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ON THIS DAY – July 19, 1913

A young domestic servant named Ellen Muston, was charged in the Criminal Court yesterday before Mr Justice Cussen with the wilful murder of her female child at Brighton on July 19. The Crown prosecutor (Mr Womarski, KC) conducted the case against the accused, who pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr E J Corr (of Messrs Corr and Corr) The accused gave evidence on her own behalf and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the grounds of insanity, and Muston was ordered to be detained in strict custody at the Church of England Home, Cheltenham, until the Governor’s pleasure was known.

ON THIS DAY – October 17, 1933

 

In the Criminal Court today, Mr. Justice Walsey imposed sentence of seven years’ imprisonment with hard labour on Percy Horatio Sydney Barnard, theatre commissionaire, of Cheltenham, for the manslaughter of Percival Smith on October 17. Barnard shot Smith through the heart outside Smith’s home, where Barnard was a boarder. Mr. Smith, widow of the dead man. was charged with having been an accessory after the fact of murder, but she was found not guilty.

ON THIS DAY – October 7, 1933

 

Before Mr. Bond; P M., at the City Court yesterday, Percy Horatio Sydney Barnard, aged 56 years, was charged with having  murdered Cornelius Percival Smith at Cheltenham on October 7. Ivy Margaret Smith, aged 41 years, Percy Smith’s widow, was charged that, knowing Barnard to have murdered Smith, she did receive, comfort, harbour, assist, and maintain Barnard.A remand was granted in each case until October 22. Mrs. Smith was allowed bail in a surety of £200. Mr Bond P M refused to hear an application for bail by Barnard.

 

 

ON THIS DAY – July 19, 1913

A young domestic servant named Ellen Muston, was charged in the Criminal Court yesterday before Mr Justice Cussen with the wilful murder of her female child at Brighton on July 19. The Crown prosecutor (Mr Womarski, KC) conducted the case against the accused, who pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr E J Corr (of Messrs Corr and Corr) The accused gave evidence on her own behalf and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the grounds of insanity, and Muston was ordered to be detained in strict custody at the Church of England Home, Cheltenham, until the Governor’s pleasure was known.

ON THIS DAY – May 7, 1970

ECHUCA

On May 7, 1970 members of the Victoria Police stationed in Echuca responded to an emergency call at a home in Mitchell Street. They found a heavily-pregnant woman, Beverley Ratten, lying dead in the kitchen from a shotgun wound to the torso. Her upset husband, Leith Ratten, was removed for questioning. Beverley would later be interred in the Cheltenham Memorial Park, Melbourne.

During interview Ratten said he was cleaning an old rusty double-barrelled shotgun brought in from the garage when it fired, hitting his wife under the left armpit while she was in the kitchen at lunchtime. Ratten could not explain how the gun discharged or how it came to be loaded. Subsequent investigations revealed that Ratten was having an affair with Jennifer Kemp, the wife of a family friend, and had spoken to her on the morning of the shooting. He had also applied for a twelve-month posting to a base in Antarctica.

In January 2012, Ratten died, aged 73 years. Ratten was committed to trial for murder and the hearing took place in August, 1970 in the nearby town of Shepparton, Victoria. Despite the assertions of Ratten’s defence counsel that the shooting was accidental and evidence against him was circumstantial, the jury found Ratten guilty and he was sentenced to death. This was later commuted to 25 years’ prison. Following the case, Ratten’s lawyers undertook four separate appeals on various grounds, one of which involved the exhumation of Beverley Ratten’s body in 1973. All four appeals were dismissed. Despite the failure of his appeals there was considerable doubt about Ratten’s conviction, many believing he was found guilty for the questionable morality of his marital infidelity rather than concrete evidence.

His case was widely discussed among the legal fraternity while his cause was taken up by many notable lawyers and politicians, such as Don Chipp. In 1978, the Free Leith Ratten Committee was founded by Monash University law undergraduate, Mark Cowie. Over the next five years, and until Ratten’s release from Her Majesty’s Prison Dhurringile, Cowie was involved in efforts to bring new evidence before the courts that questioned the legitimacy of Ratten’s conviction. He authored an unpublished manuscript on the case, Justice in Shame: The Leith Ratten Case Don Chipp said that in 1971 Henry Winneke had told him the convicted murderer Leith Ratten was innocent. In 1981 when Ratten had yet to be released, Chipp said Winneke denied the conversation had taken place. Later, a member of the Supreme Court at the time of Ratten’s trial, told Tom Molomby Winneke had wanted to remove the jury from the trial. Such a move would require a belief that the evidence would not support a guilty verdict. Ratten served his sentence, was a model prisoner and was released in 1983 (whereupon he worked as a surveyor in Queensland).

