On this day …….. 26th of December 1951

A young man has been charged with breaking into Pentridge gaol. The man was discovered about midday on the 26th of December 1951, in a building In the reformatory section of the gaol. He told warders he was familiar with the layout of the building, because he had recently served a long term there. Early this morning he had climbed over a 20 foot wall surrounding the gaol, and spent the morning distributing Christmas gifts of tobacco and cigarettes to his friends.

ON THIS DAY – July 22, 1988


CONVICTED murderer Alex Tsakmakis’s brutal killing earned very little sympathy among his fellow inmates.  Before we was clobbered to death behind bars, he too had carried out a prison killing. Before coming to police attention, Alex Tsakmakis appeared to be a company director and Ivanhoe family man. But his actions made him nothing but pure evil. Tskamakis, 40, was defenceless when he was attacked from behind on July 22, 1988. Taking lunch to a group of prisoners in the maximum security industry yard at about 11.30am, he was beaten on the back of the head by Russell St bomber Craig Minogue, 26. Tsakmakis remained standing at the first blow, but fell on the second. He was hit up to seven times with a pillow case full of 5kg gym weights and suffered a fractured skull and brain damage. Despite being given immediate medical attention and being rushed to hospital, he died six days later. Minogue received a second murder conviction but because he is serving it concurrently with his Russell St bombing sentence he has been given just three more months for Tskamakis’s death. The sentencing judge, Justice George Hampel believed Tskamakis’s life was not worth any more than that. At the time Minogue said he had killed Tskamakis in self defence because feared he would have been Tsakmakis’s next victim. Minogue will be eligible for parole in 2016.

On This Day……..17th July 1946

Scores of people on the main platform at Spencer Street Railway Station in Melbourne and hundreds of others going to work early saw a warder firing shots at an escaping prisoner. The man had jumped from a train as it was leaving the station. He was chased for 250 yards before he fell with a bullet in the head. His condition was not considered serious. The fugitive, Ian Mitchell, 34, whose address was given as Pentridge Prison, was taken to hospital, handcuffed to the warder. He was handcuffed to his escort while being examined by doctors in the casualty section and was still handcuffed to the warder when taken to the X-ray department. Although wounded in the head the escapee was recaptured. Two prisoners, each escorted by an armed warder, were brought from Pentridge in a police car to be taken to Ballarat Gaol by train, leaving Spencer Street at 8.50 am Prisoners and warders were all in civilian clothes, and, to save the prisoners from embarrassment on the train, the warders had not handcuffed them. Warder John Eddy Dihm had charge of Mitchell, and Warder Mervyn Aldous was escorting the other prisoner, who was a clergyman and was wearing clerical dress. He is serving a five-year sentence. Both were being transferred from Pentridge to serve the rest of their gaol sentences. The train was on No. 1 plat form and the prisoners and their escorts were sitting together in a compartment. As the train was pulling out of the station. Mitchell sprang to his feet, raced along the corridor and leapt on to the platform at the back of the cloak room. Business people coming from that part of the station along the concourse scattered in alarm when they heard shots bring fired and railwaymen and people who had seen passengers off fled for cover. Calling on the fugitive to stop, Dihm fired four shots as he chased him to the enclosed end of No. 1 platform and along a barricaded concourse past the end of several adjoining platforms.


ON THIS DAY – July 12, 1950

A Criminal Court  jury found Winifred Therese Walford, 42, of Gordon Street, Deepdene, not guilty of the murder of her husband on July 12, on the ground of insanity. The Crown alleged, that she struck Keith Hartley Walford, 51, company secretary, on the head with an axe while he was reading a paper in the dining-room. The jury took less than half an hour to arrive at a verdict. Mr. Justice O’Bryan sentenced Mrs. Walford to custody at Pentridge Jail during the Governor’s pleasure.  A quiet plea of “not guilty” was all that Mrs. Walford said, throughout the trial. She was not called to give evidence. Three medical witnesses called by the Crown and the defence save evidence that she suffered from’ depressive psychosis following the birth of a child 12 years ago. In their opinion she would not have known that she was doing wrong when she struck her husband with the axe eight times, but she would have known the nature of the act. Detective J. Oakes said that soon after the husband’s death Mrs. Walford told him she must have been crazy. She said they had always been happy together and he was a loving man, who had been extremely considerate of her. Her doctors had told her that she must have more hospital treatment and this was worrying her.

