Posts

ON THIS DAY…… 1st August 1925

At the City Court, Melbourne, yesterday two men were charged with murder appeared and were remanded. Cyrus Braby, charged with the murder of William Southwick, estate and commission agent, at South Yarra on August 1, was remanded till Wednesday, pending the inquest to be held to-morrow.

Cyrus Braby arrested on Sunday, and charged with the murder of William Southwick at South Yarra, was brought before the City Court yesterday, and remanded until August 10.

Braby, dirty and unkempt, stared vacantly round the court during the proceedings, and seemed to take no interest in what was going on. Constable West, in reply to a question by Mr. C. Burnet, said that the police had no doubt that the accused was quite mad.

A charge of vagrancy was withdrawn, and Braby will bo submitted to mental observation in gaol.

Constable West gave evidence of the arrest of accused. After the discovery of the body, the police had evidence that about noon on Saturday a violent argument took place between the dead man and accused, after which Southwick was not again seen alive.  Accused, when arrested, was sleeping.

BRABY’S YOUTH.

Martin Braby, father of Cyrus Braby is 73 years of age, and was formerly a Justice of the peace at Ravenswood goldfields, Queensland, and at Eskdale, Victoria, where he was wellknown as a storekeeper.

Braby said his son, the youngest of four, left Victoria on active service in 1916, the most youthful member of the Heavy Siege Artillery. Being only 19 years of age, he had special permission from the Minister of Defence Mr. Pearce to join this, section of the A.I.F., as he desired to take the place of a brother who, being then in the Garrison Artillery, would have left with the heavies, but was killed by a tram just before the outbreak of the war.

On This Day – June 28, 1938

WOMAN’S DEATH.
A jury in the Criminal Court today found Thomas William Loe (40), of Mooroopna, not guilty of the murder of his wife, Amelia Jane Loe (32) on the ground that he was temporarily insane at the time of the commission of the offence on May 4.
The evidence showed that Loe throttled his wife and hit her twice on the head with a hammer at a time when two or
their seven children were sleeping in the room.
Relatives of deceased said that until the tragedy Loe and hid wife had been devoted to each other.

On This Day – June 25, 1951

A 35-year-old mother charged with the murder of two of her children had suffered three nervous breakdowns and was receiving medical attention, Detective-Sergeant W. Tremewen told the City Court today.

The woman, Mrs Mary Bradley McDonald, of Malvern, is charged with having murdered her seven-year-old daughter. Elizabeth Mary and her eight month-old son David Francis.  Mr McLean, SM. refused her bail and remanded her to July

Detective-Sergeant Tremewen told the court that he found the girl’s body with severe head injuries in a bedroom. A bloodstained tomahawk was nearby, in the bathroom he found the baby boy in a half-filled bath. A preliminary medical inspection showed he had died from drowning.

Witness said Mrs McDonald told him: ‘Ive killed my two children. I wanted them to go to heaven before they had a chance to commit any sins ”

