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The Murder of Rachel Currell

23 February, 1926

Henry Tacke, 65, Importer, was charged in the Criminal Court today with the murder of Rachel Currell, 34, at St Kilda on December 15th.

Frederick George Currell, barman, admitted under cross examination that he knew his wife and Tacke went to Sydney and Adelaide together and that Tacke paid 80 guineas for an operation upon Mrs Currell.  She acted in a secretarial capacity for Tacke.  Currell denied he knew Tacke paid for the upkeep of his house.

Currell said he was awakened on the night of the shooting when in bed on the front verandah.  He told Tacke he could not see Mrs Currell.  They quarrelled at the gate and Mrs Currell said; “you had better come inside instead of making a scene in the street”.  As they were going inside, Tacke hit Currell behind the ear knocking off his hat.  When asked to return it, Currell saw Tacke turn as if to go and saw something shiny in his hand which he had whipped from his pocket.  Tacke fired a shot at Currell but missed and hit Mrs Currell instead.  When Mrs Currell retreated inside, Tacke fired a number of shots into the dark hallway in an attempt to scare Mrs Currell.  Mrs Currell was shot dead and had 10 bullet wounds – 5 entry and exit wounds.

When arrested at Sorrento, Tacke said it was all an accident and he had intended to commit suicide.

In Tacke’s statement, he said he had spent 2500 pounds on Mrs Currell for dinners and theatres and by allowing her 2-10 pounds weekly for the past 3 years.

Tacke had met Mrs Currell in City Picture Theatre in February 1923.  Their friendship developed into intimacy and he fell deeply in love with her.  At the time of their meeting, he was friendly with own wife.  He had lost his whole family of 8 in infancy.  On Mrs Currell’s recovery from an operation he sent her to Daylesford and paid all her expenses.  He was also in the habit of sending out roast fowls and bottles of wine when she was in ill-health.

The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter.

Injury at Pentridge

2 April, 1927

When wardens went to Tacke’s cell as usual, to escort him to the warders library where he worked as a librarian, Tacke suddenly climbed up the bars to a height of 18 feet, then pitched headlong to the stone floor of his cell.  Tacke was conveyed to the Melbourne Hospital in an unconscious state.

Tacke was at one time a well known clubman, member of the MCG and conducted a successful business in the city.

The Death of Henry Tacke

10 September 1927

Henry Tacke, aged 65 years, who was serving a sentence of 7 years imprisonment for the manslaughter of Mrs Rachel Currell at St Kilda in December 1925, died in the Geelong Hospital last night.

Tacke was admitted to the Geelong Gaol on April 28 after he sustained a broken ankle the result of a fall from a gallery at Pentridge.

The coroner held an inquiry today.  Dr Purnell, the gaol medical officer, said Tacke’s ankle remained in splints until the middle of May when massage commenced.  On June 16, he went for a walk in the exercise yard.  Dr Purnell then formed the opinion that Tacke had no desire to get better and malingered at every possible opportunity.  He refused to try and walk and would let himself to the ground at every opportunity.

On July 30, while in the hospital, Tacke rubbed his back on the floors, producing large bed sores and feigned insanity.  Towards the end of August, he refused to take nourishment.  Death was due to heart disease.

A verdict in accordance with the medical evidence was recorded.

The Death of Nelly Horrigan

February 10, 1870

“A disgraceful scene occurred on Friday last, in a brothel near Little Bourke street up on the occassion of a wake taking place.

It appears that a woman of the town, named Nelly Horrigan, was found dead in her bed on Friday morning by the man with whom she had been cohabitating, and it was decided by her companions to “wake” her in proper style.

Accordingly, at night the coffin containing the body was placed on trestles in the middle of the room, plenty of spirits were provided and placed on a table at the head, with pipes and tobacco in abundance at the foot.  The room was lit with candles, till everything was as light as day, and an old woman was seated at the foot of the coffin kept up an unearthly yell throughout the evening.  Towards ten o’clock, about sixty thieves and prostitutes of the lowest class assembled in the room, and commenced drinking and smoking, which finally ended in a regular melee, in which the coffin was upset, and black eyes and broken noses were freely distributed; and it was not until some of the sober neighbours interfered that the orgie was put an end to.

