In 1938, a double murder took place in the now defunct Windsor Castle Hotel in Dunolly.  One of the last sightings of the murdered men and their murderer was in the bar of the Railway Hotel in Dunolly.  Join Twisted History for dinner and a paranormal investigation here on February 23, 2019.

Noise Said To Have Led To Deaths

December 13, 1938

An alleged statement that he had killed a man because he was making a noise upstairs, and that he had killed another man because he did not want him to be a witness, was read in the Supreme Court today when Thomas William Johnson, 40, of no fixed address, was charged with the murder of the two men.

The victims of the tragedy were: —
Robert McCourt Gray, 73, returned soldier and pensioner
Charles Adam Bunney, 61, war pensioner

They were found in a padlocked upstairs room of the delicensed
Windsor Castle Hotel at Dunolly on October 6 with their heads battered.

Johnson pleaded not guilty to the charges of having murdered Bunney and Gray.

Mr Cussen said that on October 3 there were five people living in the hotel.  Gray and Bunney had lived there for years. On September 26 Johnson arrived there. He said that he was on sustenance and wanted to live there, but could not pay.

On Monday morning, October 3, Gray was seen alive and Bunney was seen alive about 5.15 p.m. by the postmaster.  After that neither of the men was seen until the Thursday. In the meantime Bunney’s room, although it was open, had not been used. Gray’s room was
padlocked.

Two men looked for Gray and Bunney on the Thursday. One of them
climbed to the verandah and saw the men lying dead side by side. When entrance was gained the two men were found with their heads battered. A bloodstained axe was found in the corner.

Johnson, on the Monday, had no money. On the Tuesday he was seen on the road to Maryborough, and got a ride, for which he paid 1/. He returned later, and this time paid 2/6.  When he walked into the Dandenong police station on the Friday he made a statement, although he was warned he need not make it.

Mr Cussen then read the statement alleged to have been made by Johnson. In it Johnson is alleged to have said that he was asleep on the ground floor of the delicensed hotel about 3 p.m. on October 3 when he heard Gray, who was on the top floor, hammering and making a loud noise. He took an axe upstairs and hit Gray on the head. Gray fell to the floor, Bunney came into the room, and he hit him on the head. He then locked the room with a padlock and
threw the key away.

His only excuse for killing Gray was because he was making a noise while he was trying to sleep. He had killed Bunney because he did not want him to be a witness.

He often became bad tempered, and he was in a bad temper when he killed Gray.  He stayed at the hotel for two nights afterward. He then walked to Maryborough, rode on a transport to Melbourne on October 6, stayed in the city that night, and walked to Dandenong
the next day.

One of the witnesses was Elizabeth Whelan, the licensee of the Railway Hotel in Dunolly who testified that Cazneau, Johnson and a man named Alexander and Bunney were in the bar on the Monday morning. Bunney bought Johnson two drinks and left.  Gray came into the hotel at 10.30 and bought a quart bottle of wine, but did
not drink it with the other men. He gave a £1 note and received his change in small silver. Gray took a quart bottle of wine a month.
Johnson had four pots of beer up to 11 a.m., when he left, and he had one again at 2 p.m.

Thomas William Johnson would be found guilty of the murders of Robert McCourt Gray and Charles Adam Bunney and was sentenced to death.

Johnson was executed at Pentridge Prison on January 23, 1939.  When asked by the Sheriff in the condemned cell whether he had anything to say, Johnson shook his head and indicated that he wanted the execution to proceed.

January 4, 1905

On Monday night, between 12 and 1 o’clock, the licensee of the Railway Hotel, heard loud knocking at the door of the hotel, but declined to respond.

A little later the thirsty ones returned, and broke seven of the plate-glass windows facing Broadway with bricks, which were thrown
with force through tho windows. The ruffians then took to their heels and got away.

The matter was at once reported to the police, who have the affair in hand, and believe they have a clue to the guilty persons.

2018 has been a big year for the team at Twisted History!

And we could not have done it without our customers who come week in and week out to our range of tours across Victoria.

In November we were extremely proud to take away the bronze award for Cultural Tourism in the Victorian RACV Tourism Awards.

We continued to be accredited for the third year, one of only 2 “ghost” tour companies in Australia.  This means we maintain a business standard that allows as to use the national tick.

2019 will see the introduction of at least one new tour with the Castlemaine Cemetery tour beginning in mid January with our miner Andrew O’Reilly and schoolteacher, Miss Myrtle!

We have already locked in a range of dates for our haunted hotel tours, with negotiations continuing with a couple more.

Our murder tours will see Chinatown take on a more “ghostly” focus and will see the introduction of a new guide.  Carlton and Melbourne tours will continue as required.

Geelong Gaol will be back with a ghost tour and an investigtion tour tomorrow night (26/12).  We have a new longer investigation planned for later in the first half of the year.  We will also be expecting some special interstate guests around Easter – now to find a cool location to investigate near Geelong!

