On This Day – August 7, 1913

When going through the many statements taken for the information of the coroner in connection with the murder, on August 7 last, of the old woodcutter, Richard Knight, outside his hut in the bush between Lilydale and Coldstream (says the Melbourne ‘Argus’). Detective-Sergeant Arthur and Detective Keily discovered certain discrepancies in the stories of several boys living in Coldstream. Information concerning their movements around the time of the murder was proffered in such a manner that many possibilities were presented, and in order to satisfy themselves that the boys were not purposely withholding certain facts, the two detectives yesterday returned from Melbourne to Coldstream. Each of the boys was seen, and though they all presisted in their previous statements, they were not able to explain whether certain of their actions were, due to a coincidence or otherwise. They could not be shaken in their first statement that they had not seen the old man after he was shot at, though one of them admitted having been at his hut just previous to the time when two residents of the neighbouring bush heard two shots fired in the direction of the hut. The boys were questioned separately, but they showed no signs of wavering, neither did their statements contradict each other. In view of this, the detectives came to the conclusion that it was useless prolonging the examination.  Unless something unforseen happens nothing more will now be done until the inquest, the date of which the coronor (Dr. Cole) will probably fix within the next few days.  Altogether, about 20 witnesses will be subpoenaed, as the police intend having everyone present who may possibly be able to assist the coroner in determining when, how, and by whom Knight was killed.

On this day …….. 12th of July 1979

A youth told a coroner on this day in 1979, that a lion had “barged” through a fence and attacked his brother. His brother had tried to escape by climbing over a small gate at the rear of the enclosure. The Coroner, Mr Brown, was holding the inquest on Neville Craig Vance, 12, of Bacchus Marsh, who died on May 12. He found that Neville died from injuries suffered when he was attacked by the lion and that his death was due to misadventure. Mr Gordon William Vance, 18, of Mordialloc, said in a statement read to Bacchus Marsh Coroner’s Court that he had been in a breeding den at the lion park when the lion “barged” in at 11.10am. It had passed him and attacked Neville. Senior Constable Peter Ratcliffe, of Bacchus Marsh police, said the chain mesh surrounding the enclosure was 2.5 metres high and was held up by a few poles. “In my opinion the fence was not strong enough and if bumped it would fall apart easily”, he said. Mr Brown said the circumstances surrounding the death showed “a lack of care and responsibility”.


ON THIS DAY – July 3, 1865

An inquest was held at Sunbury by the district coroner on the body of a man named Henry Junod, who met his death by violence on Sunday night. From the evidence it appeared that the deceased was found on Monday morning last by a teamster named George Hoinville, lying at his garden gate fence. His face was covered with blood, and when found
he was quite dead. A. woman named Diana Walton gave evidence to the effect that on Sunday morning she bad seen three men pass her house, and heard one of them say “I’ll give it him.” One of them had a knife in his hand, and that she saw one of them stoop, and with something he had in his hand strike at the ground. Deceased was not of the party. The three men then went away.
Mr John Shaw Miles, surgeon, made the post mortem examination, and he described the wounds on the man’s face and head, and said the cause of death was fracture of the skull and extravasation of blood on and in the brain and laceration of the brain. Two wounds above and below the right eye were made with a blunt instrument, such as the
rail of a fence, and by the exertion of great strength. Another wound near the ear was caused by a sharp instrument, such as a knife.
The inquest was adjourned till Friday for the analysis of blood on the trousers, and the production of further witnesses.

ON THIS DAY – June 15, 1929


Charged with having murdered Albert Foster, 11 years, of Castlemaine, on June 15, by flogging him. Edward Bownds, 22 years, was committed for trial by the Coroner Mr. Bartold. When the inquest was concluded, Dr. Steele, in evidence, said that when he called at Bownd’s house to see Foster, Bownds said, “I completely lost my head last night, and gave the boy a terrible thrashing, as he had been stealing plum jam.” The boy was in a desperate state, and witness ordered his removal to the Castlemaine Hospital, where he died. Bownds said to witness, “I don’t want him to go to hospital as the police will get to know about it, and I might have to go to gaol.” Frederick Harcourt Nicholson, a miner, said that Bownds had asked him to see the boy after the thrashing. Bownds showed witness the strap that he said he had used. It was the side strap of a bridle, about 18in. long, and had a buckle at each end. It was enough to kill anyone with. Thomas Masterton, Army pensioner, said that he saw the boy before he was taken to hospital. His back from the neck to the hips was mutilated, and his face was unrecognisable. Bownds will come before the Criminal Court at Castlemaine on July 16.


ON THIS DAY – June 7, 1933

Acting Coroner on Orbost Poisoning Tragedy

An inquest was hold late last night before Mr. Allan, acting coroner at Delegate River, where particulars into the tragedy that devastated the home life of the Cullen family were furnished. Mary Kathleen Cullen, 26, residing with her husband, William Cullen at Dellicknora, poisoned herself and her three children, Gwendolyn Gloria, four years; William John Roy, three years, and Margaret Elizabeth, six months, at about 11 pm on Monday. The acting coroner found that Mrs. Cullen died of poisoning self-inflicted, and that Gwendolyn was poisoned maliciously by the mother, At the Delegate morgue the Bombala coroner opened an inquest on the bodies of the other two children, but adjourned it to allow of the Victorian authorities to complete certain investigations.

