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On This Day – January 30, 1947

Melbourne’s ‘Chinatown’ has been subjected to an Intense search by many detectives and police since the murder last night of Yung Shlng, 53 year old bosun of the freighter Fort Abltiba.

Shlng was shot dead In a taxi at point blank range. The owner-driver of the taxi, Robert Sydney Pack, was shot in the abdomen and the leg and was admitted to hospital in a critical condition. Pack told detectives that both he and Shlng were shot when they refused an order by two other men to hand over their money, but detectives are puzzled by the fact that the killers did not touch £156 in Shing’s pocket, and also left behind £10, which police found in the seat of the taxi.

The killing was discovered when detectives Investigated a taxi parked in the middle of the road with the motor still running. They found Shlng dead in the front seat and Pack lying wounded in the back seat. Pack told the police that while driving the four men to the docks one pressed a revolver against his’ ribs and ordered him to get into the back seat. He said one of the others joined the gunman and shots were fired. Police believe that the shooting is a prelude to gang warfare, involving customers of a Chinese gambling den.

Inquiries have disclosed that Yung Shlng had won between £5000 and £8000 In gambling over the past two months.

AT the recent licensing court, Mr. Dowling, of the Australian Hotel, Little Bourke-street east, opposed the application for a renewal of the license for the Colonial Family Hotel. On Saturday evening he was waited upon by three young men, who brought him a parcel. On opening it he found a miniature coffin painted black, with an inscription on the lid as follows—”Sacred to the memory of V. Dowling,” and a small piece of paper attached informed him that it was but a sign and token of what he would soon require.

The Colonial Family Hotel became known as the death house and is one of the stops on our Chinatown Murder Tour

ON THIS DAY – November 17, 1889

Constable Coffey on Friday night arrested a man named John Caffrey on a charge of wilfully murdering Ah Gayong in Market-lane on November 17. It will be remembered that the Chinaman was killed by a couple of roughs who attacked him without any provocation.

 

 

ON THIS DAY – November 4, 1924

At an inquest into the death of William Paterson Graham, aged 38 years of age, who was fatally stabbed outside the Chinese Nationalist Club, Little Bourke street, Melbourne, on November 4, Harry Yock Kee, aged 29 years, was committed for trial for the murder or Graham.  Evidence was given by Alexander Read that he and Graham entered the club on the night of November 4 and watched some Chinese playing billiards. Roy Charles Ledow, a half-caste, requested them to leave, but Graham began to mark the game. Ledow insisted that he should leave, and they both walked to the door. Yock Kee helped to bustle them out. Read’s hat fell off in the scuffle, and when he turned round after picking it up he saw Graham wounded on the ground.

 

 

 

ON THIS DAY – October 18, 1953

 

Walter Grenfell, 57, of Gordon House, City, had been suffering from a heart disease for some time and was always “a candidate for death,” Mr. Wade, S.M., City Coroner was told yesterday.  After hearing this evidence from Dr. W. M. Keane, medical superintendent of St. Vincent’s Hospital, and Dr. K. M. Bowden, Government pathologist, the coroner found that Grenfell died of heart failure. On October 18, at the city watchhouse, Arthur Clive Byrum, 20, laborer, of Gordon House, was charged with having murdered Grenfell, who was found dead in a room at Gordon House,  Shortly after Mr Wade announced his finding yesterday, a special sitting of the City Court, under Mr. McLean, S.M., discharged Byrum. Detective – Sergeant John Adam told the coroner that on Sunday, October 18, Byrum carne to him and said he had killed a man In a room at Gordon House by placing a pillow over his face.

 

 

ON THIS DAY…… 26th September 1853

Elizabeth and Michael Finnessy were married in Burra, South Australia, they had two children who had both died. The couple had moved to Victoria and lived in a small house in Chinatown. A week before Elizabeth was murdered, she had found at that her husband was married to another woman, who was still alive. With this news Elizabeth began to drink heavily and was locked up in the watch house to sober up. On being release she was taken back to her house to speak with her husband. Sitting in the lounge room Michael said “Won’t you speak to me Lizzy” and upon this the man who lived in the house with the couple left the room, thinking they would become reconciled.  Remaining just outside in the street, he heard a pistol shot. Returned to the room he saw Elizabeth stumbling across the room, she returned to the part near where she had been sitting, and falling under the table.

She was raised up and placed upon a sofa in the room, but was barely able to speak. In a soft voice she begged the man who placed her there, to fetch a priest, as she knew she was dying. So didn’t speak again and died within 10 mins.

Her husband, almost immediately after the dreadful deed, rushed into the next room, and proceeded to reload the pistol, but was stopped before he could kill himself. He was arrested and charged with his wife’s murder. Michael was executed on the 25th of October 1853, at the same time as another murderer. After hanging the usual time, one hour, the bodies were taken down and conveyed to their destination at the Melbourne Cemetery.

