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April 23rd, 1894

A reduction In the staff at the Geelong Gaol has been effected through the adoption by the Penal department of new
arrangements in regard to the disposal of female prisoners of the vagrant class, for whom special accommodation has been provided at Pentridge.

All the enfeebled women will be transferred to the Coburg penitentiary, only female prisoners of vigorous type being retained at the local gaol in order to do the laundry work furnished for then by the military authorities at Queenscliff. Hitherto between 60 and 70 women have been quartered at the local gaol, but the accomodations in the female division will be limited to that required far 30 inmates.

This alteration of the prison arrangements will enable Mr Cody to make provision for the reception of an additional number of male prisoners, chiefly of the invalid class, for whom relaxed discipline is necessary.

The female division will in future be under the control of Mrs Purbrick, who succeeds Miss Fleming, the latter having now transferred to the position of sub-matron at Pentridge while Miss Kilmartin, another of the female warders at the local gaol has received orders to proceed to the Melbourne Gaol. She will leave with a number of the female prisoners under her charge at the end of the week.  Miss Fleming, who has been in charge of the female arrangements at the local gaol for several years past, has been more than a quarter of a century in the service, but her promotion to the position of sub matron only carries with it increased responsibility without a corresponding
advance of remuneration.

The average number of prisoners in the men’s division will in future be about 170, and they will be under the control of nine warders, the proportion being much less than that in other gaols throughout the colony.  If the suggestion by the governor was carried out for the construction of radiating yards for the exercise of a number of separate treatment prisoners under the supervision of one warder, instead of the three posted in the turrets as at present the services of the staff could be utilised to much better advantage.

 

On this day …….. 18th of December 1891

PRISONER ON THE RUN

On the 18th of December 1891, a group of 11 prisoners were being transferred Melbourne Gaol to Geelong Gaol by train. While at Spencer street station it was noticed that one of the prisoners had escaped. The alarm was raised and the city police with wardens were dispatched, while the remainder of the prisoners were taken to Geelong.

ON THIS DAY – December 12, 1938

Geelong Gaol

William Daly (aka William Egan) was sentenced to 3 months in the Geelong gaol in 1938, for drinking metho. William was born in Victoria in 1877, and worked as a labourer. He was 5ft 4in with grey hair and eyes. William spent over 30 years in and out of Victorian gaols from Melbourne, Pentridge and Geelong mainly for drunkenness.

 

EXECUTED THIS DAY – December 11, 1876

BASILO BONDEITTO

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.

Executed This Day – December 1, 1863

MELBOURNE GAOL

Yesterday morning, at ten o’clock, the culprit James Barrett, convicted at the last criminal sittings of the Supreme Court, Melbourne, of the murder of Mrs. Beckinsale, suffered the extreme penalty of the law, in the presence of about sixty persons. The wretched criminal, who had been brought up as a Roman Catholic was attended in his last hours by the Rev. Fathers Bleasdale and Williams, who performed the last rites of the church applicable to the occasion. The prisoner throughout the preparations and down to the time the drop fell, said nothing, but appeared to feel an indifference as to his fate, which was shown in a quiet and impassive demeanour, and he died almost without a struggle. It appears that on Monday evening, about eight o’clock, the wretched man said he wished to write a statement or confession of the crime for which he was to suffer. A prisoner who was confined with him was then allowed to write the following, at the dictation of Barrett, who read it carefully over and signed it: — “Confession of James Bermingham, alias Barrett. On the 21st of October I went to the house of Mr. Beckinsale, and saw Mrs. Beckinsale in the bedroom, in the act of putting on her boots. I demanded what money she had in the house, she threw about £6 in silver on the bed, and commenced crying and making a great noise. I then struck her with a tomahawk I held in my hand on the head, and followed up my blows until I killed her. I then robbed the house of about £6 in silver, a watch, and a pair of boots;   I then locked the door. I am not certain what I did with the key. It is not through (true?) that I chased Mrs. Beckinsale round the house; everything took place in the house. Mr. Beckinsale was away from home when I committed the murder. He had no knowledge of my being about to commit the murder. I used no weapon but the tomahawk. (Signed) JAMES BERMINGHAM, alias BARRETT. Witness — F. M. Quin, senior-turnkey. November 30, 1863.” The account given by him of himself was that he was fifty years of age, and was a native of Cork, and had originally enlisted in the 36th Regiment, but having struck one of the sergeants was transported for seven years, and arrived in Australia by the Lord Goderich, in 1848, in bonds. On gaining his freedom he worked as a labourer, but ever afterwards led an irregular life. The usual formalities, the inquest, &c., were observed, as required by the Private Executions Act. It may be remarked, that the conduct of the persons permitted to be present in the gaol yesterday morning was marked by such disgraceful impatience, that if it were possible to publish the names of all that were present, it would show, in the great majority of the names, what persons should not be allowed to intrude themselves on any such solemn occasion. It appeared at one time, while the process of pinioning was being performed, that the crowd would have so pressed upon the ministers of religion, the executioner, and the culprit, that there would not have been space for the proper conduct of the ceremony; and as the spectators passed through the door into the gallows-yard, there was a crush as of an eager and rude mob rushing the entrance of the pit-door of a theatre. It seems so much the more strange that such conduct should have been observable, as there was an unusually large number of the police present, both officers and men.

