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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 Saturday morning an accident happened, at the North Old Chum Company’s claim, on the Ironbark line of reef, resulting in the instantaneeus death of one man and the injury of another. The two men, named respectively Thomas Pearce and Steadman, were engaged working in the 250ft. level of the above company’s shaft, when a quantity of mulloch from a slippery place in the shaft fell and almost buried them in the debris. Both, on assistance arriving, were immediately conveyed to the surface, when it was found that the unfortunate man Pearce was quite dead, but Steadman was only slightly injured, and was able to walk to his home. The corpse was conveyed to Sterry’s Goldmines hotel, where an inquest will be held. Both men were experienced miners, and had been for a considerable time working together as mates. Pearce was about thirty years of age and was unmarried. — Bendigo Evening News.

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.

EXECUTION ON THIS DAY…….. 20th May 1873

The last sentence of the law was carried out at the Castlemaine Gaol, on the body of Pierre Borhuu, for the murder of Mrs. Smith, of Kangaroo Flat, Sandhurst. Which took place on the 28th April 1872. Pierre Borhuu was a native of Guernsey, his parents, who are still alive and residing at North St. Denis, being French. He was brought up on the sea, and had for some years followed his calling on the coast of England. He arrived in this colony in 1868, and shortly afterwards came onto Sandhurst, taking up his abode in Sunrise Gully, Kangaroo Flat. Here he worked as an alluvial miner, and was very successful, but generally managed to spend most of his gains in the public-House owned by Mr. Smith, the husband of the criminal’s victim. It was during one of his mad paroxysms of drink that he committed the deed for which he has suffered. Since his incarceration at Castlemaine he has behaved himself remarkably well, and frequently expressed his regret for his hasty and intemperate conduct. At 8am the Rev. Father Allen went into the condemned cell, and the irons having been struck off the criminal, the two remained in religious exercises and administering the last offices of the Roman Catholic Church till the arrival of the sheriff. At 10am precisely Mr. Colles knocked at the door of the condemned cell, and demanded the body of the murderer, who was then delivered over to the executioner William Bamford. He was at once pinioned and conducted to the scaffold, the unfortunate man walking with a firm step, and even a smile of resignation on his face. During this time the attendant priest was reciting the prayers for the dead. The white cap was then placed on Borhuu’s face as far as the eyebrows, and the rope put round his neck, but here Bamford bungled the matter considerably by running the hitch so tight as to half strangle his victim before he fell, and thus prevent the knot slipping into its proper place on the fall of the body. Having placed the man in his proper position, the bolt was drawn, and, with a dull heavy thud, the body fell, and the criminal was launched into eternity. For some minutes there was a convulsive twitching of the limbs, death not taking place instantaneously, owing no doubt to the cause abovementioned. The body swung half round, so that the features were not visible to the spectators, but beyond a swelling of the tongue, which protruded slightly, there was little disfigurement. There were about 20 spectators, most of whom were the gaol officials. After hanging the customary time, the body was cut down, and an inquest held on the remains. The usual verdict was returned, and the body then buried within the precincts of the gaol.

Photo of the Castlemaine Gaol

 

EXECUTED ON THIS DAY ………. 11th of March 1873

On the morning of the 2nd of August 1872, Arthur Hagan, a digger living in a hut at Dead Horse Flat, heard a woman screaming “murder” and went down to where he heard the screams – about 100 yards away form his hut. He saw Samuel Wright having hold of a young woman named Anastasia Maher, his former paramour, and beating her with a hammer-headed driving pick. He told Wright to leave her alone, and Wright made at him with the pick, holding it with both hands. Hagan being unarmed, he retreated some 10 or 15 yards, but Wright struck him on the head, and knocked him down. Then Wright struck him a second blow on the left shoulder, and was about striking him a third blow when a man named West came and knocked Wright down, sat on him, and held him by each wrist. Hagan got up, and struck Wright three or four times on the mouth, as he was trying to bite West’s hand. A group of diggers then came up and tied Wright. Hagan was taken to a doctor and next found himself in hospital, having a compound fracture on the right side of his skull; his left arm remained paralysed. Wright was convicted of wounding with intent to murder at the Criminal Sessions of the Circuit Court at Sandhurst and was sentenced to death on the 17th of February 1873. He was hanged at Castlemaine Gaol on the 11th of March 1873 at 10 a.m.

 

 

On This Day – January 23, 1881

Robert Rohan, alias Smith, murderer of John Shea, at Yalca, near Shepparton, on the 23rd January 1881, was executed in Beechworth gaol on the 6th of June, by Upjohn, at 10am. 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 say, 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 clergymen, “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. 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 – December 30, 1877

A most horrible murder happened in Sandhurst on this day in 1877, by a man named James Windrum, in High-street. The victim was Maud Crutchly, aged 25. It appeared that the woman was married, but at times cohabiting with Windrum and his daughter when her husband was away from home. On this day in question Windrum went to the woman’s house. On finding his daughter there he sent her to buy beer, which he and the woman drank. When the girl returned he sent her home. It was believed by police that Windrum was become jealous of the woman’s living arrangements, and during an argument struck her on the head with an axe, and she, in trying to save her head, had her fingers cut off. The axe, however, inflicted so severe a wound that she died in two hours after being admitted into the Bendigo Hospital. The men, on being arrested, presented a frightful spectacle, his clothes being covered with blood. He did not deny his guilt, but said that he committed the deed. Windrum had been drinking heavily.

