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On this day …….. 5th of August 1938

CENTENARIAN’S PARTY

Mrs. Isabel Munro, aged 104 years, of Fitzroy, believed to be the oldest woman in Victoria, went to a party last Friday night. She returned to her home at 2.30 a.m. and at 11 o’clock she complained to a visitor that she was being kept in bed. ‘They say it’s cold,’ she said, ‘but I’m not cold, and I’m not tired. I’d sooner get up. I like
to get up at 6.40. Her daughter Mrs. McIntyre, with whom she lives, said that her mother had never had a serious illness, and did not suffer from headache, ear
ache or toothache. She is eligible for toothache, however, as three new teeth appeared about six years ago.

 

On this day …….. 3rd of August 1856

Alfred Deakin was born on 3 August 1856 in Fitzroy, Melbourne. In 1879, Deakin gained a seat in the colonial Parliament of Victoria, and after holding office in several ministries, he began to turn his efforts towards the push for Federation. Following Federation in 1901, he was elected to the first federal Parliament as MP for Ballarat, becoming Attorney-General in Prime Minister Edmund Barton’s government. Deakin succeeded Barton as Prime Minister in 1902 when the latter retired. Deakin’s own Protectionist Party did not hold a majority in either house, and he was unwilling to accept aspects of Labor’s legislation, so he retired in 1904. Watson and Reid succeeded him, but when they proved unable to maintain a stable ministry, Deakin returned to office in 1905. He was pushed out by the Labor Party in 1908, but after forming a coalition with Reid, Deakin again returned as Prime Minister in 1909 heading up a majority government, a position he held until his defeat at the polls in 1910. Deakin retired from politics altogether in 1913, and died in 1919.

 

On this day …….. 3rd of August 1955

A youth who stole the Langi Kal Kal training centre truck to escape on March 31 was gaoled for three months on this day in 1955. He is George Edward Bennett, 17, of Dunlop ave., Ascot Vale, who told Judge Moore in General Sessions that he escaped for “no apparent reason.” Bennett said the inmates were well treated and housed in nice surroundings. Mr. G. K. Sutton, Crown prosecutor, said Bennett had been sentenced to imprisonment for shop breaking and illegal use of a car since he had escaped from the centre. Judge Moore said Bennett seemed to have started a life of crime at an early age. “I wonder if some time someone can make you stop and think for awhile,” he told Bennett. He remanded three other escapees for sentence. They are: Cyril Charles Hall, 20, of David st., Launceston; Ronald Arthur Barber, 17, of Napier st., Fitzroy; and Leonard Wigley, l8, of Cromwell st.,

 

ON THIS DAY – July 29, 1976

Three men who battered an older man to death in the course of “teaching him a lesson” were each found guilty of murder by a Criminal Court jury. Mr Justice Jenkinson sentenced each of the three to be imprisoned for the term of his natural life. They were Mr Allan Raymond Robinson, 33, invalid pensioner, of Fitzroy, Mr Kenneth Graeme Wright, 19, labourer, of Richmond, and Mr Paul Maurice Stanton, 28, assistant manager, of Abbotsford. All had pleaded not guilty to a charge of having murdered Mr Sydney Thomas Crowe, also known as Mr Peter Johnson, 54, labourer, of Collingwood, on July 29 last year.

 

photo of Kenneth Graeme Wright

ON THIS DAY – July 26, 1943

Giving evidence in his defence on a charge of murdering Pearl Oliver at Fitzroy on July 26, Harold Nugent, truck-driver, said in the Criminal Court today that he did not shoot the girl and did not have a weapon of any sort in his possession. Nugent said he was driving two other men to St. Kilda when, in Fitzroy. He saw Joseph Fanesi, a drinking acquaintance, with a girl and an American sailor. He stopped and asked Fanesi to have a drink with him. Fanesi declined, but as Nugent was walking back to the car, he heard two shots and saw Fanesi fall. He then saw his companion, Leslie Brown, and the sailor fighting. Brown joined him in the car and they drove away. He did not know the girl was shot until he read it in the paper the next day.

ON THIS DAY – July 17, 1946

TAILOR CHARGED WITH MURDER

The Coroner (Mr Marwick) . at the inquest today into the death oF Philip Elmore Johnson, 65, labourer, near Mornington on July 12 committed Trevor McKenzie, tailor, of Melbourne, for trial on a charge of murder. Johnson’s body was found under a sheet of iron near a hut on July 17. Detective J. Heath of Fitzroy, said that McKenzie telephoned him on July 17 and said: “I have murdered a man. It is awful.” Later at the Fitzroy police station he said that McKenzie told him that the murdered man was a man with whom he had been living at Hastings.

ARGUMENT ABOUT FOOD

Detective C. H. Petty said that McKenzie made a statement to the police in which he said: “Johnson lived on next to nothing and when I ordered more food he growled. He would not let me listen to anything humorous on the wireless. On July 17 we had an argument about food. He went crook on me for sitting in front of the fire. He went outside and I got a gun and put two cartridges in it. I saw him come around a tree. I aimed and must have pulled the two triggers at the same time. I got an axe but do not remember whacking him with it.”