In 1981, two years prior to his release, Ratten was advised he would likely be released and was given time on regular day-release opportunities to find a job, which he did. Then he heard via the radio that he would not be released. Politicians making the decision had allegedly been pressured by Victoria Police to not release Ratten. Further examination of the unfired cartridge was undertaken, with the view that it was indeed a reload cartridge, and he was released soon after.

ON THIS DAY – FEBRUARY 20, 1954

CHERRY TREE HOTEL, RICHMOND

Leslie Norman Maloney, 36, waterside worker, of Lennox st., Richmond, and John Francis Heyne, 22, process worker, Nepean Highway, Cheltenham, were charged with the murder of John Willoughby, 27, a T.B. pensioner, at Richmond on the 20th of February. Hoyne called at the home of Willoughby’s mother in Richmond and asked Willoughby to go outside to see two men in a waiting car. Willoughby walked with Hoyne to Stephens st., near the Cherry Tree Hotel, where, Maloney and another man were waiting in a car. As Willoughby walked up to the car, and a shot was fired, and Willoughby fell to the ground. Hoyne then entered the car with Maloney and the other man, and the car drove off.

 

ON THIS DAY – January 15, 1902

What appears to be a deliberate attempt at murder took place at Cheltenham, Melbourne. A slaughterman, George Fegan, aged 37, went home to his wile, aged 40, and his child, aged 8, and demanded money for drink from the former, who helps to support the family by doing washing. His wife refused to give him any money, and after threatening her he dragged her out of the house into the street; The neighbour heard her cry out as she emerged from the door, “He’ll do for me.” After a few minuces the terrified woman ran across the street, and entered a neighbour’s house, followed by Fegan, and simultaneously the noise of three pistol shots were heard. Fegan then rushed out of the house, crying, “I’ve done for her.” Constable McCarthy, who was on duty in the local station, was informed of the occurrence, and he hastened at once to the scene. He found the woman lying on the floor with a bullet wound in her forehead and another in the abdomen. He had her promptly removed to the Alfred Hospital, where she at present lies in a very critical condition. As the constable entered the house he encountered Fegan in the passage. The man bore a wild, frenzied, look, and threatened to shoot the officer if he dared to interfere. The constable, by clever scheming, distracted the attention of Fegan, and seized an opportunity to wrest the pistol from him. Subsequently the man was locked up on a charge of attempting to murder his wife. The unfortunate woman was operated on at the Alfred Hospital late tonight, but the doctors could not locate the bullet which is lodged in the abdomen. Very slight hopes are entertained of Mrs. Fegan’s recovery. Constable McCarthy, when he chased Fegan to the house and tried to take the revolver from him, had a very sensational experience. Fegan, maddened by drink and rage, swore to kill anybody who approached him and as if to bear out his threat he levelled the pistol at the constable. Fegan had told Constable McCarthy that he wanted to get a certain letter which he believed to be in an upstairs bedroom, and encouraging him in this, the constable slowly followed him upstairs. As soon as the room was reached Fegan searched on the table, and finding the letter rushed to the fireplace with it, where it was soon burnt to ashes. He then lowered the revolver, which was all the time directed at McCarthy’s head, and saying, ” That’s why I did it for,” surrendered himself. Mrs. Fegan is a hard working, industrious woman, and really the breadwinner for the family. She refused to give her dissolute, drunken husband the money he demanded, and his rage at being refused frightened her. She ran across to a neighbour’s house, only to be followed by Fegan, who chased her upstairs into the bedroom and there shot her.

 

 

ON THIS DAY – October 17, 1933

 

In the Criminal Court today, Mr. Justice Walsey imposed sentence of seven years’ imprisonment with hard labour on Percy Horatio Sydney Barnard, theatre commissionaire, of Cheltenham, for the manslaughter of Percival Smith on October 17. Barnard shot Smith through the heart outside Smith’s home, where Barnard was a boarder. Mr. Smith, widow of the dead man. was charged with having been an accessory after the fact of murder, but she was found not guilty.

ON THIS DAY – October 7, 1933

 

Before Mr. Bond; P M., at the City Court yesterday, Percy Horatio Sydney Barnard, aged 56 years, was charged with having  murdered Cornelius Percival Smith at Cheltenham on October 7. Ivy Margaret Smith, aged 41 years, Percy Smith’s widow, was charged that, knowing Barnard to have murdered Smith, she did receive, comfort, harbour, assist, and maintain Barnard.A remand was granted in each case until October 22. Mrs. Smith was allowed bail in a surety of £200. Mr Bond P M refused to hear an application for bail by Barnard.

