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On This Day……..17th July 1946

Scores of people on the main platform at Spencer Street Railway Station in Melbourne and hundreds of others going to work early saw a warder firing shots at an escaping prisoner. The man had jumped from a train as it was leaving the station. He was chased for 250 yards before he fell with a bullet in the head. His condition was not considered serious. The fugitive, Ian Mitchell, 34, whose address was given as Pentridge Prison, was taken to hospital, handcuffed to the warder. He was handcuffed to his escort while being examined by doctors in the casualty section and was still handcuffed to the warder when taken to the X-ray department. Although wounded in the head the escapee was recaptured. Two prisoners, each escorted by an armed warder, were brought from Pentridge in a police car to be taken to Ballarat Gaol by train, leaving Spencer Street at 8.50 am Prisoners and warders were all in civilian clothes, and, to save the prisoners from embarrassment on the train, the warders had not handcuffed them. Warder John Eddy Dihm had charge of Mitchell, and Warder Mervyn Aldous was escorting the other prisoner, who was a clergyman and was wearing clerical dress. He is serving a five-year sentence. Both were being transferred from Pentridge to serve the rest of their gaol sentences. The train was on No. 1 plat form and the prisoners and their escorts were sitting together in a compartment. As the train was pulling out of the station. Mitchell sprang to his feet, raced along the corridor and leapt on to the platform at the back of the cloak room. Business people coming from that part of the station along the concourse scattered in alarm when they heard shots bring fired and railwaymen and people who had seen passengers off fled for cover. Calling on the fugitive to stop, Dihm fired four shots as he chased him to the enclosed end of No. 1 platform and along a barricaded concourse past the end of several adjoining platforms.

 

On This Day….. 9th July 1947

Two convicts break gaol, for only a brief hour of liberty was enjoyed by two prisoners who scaled the exercise yard wall of Ballarat Gaol and were later captured by a party of police near the Grant street bridge, over the Yarrawee Creek, about half a mile away. They were Eric Ivan Wilson, 26, of North Clunes, who was on remand on a car-stealing charge, and Ian Mitchell, 32, a prisoner serving a sentence imposed on him at Ballarat early in the year for house breaking and larceny. Following their getaway, the two men were seen running across White Flat into the bed of the Yarrawee Creek channel, and a local resident telephoned tile police. A search party organised by Inspector Abbot, Sergeant Tysoe, and Senior-Detective Hackwill, and including Senior-Constable McCahon, First-Constable Orr, and Constable Coghlin, was examining the area when the two fugitives bolted in different directions. A warning that shots would be fired was called as the men separated and both surrendered at gunpoint. A month ago Mervyn Clifford Richards, 25, of Nerrina, while awaiting trial on four robbery charges, escaped from the gaol by climbing the walls. Search for him so far has been unsuccessful.

ON THIS DAY – June 29, 1908

The fourteenth execution in the Ballarat Gaol took place at 10 o’clock this morning, when Charles Henry Deutschmann paid the supreme penalty for having murdered his wife.

The crime took place at Dobie, a few miles from Ararat, on Saturday evening, April 11. Mrs. Deutschmann, who had been married in 1890, was stopping with her stepfather. Her husband travelled from Melbourne to Ballarat, and there purchased a revolver and 25 cartridges. He continued his journey to Ararat, and arrived there at 9 o’clock, to the surprise of his wife, who expected him on the Monday. He was under the influence of drink, and a quarrel ensued. The stepfather endeavoured to pacify him, when he drew the revolver, and shot his father-in- law. Deutschmann then returned to his wife’s room, and fired two shots at her, the second striking her in the breast, and killing her immediately. He was arrested next morning by Sergeant Hancock. The old man recovered from his wounds.  A defence of insanity was unsuccessfully raised at the trial at Stawell.

