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ON THIS DAY…….2nd August 1904

An inquest was held at the Morgue yesterday morning concerning the death of a newly born male child whose body was found on August 2 on a vacant allotment near Howe crescent, South Melbourne. The child is fully developed and had been killed by being strangled with a piece of string which was tied round the neck.

There were (in the opinion of Mr J Brett MRCS who made a post mortem examination) evidence that skilled attention had been given to the mother when the child was born. The Coroner (Dr H Cole) recorded a verdict of wilful murder by some person or persons unknown. Detectives Bannon and Mercer are making enquiries into the case.

On This Day ……. 19th April 1930

In the Geelong Supreme Court on this day in 1930, Erie Harris Brockwell aged 24, was charged with having murdered Horace Thomas Walpole on the 28th of April 1929. Walpole’s body was found in his motor car on the Queenscliff-road. There were injuries to the head, and a post mortem examination disclosed a bullet in the brain. Walpole had been shot from behind. Senior Detective Siekerdick said that when he interviewed Brockwell on the 29th April, Brockwell admitted that he fired two shots at Walpole. Witness added that Brockwell asked to be “saved from the rope”. He did not mind doing 15 years. Walpole had called him a gaol bird, and he (Brockwell) had fired at him. Brockwell later signed a statement in which he admitted having killed Walpole. Brockwell, in a statement from the dock, said that he was too drunk to remember the incident. He had intended to kill himself, because he was depressed and in ill-health. He engaged Walpole to drive him to Queenscliff, and there had been a quarrel, but he had not fired to hit. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, and Brockwell was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. “The jury took a very lenient view,” remarked the Chief Justice, in passing sentence. Brockwell was sent to Geelong Gaol and released in 1941.

 

ON THIS DAY…… 15th August 1923

The City Court was crowded when Reuben Fox, aged 35 years, labourer, was charged with having murdered Mrs Josephine Jane McLaughlin at Yea between July 22 and July 23. Fox appeared calm, and interjected intently to the Police’s brief outlined on the case against him. Sub-inspector T. Coonan said that on the morning of July 23 the body of Mrs. McLaughlin was found in the river at Yea. She had left her home on the previous night to to a dance, and she was seen returning towards her home. A post-mortem examination showed that she had several injuries on the head, that been inflicted before the body was placed in the river. “The accused, who was arrested on July 23”, confirmed by witness, “was seen at the dance and late that night was seen going in the direction of the scene of the struggle. His clothes were examined, and were found to be blood-stained, and It was also found that he bought a particular brand of beer bottle, which was used to inflict the injuries on the unfortunate woman. The inquest into the death of Mrs McLaughlin was on this day in 1923.   Fox denies all knowledge of the crime. The blood stains and the beer bottle can be explained.   On the application of the Police. Fox was remanded to appear at the City Court the following week, with a view to a remand to the inquest. No application for bail was made.

ON THIS DAY…….2nd August 1904

An inquest was held at the Morgue yesterday morning concerning the death of a newly born male child whose body was found on August 2 on a vacant allotment near Howe crescent, South Melbourne. The child is fully developed and had been killed by being strangled with a piece of string which was tied round the neck.

There were (in the opinion of Mr J Brett MRCS who made a post mortem examination) evidence that skilled attention had been given to the mother when the child was born. The Coroner (Dr H Cole) recorded a verdict of wilful murder by some person or persons unknown. Detectives Bannon and Mercer are making enquiries into the case.

On this day ……… 29th of May 1892

A man named Samson Cornwell died at Beulah, near Warracknabeal, on May 29. No post-mortem examination was held, but at a Magisterial inquiry a verdict of death from natural causes was given. From subsequent information in the hands of the police an application was granted to exhume the body, which was done, and at the inquest held a post mortem revealed a salty metallic substance in the liver and stomach, a portion of which was sent to the Government Analyst for analysis. The inquest was adjourned until July 13. A woman named O’Brien, who was living with Cornwell, purchased some arsenic a few days before he died. She and a coloured man named Prato are under arrest for taking certain property of the deceased’s estate.