 

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.

EXECUTION ON THIS DAY…….. 20th May 1873

The last sentence of the law was carried out at the Castlemaine Gaol, on the body of Pierre Borhuu, for the murder of Mrs. Smith, of Kangaroo Flat, Sandhurst. Which took place on the 28th April 1872. Pierre Borhuu was a native of Guernsey, his parents, who are still alive and residing at North St. Denis, being French. He was brought up on the sea, and had for some years followed his calling on the coast of England. He arrived in this colony in 1868, and shortly afterwards came onto Sandhurst, taking up his abode in Sunrise Gully, Kangaroo Flat. Here he worked as an alluvial miner, and was very successful, but generally managed to spend most of his gains in the public-House owned by Mr. Smith, the husband of the criminal’s victim. It was during one of his mad paroxysms of drink that he committed the deed for which he has suffered. Since his incarceration at Castlemaine he has behaved himself remarkably well, and frequently expressed his regret for his hasty and intemperate conduct. At 8am the Rev. Father Allen went into the condemned cell, and the irons having been struck off the criminal, the two remained in religious exercises and administering the last offices of the Roman Catholic Church till the arrival of the sheriff. At 10am precisely Mr. Colles knocked at the door of the condemned cell, and demanded the body of the murderer, who was then delivered over to the executioner William Bamford. He was at once pinioned and conducted to the scaffold, the unfortunate man walking with a firm step, and even a smile of resignation on his face. During this time the attendant priest was reciting the prayers for the dead. The white cap was then placed on Borhuu’s face as far as the eyebrows, and the rope put round his neck, but here Bamford bungled the matter considerably by running the hitch so tight as to half strangle his victim before he fell, and thus prevent the knot slipping into its proper place on the fall of the body. Having placed the man in his proper position, the bolt was drawn, and, with a dull heavy thud, the body fell, and the criminal was launched into eternity. For some minutes there was a convulsive twitching of the limbs, death not taking place instantaneously, owing no doubt to the cause abovementioned. The body swung half round, so that the features were not visible to the spectators, but beyond a swelling of the tongue, which protruded slightly, there was little disfigurement. There were about 20 spectators, most of whom were the gaol officials. After hanging the customary time, the body was cut down, and an inquest held on the remains. The usual verdict was returned, and the body then buried within the precincts of the gaol.

Photo of the Castlemaine Gaol

 

EXECUTED ON THIS DAY ………. 11th of March 1873

On the morning of the 2nd of August 1872, Arthur Hagan, a digger living in a hut at Dead Horse Flat, heard a woman screaming “murder” and went down to where he heard the screams – about 100 yards away form his hut. He saw Samuel Wright having hold of a young woman named Anastasia Maher, his former paramour, and beating her with a hammer-headed driving pick. He told Wright to leave her alone, and Wright made at him with the pick, holding it with both hands. Hagan being unarmed, he retreated some 10 or 15 yards, but Wright struck him on the head, and knocked him down. Then Wright struck him a second blow on the left shoulder, and was about striking him a third blow when a man named West came and knocked Wright down, sat on him, and held him by each wrist. Hagan got up, and struck Wright three or four times on the mouth, as he was trying to bite West’s hand. A group of diggers then came up and tied Wright. Hagan was taken to a doctor and next found himself in hospital, having a compound fracture on the right side of his skull; his left arm remained paralysed. Wright was convicted of wounding with intent to murder at the Criminal Sessions of the Circuit Court at Sandhurst and was sentenced to death on the 17th of February 1873. He was hanged at Castlemaine Gaol on the 11th of March 1873 at 10 a.m.

 

 

On This Day – January 23, 1881

Robert Rohan, alias Smith, murderer of John Shea, at Yalca, near Shepparton, on the 23rd January 1881, was executed in Beechworth gaol on the 6th of June, by Upjohn, at 10am. 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 say, 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 clergymen, “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. 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 – December 30, 1877

A most horrible murder happened in Sandhurst on this day in 1877, by a man named James Windrum, in High-street. The victim was Maud Crutchly, aged 25. It appeared that the woman was married, but at times cohabiting with Windrum and his daughter when her husband was away from home. On this day in question Windrum went to the woman’s house. On finding his daughter there he sent her to buy beer, which he and the woman drank. When the girl returned he sent her home. It was believed by police that Windrum was become jealous of the woman’s living arrangements, and during an argument struck her on the head with an axe, and she, in trying to save her head, had her fingers cut off. The axe, however, inflicted so severe a wound that she died in two hours after being admitted into the Bendigo Hospital. The men, on being arrested, presented a frightful spectacle, his clothes being covered with blood. He did not deny his guilt, but said that he committed the deed. Windrum had been drinking heavily.