ON THIS DAY – October 5, 1944

On October 5th, 1944, two boys, John Graham and Geoffrey Clay, aged 8 and 9 respectively walked to Clay’s home for lunch from school. In Clay’s bedroom, the two boys were looking through a penny dreadful magazine. The boys decided to try and emulate the front cover, which showed a bandit with a tommy gun pressed against the chest of another man. Graham stood against the door and Clay held the shotgun, which was to discharge killing John Graham. Geoffrey dragged his friend’s body by the arms into the lane where he was seen by another school friend, Ronald Taplin. He asked Clay what had happened to which he replied he had found the boy in his room and he didn’t know him. When Taplin saw the blood, he told Clay to stay there while he got the police and Clay began to cry. Clay would tell police firstly that he had found Graham’s body in his room and dragged him out as he didn’t want him there. On further questioning, Clay admitted that they had been looking through the comic. Clay at first said “I found him in my bedroom. He had a gun. He put some string on the trigger and shot himself. But went on to admit Graham and got the gun and loaded the cartridge. Clay then told Graham to stand near the door, pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger. Geoffrey Clay was the youngest person to ever be put on trial in the Supreme Court of Victoria. He was acquitted of the wilful murder of John Graham.

On This Day – October 1, 1915

In the early hours of Tuesday, 1st October, 1915 Constable McGrath and other police went to the Trades Hall in Lygon Street, Carlton in answer to a report and a burglary was in progress. The policemen entered the building, and found that an attempt had been made to open a safe. McGrath then confronted two offenders in a passage-way, one of whom fired a number of shots which fatally wounded the Constable. The offender was later arrested at the scene after further shots had been fired. John Jackson, the man who fired the fatal shot, was convicted of McGrath’s murder, and was hanged at the Old Melbourne Gaol. He was the last person in Victoria to be executed for the murder of a policeman.

EXECUTED THIS DAY – September 16, 1889


The last scene in the tragedy which opened in Somerset-place. Carlton, on the 8th July was enacted at the Melbourne Gaol at 10 o’clock yesterday morning, at which hour the miserable man Castillo suffered death at the hands of the common hangman.

A minute or two before 10 the iron gate leading into the yard swung open for the admission of the sheriff, Col Rede; the Governor of the Gaol, Colonel Hall, having preceded him a few minutes, and taken his station by the door of the condemned cell. As the sheriff advanced to claim the body of the convict in the usual manner, the hangman, Jones, disguised in a false beard, noiselessly appeared at the other side of the drop, and crossed over and entered the cell. The sheriff’s demand was soon answered by the appearance of the miserable man Castillo, leaning heavily on the arms of two warders, who evidently had all they could do to support him. It is but a step from the door of the cell to the drop, and the convict was quickly in position, with his back to the iron railing. His appearance was ghastly in the extreme. The prison dress is not the most picturesque in the world, and the contrast between the dark colour of the terror-stricken face and the revolting head gear, called the “white cap,” was startling. The executioner having adjusted the rope, the sheriff, in a firm voice, asked the convict if he desired to make any statement. The answer of a distinct though faint “No” conveyed a volume of suppressed agony, and the unfortunate creature’s body began to sway and bend like a reed before the wind. Supporting hands were ready, and while Dean Donaghy whispered some last words of consolation, the signal was given, the bolt was drawn, and Castillo dropped the full length of his rope, a dead man. He must have died instantaneously.

There were some amongst the spectators who declared that the man was dead before the drop fell, dead from sheer fright and exhaustion of the nerve, which had been kept in such terrible tension. Whether that be or not, the cause of death must be ascribed to dislocation of the neck. After the drop not a muscle moved, and the medical officer, Dr. Shields, pronounced him dead at once. The drop, on account of the light weight of the prisoner – he was only 7 stone, and undersized – was longer than usual, being about nine feet. Not the slightest hitch occurred. and the whole business was mercifully short.

On this day …….. 6th September 1952

The 12th Prime Minister of Australia Robert Menzies and his family were involved in a near-serious mishap when leaving Fairbairn airport, Canberra, to Melbourne on this day in 1952. The R.A.A.F. Dakota in which they were travelling blew out a tyre just before leaving the ground when travelling at about 90 m.p.h. The plane swerved to one side, ran off the airstrip and pulled up less than 50 yards from the fence at the end of the airstrip. Mr. Menzies commented after the accident: “I’m glad it happened going up and not coming down. I suppose this means I will have to miss seeing Carlton beating Fitzroy this afternoon.” This was the second accident in which Mr. Menzies was involved in approximately 500,000 miles of flying. The other occasion was during the referendum tour in 1951, when the flying boat in which he was to travel from Sydney to Hobart had to turn back twice because of engine trouble. On the third attempt to leave its moorings, a line which had not been released dragged a stanchion from the plane when it was running out to begin taxiing to take off. Carlton lost to Fitzroy by one point. Score was 68/69.


ON THIS DAY…… 27th August 1934


Mrs Agostini disappeared from friends and family in late August 1934, around a week before the unidentified Pyjama Girl was found in Albury near Splitter’s Creek on the New South Wales side of the border with Victoria. The victim’s body was discovered by a local man named Tom Griffith. Griffith had been leading a prize bull along the side of Howlong Road near Albury when he saw the body in a culvert running under the road. Slightly concealed and badly burnt, the body would not have been visible to anybody driving by. It soon became apparent that the body was of a petite woman in her 20s, but her identity could not be established. After the initial investigation failed to identify her, the body was taken to Sydney where it was put on public exhibition. She was preserved in a bath of formalin for this purpose, at the Sydney University Medical School until 1942, when it was transferred to police headquarters where it remained until 1944. Several names were suggested for the identity of the dead woman, among them Anna Philomena Morgan and Linda Agostini. Both women were missing, both bore a likeness to the Pyjama Girl and both were of the right age. However, New South Wales police satisfied themselves that neither of the missing women was the Pyjama Girl and she remained unidentified. Contemporary belief is that Agostini was murdered around the same time as the Albury victim, and most likely in the confines of the couple’s Melbourne townhouse.



