ON THIS DAY…… 1st August 1925

At the City Court, Melbourne, yesterday two men were charged with murder appeared and were remanded. Cyrus Braby, charged with the murder of William Southwick, estate and commission agent, at South Yarra on August 1, was remanded till Wednesday, pending the inquest to be held to-morrow.

Cyrus Braby arrested on Sunday, and charged with the murder of William Southwick at South Yarra, was brought before the City Court yesterday, and remanded until August 10.

Braby, dirty and unkempt, stared vacantly round the court during the proceedings, and seemed to take no interest in what was going on. Constable West, in reply to a question by Mr. C. Burnet, said that the police had no doubt that the accused was quite mad.

A charge of vagrancy was withdrawn, and Braby will bo submitted to mental observation in gaol.

Constable West gave evidence of the arrest of accused. After the discovery of the body, the police had evidence that about noon on Saturday a violent argument took place between the dead man and accused, after which Southwick was not again seen alive.  Accused, when arrested, was sleeping.

BRABY’S YOUTH.

Martin Braby, father of Cyrus Braby is 73 years of age, and was formerly a Justice of the peace at Ravenswood goldfields, Queensland, and at Eskdale, Victoria, where he was wellknown as a storekeeper.

Braby said his son, the youngest of four, left Victoria on active service in 1916, the most youthful member of the Heavy Siege Artillery. Being only 19 years of age, he had special permission from the Minister of Defence Mr. Pearce to join this, section of the A.I.F., as he desired to take the place of a brother who, being then in the Garrison Artillery, would have left with the heavies, but was killed by a tram just before the outbreak of the war.

ON THIS DAY……. 1st August 1953

Two men were charged in the City Court on this day in 1953 with the murder of Ernest Clarkson, 69, of Gordon-avenue, Tecoma. Charged were two Cypriots, Vassos Socratous, 24, of Flemington-road, North Melbourne, and Lenndras Yiannakou, 39, of Rathdown street, Carlton. Both men were remanded to the City Court on  the 11th of August. He refused bail. Clarkson, chief steward of the Royal Melbourne Golf Club was found dead on the promises in Cheltenham-road, Black Rock, on this day in 1953. He had been battered about the head.  Senior . Detective Graham Davidson told the Court that Clarkson’s body was found on the floor of the golf club’s locker room. Police took possession of a bloodstained hammer. Davidson said the men in the dock were detained and questioned early today. They had made admissions before being charged.. Socratous is a short slim man with dark, curly hair. He was neatly dressed, Yiannakou is taller and is heavily built, with black, woolly hair, and olive complexion.

On This Day ……. 1st of August 1930

John Taylor had been found battered to death on the floor of his Fitzroy shop on the corner of Argyle and Fitzroy Streets at 6am on the 7th of June 1930. It was believed that Taylor had been killed shortly after closing time on Friday, when the thief entered the shop, killed Taylor and left with a large sum of money. A post mortem revealed that Taylor, and 80 year old man, suffered a broken jaw, 4 broken ribs, an injury to his throat as well as various bruises and lacerations. Arthur Skerritt was arrested on Friday the 13th of June, 1930. He was arrested as he had goods that had been brought at Taylor’s shop and it was also alleged that some of Taylor’s property was discovered in the house where Skerritt lived. Much was made in the newspapers of the fact that Skerritt was a coloured man. Evidence presented at the inquest stated that Skerritt was drunk and had left home with nothing but had returned with a sugar bag full of goods and a quantity of coppers and a sovereign. The accused lived a few doors down from Taylor’s shop. Skerritt was heard to remark that he must of done it as he was drinking. The trial for murder took place in July and on this day in 1930, Skerritt was found guilty of wilful murder and sentenced to death. An appeal was lodged but was dismissed. The Government of the day stepped in as the Labour party was opposed to capital punishment. Skerritt’s life sentence was commuted to life imprisonment for the term of his natural life without benefit of regulation. Skerritt was originally incarcerated at Pentridge prison but was transferred to Geelong Gaol at some stage. Pleas for his release because of his age began in 1946 and were still going in 1949. Authorities described him as crafty and unscrupulous and saw no reason to release him, fearing that he would continue to steal and would end up back in prison. Skerritt died of cardiac failure in 1953 still incarcerated in the Geelong Gaol.

