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On This Day ……. 1st of July 1901

On this day in 1901, Nicholas Keneally, who was sentenced to death at Shepparton on the 6th of December, 1899, for an offence on his grand-daughter,’ but whoso sentence was subsequently commuted to imprisonment for life, died in the Geelong Gaol.

 

ON THIS DAY – July 1, 1934

IVY McDONNELL – MOOROOPNA

Before Mr. Justlce Lowe, in the Supreme Court, at Shepparton today, Florence Lillian Thrower, of Orrong crescent, Caulfield, was charged with the murder of Ivy Winifred Rose McDonnell at Mooroopna on July 1. The prosecution alleged that Mrs. McDonnell died as a result of an Illegal operation. The case for the prosecution is part heard.

 

On this day …….. 10th of June 1929

A government order came into force to restrict road transport. An extension of the Act was made to cover the Boroughs of Echuca, Horsham, Shepparton, St Arnaud and Wangaratta. The Act provided that goods should not be carted by road before 7am, or after 1pm on any afternoon which was usually a regular holiday for shops. No goods could be carted by road after 9pm on any day of the week in which shops closed late in the particular location, or after 7:30pm in the evening of any other day in the week. Road transport was beginning to seriously affect railway freight revenue.

ON THIS DAY – June 4, 1909

CHARGE OF MURDER – CONVICTED OF MANSLAUGHTER.

At the Shepparton Supreme Court to-day Ernest Carmody, aged 17 years, was charged with the wilful murder, on June 4, of an elderly man named John Robinson. The accused pleaded not guilty. The deceased resided in a hut at Youanamite, near Katamatite, and was in receipt of an old-age pension. On June 4 his hut was discovered to be in flames, and later on a, few charred bones were found. Inquiries made by the police led to the arrest of the accused, who had been in the employ of a Katamatite storekeeper, and was accustomed to leave bread at the old man’s hut.  Mr. Gurner, in opening the case for the Crown, said that shortly after the old man had been burned to death accused suddenly became affluent, and the bank notes which he had in his possession gave forth a peculiar odour of a complaint from which the deceased had suffered. One of these bank notes bore a private mark of a farm labourer, who had paid it to Robinson.  The jury found, the prisoner guilty of manslaughter, with a recommendation to mercy on account of his youth.

ON THIS DAY…… 21st November 1982

The biggest earth tremor ever recorded in Victoria

The biggest earth tremor ever recorded in Victoria shook the state on this day in 1982. Registering 5.5 on the Richter Scale, and centred on Mt Hotham in Victoria, the tremor struck at 10.36pm, and was felt as far away as Wagga, NSW in the North and Melbourne in the south. The tremor was felt most severely along the Ovens Valley, Wangaratta and Shepparton. It was enough for one Wangaratta residence watching TV at the time to report being noticeably moved – the couch had shifted on its castors.

On this day …….. 10th September 1952

More than 4000 people panicked when a lion escaped from a circus cage at the Shepparton Show, Central Victoria, on this day 1952. Adults knocked over children and women fainted in a wild scramble away from the lion, which was loose for 20 minutes. The lion ran to a clearing between circus, vans, then jumped on to the side of lion’s cage. Its attendants pushed a mobile cage towards the lion and had almost trapped it when it sprinted back to the clearing.

 

On This Day ……. 1st of July 1901

On this day in 1901, Nicholas Keneally, who was sentenced to death at Shepparton on the 6th of December, 1899, for an offence on his grand-daughter,’ but whoso sentence was subsequently commuted to imprisonment for life, died in the Geelong Gaol.

 

ON THIS DAY – July 1, 1934

IVY McDONNELL – MOOROOPNA

Before Mr. Justlce Lowe, in the Supreme Court, at Shepparton today, Florence Lillian Thrower, of Orrong crescent, Caulfield, was charged with the murder of Ivy Winifred Rose McDonnell at Mooroopna on July 1. The prosecution alleged that Mrs. McDonnell died as a result of an Illegal operation. The case for the prosecution is part heard.

 

On this day …….. 10th of June 1929

A government order came into force to restrict road transport. An extension of the Act was made to cover the Boroughs of Echuca, Horsham, Shepparton, St Arnaud and Wangaratta. The Act provided that goods should not be carted by road before 7am, or after 1pm on any afternoon which was usually a regular holiday for shops. No goods could be carted by road after 9pm on any day of the week in which shops closed late in the particular location, or after 7:30pm in the evening of any other day in the week. Road transport was beginning to seriously affect railway freight revenue.