ON THIS DAY – June 29, 1951

A doctor told a Criminal Court jury today that a young doctor’s widow, charged with the murder of her five months old blind daughter, had said she had been extremely unhappy in her married life, and did not want any association in her home with the baby. The widow, Joan Isobel Gorr, 27, of Gore Street, Fitzroy, has pleaded not guilty to having murdered her baby daughter in Melbourne on June 30. Yesterday, the Crown Prosecutor (Mr. P. R. Nelson) told the jury that Mrs. Gorr had admitted to police she had suffocated her child because she did not want it to go through life blind. A post-mortem revealed that the baby had been asphyxiated. Sister Evelyn Constance Ross, Matron of Tweedle Hospital, Footscray, said today that on June 29, Mrs. Gorr told her she was very pleased that she was able to take he baby away from the hospital. Mrs. Gorr arrived next day to take the child away, but fainted as she was carrying it away. Both Mrs. Gorr and the child were kept at the hospital for a couple of hours. Sister Ross said she believed Mrs. Gorr had had a curette operation a day or two before June 30. Mrs. Gorr had made no comment about the child looking ill when she again left with it later in the day. Stannus Hedger, of the Royal Institute for the Blind, and Dr. C. W. Bennett, the institute’s hon. doctor today gave evidence of a conference with Mrs. Gorr at which it was suggested that the child should be taken permanently into the institute. Dr. Bennett said Mrs. Gorr had told him she could not bear to look at the blind child, but the reason she gave him why she did not want it was that she had been extremely unhappy in her married life, and did not want any association in her home with the baby. He said Mrs. Gorr seemed to discuss matters calmly, but he did not think she was in a frame of mind fit to make any decision about the future of the child.

On This Day – June 27, 1943

Beer Party Incident Gives Clue

Clues obtained in the shooting episode at Fitzroy on the night of July 27, when Pearl Oliver (19) was murdered and Joseph Fanesi (26) and Peter Croft, an Allied sailor, were seriously wounded, have led police to a party where several kegs of black market beer had been drunk and where the atmosphere was quarrelsome.

Members of the Melbourne and Sydney underworld were among the guests. It is said that trouble flared up at the party when Sydney gunmen made advances to the dead girl. A Melbourne man who said that Oliver was ‘his girl’ objected. Sydney gunmen left the party, but later returned with automatic pistol. One was heard to say, ‘They’ll learn who’s boss here.’ No violence occurred at the party.

It is believed that gunmen followed the girl Oliver, Fanesi, and Croft, and shot them when they alighted from a car at the corner of Brunswick and Gertrude Streets, Fitzroy. Faneid and Croft were thought to have been shot first, and the girl afterwards, as she ran across the street.  She dropped into the gutter.  The girl was also kicked or struck on the head, as her skull was fractured in two places. An outbreak of underworld gun battles is expected to result from the Fitzroy shooting.

ON THIS DAY – June 21, 1887

MELBOURNE

VERDICT OF MANSLAUGHTER.

Before Dr. Youl and a jury, an inquest was held at the hospital concerning the death of James Joseph Reddan, aged 25 years, accountant, Fitzroy. Mr. Neave watched the inquiry on behalf of Henry Legg, bricklayer, who is in custody on the charge ot causing Reddan’s death. The deceased was the son of Derby Reddan, of the Oddlellows’ Hotel, Little Lonsdale street east. Shortly before midnight on June 21 he lett the hotel, worse for liquor, along with James Duffy, labourer, Fitzroy. The two stood talking in the street until half past 12, and then went in the direction of Spring street. It is alleged that near the latter street a number of young men, including Legg, came behind the deceased and commenced to laugh at his staggering gait. Fearing a disturbance, Duffy urged them to be quiet, and, with the exception of Legg, they agreed. Immediately afterwards, according to the statement of one of the witnesses, the deceased and Legg were seen in a “sparring” attitude. The latter had a knife in his hand, and having struck the deceased a blow on the head ran away. In his flight he aimed a blow at Duffy, who endeavoured to intercept him, and struck him with the knife behind the ear. He also struck a man named Hayes, and tore his coat. Reddan, on receiving the blow on his head, fell, and commenced to bleed, and assistance coming to hand he was removed to the hospital. There he was found to be suffering from a wound on the temple, about an inch and a half behind the left eye, half an inch in length, and extending down to the skull bone. Six days afterwards an operation waa advised, but the parents retused their consent, and death ensued on the 6th inst. A post mortem examination revealed a slit in the skull bone under the temple wound, which had evidently been caused by a narrow bladed weapon with a sharp edge The cause of death was compression of the brain from extravasation of the blood, the result of the wound upon the membranes of the brain Had the desired operation been performed, the medical testimony affirmed, it would probably have saved the man’s life. Legg, when apprehended, made a statement to P. C. Maxwell to the effect, that he had struck Reddan in self defence, as he and his companions had knocked him down and kicked him. Legg’s clothing at the time was very dirty, as though he had been in the mud. He had no knife upon him when searched, and none was found in the street. The jury found that the deceased was stabbed by Legg, and that Legg was guilty of manslaughter. Legg was accordingly committed for trial at the Criminal Sittings ot the Supreme Court, the coroner stating that he would accept bail in two sureties of £200 each.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 18, 1906

