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On this day …….. 26th of June 1880

Ned Kelly, Australia’s most famous bushranger, was born in December 1854 in Beveridge, Victoria. As a teenager, he became involved in petty crimes, regularly targetting the wealthy landowners. He gradually progressed to crimes of increasing seriousness and violence, including bank robbery and murder, soon becoming a hunted man. Ned Kelly’s gang consisted of himself, his brother Dan, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart. One of Kelly’s more daring bank robberies was carried out in December 1878 when Kelly and his gang rode into the Victorian town of Euroa, where they robbed the National Bank of about 2,000 pounds. As a result of this robbery, the reward for their capture was increased to 1,000 pounds each. Aaron Sherritt was an associate of the Kellys, having grown up in the same area, and he was quite close to the Byrne family. He was engaged to Byrne’s sister for awhile. After the gang was outlawed following the murder of three policemen at Stringybark Creek in October 1878, Sherritt turned police informant for money. Sherritt advised the police to camp out in a cave near Byrne’s family home in the hopes of capturing Byrne as he visited his mother. Sherritt’s presence was noted, and Byrne’s sister broke off her engagement to him. Many months later, on the night of 26 June 1880, Sherritt was at home with his new wife, mother-in-law and four policemen. When Sherritt answered a knock at the door, he was shot dead by Byrne. The police officers hid, as they were unsure whether they were Byrne’s real target, and did not report the killing until late the following morning. Within a couple of days, Byrne was himself killed in a shootout at Glenrowan between the gang and the police. Ned Kelly was the only one to survive to stand trial, after which he was hanged.

ON THIS DAY ………. 26th of June 1880

Aaron Sherritt was born in 1855 and was an associate by Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly on the 26th of June 1880. On the night of the 26th June 1880 Sherritt was at home with his wife, mother-in-law and four policemen, Constables Armstrong, Alexander, Ducross, and Dowling. A neighbour, Antoine Weekes, who had been handcuffed and held hostage by Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly, called out “Aaron” at the front door of Sherritt’s hut. When Sherritt answered it, Joe Byrne shot him dead. The police officers hid under the bed and did not report the killing until late the following morning. Within a couple of days, Joe Byrne was himself killed in a shootout between the gang and the police at Glenrowan. Ned Kelly was the only one to survive to stand trial. He was found guilty and hanged on the 11th November 1880.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 25, 1922

David Kelly, 38, was charged at the City Court with the murder of Ada Florence Overall at Millgrove, near Warburton, on June 25, 1922. He was also charged with having forged in the name of Ada Overall two documents purporting to be receipts for £500 each. He was remanded until March 26. Bail was refused.
Detective Fowler stated that Kelly boarded with Mrs Overall in June 1921. Her property was worth £1500. In June 1922, an agreement was drawn up by which Kelly was to pay £2 weekly while she lived. At her death the property was to pass into his hands later. The woman disappeared, and as a result of investigations Kelly was arrested. The police found human bones in the Yarra near the house, and also bones in a tank.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 23, 1978

A dramatic, police-backed, television re-enactment of 12 year old Denise McGregor’s rape and murder prompted a huge community response in 1978 when it was shown during evening television news on Channel 0, now Channel 10, over three nights from the 23rd to the 25th of June. A scene depicting Denise played by Cathrine Lawson, being repeatedly beaten with a crowbar was cut after complaints to the Broadcasting Tribunal. The homicide squad, defended the graphic re-enactment, saying they wanted to move people enough to make them come forward with information. Sadly this is still an unsolved crime.

