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ON THIS DAY – June 6, 1881

ROBERT ROHAN SMITH – BEECHWORTH GAOL

The Yalca Murder – EXECUTION OF ROHAN. 

THE ARGUS correspondent at Beechworth wired on Monday the following account of the execution of Robert Rohan for murder:—Robert Rohan, alias Smith, the murderer of John Shea, at Yalca, near Shepparton, on the 23rd January last, was executed in Beechworth gaol this morning by Upjohn at 10 o’clock. The condemned man walked on to the scaffold in a calm, deliberate manner, chewing a piece of tobacco, and when asked by the sheriff whether he had anything to cay, replied, “I have been convicted of the murder, and am prepared to hang for it.” The previous evening he said to the governor of the gaol and the Revs. Wm. Brown and Donnes, Wesleyan clergyman, “I have committed several crimes that I ought to have been hanged for, but I never committed this.”  All being ready, the executioner pulled the bolt, and the convict was launched into eternity. Death was instantaneous. After remaining the usual hour the body was cut down, and an inquest held upon it by Mr W. H. Forster, P.M., and a jury, who found a verdict of death by hanging. The prisoner, who was 24 years of age, had served several sentences both in Victoria and New South Wales, including one of 12 months in Beechworth gaol for larceny at Benalla in 1876, and another of two years and a half in Pentridge for robbery at Sandhurst in 1878, under the name of Ernest Smith, alias Rohan. The night before his execution he slept calmly, and ate a hearty breakfast and smoked a pipe next morning, and on being informed by the gaoler that his time had come, he answered, “All right, sir,” and appeared but little affected by the near approach of death.

On This Day ……. 3rd June 1904

At the morgue the inquest into the circumstances relating to the death of the postal employe Thomas Best, was continued. ‘The particulars of the case were that Best, who was arrested on a charge of larceny, died through taking an alleged doss of strychnine. The inquiry was adjourned last Friday in order to ascertain further evidence with regard to the purchase of the strychnine. The evidence of Best’s wife was to the effect that when he became very ill she wanted to send for a doctor, but hen husband objected, sating that he would soon be better. He appeared to become better for a short time, but he rapidly became worse, and died at ten minutes past 1 on Thursday last. On being cross-examined she stated that she knew her husband bought some strychnine some time ago to poison rats, and she had thought it was used for that purpose. Shortly before his death he stated that if anything ever happened to him, he would never go to gaol. Mrs. Vale, of Kensington, who carried on business as a pharmaceutical chemist in that suburb, gave evidence relating to the purchase of the strychnine at her dispensary. On Tuesday last, he asked her for the poison for the purpose of destroying a dog. His signature in the book was witnessed by her son. According to the evidence of Dr. Mollison, death was, he believed, due to poisoning by strychnine. The brain appeared to be of an unhealthy nature. The deceased’s father, James Best, of Geelong, gave evidence to the effect that when deceased was a child his brain was unhinged through au accident. The finding of the coroner was that- death was due to poisoning by strychnine, and was self administered, and according to the evidence deceased was unsound in his mind at the time.

On this day …….. 2nd of June 1915

Arthur William Hope, 26, who was in custody in the Geelong gaol for larceny, offensive behaviour, and vagrancy, was to have appeared in the Police, Court on the 2nd of June 1915, but he escaped while being escorted by Senior Constable Allen from the gaol to the court a distance of a 100 yards, when he asked permission to speak to Mr Hooper at his grocery store not 50 yards from the court. Hope said, Hooper would be prepared to pay his fine that might be imposed upon him. The policeman allowed Hope to enter the shop by a side door, but the prisoner simply walked through the premises into another street and bolted, followed by the officer. Constable Allen, order a man in his car to stop, he climbed in and they followed Hope, closely. Hope found a bicycle which was outside a shop and rode furiously
along the footpath to avoid the capture. Hope managed reached his mothers house in Villamanta street, Geelong West were he dashed through to the back over the fence and though three houses before his disappeared into a lane. On the 7th of June Hope, was recaptured and on the following day he was charged in court with larceny, being a rogue and vagabond, and with being without lawful means of support. The first charge was dismissed, but on the second and third charges Hope was sent to gaol for 12 months.