 

Some Australian bushrangers made their name from martyrdom, others from pure madness. In the case of ‘Mad Dog’ Daniel Morgan, the source of his infamy was definitely the latter. In June of 1864, Morgan shot a bush worker near Albury, New South Wales. He asked another worker to ride for help, then, suspecting the man would ride to the police instead, shot him in the back. Months later, he shot dead a passing police officer just for saying “hello”. In April of 1865, Morgan held up the Peechelba Station near Wangaratta and demanded that the owner’s wife play piano while he ate dinner. Upon leaving the station, he was shot by a stockman and died the following day.

 

ON THIS DAY – July 31, 1943

On a charge of murder, Cecil John Freeman, a fiddler, was committed for trial by the City Coroner. Freeman appeared in custody at the inquest on Ian Gordon Jeffrey, 25, who was injured in a disturbance on July 31 and died in hospital on August 4. Police alleged that Freeman said he attacked Jeffrey because he was paying attention to Mrs. Freeman.

ON THIS DAY – July 30, 1947

When acquaintances of Allan William Paul Rose, poultry farmer, of Seamore Road, Box Hill, entered his house on July 30, last, they found him dead with his skull battered as a result of 17 injuries. Today, Alexander Arthur Fleming (28), of Cairo Road, Box Hill, builder’s laborer, was charged with having murdered Rose. The case came before Mr. Justice McFarlan and jury in the Criminal Court. Among exhibits was a piece of iron about 18 inches in length. The Crown alleged that this was the weapon which was used to batter Rose’s skull. Mr. Sproule, K.C., for the Crown, said Rose lived by himself in a little cottage in a rather isolated portion of the street. On Tuesday, July 29, he was seen going to the pictures in Box Hill, as was his custom of a Tuesday night. This was the last time he was seen alive by anyone except his assailant. About 10 o’clock next morning a man called at Rose’s house and saw a hat under the hedge. He received no answer to his call. Later in the day he called again, and found the works of a wristlet watch on the concrete drive. The watch had stopped at 11.20 o’clock. With another man, he entered the house. He found Rose dead on the floor, which was covered with blood. Mr. Sproule said that when Fleming was first questioned by the police, he admitted borrowing £2 from Rose. Later, to Detective Mooney, Fleming said: “Yes, I did it and I admit it.” Mr. Sproule said Fleming made a statement to the police in which he allegedly said he approached Rose on the night of July 29 with a request for a loan, which was refused. The alleged statement described a fight between Rose and Fleming. In the statement, Fleming said he struck Rose a couple of times with an iron bar. When Rose refused to lend him money he “did his block.” The case was adjourned until tomorrow.

ON THIS DAY – July 30, 1993

A body found in Melbourne’s outer south-east on Friday night was that of the missing Frankston school girl Natalie Jayne Russell, 17, police confirmed yesterday.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter Halloran, of the Homicide Squad, said there were similarities between the killing and the stabbing murders of two women in the Frankston area in the last seven weeks. “Examinations show that she died as a result of stab wounds or knife wounds to the upper body,” Inspector Halloran said. “At this early stage we are open-minded about it but there are similarities between this and the two recent murders,” he said. Debbie Fream, a 22-year-old mother, was found slain in the area three weeks ago, and the body of an 18-year-old student, Elizabeth Anne-Marie Stevens, was discovered in June. Both died as a result of stab wounds.Inspector Halloran said there were no signs of sexual assault in any of the three killings. Natalie Russell’s body was found by two State Emergency Service workers at about 11pm on Friday night in a heavily wooded area. She was lying face down, in thick scrub about 3m from a bike track. About 150 detectives door-knocked almost 5000 houses in the Frankston area yesterday, as part of Operation Pulsar, in relation to the murder of Debbie Fream and the other crimes.

ON THIS DAY – July 29, 1949

Following the finding of Mrs. Mary Rebecca Woodbury (47) lying on the floor of the bathroom of her home in Egmont street, Benalla, with fatal throat wounds, caused by a blade razor, detectives early to-day arrested Denis Woodbury (47), and charged him with the murder of his wife. On arrival at the house yesterday, the police said there were signs of a struggle in several rooms, and that a handle had been broken off one of the doors. It was stated that the couple had been married for three years.

ON THIS DAY – July 29, 1976

Three men who battered an older man to death in the course of “teaching him a lesson” were each found guilty of murder by a Criminal Court jury. Mr Justice Jenkinson sentenced each of the three to be imprisoned for the term of his natural life. They were Mr Allan Raymond Robinson, 33, invalid pensioner, of Fitzroy, Mr Kenneth Graeme Wright, 19, labourer, of Richmond, and Mr Paul Maurice Stanton, 28, assistant manager, of Abbotsford. All had pleaded not guilty to a charge of having murdered Mr Sydney Thomas Crowe, also known as Mr Peter Johnson, 54, labourer, of Collingwood, on July 29 last year.