 

On This Day ……. 23rd June 1910

In the Criminal Court before Mr Justice Hood, and a jury, the trial was concluded of Elizabeth Downey, Clara Pennington, and Minnie Long, who were charged with murdering Isabella Nelson McCallum, on the 7th of May last. Mr Maxwell addressed the court on behalf of Mrs Downey, and argued that there was no case against her. No evidence was called on behalf of Mrs Downey, nor did she make a statement. Mr Purves then addressed the court on behalf of Pennington and Long, urging that they were in no part connected with any illegal operation. His Honour, in summing, up, said the Crown did not attempt to bring direct evidence, as such crimes were done in secret. No injustice had been done to Mrs Downey by having her case heard along with the others. If the jury were satisfied that the girl did not die from an illegal operation, then there was an end to the case. Dr. Mollison had said that death was due to a certain cause, and that it was extremely improbable that the girl had done it. As regarded Long the case started with the testimony of witness McCarthy, who in the box, admitted that he committed perjury at the Coroner’s Court. It was necessary for his evidence to be corroborated, and the letters written by accused Long supplied this. The case against Mrs Long rested on the telegrams and letters written and sent by her. Then the statements of the accused Pennington were at variance with her protestations. As regards Mrs Downey, the girl died in her place on the 7th of May. There was no satisfactory explanation for her presence there. According to Mrs Butler, the girl was at Mrs Downey’s house on 5th May, while Mrs Downey said she came the night before her death. Was it credible that she was there without Mrs Downey’s knowledge? On the Friday night, according to Mrs Butler, Mrs Downey wanted to send the girl to a hospital. Why ? Was it because the girl was moribund. Why was a doctor not called sooner ? If the jury decided that Mrs Downey performed the operation, then the other two accused were accomplices, and they were equally guilty. At 1pm the jury retired to consider their verdict, and at 2.30pm returned into Court with a verdict that the three accused had been guilty of murder, and Clara Pennington was recommended to mercy. Asked if they had anything to say a why- they should not be sentenced, each accused said she knew nothing of the illegal operation.

His Honour said:

You three women have been found guilty by the jury on the facts, and have to say that I roughly agree with the verdict. The only conclusion I draw is that you have been carrying on this abominable traffic for some time. Whether the sentence will be carried out or not does not rest with me, but the Governor-General will determine that. I now order that, you be taken to the Melbourne Gaol, and from there to such place as the Governor-in-Council may direct, then be hanged by the neck until you are dead. God have mercy on your souls. On the declaration of the sentence, several women in Court burst into tears and rushed from the Court. The prisoners were then removed back to the Geelong Gaol.

On This Day ……. 22nd June 1916

Amongst five prisoners receiver at the Geelong Gaol on this day in 1916 was the George Henry Leake. He was convicted for the killing 4 years old Doris Foley from Beach Forest at Apollo Bay early in 1916, and was under sentence of ten years.

ON THIS DAY – June 22, 1892

BENDIGO

The position in which a man named David Storey found himself recently at Bendigo should be a warning to all men who, with hasty temperaments and temporary under the influence of liquor, give vent to passion and action. Storey was in company with a Constable named Brown, who was in private clothes, and several others, and had been drinking, so much so, apparently, that they were in that condition described by the poet, “When the wine is in ths wit is out,” A dispute arose about the payment of some drinks. Brown, it is asserted, used some forcible language towards Storey, who, after a brief interval, retaliated by striking Brown in the mouth. The blow, coupled with undoubtedly an unsteady gait, caused Brown to fall, and in doing so his head came in contact with a sharp stone. This caused concussion of the brain, from which the unfortunate man died. The whole occurrence passed very rapidly, and doubtless Storey was as much amazed as anyone to find what was at first a trivial affair, having such a tragic termination. Storey was duly committed for trial on a charge of manslaughter, and at the ‘Criminal Sessions in Bendigo the other day, before Mr Justice Holroyd, found guilty, the jury adding a strong recommendation to mercy. Mr Justice Holroyd, in delivering addressed a few remarks to Storey, and
remarked that he hoped the occurrence would be a warning to him for life not to go into any street brawls again. Storey, was then sentenced to pay a fine of £20. The sentence may seem light, and if every street brawler imagined he wae going to get off with a fine for any serious termination of a disturbance through deeming the sentence in question a precedent, it might be regretted that the judge did not impose a heavier penalty, Judge Holroyd, however, was humane enough to think of keeping Storey from contact with ordinary criminals. The whole surroundings of the case olearly showed that it was altogether a chance circumstance that led to the tragical termination of very trivial quarrel, and the evidence brought forward showed that Storey had held positions of trust in connection with two business firms for very long periods, was usually of an inoffensive nature, and was not hitherto known officially to the police. Under all those circumstances, the imposition of the fine is to be regarded as a proper vindication of justice. It cannot be regarded as a certainty, how ever, that quarrelsome people who get drunk and aggressive in action and bring themselves into a similar position will get off either with a fine, or as lightly. On the other hand, it ought to be a warning to people that cannot control their tempers under the influence of liquor, that no brawl is unattended with more or less serious consequences, from manslaughter to murder, and therefore the whole case should carry its moral with it.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 20, 1907

