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ON THIS DAY – June 16, 1907

Dominic Tarrabouchier, an Austrian fisherman, who stabbed Constable Cawsey, who in turn shot him, at Portarlington on June 16, was before the City Court, charged with wounding and assaulting with intent to murder May Mitchell. The accused was remanded.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 14, 1935

GUILTY OF MANSLAUGHTER

“I am not guilty! I am Innocent! God knows I am not guilty!” With those words Clifford Earl Smiles, aged 31 years, motor mechanic, of Warleigh road, West Footscray, burst into sobs in the dock of the Criminal Court on September 18 after a jury had found him guilty of the manslaughter of his wife and child. The jury had deliberated for a little more than three and three-quarter hours, having left the court at 5.15 p.m. Smiles was remanded for sentence.

Smiles was charged with having on June 14 murdered his wife, Edna May Smiles, aged 24 years, and his daughter, Norma Elizabeth Smiles, aged four months. The bodies of Mrs. Smiles and her daughter were found in the gas-fllled kitchen of their home at Warleigh road, Footscray, on the morning of June 14. The Crown alleged that Smiles had suffocated his wife and had then placed the dead body, with the baby, which was then alive, in the kitchen, turning on the gas at the stove to make it appear as if Mrs. Smiles had committed suicide and gassed the baby.

ON THIS DAY – June 10, 1889

A VERDICT OF MANSLAUGHTER AGAINST THE FATHER.

THE DAUGHTER FOUND GUILTY OF CONCEALMENT OF BIRTH.

The trial of William M’Carron and his daughter Jane for the murder of their infant daughter, at Kaarimba, on June 10 last, was continued at the Assize Court this morning, before Mr. Justice Kerferd. In relation to the point raised the previous evening, his Honour announced that he considered that evidence concerning a conversation between Mrs. M’Carron and the male prisoner, when the former was on her death bed was inadmissible. Evidence concerning improper conduct on the part of the male prisoner towards his daughter Esther was also inadmissible, being irrelevant to the issue. He would also exclude any evidence relating to former children born of the prisoner Jane, because they could not be proved to be the children of the male prisoner nor could it be proved whether those children were murdered or died from accident. Esther M’Carron, re-called, said that she had known her father and sister Jane to sleep in the same room on several occasions. Witness and her younger sister were now in service in Melbourne under assumed names. She had known her sister Jane to be enciente on previous occasions. Martha M’Carron, another daughter of the male prisoner, deposed that she had known that her father and sister Jane had acted improperly. Dr. M’Kenna of Shepparton, deposed to having examined the female prisoner on 14th June. She had recently been confined, and was in a weak state. He then thought, and was still of the same opinion that the prisoner Jane was of weak intellect. Dr. Haynes, medical officer at the Beechworth gaol, deposed that the prisoner Jane was not an idiot, nor was she insane, but was a weak-minded girl. The evidence for the Crown was concluded before 10 o’clock, the evidence of Dr. Drinkwater (who made a post-mortem examination of the body) having been put in in deposition form, the doctor having recently died. His evidence was that the child had been born alive, and died from suffocation. Mr. Smyth’s address to the jury was brief. He said the woman might be guilty only of concealment of birth, but the man was guilty of murder or manslaughter. Mr. Purves spoke at length. He contended that Jane M’Carron was a poor weak-minded, degraded being, whose intelligence was not much raised above the level of instinct, and that she could not be found guilty of this crime. Regarding the male prisoner, Mr. Purves argued that had he suffocated the child its dead body would have borne marks of rough treatment. He contended that the child had been born in a chaff-heap during the absence of M’Carron, and had been accidentally suffocated by the chaff, and that when the infant was given to M’Carron by his daughter Jane it was then simply a dead body. Therefore he had not been guilty either of murder or manslaughter, but was guilty of concealment of birth. The prisoner Jane was of immensely powerful physical frame, an admirable specimen of the animal, but of very low moral faculties. Mr. Purves concluded his address by an appeal to the jurymen to give an honest verdict according to the evidence. The Judge’s summing up commenced at noon. He urged on the jurymen the necessity of considering evidence only in arriving at their verdict. He asked them to discard from their minds all feelings concerning the dreadful relations which had existed between the male and the female prisoners. He highly commended the manner in which the Crown had placed the case before them, which was characterised by great fairness. The facts contained in the evidence were uncontradicted by evidence for the defence, but in its place was an exhaustive and able review of the evidence by the counsel for the defence. His Honour pointed out that the prisoners might be guilty of any one of three offences—either murder, or manslaughter, or concealment of birth, and he proceeded to describe what actions or what intent were necessary to constitute each and every of these crimes. One of the prisoners might be guilty of one crime and the other prisoner of another. The mother’s statement and the medical evidence showed that the child was born alive, and its death might have been compassed either by accident or intention. If the child was accidentally smothered in the chaff neither of the prisoners were guilty of murder, but both of them were guilty of the crime of murder if it was intended by them that the child should not live. To gain a knowledge of the intentions of the prisoners they must consider all surrounding circumstances such as suggested by these inquiries—Why did they go into the stable ? did the father remain there till the birth ? There was no provision made in the way of clothing for the child, and this was evidence in favour of concealment of birth, but not of the graver charge. If the male prisoner assisted at the birth of the child so as to conceal and keep secret his ecclesiastical offence, of incest, and did not take proper precautions, and the child lost its life thereby, then he was guilty of manslaughter. And if the child was carelessly laid on the chaff-heap and thus was suffocated, then one or either, or both of the prisoners would be guilty of manslaughter. The secret disposal of the body was an important factor with regard to the charge of murder, and ample evidence had been given in this case of the endeavour to secrete the body. There was nothing to be said in palliation of the male prisoner as being the author of the wrong which had fallen on the female prisoner, and it was a question for the jury now to decide as regarded the male prisoner whether he was guilty of the greater or second offence. The jury retired at a quarter to 1 o’clock. The jury returned into court at 2.35 p.m., and, answering the associate, the foreman said :—”We find William M’Carron not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter. We find Jane M’Carron not guilty of murder, not guilty of manslaughter, but guilty of concealment of birth. This is our unanimous verdict.” The prisoners were remanded for sentence. The prisoners have been most stolid in their demeanour till today, when the woman frequently shed tears, especially during Mr. Purves’s address and the judge’s summing up. The man also seemed to be uneasy during the day.

