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ON THIS DAY – DECEMBER 29, 1888

A horrible tragedy occurred at the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum on this day in 1888, which resulted in the death of a warder named Archibald Hunter, who was in charge of one of the cottages for idiots. Hunter it appears called into his bedroom one of the patients named Howard, a man about 40 years of age, who was in the habit of assisting to make the beds, and the door was locked after them. Howard left the room subsequently and locked the door after him, and as nothing was seen of Hunter it was ascertained through the window that he was lying in a pool of blood on the floor. The door was forced open, and the fact disclosed that there was a fearful gash on his head and six stabs about the body, of which two were fatal, one being caused by the passage of a knife through the lungs and another through the liver. All the wounds were of a desperate character, and would hardly have been caused by any one other than a madman. Hunter lived for about an hour and a half, but did not regain consciousness. An examination of the room showed that a potato masher, with which the wound on the head had been inflicted, and a large carving knife, covered with blood, had been thrown under the bed. Suspicion immediately fell on Howard, who is said to have had previous disagreements with Hunter, and an examination of his clothes disclosed the fact that they were covered with spots of blood. Howard is a quiet sleek man, and was classed as an idiot, but had a previous history, as he was a convict, having perpetrated a robbery, and was brought to the asylum for attempting to commit suicide. He is about medium size and not a powerful man, and the deed must have been done when Hunter was not looking. The deceased was a married man without a family, and had been in the asylum five years. He was an old soldier, and received a pension of a shilling a day. The authorities at the asylum are very reticent as to the facts pending the inquest.

ON THIS DAY – December 29, 1888

Joseph Howard, the lunatic charged with murdering Archibald Hunter, a warder at the Yarra Bend Asylum, on the 29th December, was placed in the dock at the Melbourne Criminal Court, before the Chief Justice. The jury found him to be insane, and His Honour ordered him to be remanded. Howard begged that he might not be sent back to the Yarra Bend, for the attendants had threatened to kill him within a month. He would go to Pentridge for life, or to any other asylum, but he would rather die than go back there, for they made him mad at Yarra Bend by starving him and putting him with the maddest lunatics. He had been starved and cruelly treated in the institution, and preferred to be in gaol amongst rational beings. The fact of his having been thrust among madmen had caused him to lose his mental balance at times, and if he were sent back it would be a living death to him. He would sooner suffer for his crime than return to the asylum. His Honour said his order had the effect of directing the prisoner to he kept in custody pending Her Majesty’s pleasure, and he could make no other. He had no doubt, however, that the officials would take note of what Howard had said.

 

ON THIS DAY – DECEMBER 29, 1888

A horrible tragedy occurred at the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum on this day in 1888, which resulted in the death of a warder named Archibald Hunter, who was in charge of one of the cottages for idiots. Hunter it appears called into his bedroom one of the patients named Howard, a man about 40 years of age, who was in the habit of assisting to make the beds, and the door was locked after them. Howard left the room subsequently and locked the door after him, and as nothing was seen of Hunter it was ascertained through the window that he was lying in a pool of blood on the floor. The door was forced open, and the fact disclosed that there was a fearful gash on his head and six stabs about the body, of which two were fatal, one being caused by the passage of a knife through the lungs and another through the liver. All the wounds were of a desperate character, and would hardly have been caused by any one other than a madman. Hunter lived for about an hour and a half, but did not regain consciousness. An examination of the room showed that a potato masher, with which the wound on the head had been inflicted, and a large carving knife, covered with blood, had been thrown under the bed. Suspicion immediately fell on Howard, who is said to have had previous disagreements with Hunter, and an examination of his clothes disclosed the fact that they were covered with spots of blood. Howard is a quiet sleek man, and was classed as an idiot, but had a previous history, as he was a convict, having perpetrated a robbery, and was brought to the asylum for attempting to commit suicide. He is about medium size and not a powerful man, and the deed must have been done when Hunter was not looking. The deceased was a married man without a family, and had been in the asylum five years. He was an old soldier, and received a pension of a shilling a day. The authorities at the asylum are very reticent as to the facts pending the inquest.

ON THIS DAY – December 29, 1888

Joseph Howard, the lunatic charged with murdering Archibald Hunter, a warder at the Yarra Bend Asylum, on the 29th December, was placed in the dock at the Melbourne Criminal Court, before the Chief Justice. The jury found him to be insane, and His Honour ordered him to be remanded. Howard begged that he might not be sent back to the Yarra Bend, for the attendants had threatened to kill him within a month. He would go to Pentridge for life, or to any other asylum, but he would rather die than go back there, for they made him mad at Yarra Bend by starving him and putting him with the maddest lunatics. He had been starved and cruelly treated in the institution, and preferred to be in gaol amongst rational beings. The fact of his having been thrust among madmen had caused him to lose his mental balance at times, and if he were sent back it would be a living death to him. He would sooner suffer for his crime than return to the asylum. His Honour said his order had the effect of directing the prisoner to he kept in custody pending Her Majesty’s pleasure, and he could make no other. He had no doubt, however, that the officials would take note of what Howard had said.