ON THIS DAY…… 27th August 1934


Linda Agostini was murdered in Carlton on the 27th August 1934, she was identified as the “Pyjama Girl”, a murder victim found on a stretch of road in Albury, New South Wales, Australia, in September 1934. Linda Agostini was born Florence Linda Platt in Forest Hill, a suburb of London, on 12 September 1905. As a teenager, Platt worked at a confectionery store in Surrey before travelling to New Zealand at the age of 19 after what was rumoured to be a broken romance. Platt remained in New Zealand until 1927 when she moved to Australia to live in Sydney. There she worked at a picture theatre in the city and lived in a boarding house on Darlinghurst Road in Kings Cross where accounts tell she entertained young, attractive men. Platt was a heavy drinker and a Jazz Age party-goer who had difficulty adjusting to stability. Her marriage to Italian-born Antonio Agostini in a Sydney registry office during 1930 was the beginning of an unhappy marriage that would see the couple leave for Melbourne to remove Linda from the influence of her Sydney friends.



ON THIS DAY…… 26th August 1956

A 15-YEAR-OLD, dark-eyed Italian girl told the Criminal Court that a man who was shot, dead at her home on this day in 1956, had forced his attentions on her. She said the man Vincenzo Impiombato 32, of Lygon st., Carlton forced her to accompany him to Brisbane. The girl Grace Riotto, of Severn st., Moonee Ponds, said she was terrified of Impiombato, who, she alleged, had threatened to kill her and carried a rifle with him in his car and when he went to bed. Her brother, Marco Riotto, 16, has pleaded not guilty to having murdered Impiombato. The girl told the Court Impiombato was a boarder at her home last April.  After he left there, he began meeting her. One night he took her to his place in Lygon st., Carlton, and next day they drove off to Brisbane, sleeping in the car on the way. After a week in Brisbane as man and wife, they re turned to Melbourne. “Threat” She said she returned to live with her parents on August 23. Three days later Impiombato called for her and said he would shoot some bf her family unless she told her parents she wanted to go to Western Australia with him. She said she warned her father, because Impiombato had a rifle. She was in a bedroom when she heard two shots. Before the second shot, she heard her mother tell Marco that Impiombato had come “to kill all the family.” To Mr. F. Galbally (for the defence), the girl said she went away with Impiombato because she was afraid of him. He said he would kill her if she did not do what he told’ her. She had begged him to let her go home. “Might kill” Guiseppe Riotto, father of the accused man, said his daughter told him: “Father, there is Vincenzo with a rifle in his hand. You be careful because he might kill you.” He said he went to the door and Impiomoato called cut to him, “If you move I’ll blow your head off.” He said Impiombato was coming toward him with a rifle when he heard a gun go off, and Impiombato, who was coming up the steps, said: “And now I,am going to kill you and all your family.” His son Marco pushed him aside and he heard another gunshot and Impiombato fell to the ground.  Riotto told Mr. Galbally he reported his daughter missing to the police when he went away from home. Later, he laid charges against Impiombato, alleging abduction and rape.

ON THIS DAY…… 24th August 1942

Detectives hope to be able to say whether a man found drowned in the Yarra on Friday was associated with the murder of Mrs. Catherine Whitley aged 65, in a lane behind a hotel at the northern end of Elizabeth Street, City, near Gratten Street, Carlton. By his finger prints, the dead man was identified as James William Whitelaw aged 44.

Fingerprint experts at police head quarters in a Russell Street, used a recently developed method of taking after-death prints to fix his identity. The skin of the hands was crinkled by having been so long in the water. Fluid was forced in under the skin to fill out the fingertips to their natural shape and then readable prints were obtained.

ON THIS DAY…… 21st August 1918

Roma Smith or as she was know on the street Ginger Tommy. Smith was described as a prostitute “of the lowest type”. Like many women of the day, prostitution was the only way to make ends meet. Smith was murdered in her house in Cumberland Place in Carlton.  She had been stabbed so brutally that the tip of the knife had broken off in her neck.  The Government posted a 250 pound reward.  Roma was buried by her fellow streetwalkers in the Melbourne Cemetery.  Her murder is still unsolved.



ON THIS DAY…… 15th August 1952

Thomas William Harrison, aged 44, laborer, of Little Elgin st., in Carlton, was charged at the city watch-house with having murdered Frederick McDonald, a 70 year-old, of the same address.  McDonald died in the Royal Melbourne Hospital.  He was admitted to hospital after a brawl at his home on this day in 1952.



ON THIS DAY …….6th August 1938

After a retirement of four hours a jury in the Criminal Court found Edward Allan May aged 30, laborer, not guilty of having murdered Mrs. Yoland Joan Shirley Bordin aged 21, of Carlton, but guilty of manslaughter. He was remanded for sentence after having admitted to prior convictions, including a gaol sentence of five years for armed assault with intent to rob. Mrs. Bordin, who was living apart from her Italian husband, was found bleeding to death from a knife wound at Carlton early on this day in 1938. Some distance away was a long-bladed hunting knife.

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.