On This Day ……. 1st June 1927

Clive Frankston, aged 36 years, was charged on the 1st of the June 1926, with larceny and sentenced to two years in Pentradge. On the 28th April 1927, the Penal Authorities at Pentridge decided to transfer Frankston and another prisoner, Henry Tacke, to the Geelong Gaol. The two prisoners were escorted by Senior Constable Matthews and Constable Springfield, took the two prisoners from Pentridge Gaol to the Flinders street station in a prison van. Frankston was placed in a carriage on the Geelong train at No. 1 platform, and the two police officers returned to the van to carry Tacke, who was disabled by an injured leg, to the train. Upon reaching the carriage they found that’ Frankston was gone. Frankston seeing an opportunity to escaped from the carriage while the police escort was carring Tacke who was disabled to the police van out side the station. He dashed from the carriage and rushing through the ticket barrier and disappeared among the crowds in the street. On the 14th of May 1927, following up inquiries detectives raid a house in Napior street, Fitzroy owned by Frankstons wife. Inside Frankston was recaptured, he offered no resistance, he was so weak from illness that he could scarcely stand. He told the police that he was glad to get back to gaol and that he was suffering badly from consumption and that that he believed that the sea air at Geelong would kill him. Frankston received an extra 6 months to his sentence.

On This Day ……. 21st April 1870

Adolph Thieves, convicted on two charges of larceny, asked His Honour to he kind enough to pass a lenient sentence, as it was the first time he had been in gaol, and he could prove when he came out that the property was not Mr Gosling’s at all. His Honour said that the prisoner had been left in charge of his masters property, and one fine morning disappeared with a large quantity of it. Sentenced to three years’ hard labour for the first offence, and two years for the larceny at the Geelong Gaol.

 

Mary Coar, bar maid, of the Imperial Hotel, was at the police court to-day charged with the larceny of £15. the property of Mrs. Pearson, the licensee of the hotel. Inspector Davies prosecuted, and Mr. S. M. Cornish defended accused.

Evidence was given that the money had been placed by the licensee of the hotel in a cupboard of the diningroom. The room was locked up, and the key was alleged to have been placed in the bar till, to which only accused, Mrs. Pearson, the licensee, and her nephew had access. On the money being missing Mrs. Pearson gave information to the police, and from information received Constable Walsh arrested the accused on suspicion.

The P.M. decided that there was no evidence against the accused to go before a jury, and dismissed the charge.

The Imperial Hotel [also known as the Town Hall Hotel, and later Beck’s Richmond Hotel and Beck’s Imperial Hotel] was built in 1861.  The two storey hotel with attic was erected for Faulder Watson who became the first licensee on 21 Dec 1861. Watson retained the licence until about 1866 when the hotel was advertised as Young’s Imperial Hotel. Watson apparently retained the ownership of the hotel until c1885 when he sold it to slaughterman Edwin Purches who is recorded as having offices in the premises. By 1887, the hotel was owned by Mrs E Pearson who held the property until at least 1903. In 1892 during Mrs Pearson’s ownership, the extant cast iron verandah and balcony to the Lyttleton St facade was constructed in place of the original first floor cantilevered balcony. In the early years of the twentieth century, the hotel had numerous publicans until about 1931 when R W S Beck acquired the hotel licence. The name Beck’s Imperial Hotel reflects Reg Beck’s long-term ownership of the hotel between about 1931 and 1942. The hotel licence was surrendered in 1968 and in the following year, C S Harrison purchased the property and re-opened the building as tea rooms and a tourist accommodation centre.

Some of you may recognise hotel being used as the exterior shots of the local Mount Thomas hotel in Blue Heelers also known as the Imperial Hotel and run by Chris Riley.

Does anyone know who owns the hotel today?

On this day …….. 14th of December 1899

A young man James Carter who escaped from the Geelong gaol a few months earlier, was recaptured at Cooma, New South Wales, where he underwent sentence for larceny, was brought back to the Geelong Gaol on this day in 1899 to complete his sentence.

ON THIS DAY…… 10th December 1908

John Kane was sentenced to three months imprisonment at the Geelong gaol for larceny. Kane, who was 6ft. 3in. high, and weighs 15 stone, was suspected of stealing £2 from a mate, on a station near Camperdown, and after quietly submitting to arrest, he pleaded guilty, and was summarily dealt with by the Camperdown bench.

ON THIS DAY – June 6, 1881

ROBERT ROHAN SMITH – BEECHWORTH GAOL

The Yalca Murder – EXECUTION OF ROHAN. 

