On This Day – January 4, 1916

At the Morgue the State Coroner conducted an inquiry into the circumstances, surrounding the death of Vera May Spark, 23 years, single, who was shot dead on this day in January by Raymond Victor Dawson, 25, in the Matter’s house, at 178 George-Street, Fitzroy. Dawson, who was present in custody. According to the story told by Dawson to the police shortly after the occurrence, he went into the kitchen, where Spark was preparing breakfast, he had a revolver in one hand and an alarm clock in the other. Pointing the revolver at her he said jocularly, ‘I will shoot you.’ She replied ‘Go on why, you could not shoot a maggot.’ Dawson repeated that he would shoot her. Spark opened her mouth and said, ‘Shoot that’ Dawson pulled the trigger. There was an immediate explosion. The woman fell back on the sofa, with blood pouring from her mouth. She died in a few minutes. Dawson went to Fitzroy police station and explained the circumstances of the occurrence, saying be did not know the revolver was loaded. The revolver from which the shot was fired has disappeared, and no trace of it can be found.

ON THIS DAY – January 3, 1937

The story of the shooting of Merle Maude Moss, aged 18 years, housemaid, of Bungaree, at Ballarat on the 3rd of January, and the finding of the body of a young man in Lake Wendouree next day, was told at the inquest conducted by the deputy coroner. A finding was recorded that Miss Moss had been murdered by Sydney Gordon Smart, aged 22 years, labourer, of Durham Lead, and that Smart (whose body was recovered from the lake) had committed suicide. Dulcie Jean Lumsden, housemaid, employed by Dr. Richardson, of Sturt street, said that on the 3rd of January, at 2.30 pm, she called at Dr. Salter’s place, where Merle Moss was employed, and they went for a walk. Smart followed them, and persisted in his request that Miss Moss should meet him, but she declined to do so. Near Albert street at 7pm, Smart pulled Miss Moss by the wrist, took a revolver from his pocket, pointed at at the girl, and said something which Miss Lumsden did not catch. Miss Moss said, “Don’t be a coward.” Miss Lumsden said “I’m going to tell someone.” Smart replied, “If you do there’ll be trouble,” and he let Miss Moss go. At 7.30 pm, Miss Lumsden said, they turned into the lane off Lyons street, leading to the rear of Dr. Salter’s residence. Smart pushed Miss Moss against the fence while Miss Lumsden stood a few feet from them. Miss Moss tried to get away, but Smart pulled her back, saying “Will you meet me tonight?” Miss Moss replied, “I don’t want to meet you.” She then struggled to get away, saying. “Let me go!” Miss Lumsden, continuing, said: “I heard the first report, and saw Merle fall. She screamed as she fell. I ran in the gate. I heard four more shots fired while Merle was on the ground, and he was bending over her with his back to me. I ran inside and told Mrs. Salter and the girls.”

Incident Before Christmas

Margaret Ruth Telford, cook, residing at the residence of Mr. Salter, said that earlier Miss Moss had told her that she did not want to meet Smart, because she did not care for him. They had been keeping company for about six months. Miss Moss told her the week before Christmas that she had that night been at White Flat with Smart, and when she went to go away after an argument Smart had fired two shots from a revolver into the air, and she had gone back to him. George Searle, miner, of Chewton, said that about 7.35pm., on the 3rd of January, he saw a man with blood on his face running west along Mair street toward the lake. Constable Raper gave evidence of the finding of Smart’s body in Lake Wendouree on January 4. The seven-chambered .22 calibre Young American type revolver found in the lane after the shooting had been discharged in the seven chambers. Dr. F. Fleming said that the girl, had two bullet wounds in the head, one in the chest, and one in the hand. Smart had two head wounds, one indicating where the bullet had passed harmlessly off, and the second slightly penetrating the head without injury to the brain. Death, in his case, was due to drowning. The deputy coroner recorded a finding that the girl had died from the effects of three revolver wounds maliciously inflicted by Smart, and that Smart did murder her, and that Smart’s death was due to drowning, wilfully caused by himself.


ON THIS DAY – December 28, 1915

Francis Elliott (34) was, at the Criminal Court, convicted on a charge of attempting to murder Arthur Henry Mace, driver, at Box Hill on the 28th of December. It was alleged that the accused, on the evening of December 28, called at Mace’s house and a disturbance took place. He left after threatening to shoot Mace and Mrs. Mace. Mace and his wife went to bed and were aroused about midnight by the report of a gunshot. The walls of the house were marked with gunshot pellets. The accused was remanded for sentence. Elliott received 5 years hard labour.