 

EXECUTED ON THIS DAY……….. 9th of June 1879

The execution of Thomas Hogan, for the murder of his brother at Yarrawonga, took place at 9am, on this day in 1879. The prisoner, who had been spiritually attended since he was condemned, by Father O’Connor, was very calm, and walked on to the drop with a firm step. When asked by the sheriff if he had anything to say, he replied “No.” Gately then drew the bolt and the body fell a lifeless corpse. It was left hanging for two hours, and was then cut down, and the customary inquest was held upon the remains, when the usual evidence was adduced, and a verdict of “death by hanging” was returned. The body was buried in quicklime, in the same grave as that containing the remains of the murderers Smith and Brady, who were executed here five years ago. The arrangements were most complete. Gately left for Melbourne, accompanied by a warder.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 9, 1917

Francis Dunin charged with the murder of Thomas Roberts at Cassilis by shooting on June the 9th was found guilty by a jury in the Supreme Court, after twenty minutes retirement. The jury added a rider that when accused shot through the door he had only intended to injure, not kill, Roberts. Sentence of death was passed by Mr Justice Cussen. Mr Leon prosecuted. Mr Maxwell, who defended accused, called no witnesses, but argued that the case was one of manslaughter.

 

ON THIS DAY – June 8, 1934

Four months ago, on June 8, the brutally-battered body of Jean McKenzie, 21, was found in an apartment house on St. Kilda-road. To-day at the inquest the police had to confess their failure to trace the murderer. The Coroner (Mr. D. Grant) recorded a finding of murder by a person or persons unknown.  Harry Blom, sailor, who occupied the room next to the murdered girl on the night of the murder, said he heard raised voices, male and female, in the next room. Later he saw Jean McKenzie at the front door. He noticed the figure, apparently of a man, standing outside the door. Miss McKenzie and the man were speaking in high toned voices. The next day he passed the door of Miss McKenzie’s room a number of times, and noticed each time that it was closed. Suspecting that something was wrong, he opened the door and saw Miss McKenzie lying on the floor, dead. Detective A. Webster said that on entering Miss McKenzie’s room on June 8 he saw the girl’s body lying on the floor. Her head was badly battered. Portions of the body were covered in blood. A cord was tied tightly round her neck. The room was in disorder and there were numerous bloodstains on the floor, walls, and skirting board even on top of the door. A large number of people have been interviewed about this case, Detective Webster continued, ‘but we have not been able to get sufficient evidence to charge any particular person with the offence. The position of some of the stains showed that the girl had been struck while in bed. Two blood-stained lengths of firewood were in the room.

ON THIS DAY – June 8, 1968

Mr Justice Lush pronounced the death sentence for the second time in a week in the Criminal Court yesterday, when a labourer, 20, was found guilty of murdering his 17 year old former girlfriend.

The youth, Leigh Robinson, of Markham Avenue, Ashburton,  sat down when he heard the death sentence, put his head in his hands and wept silently.

Mr Justice Lush asked him if he had anything to say. “No Sir”, Robinson replied.

Robinson was charged with having murdered Valerie Ethel Dunn at her home in Margot Street, Chadstone on June 8.

Evidence was given that the girl was stabbed 16 times and that a youth who tried to rescue her was also stabbed by Robinson.

The jury retired at 11.42am and returned a verdict of guilty at 12.40pm.

Robinson pleaded not guilty at the beginning of his trial, which started on Monday – four days after Mr Justice Lush had sentenced Irwin Richard Hans Weise to death for the murder of his wife.