The charges were withdrawn when the mother was certified insane

ON THIS DAY – June 19, 1954

FLEMINGTON

Ronald Eugene Smith was sentenced to death in the Criminal Court for the murder of a six-year-old girl at Flemington on June 19. Smith, who sat motionless in the dock during the whole of the four-day trial, his head bowed so that only his black, wavy hair showed above the dock rail, made no reply when asked if he had anything to say. As he was escorted down the steps to the cells below he stumbled and collapsed, but quickly recovered. The only words he uttered during his trial were “Not guilty” when he was charged, and when he challenged four jurymen. Only once did he appear to show any interest in the scene about him. That was when he glanced briefly towards the witness box when the senior Government Pathologist, Dr. Keith McRae Bowden, identified clothing worn by the murdered girl. By its verdict, reached after a retirement of 40 minutes, the jury rejected a plea of insanity on Smith’s behalf. Smith, 25, clerk, of Illawarra rd. Flemington, had pleaded not guilty to the murder of Pamela Dale Walton, also of Illawarra rd. The girl’s partly undressed body was found in the grounds of a powerhouse near her home on the night of June 19. She had been criminally assaulted, severely bruised about the head and face, and choked to death. The defence did not dispute that it was Smith who assaulted and killed the girl, whose home he frequently visited as a friend of the family. The defence was that he was temporarily insane after suffering a cataclysmic crisis – an emotional “explosion.” Mr. J. M. Cullity (for Smith), in his address to the jury, said the defence was not required to show that Smith was insane before or after the crime. The defence, he suggested, had done more than the Crown to help the jury decide on the state of Smith’s mind at the time of the crime. Mr. Cullity suggested that the jury may consider Dr. N. A. Albiston, a Collins st. psychiatrist called by the defence, the most competent medical witness. Dr. Albiston also had the unique advantage of having known Smith for a number of years. “I suggest that on the balance of probabilities the man was legally insane at the time of the act,” said Mr. Cullity. Mr. H. A. Winneke, Q.C., Solicitor-General (for the Crown), said the jury should have little difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that the child died by Smith’s hand. Smith’s verbal statements to the police and his written confession had not been challenged. “The real problem is whether he was criminally responsible,” he said. “The answer to that must be ‘yes,’ unless the defence has satisfied you he was insane in a legal sense when he killed her.” Mr. Winneke said the defence had placed a great deal of emphasis on the evidence of the doctors. But the jury had also the evidence of what the police found and what the accused man said. Mr. Winneke quoted the Lord Chief Justice of England as having said, “Where the question of insanity is raised in a criminal case it is not to be tried by the doctors.” The case was for the jury to try, taking into account the opinions expressed by the doctors, he added. Mr. Justice Dean told the jury that if it was satisfied Smith was guiltv of murder or manslaughter, it must then consider what was probably the most important aspect of the case-whether Smith was legally insane at the time. In a plea of insanity, the defence must prove tho accused person was legally insane at the time of the crime. The burden of proof, however, was lighter than that imposed on the Crown in proving its case. In this instance, the defence was required to prove it was more probable, or more likely, that the accused man was insane at the time. The jury had to decide whether the defence had established, on the balance of probability, that at the time of the crime Smith was in such a condition of mind as to be unable to judge the nature and quality of his act, or whether it was wrong.

 

ON THIS DAY…… 18th December 1901

The prisoner at Geelong Gaol, John Gambil whose name figures upon the gaol records very frequently for disorderly conduct and breaches of gaol discipline, was brought before the visiting magistrates on this day in 1901. Evidence was given by two doctors that the man was Insane. Gambil was committed to the asylum at Kew.

On This Day – November 12, 1894

The execution of Elijah Cockroft for the murder of Fanny Mott at Noradjura, in the Wimmera district, took place at the Ballarat Gaol this morning, when only six persons besides the gaol officials were present. Punctually at 10 o’clock, Cockroft was brought out of his cell and led to the drop, and on being asked if he had anything to say he said  “I Trust Jesus.” When the rope w s being placed round his neck he began to sob bitterly, and on the bolt being drawn death was instantaneous.

Canon Morris who attended him throughout, stated that he died repentant, and in his opinion the whole case was a lasting disgrace to the State, which was responsible for the wretched state of ignorance in which the unfortunate lad existed. Yesterday several gentlemen wired to the Attorney-General asking him to stay the execution as they believed the accused man was insane. A medical examination was subsequently made, but it was found he was perfectly sane.

ON THIS DAY – November 2, 1887

At 9.30am on the morning of November 2, 1887, the still breathing body of Jane Sanders was found by James Coghill in his front yard at 59 Cardigan Street. She had terrible injuries including a hole above the right temple where the skull had been crushed inwards and from which a constant stream of blood flowed. Her right cheek was almost separated from the bone, the result of a number of heavy blows and her right arm was covered in blood as she had tried to protect herself.

Jane and her husband had lived in a 2 roomed brick cottage opposite in Cardigan Street. Jane was described as a middle aged woman who was occasionally given to drink but was not immoral! Her husband Frederick William Sanders was described as respectable man of 45 who was subjected to fits of malady when drinking and liable to wander in the mind while under the influence. He was described by neighbours as docile and kind. Frederick was employed as a clerk in a lawyer’s office but all his wages were given to his wife. Jane used to leave Frederick ill alone in the house with no money and no food for long periods of time.