ON THIS DAY – December 22, 1912


At the Criminal Court Joseph Victor Pfeffer, 32, butcher’s assistant, was charged with having on the 22nd of December, at Albert Park, murdered Florence Victoria Whitley, aged 23, domestic servant and sister-in-law of the accused. The Crown Prosecutor stated that the murdered girl had for three or four years prior to the tragedy been living at the accused’s house. During lunch hour on December 12 Pfeffer clambered over the back gate of Kennett’s house, in Mill-street, Albert Park, and made his way into the kitchen, where the maid and her mistress were seated at a table together. Then the accused shot the girl. Evidence in support of the Crown case was given by a number of witnesses, and the defendant made a statement from the dock. He said, ‘From when I woke up on the morning of the murder until I saw the police I remember nothing of what happened. I have my brother here in court. He has wandered out of his mind, and has roamed about the country in that condition for three weeks before being arrested. At Geelong I had an accident before I went to the war. and was laid up in the hospital for a fortnight. While in South Africa, I had several bullet wounds, and was hurt inwardly through the fall off a horse. Another time when taken prisoner I was hit on the head with the butt end of a rifle, and I have since suffered from headaches off and on, and I really think there are times when I don’t know what I am doing. There was insanity on my father’s side and on my mother’s. One or my relatives hanged himself, another shot himself, and my brother has been in a lunatic asylum for some years. I do not remember anything at all about the murder. After rather more than an hour’s retirement the jury returned with a verdict of guilty, adding a rider expressing regret that in view of the character of the defence, no evidence had been brought forward to settle the question of the accused’s sanity. Mr. Woinarski said the Crown, was in a position to rebut any evidence on that point that might have been brought forward. His Honor would take a note of the jury’s rider. He then passed sentence of death upon the accused,


ON THIS DAY – October 21, 2002

The Monash University shooting refers to a shooting in which a student shot his classmates and teacher, killing two and injuring five. It took place at Monash University in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 21 October 2002. The gunman, Huan Yun Xiang, was acquitted of crimes related to the shootings due to mental impairment, and is currently under psychiatric care. Several of the people present in the room of the shootings have been commended for their bravery in tackling Xiang and ending the shooting. At 11:24 a.m. on 21 October,Huan Yun “Allen” Xiang a commerce student at the university, armed with six loaded handguns, opened fire in room E 659 of the Menzies Building on Monash’s Clayton campus in an econometrics class containing twelve students. People in the classroom were initially confused by the noise and by Xiang screaming “You never understand me!” from the desk he was standing on. Xiang killed two students in the room: Xu Hui “William” Wu, an international student from Hong Kong and neighbour of Xiang’s in Melbourne; and Steven Chan, a student from Doncaster. Xiang wounded five others: lecturer Lee Gordon-Brown, who was shot in the arm and knee; student Daniel Urbach, who was wounded in the shoulder and arm; student Laurie Brown, who was wounded in the leg and abdomen; student Christine Young, who was shot in the face; and student Leigh Dat Huynh, who was discharged from hospital within a day. When Xiang stopped shooting and moved to switch weapons, Lee Gordon-Brown, the injured lecturer, grabbed Xiang’s hands as he reached into his jacket. Gordon-Brown and a student in the room, Alastair Boast, a trained wing chun practitioner, tackled him. Bradley Thompson later entered the room and discovered five guns in holsters around Xiang’s waist, including two Berettas, a Taurus, and two revolvers, as well as two magazines from near his hip. Gordon-Brown and Boast were assisted by a passing lecturer from a nearby room, Brett Inder, to restrain Xiang for thirty minutes until police arrived, while Thompson and university administrator Colin Thornby, provided first aid. They both received Red Cross “Community Hero” awards for their assistance. At least one injured student reportedly left the room and sought help for his injuries from security staff. Xiang was deemed by police to be unfit for interview but wrote a note referring to William Wu after his arrest saying “I finally ended WW’s life.” All classes in the Menzies Building were cancelled for the rest of the day and the university set up counselling stations.