Since he came to the Ballarat Gaol Deutschmann behaved quietly, and appeared to realise the enormity of his deed. He was attended by the Rev. Charles Cameron, whose ministration he listened to with interest. Just on the stroke of 10 o’clock the sheriff demanded the body of Charles Henry Deutschmann, and, in response to the demand of the governor, produced his warrant. Deutschmann walked steadily on to the drop, and was asked by the sheriff if he had anything to say. He replied slowly, and with emotion, “No, sir; I have nothing to say. God have mercy on me. Good-bye, good-bye.” Death was instantaneous. Deutschmann made no private statement further than expressing his deep regret for the crime, and commending himself to God’s mercy. Deutschmann was a native of Ararat, and was 41 years old.

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 – November 12, 1894

The execution of Elijah Cockroft for the murder of Fanny Mott at Noradjura, in the Wimmera district, took place at the Ballarat Gaol this morning, when only six persons besides the gaol officials were present. Punctually at 10 o’clock, Cockroft was brought out of his cell and led to the drop, and on being asked if he had anything to say he said  “I Trust Jesus.” When the rope w s being placed round his neck he began to sob bitterly, and on the bolt being drawn death was instantaneous.

Canon Morris who attended him throughout, stated that he died repentant, and in his opinion the whole case was a lasting disgrace to the State, which was responsible for the wretched state of ignorance in which the unfortunate lad existed. Yesterday several gentlemen wired to the Attorney-General asking him to stay the execution as they believed the accused man was insane. A medical examination was subsequently made, but it was found he was perfectly sane.

On this day …….. 3rd September 1946

A second escape from custody was made on this day by Ivan Charles Magee, 18 years, who has been serving at the Ballarat gaol a sentence for assault. Magee made his first escape from the gaol garden on the evening of August 27, but at 9 p.m. presented him self at the Governor’s house, saying he had thought better of it. Late this afternoon Magee complained of toothache and was escorted by the Governor (Mr. G. Carey) to a local dentist. On his way back to the gaol after the tooth had been extracted, Magee broke from custody in Lydiard street and escaped.

 

On This Day ……. 27th of August 1881

A young man who, named James Clay, who on this day in 1881, was confined to the Geelong gaol for having stolen a watch from the premises of Mr Daglish, South Geelong. It was also stated that he was wanted in Ballarat for a similar offence. Clay was transferred to Ballarat Gaol.

 

On This Day……..17th July 1946

Scores of people on the main platform at Spencer Street Railway Station in Melbourne and hundreds of others going to work early saw a warder firing shots at an escaping prisoner. The man had jumped from a train as it was leaving the station. He was chased for 250 yards before he fell with a bullet in the head. His condition was not considered serious. The fugitive, Ian Mitchell, 34, whose address was given as Pentridge Prison, was taken to hospital, handcuffed to the warder. He was handcuffed to his escort while being examined by doctors in the casualty section and was still handcuffed to the warder when taken to the X-ray department. Although wounded in the head the escapee was recaptured. Two prisoners, each escorted by an armed warder, were brought from Pentridge in a police car to be taken to Ballarat Gaol by train, leaving Spencer Street at 8.50 am Prisoners and warders were all in civilian clothes, and, to save the prisoners from embarrassment on the train, the warders had not handcuffed them. Warder John Eddy Dihm had charge of Mitchell, and Warder Mervyn Aldous was escorting the other prisoner, who was a clergyman and was wearing clerical dress. He is serving a five-year sentence. Both were being transferred from Pentridge to serve the rest of their gaol sentences. The train was on No. 1 plat form and the prisoners and their escorts were sitting together in a compartment. As the train was pulling out of the station. Mitchell sprang to his feet, raced along the corridor and leapt on to the platform at the back of the cloak room. Business people coming from that part of the station along the concourse scattered in alarm when they heard shots bring fired and railwaymen and people who had seen passengers off fled for cover. Calling on the fugitive to stop, Dihm fired four shots as he chased him to the enclosed end of No. 1 platform and along a barricaded concourse past the end of several adjoining platforms.