Such an episode occurred on the night before Jane’s murder. At 9.30pm on the night before the murder, a neighbour inquired of Frederick whether his wife was at home. When he replied that she wasn’t, the neighbour told Frederick he would find his wife at the house of John Johnson. Frederick asked another neighbour “do you know where my missus is” to which she replied she didn’t. The neighbour did know but did not want to be involved! Frederick asked for the police to assist him in retrieving his wife from Johnson, but was told they could not assist. Jane at this time was out drinking with the money Johnson had given her for beer. She returned to Johnson’s house under the influence and when Mrs Adams attempted to help her home, Johnson stated that she was a friend of his and she could sleep on the sofa. She was heard speaking in Johnson’s bedroom the following morning. Frederick eventually went to Johnson’s house himself after asking several constables to help him get his wife. Johnson told Frederick that “he would do for him” if he did not return to his own house. Frederick becoming afraid armed himself with an iron bar and paced his house for the rest of the night with no sleep.

Neighbours witnessed Frederick the following morning being calm and not looking dangerous, and on being asked if his wife had returned, stated that “she would never darken my doors again”. Jane was seen staggering home the next morning, as though still intoxicated, at around 8.30am.  When arrested for his wife’s murder, Frederick stated that she had been out all night and when she came home, they had argued and he hit her several times with an iron bar and told her to go back where she came from. Police found the blood stained iron bar under some carpets in the yard and in a bedroom a blood stained towel in the house.  Jane died at 1pm that afternoon of the injuries that had been inflicted by her husband.  Frederick was sent to trial before Justice A’Beckett and was found not guilty by reason of insanity and was sentenced to gaol at the Governor’s pleasure. Evidence during the trial stated that Sanders had frequently been subjected to epileptic fits while in gaol and did not know the difference between right and wrong.

ON THIS DAY – October 31, 1900

Valentine Curtis Robertson, an inmate of the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum, was placed in the dock of the Criminal Court to-day, and charged with the murder of Fitzroy Shanks, another inmate. It was alleged that on October 31, Shanks, who was an elderly man, was waiting near one of the cottages for his breakfast, when Robertson crept up behind him, and dealt him a blow on the head with a piece of wood, which felled him. He then battered him so savagely that death took place in two hours. The medical evidence showed that the prisoner was insane, and the jury found he was unfit to plead. Mr. Justice Hodges ordered him to be kept in strict custody until the Governor’s pleasure is known.

ON THIS DAY…… 24th August 1894

James Setford was placed in the dock at the Criminal Sessions charged with the murder of his own child at Richmond on the 24th August. He wept bitterly, and was unable to plead. The Government medical experts stated that Setford was insane, and he was therefore remanded during the Governor’s pleasure.

The details of the crime for which Setford was tried are of an exceptionally painful nature. The insane man is 64 years of age, and bore an excellent reputation in Richmond, where he resided for some considerable time, carrying on business as a painter and paperhanger in Bridge-street. The first news of the murder was supplied to the police by Setford himself, but when informed of the fact they did not believe him, and thought that he was either only jesting or had become suddenly crazy, and was the victim of a terrible delusion. It was about 11 o’clock when he walked into the South Richmond station. Setford said, as he entered, “I have done something wrong, and suppose I shall suffer for it.” He went on, in answer to a question, “I have killed a child up the street, and have come to give myself up.” One constable detained the man while another proceeded to his house.

Mrs. Setford opened the door to the constable, and confirmed her husband’s confession in a remarkable narrative. ‘She said–” My husband has been peculiar in manner for the past few days, and, knowing that business and other cares had worried him considerably, I watched him closely lest he should do himself harm, I saw no indication of any desire on his part to commit suicide, and was beginning to feel easy in my mind again, when he came to me a little while ago and said, ‘I have relieved you of Frank. He is dead. I killed him. poor little chap I thought it was best. You will find him in the room at the back, I locked the door; here is the key.’ He gave me the key, and then I saw by the blood on his hands that he was telling the truth. He said he would go to the police right off, but I made him sit down and have some tea and some bread and jam. Then, when he put on his best coat, I placed some biscuits in his pocket, and sent him off to you. I have not gone into the backyard, but I have telegraphed to my sister.”