THE ARGUS correspondent at Beechworth wired on Monday the following account of the execution of Robert Rohan for murder:—Robert Rohan, alias Smith, the murderer of John Shea, at Yalca, near Shepparton, on the 23rd January last, was executed in Beechworth gaol this morning by Upjohn at 10 o’clock. The condemned man walked on to the scaffold in a calm, deliberate manner, chewing a piece of tobacco, and when asked by the sheriff whether he had anything to cay, replied, “I have been convicted of the murder, and am prepared to hang for it.” The previous evening he said to the governor of the gaol and the Revs. Wm. Brown and Donnes, Wesleyan clergyman, “I have committed several crimes that I ought to have been hanged for, but I never committed this.”  All being ready, the executioner pulled the bolt, and the convict was launched into eternity. Death was instantaneous. After remaining the usual hour the body was cut down, and an inquest held upon it by Mr W. H. Forster, P.M., and a jury, who found a verdict of death by hanging. The prisoner, who was 24 years of age, had served several sentences both in Victoria and New South Wales, including one of 12 months in Beechworth gaol for larceny at Benalla in 1876, and another of two years and a half in Pentridge for robbery at Sandhurst in 1878, under the name of Ernest Smith, alias Rohan. The night before his execution he slept calmly, and ate a hearty breakfast and smoked a pipe next morning, and on being informed by the gaoler that his time had come, he answered, “All right, sir,” and appeared but little affected by the near approach of death.

On This Day ……. 3rd June 1904

At the morgue the inquest into the circumstances relating to the death of the postal employe Thomas Best, was continued. ‘The particulars of the case were that Best, who was arrested on a charge of larceny, died through taking an alleged doss of strychnine. The inquiry was adjourned last Friday in order to ascertain further evidence with regard to the purchase of the strychnine. The evidence of Best’s wife was to the effect that when he became very ill she wanted to send for a doctor, but hen husband objected, sating that he would soon be better. He appeared to become better for a short time, but he rapidly became worse, and died at ten minutes past 1 on Thursday last. On being cross-examined she stated that she knew her husband bought some strychnine some time ago to poison rats, and she had thought it was used for that purpose. Shortly before his death he stated that if anything ever happened to him, he would never go to gaol. Mrs. Vale, of Kensington, who carried on business as a pharmaceutical chemist in that suburb, gave evidence relating to the purchase of the strychnine at her dispensary. On Tuesday last, he asked her for the poison for the purpose of destroying a dog. His signature in the book was witnessed by her son. According to the evidence of Dr. Mollison, death was, he believed, due to poisoning by strychnine. The brain appeared to be of an unhealthy nature. The deceased’s father, James Best, of Geelong, gave evidence to the effect that when deceased was a child his brain was unhinged through au accident. The finding of the coroner was that- death was due to poisoning by strychnine, and was self administered, and according to the evidence deceased was unsound in his mind at the time.

On this day …….. 2nd of June 1915

Arthur William Hope, 26, who was in custody in the Geelong gaol for larceny, offensive behaviour, and vagrancy, was to have appeared in the Police, Court on the 2nd of June 1915, but he escaped while being escorted by Senior Constable Allen from the gaol to the court a distance of a 100 yards, when he asked permission to speak to Mr Hooper at his grocery store not 50 yards from the court. Hope said, Hooper would be prepared to pay his fine that might be imposed upon him. The policeman allowed Hope to enter the shop by a side door, but the prisoner simply walked through the premises into another street and bolted, followed by the officer. Constable Allen, order a man in his car to stop, he climbed in and they followed Hope, closely. Hope found a bicycle which was outside a shop and rode furiously
along the footpath to avoid the capture. Hope managed reached his mothers house in Villamanta street, Geelong West were he dashed through to the back over the fence and though three houses before his disappeared into a lane. On the 7th of June Hope, was recaptured and on the following day he was charged in court with larceny, being a rogue and vagabond, and with being without lawful means of support. The first charge was dismissed, but on the second and third charges Hope was sent to gaol for 12 months.

On This Day ……. 1st June 1927

Clive Frankston, aged 36 years, was charged on the 1st of the June 1926, with larceny and sentenced to two years in Pentradge. On the 28th April 1927, the Penal Authorities at Pentridge decided to transfer Frankston and another prisoner, Henry Tacke, to the Geelong Gaol. The two prisoners were escorted by Senior Constable Matthews and Constable Springfield, took the two prisoners from Pentridge Gaol to the Flinders street station in a prison van. Frankston was placed in a carriage on the Geelong train at No. 1 platform, and the two police officers returned to the van to carry Tacke, who was disabled by an injured leg, to the train. Upon reaching the carriage they found that’ Frankston was gone. Frankston seeing an opportunity to escaped from the carriage while the police escort was carring Tacke who was disabled to the police van out side the station. He dashed from the carriage and rushing through the ticket barrier and disappeared among the crowds in the street. On the 14th of May 1927, following up inquiries detectives raid a house in Napior street, Fitzroy owned by Frankstons wife. Inside Frankston was recaptured, he offered no resistance, he was so weak from illness that he could scarcely stand. He told the police that he was glad to get back to gaol and that he was suffering badly from consumption and that that he believed that the sea air at Geelong would kill him. Frankston received an extra 6 months to his sentence.