 

On This Day….. 9th July 1947

Two convicts break gaol, for only a brief hour of liberty was enjoyed by two prisoners who scaled the exercise yard wall of Ballarat Gaol and were later captured by a party of police near the Grant street bridge, over the Yarrawee Creek, about half a mile away. They were Eric Ivan Wilson, 26, of North Clunes, who was on remand on a car-stealing charge, and Ian Mitchell, 32, a prisoner serving a sentence imposed on him at Ballarat early in the year for house breaking and larceny. Following their getaway, the two men were seen running across White Flat into the bed of the Yarrawee Creek channel, and a local resident telephoned tile police. A search party organised by Inspector Abbot, Sergeant Tysoe, and Senior-Detective Hackwill, and including Senior-Constable McCahon, First-Constable Orr, and Constable Coghlin, was examining the area when the two fugitives bolted in different directions. A warning that shots would be fired was called as the men separated and both surrendered at gunpoint. A month ago Mervyn Clifford Richards, 25, of Nerrina, while awaiting trial on four robbery charges, escaped from the gaol by climbing the walls. Search for him so far has been unsuccessful.

ON THIS DAY – June 29, 1908

The fourteenth execution in the Ballarat Gaol took place at 10 o’clock this morning, when Charles Henry Deutschmann paid the supreme penalty for having murdered his wife.

The crime took place at Dobie, a few miles from Ararat, on Saturday evening, April 11. Mrs. Deutschmann, who had been married in 1890, was stopping with her stepfather. Her husband travelled from Melbourne to Ballarat, and there purchased a revolver and 25 cartridges. He continued his journey to Ararat, and arrived there at 9 o’clock, to the surprise of his wife, who expected him on the Monday. He was under the influence of drink, and a quarrel ensued. The stepfather endeavoured to pacify him, when he drew the revolver, and shot his father-in- law. Deutschmann then returned to his wife’s room, and fired two shots at her, the second striking her in the breast, and killing her immediately. He was arrested next morning by Sergeant Hancock. The old man recovered from his wounds.  A defence of insanity was unsuccessfully raised at the trial at Stawell.

Since he came to the Ballarat Gaol Deutschmann behaved quietly, and appeared to realise the enormity of his deed. He was attended by the Rev. Charles Cameron, whose ministration he listened to with interest. Just on the stroke of 10 o’clock the sheriff demanded the body of Charles Henry Deutschmann, and, in response to the demand of the governor, produced his warrant. Deutschmann walked steadily on to the drop, and was asked by the sheriff if he had anything to say. He replied slowly, and with emotion, “No, sir; I have nothing to say. God have mercy on me. Good-bye, good-bye.” Death was instantaneous. Deutschmann made no private statement further than expressing his deep regret for the crime, and commending himself to God’s mercy. Deutschmann was a native of Ararat, and was 41 years old.

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 ………… 24th February 1908

Benjamin Harvey an inmate who escaped from the Ararat Asylum, Victoria on the 24th of February 1908, dressed only in his’ shirt, was captured at an early hour of the 27th of February by Constables Wood and, Lovitt, of Ararat. On the run Harvey called at Mr. Delaney’s farm, and asked if he might sharpen some knives on the grindstone. Harvey explained that he had escaped from the Ballarat Gaol, where he had nearly killed a warder by kicking him. He also told them he knew that the police were pursuing him, but that he did not intend to be caught alive and would need his three butchers’ knives. Once Harvey left Mr. Delaney communicated with the police. Constables Wood and Lovitt went out, but Lovitt stayed near the house to protect Mrs. Delaney and her children. Mr. Delaney arranging that this should be done because he has a good knowledge of the locality, undertook to drive Constable Wood to were he believed Harvey was. At around 2am they found the man’s camp, but the man himself and some of his be longings had gone. However, thinking that Harvey had shifted some of his things, they watched, and in a few minutes he appeared with a knife in each hand. He swore he would kill anyone who tried to arrest him. Constable Wood drew his revolver, and giving his baton to Mr. Delaney, kept the man at bay. Harvey’s whose behaviour was most violent, lunged first at one, then at the other, and refused to listen to the command to thrown his knives down. At last Wood fired over his head, but this only added fire to the man’s fury and when Wood called on Delaney to rush the man and kill him, the Harvey threw the knives on the ground and allowed himself to be handcuffed. He was then brought back to the Ararat Asylum.