The funeral took place on Sunday, and it was evident from the appearance of those following the hearse, that the fight had been of a very sanguinary character, for there was hardly one of the mourners that had not either a black eye or a bandaged head.”

ON THIS DAY – July 28, 1934

After having heard evidence at an inquest today into the death of a newly-born male child, whose body was found by a railway employee while cleaning out a carriage at the Joilmont yards on July 28. The coroner (Mr. Grant) committed Edith Clyne, aged 20, formerly a nurse employed at the Queen’s Memorial Hospital, Fairfield, for trial at the Supreme Court on a charge of murder.

ON THIS DAY – July 13, 1961

A slight, auburn haired woman yesterday had a 25th birthday she will never forget. She was acquitted in the Criminal Court of the murder of her 17 month old daughter.

Mrs Hughann Legget Prescott, of Murphy Street, Gardenvale, had pleaded not guilty to the charge before Mr. Justice Little and a jury. In a three day trial the Crown claimed that Mrs Prescott had attempted to take her own life and that of her daughter, Elizabeth Louise. Mrs Prescott was found beside the body of her daughter in the gas filled kitchen of their home in Gardenvale on July 13 this year. Eight days previously, Mrs Prescott’s husband, Peter, had gassed himself in the same kitchen after an argument over financial matters. She blamed herself for her husband’s death,

Crown witnesses told the court. Mr. E.D. Lloyd (for Mrs Prescott) did not lead any evidence in defence, but relied on his final address to the jury yesterday. Mr Lloyd told the jury that in 70 years of trying cases in the Criminal Court there had never been a case like this. “It would be cruel, unjust and wrong to convict this woman of wilful murder as it would be the culmination of a long series of wrongs done to her. A gift of £1900 from Mrs Prescott senior to buy a house had to be repaid within three years with interest. If they would not do this, Mrs Prescott threatened to take legal action,” Mr Lloyd said. He said that by some strange irony of fate this little woman was on trial for murder on her 25th birthday. Never Known “For the rest of your lives how will you know that the door inside the house from the kitchen, which was not locked, might not have swung open? And the little girl, driven by the most basic urge of all – mother love – came in and laid down by her mother, who was at this stage affected by the gas?” Mr Lloyd asked the jury. Mr J F Moloney appeared for the Crown.

ON THIS DAY – June 17, 1881

A young man named William Bristow, aged 23, – a resident of Williamstown, met with a frightful death at the steam stone-crushing works, Williamstown Junction, at half -past 2 o’clock on Friday afternoon. The deceased was engaged to break the larger stones ready for the crusher, which was fed by a lad named Murray. Murray left the machine for a few minutes to get a drink at the water-tap, and on coming back saw the deceased in the act of putting a stone in the iron jaws, when he suddenly disappeared. He fell head foremost into the fly-wheel of the crusher, and was instantly crushed to death, The head, when liberated, was hanging from the body; one arm was found about 12ft. away. The deceased had been suffering from a weak knee, which he had injured some time previously, and it is conjectured that in leaning forward his injured knee caused him to slip, and he fell into the wheel as stated

On This Day ……. 4th June 1901

An aged prisoner, who was sent from Melbourne to complete his sentence in the Geelong gaol, died in the latter institution on this day in 1901, and an inquiry was held before Mr H. Bannister, J.P. Dr Croker, the medical officer at the gaol, certified that death was due to natural causes, and a finding in accordance with the medical testimony was returned.

On This Day ……. 4th of June 1900

Within the last day or so two old prisoners have died at the gaol. Old, infirm, and diseased prisoners are sent to Geelong to die, and these deaths appearing in the published mortality returns, without explanation, which make it appear that Geelong is an unhealthy district. Steps should be taken in such returns to discriminate between the deaths of those inside the gaol, and of others outside it, otherwise a continuance of the practice referred to will give Geelong an unenviable reputation.