Besides all this, with our newly vamped website up and running, we are hoping to bring back our regular blog – not daily unfortunately as we have been too busy!  But we will have some new content up in the new year!

But thats enough from me for now!

So the team at Twisted History would like to wish each and every one of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  We hope to see you somewhere on a tour in 2019!

On This Day – June 13, 1940

Because her husband was in gaol and she wanted to be with him a woman threw a stone through a £15 window of the City Court Hotel on June 13, according to evidence given in the City Court today. Lorna Fay McLeod. of no fixed address, was charged with wilful damage. John O’Riley, lessee of the hotel said that when the stone came, through the window it showered the bar with broken glass. A moment later the woman accused entered, and said “I broke your window, and I want you to give me in charge.” Detective William Tremewen said that the woman said, “If you don’t lock me up I will do it again.” McLeod was fined £2. in default seven days’ imprisonment, and was ordered to pay £15 damages, in default one month.

ON THIS DAY…… 31st May 1910

At the inquiry held into the tragedy which occurred at the Sir Walter Scott Hotel, Elizabeth street, Melbourne on this day in 1910, the Coroner found that John Tunks murdered Melanie Dean, and afterwards committed suicide.

 

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.

On This Day – April 12. 1914

VERDICT OF MANSLAUGHTER.

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 – April 9, 1910

At the Morgue on April 9, the Coroner (Dr. Cole) opened on inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of William George Trott, a caretaker, 50 years of age.

The deceased, was discovered in Menzies’ Alley at the back of the Empire Hotel on April 3 suffering a fractured skull, having apparently fallen 16ft from his bedroom window, which was immediately above the spot where he was discovered.

Henry Halliwell, a clerk in the employ of the New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Co., stated that Trott had been in the company’s employ for a number of years. To the Coroner He was a widower, and was always considered by the firm a sober man. He never had fits.

Jane Jensen, a married woman, residing at the Empire Hotel, stated that Trott had been residing at the hotel for the past three years. Witness, continuing, stated that she last saw the deceased alive at closing time on Saturday night. He was then standing at the foot of the stairs preparatory to going to bed.

Dr. Thomas Hurley, of the Melbourne Hospital, stated that he admitted Trott to the institution on April 3 suffering from a fractured thigh and skull and internal Injuries. He smelt very strongly of stale beer when admitted, and died two days later from the effects of his injuries.

The inquiry was adjourned for further evidence to be obtained.

Photo courtesy of State Library Victoria

Blackwood Hotel is a great haunted location in Victoria close to Ballarat. Fantastic meals, and open fireplace for those cold and foggy nights. Three known hauntings ……. will you see the ghost of Laura Dalton.

The cellar also doubled as the town morgue.

Irish Murphy’s Hotel in Ballarat, Victoria is a great venue for a Guinness Pie and a Kilkenny Stout when exploring the amazing goldfields city. Well documented for strange paranormal activity, but no evidence of a connection to historical figures

.

The Railway Hotel in Brunswick is a real historical gem from the 1880’s. A lot of its original charm still exists from the hidden guess life, attic accommodation and stables (outside bar). Being so close to the railway and the Brunswick brick work, bodies from accidents were brought and kept in the hotels cellar. Hotel claims to be very haunted.

An accident, which we fear may prove fatal, occurred on Saturday last near the Culloden Castle.
A cow belonging to Mr Naylor of Duneed, was being driven along the street when she turned savage, rushing at the man who was driving her; he, however, was fortunate enough to get out of the way, and the enraged animal then turned upon a little girl of about four years of age named Cannell, throwing her down and fracturing her skull.
The child is now under the care of Dr. Reid at the hospital. After this the infuriated animal rushed into the dam, where her capers were soon put an end to by Constable Madden and Sergeant M’Sweeney.
Unfortunately the little girl did succumb to her injuries after being gored by the cow.  Sarah Cannell was just 4 years old when she died the following day. Sarah was admitted with a penetrating injury to the left side of her head with her brain exposed.  She developed paralysis and eventually died 24 hours later.
Sarah had been playing outside the Culloden Castle Hotel with a number of other children, when the cow came running down Latrobe Terrace followed closely by George Naylor and Angus McLean.  Donald Cameron had hidden behind a telegraph pole from the rampaging beast, when he noticed Sarah under its feet.  He picked up the little girl and took her to her parents house in Villamanta Street.
The cow was eventually chased into a dam where Sergeant McSweeney was taked with the unpleasant duty of shooting the cow.  It was not known what had set the cow on its destructive path.
Much of the inquest was taken up with the discussion on the legality of driving cattle through the town.  There was a by-law in place prohibiting the droving of cattle between the hours of 12 pm and 6am.  It was suggested that in future this law needed to be strictly enforced!