On This Day – May 15, 1854

The inquest adjourned from the day previous, held on the body of Jemima Pennington, by Dr. Howlett, coroner, terminated on last Friday, the jury having returned a verdict of murder against William Pennington, with whom deceased cohabited at Sailor’s Gully, Forest Creek. From the evidence, chiefly circumstantial, it appeared that the prisoner was seen on the evening of the 15th instant beating deceased, lying on the ground, at Little Golden Gully, in a most brutal manner with a sapling, and kicking her in several parts of the body and head with hobnailed boots, tipped on the toes and turned up with iron, on their return to Sailor’s Gully from Adelaide Hill, by a young woman named Roberts. This testimony is corroborated by a Mrs. Smith, who left them together at Forest Creek in the early part of the evening, and who identifies the dress produced on the investigation, all mangled and torn, and besmeared with blood, as that worn by her on the same evening ; and further, that the deceased had told her shortly before her death that the prisoner had knocked her down, and beaten her very severely. The trousers which the prisoner had worn on the same day were also sworn to by Robert Smith, and wheu produced were saturated with blood; also the boots, stained with blood, and to which the hair of deceased was stuck, were proven to be the property of the prisoner. The sapling which he used, also produced, had blood marks on it, with hair clinging to it; and when compared with the stump of a tree where deceased was so unmercifully beaten, it fitted exactly the broken part, and on the stump was also found a quantity of hair clotted with blood, also identified as some of deceased’s.’ The body presented one mass of bruises from head to foot.

ON THIS DAY – May 11, 1909



The Coroner, Dr. Cole, resumed inquiry regarding the death of Margaret Gallagher, aged 77, who was found on May 11 with her throat cut, and her skull fractured, at her home in Little Buckingham street, Richmond. Arthur O’Sullivan, a butcher, charged with wilful murder of deceased, was present in custody. After lengthy evidence had been heard the coroner found O’Sullivan guilty of wilful murder, and committed him for trial at the Supreme Court sitting on June 15.

ON THIS DAY – May 10, 1915


“Misadventure” was the finding of Dr. R. H. Cole, the Coroner, after holding an inquiry into the death of Samuel Duband, 79, tailor, of Longmore street, St. Kilda. who fell down a lift well at Newman’s Buildings, 25 Swanston street, on May 10.

The evidence showed that four employees of Joseph Newan Duband, by whom Samuel Duband was also employed, had made use of the goods lift at the building, and had failed to close the door of the lift well, although it was set forth in notices that the door should be closed, and that not more than two persons should ride in tho lift at once. Duband had evidentily stepped through the open door of the well on the fourth floor, and his body was found on the roof of the lift at the ground floor.

The Coroner said that the young men employed by Duband had used the lift illegally. The case came very close to manslaughter, but not quite close enough. if they had been in charge of the lift there might have been a committal.

ON THIS DAY – April 26, 1930


At an inquest into the death of Margaret Jean Alexander, aged 20 years, of Belfast road, Montrose, on April 26, the coroner Mr. D. Grant found that she had died from shock and cardiac paralysis, due to an illegal operation. May McNeal, of Bennett street, Richmond, was committed for trial at the Criminal Court on June 10 on a charge of murder.


ON THIS DAY – April 23, 1926


Heroin instead of Veronal

“I must have used heroin instead of veronal in making up the prescription,” said Henry Charles Horner Neilson, assistant to a chemist, who was committed for trial on a charge of the manslaughter of Mrs. Mabel Brown, aged 28 years, of Footscray. She died on April 23, as a result, it is alleged, of poisoning. A few hours before her death Mrs. Brown consumed a powder alleged to have been made up by Neilson. Neilson will appear at the next sitting of the Criminal Sessions on May 17. Bail was allowed. Mr. D. Berrimnan (coroner) said that the bottles of heroin and veronal evidently looked much the same. When dealing with such dangerous drugs there should be more distinction between them.


ON THIS DAY – April 23, 1930


Manslaughter Finding at Inquest.

Francis Kenny, news vendor, aged 52 years, of 6 Yarra street, South Melbourne, died in the Melbourne Hospital on April 26 from injuries received when he was struck on April 23 outside the Swanston street entrance to the Flinders street railway station. The city coroner (Mr D Grant) held an inquest yesterday into Kenny’s death Leo Patrick O’Hara, news vendor, of Marine Hotel York street, South Melbourne, said that on April 23 he was selling race books with his stepbrother Francis Edwards a news vendor, aged 26 years at the Swanston street entrance to the Flinders street railway station. Edwards and Kenny appeared to catch the attention of a purchaser at the same time and each held out a book. Kenny, pushed Edwards away, and struck him on the mouth Edwards struck him in return, and Kenny fell, striking his head on the pavement Edwards then went home. O Hara saw his step brother later in the afternoon and advised him to go away. Edwards said that he would go to the country and look for work. O’Hara had not seen his step brother since that afternoon. Vincent Victor Leonard, telephone operator, of Golding street, Canterbury, said that he saw Kenny fall. No one attempted to detain the man who struck the blow. Senior detective Carey, of Russell street, said that to the present he had not been able to trace Edwards News Vendor Carried £843 Constable Ayres, of Russell street, found £843/19/1½ in the possession of Kenny. It was stated in evidence that this was money saved by Kenny and his brother, Arthur Kenny. It was the custom that the brother who left home last should take the money with him. The coroner found that Kenny had died from injuries received on April 23 when he was feloniously and unlawfully struck by Francis Edwards. It was ordered by the Coroner that a warrant be issued for the apprehension of Edwards on a charge of manslaughter.


ON THIS DAY – April 22, 1912


On the 22nd of April 1912, Thomas Nugent, aged 73 years, died in Melbourne Hospital from injuries sustained from a fall in Bourke-street, the result of a blow struck by another man during a fight. At the inquiry the Coroner recorded a verdict of manslaughter against a man not yet known.