hand. As he chased her she ran into Gisborne St. He yelled. “I’ll get you.” She ran about 200 yards before she heard someone call “stop” and a shot was fired. Wright pleaded not guilty and reserved his defence.

On This Day – November 19, 1938 

Richard Clarence Skinner, 21, of South Melbourne, was arrested on a charge with having at Bacchus Marsh on November 19, with intent to murder, Arthur Edwards, a farm hand, of Balwyn. He had a severe wound on the chin and was unable to speak. By writing answers to questions by the detectives Edwards stated he had been shot while entering a car on the Ballarat Road at Bacchus Marsh.

On This Day – November 12, 1896

Charles O’Brien, a young man, was to-day arrested on a charge of attempting to murder Julia O’Donoghue by cutting her throat on November 12. O’Brien had previously been living with the woman. On the evening of the date mentioned he met her on City-road.South Melbourne, and asked her to renew their former relations. She declined, whereupon he cut her throat. O’Brien was remanded to appear at South Melbourne on Friday next O Brien has admitted his guilt to the police. He stated that he had been impelled to attack the woman through jealousy. He expressed contrition, and was glad the woman was not dead. She had been hiding near Malvern, and had been nearly starved out.

On This Day – October 16, 1947

Robert Woodbine Whinfield, 59, of Dorset-road, Croydon, retired auctioneer, was yesterday committed for trial on October 16 at the Supreme Court on a charge of having wounded William Roy Coles; 50, of Bayswater-road, Bayswater, poultry farmer, with intent to murder.

Dr. Ian Thomas Cameron, of Croydon, said he received a telephone call from Whinfield, and went with Constables Grieves and Belbin to Whinfield’s home.

Coles was found under the archway of a hedge. There was a wound on his head, which could have been caused by an axe produced. Whinfleld had said he and Coles had been attacked and robbed. Leslie Bennett, of Dorset-road, Croydon, laborer, said on the night of the wounding he had seen Colas asleep on the couch at Whinfleld’s house. Coles had been annoyed when awakened by Whinfleld. Both men had been drinking. Mr. M, M. Gorman appeared for Whinfield.