 

photo of Kenneth Graeme Wright

ON THIS DAY – July 29, 1992

A gunman convicted of the cold-blooded, execution style murders of three young people in their suburban Melbourne home last year was  jailed for life for his “unfathomable” crimes. In the Supreme Court, Justice Bernard Teague sentenced Ashley Mervyn Coulston, 36, to life on each of the three counts of murder. He fixed a minimum term of 30 years with no remission. Justice Teague told Coulston, “The crimes for which I sentence you are unfathomable. “They are also chilling, because they were so calculating, so suggestive of cold-blooded planning, so indiscriminate.” Coulston, who was arrested after an armed hold-up a month after the murders, has stated through his counsel that he will appeal. The bodies of Kerryn Henstridge, 22, of Hamilton; Anne Smerdon, 22 of Kyabram; and Peter Demspey, 27, were discovered bound and gagged and shot through the head at their rented home in Summit Road, Burwood, on July 30 last year.

ON THIS DAY – July 29, 1991

A judge, his voice cracking with emotion and with tears in his eyes, sentenced a former ‘ church elder to life imprisonment for the “terrible” murder of a six-year-old girl. “Life means life,” Justice Philip Cummins said, as he sentenced Robert Arthur Selby Lowe, 57, for the murder of Sheree Beasley. The judge did not set a minimum term. What you did was every child’s fear and every parent’s nightmare,” Justice Cummins said. Lowe was found guilty on Wednesday of kidnapping and killing Sheree at Rosebud, on the Mornington Peninsula, south-east of Melbourne, on June 29, 1991. Justice Cummins also sentenced Lowe to 15 years’ jail for kidnapping. Sheree disappeared while running an errand for her mother near her home. Her remains were found in the nearby suburb of Red Hill three months later. Justice Cummins said he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Lowe had sexually attacked Sheree and that she had choked to death. Lowe had then forced her body down a drain. After Justice Cummins sentenced Lowe, the public gallery erupted in cheers and people yelled, “Suffer* Lowe”, “Sheree got the life sentence”, and “You’ve still got your life”. There were similar scenes on Wednesday, when the verdict was announced. In his sentencing comments yesterday Justice Cummins said the trial had been one of the most harrowing he had experienced.  Before sentencing, Lowe’s previous convictions, including ones for indecent assault and offensive behaviour dating back to 1956, were read to the court. Justice Cummins said Lowe’s “sexual interests” had been fuelled by the abduction of Karmein Chan, 13, who was kidnapped from her, home in Templestowe, in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, in April 1991 — two months before Sheree’s murder. The judge said he was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt with evidence given by a cell-mate of Lowe’s. Lowe had told the prisoner that he had forced Sheree to do “dirty acts”. “She choked to death,” Justice Cummins said. “You were uncomfortable with the words oral sex — you used the words ‘dirty acts’.” Justice Cummins said Lowe had first seen Sheree when he had been in Rosebud the weekend before she was murdered. He had returned on June 29 and had forced her off her bicycle and into his car before speeding off. Witnesses said, they had seen a fearful Sheree in the car. Justice Cummins said Lowe had been articulate and manipulative in his lies to police, whom he commended for their persistence.”Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,” the judge told Lowe. “And you wove a tangled web around yourself which eventually captured you.” Justice Cummins said Lowe had shown no remorse for his crimes and had even been excited when he had gone to the scene of the crime with his psychotherapist. Lowe stood impassively as Justice Cummins sentenced him. He held an envelope to the side of his face, to hide it from journalists sitting near the dock. Sheree’s grandfather, Neil Greenhill, told reporters the sentence was what the family had hoped for. “You can’t replace what’s been taken away,” he said. “I hope he gets no peace … we hope he rots in hell. There’s no forgiveness … none at all.”

ON THIS DAY – July 28, 1934

After having heard evidence at an inquest today into the death of a newly-born male child, whose body was found by a railway employee while cleaning out a carriage at the Joilmont yards on July 28. The coroner (Mr. Grant) committed Edith Clyne, aged 20, formerly a nurse employed at the Queen’s Memorial Hospital, Fairfield, for trial at the Supreme Court on a charge of murder.