Taking the key from Mrs. Setford, the constable went into the back room, and found the body of the child Frank, a little fellow of two years, lying on a bench. The neck was cut almost from ear to ear, and a butcher’s knife all blood stained lay on the bench. In conversation with a constable Setford gave further particulars of his deed. He said …. ‘ You know business has been bad lately, and cottages would not let, and altogether, I was getting into trouble, that upset me greatly, and when I saw that my wife was ill, and than it the young children were a burden and a worry to her, I wondered what I should do if she should die and I should be left with them all on my hands, Poor little Frank he was playing in the backyard while I was thinking of those things, and I scolded him into the room and cut his throat. He was a fine little fellow, but I had 10 children, and nine are enough if not more than enough,” Setford was twice married, and had five children by each marriage. The first five are all grown up, and the ages of the second range from 14 years down to two years, the age of the poor little fellow who was killed.

Setford, who was in comfortable circumstances, has had reversed lately, and these are supposed to have affected his mind.

 

 

 

On This Day – August 13, 1905

At the police court, Mary Ellen Cuthbert, a young unmarried woman, was charged with having murdered a female infant. The child was found dead in an oilcloth bag, on the banks of the Campaspe, on the 13th August 1905. Accused was housed at the Melbourne Gaol. A certificate was received from the medical officer stating that the woman was not fit to appear before the Court. The case was accordingly adjourned to August 29. Cuthbert was found to be insane.

 

ON THIS DAY…… 10th August 1925

On the 10th of August 1925, William Smith was murdered while working on the Greystone Station at Rowsey, near Bacchus Marsh, by Thomas Alexander Ferguson, aged 35 years. Thomas Alexander Ferguson was charged at the Melbourne City Court with the murder of William Smith Dean, near Bacchus Marsh. Ferguson, whose demeanour was peculiar, said rapidly and loudly, “I wish to state that I have a packet of Chinese opium. There are lying mongrels in the dens in my hills trying to pross me with wicked persons, with whom I will have nothing to do.” Mr Knight, P.M., ordered his removal. As Ferguson hurried from the dock he kept up a fire of Dean was has declared insane.

ON THIS DAY…… 1st August 1925

At the City Court, Melbourne, yesterday two men were charged with murder appeared and were remanded. Cyrus Braby, charged with the murder of William Southwick, estate and commission agent, at South Yarra on August 1, was remanded till Wednesday, pending the inquest to be held to-morrow.

Cyrus Braby arrested on Sunday, and charged with the murder of William Southwick at South Yarra, was brought before the City Court yesterday, and remanded until August 10.

Braby, dirty and unkempt, stared vacantly round the court during the proceedings, and seemed to take no interest in what was going on. Constable West, in reply to a question by Mr. C. Burnet, said that the police had no doubt that the accused was quite mad.

A charge of vagrancy was withdrawn, and Braby will bo submitted to mental observation in gaol.

Constable West gave evidence of the arrest of accused. After the discovery of the body, the police had evidence that about noon on Saturday a violent argument took place between the dead man and accused, after which Southwick was not again seen alive.  Accused, when arrested, was sleeping.

BRABY’S YOUTH.

Martin Braby, father of Cyrus Braby is 73 years of age, and was formerly a Justice of the peace at Ravenswood goldfields, Queensland, and at Eskdale, Victoria, where he was wellknown as a storekeeper.

Braby said his son, the youngest of four, left Victoria on active service in 1916, the most youthful member of the Heavy Siege Artillery. Being only 19 years of age, he had special permission from the Minister of Defence Mr. Pearce to join this, section of the A.I.F., as he desired to take the place of a brother who, being then in the Garrison Artillery, would have left with the heavies, but was killed by a tram just before the outbreak of the war.