ON THIS DAY – April 21, 1933

MELBOURNE

After inquiring into the death of Ivor Charles Waite, wharf labourer, who died of a fractured skull after a fight in Little Bourke-street on April 21. the Acting City Coroner, Mr O’Callaghan. P.M.. found that death was due to injuries inflicted by Alfred Monar, labourer. Monar was committed for trial on a charge of manslaughter.

 

On This Day – April 20, 1913

DEAD MAN RECOGNISED.

A dramatic incident occurred on April 20 on a vacant allotment at the corner of Walter and Westgarth streets, Northcote. Alexander Percy Anderson, 24 years or age, died suddenly while on the spot, and one of his brothers was among the crowd which gathered.

A constable, who came to take charge of the body, asked whether any of those present could identify it. Some person spoke, and a minute later a man stepped forward. “My God, my brother!” he said, as he approached the body. He had been among the crowd for some little time before he recognised the dead man.

Alexander Anderson had resided in Walter street, the house being near the allotment, and his mother and sisters were standing at the front gate when the news of his tragic death was broken to them. The body was then carried to the house.

On this day …….. 20th of April 1908

On this day in 1908, a Bendigo-bound holiday train collided with another heading for Ballarat in the Sunshine rail yards, west of Melbourne. Forty-four people were killed and more than 400 hurt. The Age did not believe in sheltering the victims’ next-of-kin. Down on the rails among the piles and piles of splintered woodwork and the upholstery, their blood and brains splashing the wheels, many more dead bodies and bodies in which there was still life, mingled in frightening sickening heaps in a way that seemed to defy extrication.

 

ON THIS DAY ……. 9th April 1927

Neville Currey, aged 29 years, manufacturing chemist, was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of William Charles Lyte on this day in 1927. Evidence was given that Currey was driving a car at Malvern when he knocked down and killed Lyte, who was 60 years of age. After the accident Currey continued on and was pursued for a distance of two miles by another car driven by Miss Florence Mitchell. Currey’s car number was obtained, and he was later arrested by the police. In evidence Currey said that he was unaware of the fact that his car had knocked the old man down. He had a quantity of tackle in the rear of his car, and he suggested that the noise of this rattling had prevented him from hearing the noise of the collision. It was contended by the Crown that Currey was guilty of negligence in not keeping a proper look out when driving. After a brief retirement the jury returned a verdict if not guilty and Currey was discharged.

 

ON THIS DAY – March 31, 2004

Masked gunmen entered the Brunswick Club on Sydney Road, Brunswick, at approximately 6.40pm on 31 March 2004, driving a Ford Falcon EF XR6 station wagon. Moran ran from his place at the bar, over a poker machine, through a glass window before the gunman caught up with him and shot him twice, the fatal bullet being fired into the back of his head from a few centimetres away. Associate Herbert “Bertie” Wrout was severely wounded but survived the attack. Keith Faure, his brother Noel Faure and associate Evangelos Goussis were charged with the murder. On 3 May 2006, Faure pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 19 years for the murders of Moran and Lewis Caine, who was killed two months after Moran. Former Kickboxing champ Goussis, 40, of Geelong was found guilty of Moran’s murder on 29 May 2008 in the Victorian Supreme Court. Goussis had stormed into the Brunswick Club and shot Moran as he cowered in a corner. Goussis and two others reportedly accepted a $150,000 contract from Tony Mokbel to kill Moran, the Victorian Supreme Court heard. After five days deliberation, the jury also found Goussis guilty of intentionally causing serious injury to Wrout, but not guilty of his attempted murder. Goussis was also convicted of murdering Caine. In February 2009, Goussis was sentenced to a minimum 30 years in prison for Moran’s murder. Lewis Moran was suspected in ordering the death of underworld Hitman Dino Dibra. On 7 May 2007, Carl Williams was convicted of commissioning Lewis Moran’s murder, and sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment. Williams died in Barwon prison, on 19 April 2010, as the result of an attack by a fellow inmate.