On This Day…….8th of July 1934

George Fairburn, alias Fuller, 41, a Pentridge prisoner, escaped from the Creswell Sanatorium at Mont Park on the 11th of July 1934. The penal authorities, who have appealed for public co-operation in recapturing Fairburn, state that he had been placed in the Sanatorium because of illness. He was suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis, which in its present form in Fairbuir, is highly infective. The escape was certified as having but a short while to live, and, for this reason, it was not thought necessary to place a prison guard over him.

ON THIS YEAR – July 5, 1974

A young labourer who shot and killed a judo instructor at North Altona on July 5 last year was acquitted of murder but found guilty of manslaughter by a Criminal Court jury today. Mr Justice Crockett sentenced the labourer, Mr David Robert Elbourne, 24, of Morwell, to nine years’ jail with a non-parole minimum of six years. Mr Elbourne and Mr John Adam Adamic, 38, a Pentridge prisoner, were tried for the murder of Mr Andrew Donnelly, 39, of North Altona. Both pleaded not guilty. The jury acquitted Mr Adamic and found Mr Elbourne guilty of the alternative charge of manslaughter. The Crown, had alleged that Mr Elbourne, while a prisoner in Pentridge, had been offered $5,000 by Mr Adamic to “get rid” of Mr Donnelly, who was having an affair with Mrs Adamic. Rifle for protection Mr Elbourne told the court that he had intended to tell Mr Donnelly to keep away from Mr Adamic’s family. He had taken the rifle in case Mr Donnelly attacked him. Mr Donnelly had turned on him and he had involuntarily fired. Mr Adamic said he had asked Mr Elbourne to speak to Mr Donnelly but had not suggested that he kill him. Both men denied that Mr Elboume had been offered $5,000 to “get rid” of Mr Donnelly.

ON THIS DAY – July 4, 1984


In Pentridge Prison, Alex Tsakmakis shared a cell with double murderer Barry Robert Quinn. They had a tense relationship and Quinn would often bait his hot-headed inmate to cause trouble. One day he pushed Tsakmakis too far. Quinn brought up the memory of the rape of Tsakmakis’s girlfriend, taunting him about it. Tsakmakis retaliated the next day. It was about 9am on July 4, 1984 and Quinn was in Day Room 2 watching TV soap “The Restless Years”. Tsakmakis doused him with model glue and then flicked matches at Quinn as he tried to hide behind a table. A newspaper at the time reported that it was the fourth match Tsakmakis flicked that set Quinn alight. Tsakmakis stood in the cell doorway and watched him burn, refusing to allow prison officers to get in and help. The room filled with thick black smoke and Quinn ran around the room in agony. Photos presented to the court later showed black marks on the wall from where, in complete terror and desperation, he had collided into them. When prison officers finally reached Quinn they tried to put the fire out with an extinguisher, before using a blanket to smother the flames. Quinn refused to tell police who was responsible for the assault, in fear that his family would be targeted. He died at the Alfred hospital with burns to 85 per cent of his body. Tsakmakis’s actions that day gave him the nickname “the barbecue king”. Also in 1978, Tsakmakis murdered professional runner Bruce Lindsay Walker, allegedly over a dispute involving a vintage 1935 Plymouth car. The two had gone out on a fishing boat, but only Tsakmakis returned. Walker’s body washed up at Point Lonsdale soon after with his hands and feet bound with chicken wire.

Tskamakis was murdered in Pentridge on July 22, 1988 by Russell St bomber Craig Minogue, 26. He was hit up to seven times with a pillow case full of 5kg gym weights and suffered a fractured skull and brain damage. Photo of Barry Quinn.


On This Day ……. 20th June 1911

A vagrant from the Sale district who had been on remand at the Geelong Gaol for a week, appeared before the bench at the Police Court. Superintendent Charles stated that the man was in a shocking state of health, and suggested that he should be returned to gaol for twelve months so that he could be given a course of medical treatment. The bench considered nine months long enough, and the stranger will probably go to Pentridge for attention.

On This Day ……. 14th June 1901

Three prisoners arrived under escort from Pentridge at the Geelong gaol on this day in 1901, where they complete their term of imprisonment under which they were sentenced. One of tho number included John Sissons, who was recently sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for a disgusting offence in Kardinia Park. He suffered considerably from fits at Pentridge, and the penal authorities decided to transfer him to the local gaol. A man named Joseph Laithwaite, who was convicted at Colac on a charge of unlawful assault was also lodged within the confines of the local gaol.

ON THIS DAY – June 6, 1881


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 ……. 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.

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.