ON THIS DAY – November 4, 1919

William Joseph Flynn, aged 15, of Hood street, Collingwood, and James Patrick Smith, aged 16, of Palmer street, were charged in the Children’s Court at Fitzroy on Monday with having wilfully murdered a boy named Ernest Stanley Worseldine, of Rose street, Fitzroy, on November 4. Mr. N. L. O’Connor appeared for Flynn.

Detective McKerral applied for a remand for a fortnight, pending the holding of the coroner’s inquest.. The application was granted, and the boys were removed to Melbourne Gaol.

ON THIS DAY – November 2, 1920

James Thomas Pierce and Henry Pierce, the two brothers who are charged with the murder of Mr. David Davidson at St. Kilda on November 2, are now in strongly guarded cells at the Melbourne Gaol, awaiting, their appearance at the City Court on Monday. The men have not yet been visited by a legal adviser. They are allowed to see visitors twice weekly, but a strict surveillance is being maintained. Yesterday a man and a woman were allowed to converse with the brothers for a few minutes.

Constable Morphett, of Melton, who arrested the men, came to Melbourne at the end of the week, and was presented by Superintendent M. J. Bannon to the Chief Commissioner of Police (Sir John Gellibrand) who congratulated him.

ON THIS DAY…… 24th October 1902

A Chinese in the Geelong Gaol, named Ah Lee Goon, who was transferred some time, ago from the Melbourne Gaol on account of mental weakness, has developed into a violent lunatic. On this day in 1902, two magistrates attended at the local gaol and committed the Celestial to a lunatic asylum.

 

ON THIS DAY…… 22nd October 1923

On the 24th of August 1923, Angus Murray, who is serving a sentence of 15 years for robbery under arms, mace his escape, by mean’s of a small saw, he removed of the stones at the base of his window. The bars were then loosened, leaving him sufficient room to squeeze through. Murray torn his bedclothes into shreds to form a rope to lower himself to the ground. He was then able to scale the outside wall were a motor car which was waiting for him. A boy, passing the Gaol at the time of the escape saw Murray clamber down from his cell and spring into a car. The police scoured the district, but could not find any trace of the fugitive. On the morning of the 9th of October 1923, Murray shoot Mr Berriman the manager of the Glenferrie branch of the Commercial Bank and robbed him of £1851. Berriman died the on the 22nd of October. A large force of detectives raided, a house in St, Kilda at 5am, arresting Angus Murray, Leslie (Squlazy) Taylor, and Ida Pender. Angus Murray was charged with the Glenferrie robbery and with escaping from custody. Taylor and Pender were locked up on holding charges, but wore later released. A few days after Berriman’s death Murray was charged with his murder and on 14th of April 1924, he was executed in the Melbourne Gaol. Murray stood on the scaffold and made the following statement: “Never in my life have I done anything to justify the extreme penalty being passed upon me. I have prayed hard for those who have acted against me, and I hope that those whom I have injured will forgive me.” Turning to the hangman as the rope was passed around his neck, he said: “Pull it tight.” Murray’s death was instantaneous.

 

ON THIS DAY – October 19, 1917

 

Alfred Edward Budd, 39 Stevedore’s labourer to-day, at the City Watch house, was formally charged with the murder of Annie Elizabeth Samson, at Princess Street, Port Melbourne, on October 19. Accused was the adopted brother of deceased, who was a married woman. He attempted to commit suicide by cutting his throat and was to-day taken from the Melbourne Hospital and transfered to the Melbourne gaol hospital.

 

 

ON THIS DAY – October 19, 1917

 

Alfred Edward Budd, 39 Stevedore’s labourer to-day, at the City Watch house, was formally charged with the murder of Annie Elizabeth Samson, at Princess Street, Port Melbourne, on October 19. Accused was the adopted brother of deceased, who was a married woman. He attempted to commit suicide by cutting his throat and was to-day taken from the Melbourne Hospital and transfered to the Melbourne gaol hospital.

 

 

On This Day – October 1, 1915

In the early hours of Tuesday, 1st October, 1915 Constable McGrath and other police went to the Trades Hall in Lygon Street, Carlton in answer to a report and a burglary was in progress. The policemen entered the building, and found that an attempt had been made to open a safe. McGrath then confronted two offenders in a passage-way, one of whom fired a number of shots which fatally wounded the Constable. The offender was later arrested at the scene after further shots had been fired. John Jackson, the man who fired the fatal shot, was convicted of McGrath’s murder, and was hanged at the Old Melbourne Gaol. He was the last person in Victoria to be executed for the murder of a policeman.