ON THIS DAY – June 4, 1909

CHARGE OF MURDER – CONVICTED OF MANSLAUGHTER.

At the Shepparton Supreme Court to-day Ernest Carmody, aged 17 years, was charged with the wilful murder, on June 4, of an elderly man named John Robinson. The accused pleaded not guilty. The deceased resided in a hut at Youanamite, near Katamatite, and was in receipt of an old-age pension. On June 4 his hut was discovered to be in flames, and later on a, few charred bones were found. Inquiries made by the police led to the arrest of the accused, who had been in the employ of a Katamatite storekeeper, and was accustomed to leave bread at the old man’s hut.  Mr. Gurner, in opening the case for the Crown, said that shortly after the old man had been burned to death accused suddenly became affluent, and the bank notes which he had in his possession gave forth a peculiar odour of a complaint from which the deceased had suffered. One of these bank notes bore a private mark of a farm labourer, who had paid it to Robinson.  The jury found, the prisoner guilty of manslaughter, with a recommendation to mercy on account of his youth.

ON THIS DAY – May 7, 1970

ECHUCA

On May 7, 1970 members of the Victoria Police stationed in Echuca responded to an emergency call at a home in Mitchell Street. They found a heavily-pregnant woman, Beverley Ratten, lying dead in the kitchen from a shotgun wound to the torso. Her upset husband, Leith Ratten, was removed for questioning. Beverley would later be interred in the Cheltenham Memorial Park, Melbourne.

During interview Ratten said he was cleaning an old rusty double-barrelled shotgun brought in from the garage when it fired, hitting his wife under the left armpit while she was in the kitchen at lunchtime. Ratten could not explain how the gun discharged or how it came to be loaded. Subsequent investigations revealed that Ratten was having an affair with Jennifer Kemp, the wife of a family friend, and had spoken to her on the morning of the shooting. He had also applied for a twelve-month posting to a base in Antarctica.

In January 2012, Ratten died, aged 73 years. Ratten was committed to trial for murder and the hearing took place in August, 1970 in the nearby town of Shepparton, Victoria. Despite the assertions of Ratten’s defence counsel that the shooting was accidental and evidence against him was circumstantial, the jury found Ratten guilty and he was sentenced to death. This was later commuted to 25 years’ prison. Following the case, Ratten’s lawyers undertook four separate appeals on various grounds, one of which involved the exhumation of Beverley Ratten’s body in 1973. All four appeals were dismissed. Despite the failure of his appeals there was considerable doubt about Ratten’s conviction, many believing he was found guilty for the questionable morality of his marital infidelity rather than concrete evidence.

His case was widely discussed among the legal fraternity while his cause was taken up by many notable lawyers and politicians, such as Don Chipp. In 1978, the Free Leith Ratten Committee was founded by Monash University law undergraduate, Mark Cowie. Over the next five years, and until Ratten’s release from Her Majesty’s Prison Dhurringile, Cowie was involved in efforts to bring new evidence before the courts that questioned the legitimacy of Ratten’s conviction. He authored an unpublished manuscript on the case, Justice in Shame: The Leith Ratten Case Don Chipp said that in 1971 Henry Winneke had told him the convicted murderer Leith Ratten was innocent. In 1981 when Ratten had yet to be released, Chipp said Winneke denied the conversation had taken place. Later, a member of the Supreme Court at the time of Ratten’s trial, told Tom Molomby Winneke had wanted to remove the jury from the trial. Such a move would require a belief that the evidence would not support a guilty verdict. Ratten served his sentence, was a model prisoner and was released in 1983 (whereupon he worked as a surveyor in Queensland).

In 1981, two years prior to his release, Ratten was advised he would likely be released and was given time on regular day-release opportunities to find a job, which he did. Then he heard via the radio that he would not be released. Politicians making the decision had allegedly been pressured by Victoria Police to not release Ratten. Further examination of the unfired cartridge was undertaken, with the view that it was indeed a reload cartridge, and he was released soon after.

ON THIS DAY – May 1, 1950

After a retirement of nearly seven hours to-night the jury in the Glen Valley murder trial failed to agree. Mr. Justice Barry said that a trial of the case would take place at Shepparton Supreme Court on October 24. Alfred James Hodgkins (32) is charged with the murder of Donald Forsythe (30) at a hut in the lonely Joker Mine area at Glen Valley on May 1.