 

 

 

ON THIS DAY…… 6th September 1884

A Chinese storekeeper named Ah Goon, of Little Bourke-Street East, was murdered in the early hours of the morning on the 6th of September 1884. The place was a gambling den, and it was found that a sum of £200 or £300 was stolen by the murderer or murderers. A post-mortem examination has been held, and the cause of death has been given as Serous apoplexy, accelerated by fright, and the result of a wound on the face. Two Chinese have been arrested on suspicion, however they we never charged with the murder due to the lack of evidence.

ON THIS DAY…… 30th August 1884

Ah Goon had come to Australia in the 1850s to make his fortune on the Victorian goldfields, like many of his fellow Chinamen. However Ah Goon worked out quickly that he could make more money in selling supply’s here in Melbourne, to the Chinese leaving for the Goldfields. On the 30th of August 1884, Ah Goon was found lying in a pool of blood on the floor of his bedroom. He had been punched in the face, knocking him to the floor. Ah Goon fell heavily onto an empty tea chest breaking his neck before being suffocated. He was then stabbed violently in the face. There was a lacerated wound 1 1⁄2 inches long on the right side of the face and both his eyes where blackened. Some Chinese business men offered a reward of £200 for the discovery of the murderer, $25,000 in today’s money. Yet no one come forward. A month later two men were arrested in Ballarat, Ah Lee on the charge of murder and Ah Sue, a Mongolian who was arrested on a charge of being concerned in the murder. Both men were found to have money and rings believed to belong to Ah Goon. As these items could not be proved to belong to Ah Goon, both men were released. This murder is still unsolved.

 

 

ON THIS DAY…… 20th August 1872

Margaret had only been in the colony for three years and was lucky to be alive herself. The boat that she had travelled on from Ireland sank on its arrival in Geelong. On the night of the murder, Margaret had an argument with Mary O’Rourke, saying that if you called my mother a whore again, then I shall murder you, and she did………..

As the clock in the sitting room struck 4am, Ding…..Ding…..Ding…..Ding

Margaret attacked Mary with an axe, cutting at her upper back, neck and face. So violent was the frenzied attack that blood splattered 1.5 metres up the wall and onto the ceiling and dripped back onto the floor. It would was 24 hours before Margaret would inform Constable Flanagan, of what she had done, to her house mate.

When he entered the sitting room he saw the victim lying on her back on the floor, with a blood soaked cloth around her head so her face could not be seen. As he took the cloth away her face was almost unrecognisable.  Margaret was charged with the wilful murder of Mary and sentenced to death but it was commuted to 14 years in prison.

 

ON THIS DAY …….7th August 1886

Mary Jane Joy was married to a Chinaman and lived in Heffernan Lane.

On the 7th of August, 1886, Mary Jane was seen abusing a 10 month infant in her care. At 11pm that night she had been seen carrying the child out to the outhouse and beat him in a cruel manner. The child screamed as if in pain, and it was then that Mary Jane took the child by the legs and beat its head against the wall twice. After this the child was heard to moan. Her reasoning for the beating was that the child would not drink from the breast. It would come to light that this was a foster child and not her own. The child was removed from her by force where it was found to have a black eye and blood on its face. The infant almost died as was seen to be nearly starving and had been crying for nourishment. The child was eventually placed in the Industrial School and Mary Jane Ah Joy was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment, although she stated she was drunk at the time.

 

On This Day ……. 1st January 1862

Harriet Webb, aged 40, had been beaten to death in her own house which she shared with Kate Gorman. Fanny Porter, a witness who also lived in the house stated that she returned home at about 1am. Harriet Webb, was in bed lying, propped up with pillows, against the wall and groaning. There was no candle in the house and it was a very dark night. Fanny lay down beside the Webb until she began to fit, she then left, and went into another room. As soon as it was light, Fanny returned to Webb and found her on her hands and knees, trying to get up. Kate Gorman then entered the room asking where her bottle of rum was. Seeing the state that Webb was in Gorman said that drunken beast Webb must have got up and drunk it. Gorman grabbed Webb by hair and commenced beating her stiking head against the floor, over and over. Gorman screaming you drunken beast I will take the worth of the rum out of you. Standing over her Gorman dragged Webb by the hair to the washing stand and smashed her head against it smashing her teeth from her mouth and bricking her nose. Still standing over the top of her victim Gorman washed her hands before leavening Webb convulsing on the floor all day to die. Gorman was discharged in the absence of witnesses.

ON THIS DAY – 24th December 1950

On Christmas Day 1950, William Stewart 53 years old was found in a basement room rented by another man known as Kharlsen badly mutilated. The crime scene was quite disturbing, Stewart’s body was laying face down in the centre of the room, his right leg and arm was detached and his head was almost decapitated, and a large cross carved in his chest. There was also a lot of vomit in the to suggest Kharlsen could not handle disposing of the body. Kharlsen admitted he had started to cut up the body with a table knife but could not finish the job and had to leave. Kharlsen was found to be suffering religious mania and was committed under the Governors pleasure and sent to Kew Lunatic Asylum.