ON THIS DAY – June 6, 1930

FITZROY MURDER 

Following the inquest to-day concerning the death of John Alfred Taylor, a grocer, of Fitzroy, on June 6, Arthur Skeritt (48), a coloured man, was committed for trial on a charge of murder. Taylor, who was between 60 aud 65 years of age, kept a small shop at the corner of Fitzroy and Argyle streets, Fitzroy. He was found battered to death in his shop early in the morning of June 7. The police produced several surprise witnesses, who said that on the night of Taylor’s death Skeritt was in possession of a sovereign, bank notes, a quantity of coppers, cigarettes, cigarette papers and other goods similar to those stocked by Taylor. Skeritt was quite at his ease during the inquest, and when the Coroner (Mr. D. Grant) announced his finding Skeritt produced some tobacco and rolled himself a cigarette

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 1937

Charged with the murder of John Woods, 56, prospector, at Maryborough (Vic.), on June 3, Reginald James Kilpatrick, 21, appeared before Mr Hauser, P.M., in the City Court. He was remanded until June 28. Police alleged that Kilpatrick, after murdering Woods, buried his body in a shallow mine shaft. Kilpatrick was arrested by Senior Detective Webster on June 12. Bail was not granted.

ON THIS DAY – June 1, 1861

A lamentable catastrophe occurred in Collingwood on Saturday evening last, a man named Currie having first shot his wife, and afterwards attempted to commit suicide. The case appears to have been one arising from jealousy on the one side, and passion and drink upon the other. So far as at present known, the particulars may be briefly stated as follows — A man named George Currie, well known throughout the district from being the Inspector of Nuisances for the Fitzroy Municipality, has been living for some time in Moor street, Fitzroy, and latterly on very bad terms with his wife. Currie was a member of the local volunteer company, and formerly a sergeant in the police force. He was also an old soldier, having been engaged in the Caffre wars. His disputes with his wife arose partly from their being of different religions, and partly from her suspecting that he was keeping a mistress in the neighbourhood. During the last few weeks, Currie has taken to drink, and his quarrels with his wife became so violent that their friends endeavoured to effect a separation. Last Wednesday, matters appeared to reach a climax, as Currie then attempted his wife’s life with a loaded horse pistol, but she fortunately escaped from him. He was given into custody, and brought up the following morning, at the Fitzroy Police Court. The charge, however, was withdrawn, arrangements being made that Currie should allow his wife a separate maintenance, and go out of town until the necessary details were completed. Accordingly he went down to St. Kilda or Brighton, but returned the next day begging to be received home again. The wife consented, and to further pacify her, Currie purchased a silk dress; for which he paid seven guineas, and also gave her two gold rings, and a diamond ring. After this, Currie again became somewhat violent, and demanded money from the woman, a request which she refused to comply with Saturday, however, appealed likely to pass over quietly, although it is a fact, not without significance, that in the morning Currie made his will. During the day he was told off as one of the firing party to attend at the funeral of the volunteer who was buried on Saturday. Accordingly, about half past nine o’clock at night, after his return, he commenced to clean his rifle. There was nobody in the house at the time besides himself, his son, a lad of 13, and his wife. The lad was going to bed and his mother was passing into the bedroom, when suddenly, without speaking, Carrie, who mast previously have loaded his rifle, discharged it at her. The woman’s back was turned to him at the time, and the ball passed right through her body. She fell down, but recovering scrambled onto the bed.  Currie without displaying any alarm, picked her up in his arms, carried her out of the front door into the garden, and told his son to run for a doctor. Some men who were passing by took the woman, who was quite insensible, into the house again, and Dr Tracy, who was speedily in attendance, pronounced her case to be hopeless. Currie was of course taken into custody. He had been sitting in a chair, displaying the utmost indifference, though the room was swimming with his victim’s blood, and he freely acknowledged all the particulars of his crime. Shortly after he had been removed to the police station the son showed Dr Tracy a bottle, the contents of which he had seen his father swallow when leaving. This it was ascertained had contained laudanum, so that Currie, who had begun to show the effects of the poison, was conveyed to the Melbourne Hospital. The stomach pump was immediately applied, but it was not till, six o’clock that the surgeons were enabled to pronounce him out of danger and of course he is at present in a most exhausted condition. The unfortunate woman, his wife, became sensible during the night and her depositions were taken. They were simply that her husband had shot her without any provocation. She lingered in great pain until about 7 o’clock in the morning when she expired. Dr Tracy and Dr Featherstone made a post-mortem examination of the body. The district coroner held an inquest on it on Monday morning, and a verdict of wilful murder was returned.

On this day …….. 1st of June 1903

Walter Sovereign former warden at Beechworth Lunatic Asylum now a wood cutter. Sovereign was camping not far from Bright, North East Victoria, on the 1st of June 1903 and while boiling a billy in tho darkness after work he was surprised to find a man standing behind him. The man was wearing only a canvas bag and had no shoes. Several questions were put by Sovereign to the man who gave no intelligent continually muttering ‘ Knife” Murder and when asked questions answer simply repeating the words after him . On Sovereign picking up a knife for fear of being attacked the man disappeared in the forest. Police have since scoured the country without finding any trace of the man. He is believed to be one of two escaped lunatics.