On this day …….. 14th of December 1949
Francis Blair, 34, a dangerous criminal lunatic, who escaped on the 14th of December 1949 from Beechworth Mental Hospital, was recaptured in a Barber’s shop in Wangaratta on the 21st. He had gone into a barber’s saloon to have a shave, and was recognised by his long growth of beard. He was identified by a garage proprietor who read the criminal’s description in the newspaper soon after he had passed him in the street. Blair was sentenced in 1937 to four years imprisonment for Robbery Under Arms, Francis Blair 21 years old at the time and his mate Ronald Blackney 22 were remanded for a week, in the South Melbourne Police Court on charges of having, on July 30th, robbed Ernest George Cooper and Phillip Cohen at 2am of their money, while armed with a revolver, with having stolen a motor car valued at £160, with having had an unregistered pistol in their possession and with having loitered with Intent to commit a felony. Since then Blair has been at Royal Park and Beechworth Mental Hospital. Blair while in the airing yard at Beechworth with other patients, he climbed a loft wall and escaped into open country. He told the police that after escaping he had walked for five hours through rugged country only to find that he had circled Beechworth from his starting point. Blair then waited until dark and after finding the Beechworth Wangaratta road he then walked the 23 miles that night into Wangaratta. Police brought him back to the Asylum. Local police searched the gorge and surrounding countryside. A month ago he wrote to the police asking for legal assistance to secure his release. He had previously been charged with robbery under arms.