 

On This Day ……. 19th April 1930

In the Geelong Supreme Court on this day in 1930, Erie Harris Brockwell aged 24, was charged with having murdered Horace Thomas Walpole on the 28th of April 1929. Walpole’s body was found in his motor car on the Queenscliff-road. There were injuries to the head, and a post mortem examination disclosed a bullet in the brain. Walpole had been shot from behind. Senior Detective Siekerdick said that when he interviewed Brockwell on the 29th April, Brockwell admitted that he fired two shots at Walpole. Witness added that Brockwell asked to be “saved from the rope”. He did not mind doing 15 years. Walpole had called him a gaol bird, and he (Brockwell) had fired at him. Brockwell later signed a statement in which he admitted having killed Walpole. Brockwell, in a statement from the dock, said that he was too drunk to remember the incident. He had intended to kill himself, because he was depressed and in ill-health. He engaged Walpole to drive him to Queenscliff, and there had been a quarrel, but he had not fired to hit. The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter, and Brockwell was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment. “The jury took a very lenient view,” remarked the Chief Justice, in passing sentence. Brockwell was sent to Geelong Gaol and released in 1941.

 

EXECUTION THIS DAY – April 4, 1853

Shortly after eight o’clock, the extreme sentence of the law was carried into effect upon George Whitfield Pinkerton, the murderer of the unfortunate Mrs Smith and infant at Brighton, the particulars of which must fresh in the recollection of our readers. From the moment of Pinkerton’s condemnation, the Rev. Mr. Hetherington, Presbyterian minister, has been unremitting in his attention to him, and it is to be hoped that the Rev. gentlelman’s exertions have not been without their beneficial effects. The same apparent indifference to his fate which was manifested by the prisoner at his trial, was however persevered in to the last moment; no expression of regret for his enormous crime escaped him, and to those around he frquently ridiculed the only plea which could have assisted to save his life. His health had become much improved since his trial, and there can be no doubt he would, under skilful medical treatment, have fully recovered from the inflicted injuries, which it was at first thought would have proved fatal within a few hours of their infliction. During the night previous to his execution, Pinkerton slept soundly and on waking immediately remembered and remarked upon that being his last day upon earth. He attired himself in the suit which he had worn upon his trial and at an early hour was visited by the Reverend Mr. Hetherington, to whom he apparently attended with great attention till within a few moments of eight o’clock, when the wretched man who was so soon to terminate his career upon the scaffold, appeared in the passage, when, upon a signal from the Governor of the Gaol the executioner, who had been for some time in the western extremity of the Gaol, made an appearance, and commenced the task of pinioning the prisoner’s arms. It has been remarked by persons in the habit of attending public executions that it is at this moment the courage of the prisoner usually gives way. Such was certainly not the case on the present occasion, the prisoner remaining as firm as a rock, and immediately afterwards the white cap having been adjusted, he expressed his readiness to meet his doom. On entering the yard in which the instrument of death was erected, the sight which usually strikes terror to the hearts of the most hardened, had no effect on him. He mounted the scaffold with a firm step, attended by the Reverend gentleman we have named, and on the very instant that he reached the platform, the rope was adjusted round the criminal’s neck, the bolt was drawn, and all was over. Death, to all appearance, did its work in a moment, without creating even the slightest appearance of a struggle in the victim. On gazing at the suspended and stiffened corpse, the thought intruded itself that such a scene was more adapted for the barbarous ages than an enlightened nineteenth century. The number of spectators was quite as large as usual on such occasions, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather, and amongst them, to their shame be it said, we observed many females and children. The body, after hanging an hour, was cut down, and upon examination, the features were found to be distorted to a far less extent than is usually the case. It has been stated to us upon good authority, that Pinkerton within the last few days admitted to a person who visited him, that his original statement to the effect that the attack upon poor Smith was unpremeditated, was untrue. Doctors Youl, Barker, and Hutchison, held a post mortem examination on the head of the murderer, and gave a written opinion which could not fail to prove satisfactory to the Executive Council that the brain was in a sound healthy state, and denoting nothing to lead to the supposition that he had ever been deranged.

 

On This Day – April 1, 1938

Verdict of Murder.

At the Inquest, conducted by the deputy coroner (Mr, G. Moore) to-day, concerning the death of a newly born male child, whose body was found on the property of Devonshire Sands Ltd., at Long Gully on April 1, police evidence revealed that a piece of elastic was tied round the neck of the baby. A post mortem examination conducted by Dr. M. Jacobs showed that the child had been strangled. Efforts by the police to establish the identity of the child and to find who placed it at the spot where it was discovered had been fruitless. The coroner recorded a finding of murder against some person or persons unknown.