Edward James White was committed for trial at Fitzroy on a charge of shooting at his wife and attempted suicide on June 18. The evidence of White’s wife was to the effect that on May 30 , accused threatened to shoot her sister Rose, herself, and her baby. On June 18, he met her casually in the Fitzroy Gardens, and when she refused to return to him and to live with him he first, shot her and then himself. The pair had been seprated almost from the time of their marriage. They are both very young.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 6, 1930

FITZROY MURDER 

Following the inquest to-day concerning the death of John Alfred Taylor, a grocer, of Fitzroy, on June 6, Arthur Skeritt (48), a coloured man, was committed for trial on a charge of murder. Taylor, who was between 60 aud 65 years of age, kept a small shop at the corner of Fitzroy and Argyle streets, Fitzroy. He was found battered to death in his shop early in the morning of June 7. The police produced several surprise witnesses, who said that on the night of Taylor’s death Skeritt was in possession of a sovereign, bank notes, a quantity of coppers, cigarettes, cigarette papers and other goods similar to those stocked by Taylor. Skeritt was quite at his ease during the inquest, and when the Coroner (Mr. D. Grant) announced his finding Skeritt produced some tobacco and rolled himself a cigarette

ON THIS DAY – June 1, 1861

A lamentable catastrophe occurred in Collingwood on Saturday evening last, a man named Currie having first shot his wife, and afterwards attempted to commit suicide. The case appears to have been one arising from jealousy on the one side, and passion and drink upon the other. So far as at present known, the particulars may be briefly stated as follows — A man named George Currie, well known throughout the district from being the Inspector of Nuisances for the Fitzroy Municipality, has been living for some time in Moor street, Fitzroy, and latterly on very bad terms with his wife. Currie was a member of the local volunteer company, and formerly a sergeant in the police force. He was also an old soldier, having been engaged in the Caffre wars. His disputes with his wife arose partly from their being of different religions, and partly from her suspecting that he was keeping a mistress in the neighbourhood. During the last few weeks, Currie has taken to drink, and his quarrels with his wife became so violent that their friends endeavoured to effect a separation. Last Wednesday, matters appeared to reach a climax, as Currie then attempted his wife’s life with a loaded horse pistol, but she fortunately escaped from him. He was given into custody, and brought up the following morning, at the Fitzroy Police Court. The charge, however, was withdrawn, arrangements being made that Currie should allow his wife a separate maintenance, and go out of town until the necessary details were completed. Accordingly he went down to St. Kilda or Brighton, but returned the next day begging to be received home again. The wife consented, and to further pacify her, Currie purchased a silk dress; for which he paid seven guineas, and also gave her two gold rings, and a diamond ring. After this, Currie again became somewhat violent, and demanded money from the woman, a request which she refused to comply with Saturday, however, appealed likely to pass over quietly, although it is a fact, not without significance, that in the morning Currie made his will. During the day he was told off as one of the firing party to attend at the funeral of the volunteer who was buried on Saturday. Accordingly, about half past nine o’clock at night, after his return, he commenced to clean his rifle. There was nobody in the house at the time besides himself, his son, a lad of 13, and his wife. The lad was going to bed and his mother was passing into the bedroom, when suddenly, without speaking, Carrie, who mast previously have loaded his rifle, discharged it at her. The woman’s back was turned to him at the time, and the ball passed right through her body. She fell down, but recovering scrambled onto the bed.  Currie without displaying any alarm, picked her up in his arms, carried her out of the front door into the garden, and told his son to run for a doctor. Some men who were passing by took the woman, who was quite insensible, into the house again, and Dr Tracy, who was speedily in attendance, pronounced her case to be hopeless. Currie was of course taken into custody. He had been sitting in a chair, displaying the utmost indifference, though the room was swimming with his victim’s blood, and he freely acknowledged all the particulars of his crime. Shortly after he had been removed to the police station the son showed Dr Tracy a bottle, the contents of which he had seen his father swallow when leaving. This it was ascertained had contained laudanum, so that Currie, who had begun to show the effects of the poison, was conveyed to the Melbourne Hospital. The stomach pump was immediately applied, but it was not till, six o’clock that the surgeons were enabled to pronounce him out of danger and of course he is at present in a most exhausted condition. The unfortunate woman, his wife, became sensible during the night and her depositions were taken. They were simply that her husband had shot her without any provocation. She lingered in great pain until about 7 o’clock in the morning when she expired. Dr Tracy and Dr Featherstone made a post-mortem examination of the body. The district coroner held an inquest on it on Monday morning, and a verdict of wilful murder was returned.