 

 

ON THIS DAY – July 19, 1913

A young domestic servant named Ellen Muston, was charged in the Criminal Court yesterday before Mr Justice Cussen with the wilful murder of her female child at Brighton on July 19. The Crown prosecutor (Mr Womarski, KC) conducted the case against the accused, who pleaded not guilty, and was defended by Mr E J Corr (of Messrs Corr and Corr) The accused gave evidence on her own behalf and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty on the grounds of insanity, and Muston was ordered to be detained in strict custody at the Church of England Home, Cheltenham, until the Governor’s pleasure was known.

ON THIS DAY – May 7, 1970

ECHUCA

On May 7, 1970 members of the Victoria Police stationed in Echuca responded to an emergency call at a home in Mitchell Street. They found a heavily-pregnant woman, Beverley Ratten, lying dead in the kitchen from a shotgun wound to the torso. Her upset husband, Leith Ratten, was removed for questioning. Beverley would later be interred in the Cheltenham Memorial Park, Melbourne.

During interview Ratten said he was cleaning an old rusty double-barrelled shotgun brought in from the garage when it fired, hitting his wife under the left armpit while she was in the kitchen at lunchtime. Ratten could not explain how the gun discharged or how it came to be loaded. Subsequent investigations revealed that Ratten was having an affair with Jennifer Kemp, the wife of a family friend, and had spoken to her on the morning of the shooting. He had also applied for a twelve-month posting to a base in Antarctica.

In January 2012, Ratten died, aged 73 years. Ratten was committed to trial for murder and the hearing took place in August, 1970 in the nearby town of Shepparton, Victoria. Despite the assertions of Ratten’s defence counsel that the shooting was accidental and evidence against him was circumstantial, the jury found Ratten guilty and he was sentenced to death. This was later commuted to 25 years’ prison. Following the case, Ratten’s lawyers undertook four separate appeals on various grounds, one of which involved the exhumation of Beverley Ratten’s body in 1973. All four appeals were dismissed. Despite the failure of his appeals there was considerable doubt about Ratten’s conviction, many believing he was found guilty for the questionable morality of his marital infidelity rather than concrete evidence.

His case was widely discussed among the legal fraternity while his cause was taken up by many notable lawyers and politicians, such as Don Chipp. In 1978, the Free Leith Ratten Committee was founded by Monash University law undergraduate, Mark Cowie. Over the next five years, and until Ratten’s release from Her Majesty’s Prison Dhurringile, Cowie was involved in efforts to bring new evidence before the courts that questioned the legitimacy of Ratten’s conviction. He authored an unpublished manuscript on the case, Justice in Shame: The Leith Ratten Case Don Chipp said that in 1971 Henry Winneke had told him the convicted murderer Leith Ratten was innocent. In 1981 when Ratten had yet to be released, Chipp said Winneke denied the conversation had taken place. Later, a member of the Supreme Court at the time of Ratten’s trial, told Tom Molomby Winneke had wanted to remove the jury from the trial. Such a move would require a belief that the evidence would not support a guilty verdict. Ratten served his sentence, was a model prisoner and was released in 1983 (whereupon he worked as a surveyor in Queensland).

In 1981, two years prior to his release, Ratten was advised he would likely be released and was given time on regular day-release opportunities to find a job, which he did. Then he heard via the radio that he would not be released. Politicians making the decision had allegedly been pressured by Victoria Police to not release Ratten. Further examination of the unfired cartridge was undertaken, with the view that it was indeed a reload cartridge, and he was released soon after.

ON THIS DAY – FEBRUARY 20, 1954

CHERRY TREE HOTEL, RICHMOND

Leslie Norman Maloney, 36, waterside worker, of Lennox st., Richmond, and John Francis Heyne, 22, process worker, Nepean Highway, Cheltenham, were charged with the murder of John Willoughby, 27, a T.B. pensioner, at Richmond on the 20th of February. Hoyne called at the home of Willoughby’s mother in Richmond and asked Willoughby to go outside to see two men in a waiting car. Willoughby walked with Hoyne to Stephens st., near the Cherry Tree Hotel, where, Maloney and another man were waiting in a car. As Willoughby walked up to the car, and a shot was fired, and Willoughby fell to the ground. Hoyne then entered the car with Maloney and the other man, and the car drove off.