WILLIAMSTOWN

Charlotte Kenny was on trial charged with murdering her infant by poison at Williamstown on June 20. The defence was that her mind was un-hinged at the time owing to being prosecuted for an attempt to pass certain valueless cheques. The case is proceeding. Kenny received two month gaol.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 19, 1894

The trial of Cecilia Anderson for the murder of John Fraser at the Southern Cross Hotel, Bourke-street, on 19th June, was held on Thursday at the Criminal Court, Melbourne, before the Chief Justice. Mr. Walsh, QC., stated the case for the Crown. He said that on Mrs. Anderson’s last trip from Sydney, she met Mrs. Healey, of New Zealand, and told her she meant to shoot Fraser in Melbourne. She procured a revolver, and made a pocket to carry it about in. On one occasion, Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Healey met Fraser, and Mrs. Anderson took him away. Accused afterwards told Mrs. Healey it was a pity that she had not had the revolver with her when she was with Fraser, as she could have of done the trick nicely. The counsel described the scene at the Southern Cross Hotel, and said that accused had apparently been driven almost mad with jealousy, because a man who had promised to marry her three years before had married another woman. The taking of evidence having been concluded, the counsel addressed the jury, and his Honor summed up. The jury, after a short retirement, found the prisoner guilty of the murder of Fraser. The chief Justice in passing sentence of death, said there was no doubt that Mrs. Anderson had suffered severe wrongs at Fraser’s hands through his not paying her what he owed, and perhaps in other ways, but wrongs like these were no reasons for taking human life. The ultimate penalty for the crime did not rest with the Court. She might escape the sentence of death, but he did not wish to hold out any expectations in that direction. In the meantime he begged of her to make preparations for another world. Anderson revived 2 month gaol time.

 

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 – June 19, 1980

Theresa Crowe, a vivacious young woman, had been found in her loft apartment, wrapped in a blanket, her body slashed from throat to groin. Despite the horrific wounds that prompted speculation that she had been killed in a satanic ritual, the cause of death was strangulation.

Malcolm Clarke knew her. They had met at a disco, Chaser’s, the year before.

A medical examiner found Crowe had been dead for 12 to 15 hours before she was found, on June 25, 1980. Clarke had an alibi for that period. She had in fact been dead five days, but the bitter winter cold and her unheated apartment had acted like a refrigerator, confusing the pathologist.

Clarke would finally confess to Theresa Crowe’s slaying and was sentenced to 11 years for manslaughter and a separate assault and rape.  Clarke would later be convicted of the murder of 6 year old Bonnie Clarke in 1982

ON THIS DAY – June 17, 1913

A tragic affair at the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum on June 17 when a patient was killed with an axe handle as the result of a sudden attack by another inmate culminated in the presentment of Arthur Dowell at the Criminal Court charged with the murder. John Joseph Tissear, medical officer of the asylum, gave evidence that the accused was suffering from dementia and could not possibly realise his position. The jury found that prisoner was not fit to plead to the presentment, and the Chief Justice ordered that he should be detained in custody during the Governor’s pleasure. Dowell was taken back to the Asylum.