On This Day – January 18, 1871

Skipton

On 18th January, about 6 o’clock in the evening, Charlotte Doe, in a state of intoxication (nothing unusual on her part), went to the Ripon Hotel, where she complained of her head being ill. The landlady examined the woman’s head, and, observing nothing wrong, advised her to lie down for a while in one of the rooms. The woman did so, and being unfit to go away that night, was allowed to remain. Next morning she was found dead in the room. The police becoming acquainted with the matter, at once went to the man Wright (her partner), who admitted that on the previous day he had had an altercation with the deceased, but said that she attacked him with a saucepan, whereupon he, in self-defence, lifted the crutch which he uses and struck her on the side of the head. The post mortem examination, which was made by Dr. Hoskins, revealed an extensive fracture of the deceased’s skull, but notwithstanding the medical evidence, the jury returned a verdict exonerating Wright from culpability in the matter. The police authorities, disapproving of the verdict, arraigned Wright at the police court aforesaid of a charge of manslaughter, and he was committed for trial at the next Ballarat Circuit Court. The prisoner was admitted to bail.

 

On this day …….. 28th of December 1853

On the 28th of December, 1853, what appeared to be the body of a man was noticed floating near an overseas boat, the Royal Shepherdess, at Port Adelaide. Most of those who saw it thought that some unfortunate man had met death by drowning.

However, on being removed from the water the body proved to be a dummy. A jury of ‘highly respectable men’ was assembled with alacrity beyond all precedent and, the foreman having expressed to the coroner a desire for a post mortem examination, the aid of a surgeon was obtained with equal promptitude. The examination went to show, very convincingly, ‘that the deceased met his death from natural causes, and not otherwise.’ A large quantity of mud was said to have been found in the stomach, also, that on removing the scalp the cranium was found to be empty.

The effigy was then paraded through the streets of Port Adelaide, attended by 22 ‘priests in full canonicals’ and followed by several hundred towns people. After this, with all the solemnity of a funeral, the body was removed by boat to one of the ships and hung to the fore yardarm for some time. It was then cut adrift and allowed to float with the tide until, with a cleverly assumed sympathy for the memory of the deceased, several of the mourners brought it ashore and placed it in a coffin. Bearers carried It to where a shallow grave had been prepared. A burial service was read and, with much well-simulated grief, the remains were duly interred. Then all the chips in the port dipped their ensigns, and the ‘sorrowing’ crowd dispersed.

The idea of the strange performance originated in the strong feeling of resentment excited by the Collector of Customs who, when speaking in the Legislative Council, had designated Port Adelaide ‘a mud hole.’

ON THIS DAY…… 15th August 1923

The City Court was crowded when Reuben Fox, aged 35 years, labourer, was charged with having murdered Mrs Josephine Jane McLaughlin at Yea between July 22 and July 23. Fox appeared calm, and interjected intently to the Police’s brief outlined on the case against him. Sub-inspector T. Coonan said that on the morning of July 23 the body of Mrs. McLaughlin was found in the river at Yea. She had left her home on the previous night to to a dance, and she was seen returning towards her home. A post-mortem examination showed that she had several injuries on the head, that been inflicted before the body was placed in the river. “The accused, who was arrested on July 23”, confirmed by witness, “was seen at the dance and late that night was seen going in the direction of the scene of the struggle. His clothes were examined, and were found to be blood-stained, and It was also found that he bought a particular brand of beer bottle, which was used to inflict the injuries on the unfortunate woman. The inquest into the death of Mrs McLaughlin was on this day in 1923.   Fox denies all knowledge of the crime. The blood stains and the beer bottle can be explained.   On the application of the Police. Fox was remanded to appear at the City Court the following week, with a view to a remand to the inquest. No application for bail was made.

ON THIS DAY…….2nd August 1904

 

An inquest was held at the Morgue yesterday morning concerning the death of a newly born male child whose body was found on August 2 on a vacant allotment near Howe crescent, South Melbourne. The child is fully developed and had been killed by being strangled with a piece of string which was tied round the neck.

There were (in the opinion of Mr J Brett MRCS who made a post mortem examination) evidence that skilled attention had been given to the mother when the child was born. The Coroner (Dr H Cole) recorded a verdict of wilful murder by some person or persons unknown. Detectives Bannon and Mercer are making enquiries into the case.