EXECUTED THIS DAY – December 11, 1876
Basilo Bondeitto, who was, after a three days trial, convicted of the murder of Carlo Comisto, at Sandy Creek, Victoria, on or about the 4th September last, suffered the extreme penalty of the law for the deed on the morning of Monday, December 11 in the Melbourne Gaol. They lived together on a selection of Comisto’s charcoal burning for about 8 months. Comisto made arrangements to go to Melbourne on business about the 4th September, but was never seen alive afterwards. Bondietto could not satisfactorily account for his mate’s absence, having ventured contradictory statements. The hut and surroundings where they lived were searched and stains of human blood were found on the wood-work and on the axe, and bones belonging to human body were discovered in the charcoal kilns. This led to the belief that the man Comisto was murdered by Bondietto and his body afterwards consumed in the kilns. Bondietto was a Swiss, and Comisto an Italian. He was tried by Mr. Justice Stephen. Strenuous efforts were made in Melbourne to get a reprieve. Sir George Stephen sent a letter to the Governor of the Gaol, protesting against his being executed until an appeal had been made to the home authorities. The jury who tried him also sent a petition to His Excellency, stating their belief that “if the prisoner had been acquainted with the English laws and language, the circumstances of the alleged murder would, have resolved themselves into the crime of manslaughter. The prisoner, who was a member of the Roman Catholic Church, was attended by Rev. Fathers O’Malley, Gordon, and Donaghy. The rev gentlemen were able to converse with him in his native language. Prior to his execution his appetite was good, and the gaol allowance was hardly sufficient for him. He professed to be altogether ignorant of the English language. He was about 60 years of age. Before mounting the scaffold, he appeared to be suffering terribly, although doing his utmost to keep himself up. Father O’Malley asked him if he had anything to say, and in reply, he made some remark which was not intelligible. Death was instantaneous. Gately, who is undergoing a sentence of imprisonment, performed the duties of hangman.