ON THIS DAY…… 21st September 1914

On the 21st September, 1914 at 6.40pm, a man named Hugh Brown entered the bar of the Rifle Brigade Hotel. He was served a beer by the barmaid, 24 year old Annie Foley. While drinking, he asked to see the licencee, Mrs Frances Jefferson. Annie went off to the dining area where Frances and her mother, Caroline Ashley were having tea, and relayed the message. In the meantime, barman George Davis took over the bar from Annie. Brown asked again to see Mrs Jefferson. Brown went to the dining room to find Mrs Jefferson, who was now alone in there as Mrs Ashley and Annie had gone upstairs. Mrs Jefferson met Brown in the bar and enquired how he was finding the camp. Although Brown was a chauffeur he had enlisted in the Army. Mrs Jefferson and Brown had known each other for a long time. Brown answered that camp was fine but that he had tried to enter the hotel at 11.30pm the other night and that Mrs Jefferson had not let him. He stated to Mrs Jefferson “that you have not been fair to me tonight” and with that drew an automatic pistol from his suit pocket and fired at the woman. Mrs Jefferson ran into the bar parlour, the shot missing her, she then ran upstairs calling out “Mother”. When she reached the top of the stairs, she fell, crying out “I’m shot”. Mrs Ashley and Annie came to see what was going on. Brown reached the top of the stairs and Annie pushed past him and ran downstairs. Brown turned and fired a shot at Annie. Brown then attempted to shoot himself but Mrs Ashley grabbed his arm, and the shot missed. Brown went down the stairs finding Annie, fired again at her, this time hitting her in the right hand and the left breast. The barman Davis caught hold of her and placed her in a chair in the parlour. Brown was also in the parlour and fired two shots at himself, one in the left breast and on in the head, killing himself. When the police arrived they found Annie and Hugh Brown dead in the parlour from gunshot wounds of a Browning revolver.

ON THIS DAY…… 18th September 1925

On the 18th of September 1925, Elliam Cowan Smith aged 57 years, labourer, who was shot (several others being injured), while working on a dam at Bacchus Marsh, with Alexander Thomas Gerguson and a group of other men. It was alleged that while the men were working on the dam Gerguson, for no reason he pulled out a gun and began shooting. Gerguson was charge with wilful murder.


On This Day – September 10, 1943

Arising out of the shooting of John W. Biencourt, 46, garage proprietor, of East Malvern, on September 10, two young boys were committed to trial by the Coroner today on charges of murder. They are: Douglas Carpenter, 18, dairy hand, and Eric Mattison, 10, schoolboy. The Coroner found that Biencourt was wilfully and maliciously shot by Carpenter, aided and abetted by Mattison.

Mrs Irene Biencourt said noises were heard in the garage early on the morning of September 10. Her husband went towards the garage, carrying a shot gun. She heard two shots and her husband fell, saying, ‘He got me in the stomach.’ Detective Bateman said he went to a house in Malvern and saw two boys on a bed together. He took a pistol from under the bed. Both admitted they had been in the garage, and they made a signed statement

ON THIS DAY – JULY 7, 1948

CHARGED with having wounded Francis Gerald Ryan with intent to murder him, Eugene Francis Fitzpatrick, medical practitioner, of Como pde, Mentone, appeared before the Geelong City Court yesterday. He pleaded not guilty. Ryan, a fish merchant, of Derby st, Kensington, said that he and George Sevior went to Barwon Heads on July 6, and soon afterwards went to see Dr and Mrs Fitzpatrick, whom he had known for six or seven years, and who invited them to have tea with them. After tea he and Sevior, with the Fitzpatricks, went to his (Ryan’s) house and had some liquor. Later Mrs Fitzpatrick remarked that the doctor had had too much liquor, and should go to bed. Ryan offered to take the doctor home. After showing some resentment Fitzpatrick was assisted to the back door of his house. Mrs Fitzpatrick had remained behind so that her husband might drop off to sleep before she went in. Ryan returned home, and soon afterward, as he and Mrs Fitzpatrick were talking, he heard a row and a gunshot at the back of the house. He went to the back door and was shot in the right elbow.


To Mr R. V. Monahan, KC (for Fitzpatrick), Ryan said that he and the doctor were great friends, and no reason was given for the doctor wanting “to harm him.

George Francis Sevior, fish hawker, of Altona, said he went to bed about midnight. Ryan rushed into his room and said, “Get up quickly. Someone is shooting through the back door.” He heard several shots. Ryan went to the back door. A shot was fired, and Ryan was shot. He heard five shots fired.


Senior-constable Simpson said he was called at 2am on July 7 by Ryan, who was accompanied by Sevior and Mrs Fitzpatrick. Five minutes later he heard a noise on the front verandah, and Fitzpatrick called out, “Open the door. I know Ryan is here. Come out, Ryan, you aren’t going to do that to me and get away with it.” Through the door he asked Fitzpatrick what was the matter. Fitzpatrick replied, “Let me in. I’ve shot Ryan, and I’ll shoot him again.” Witness opened the door and saw Fitzpatrick holding a gun. He seized him and took the gun away. At the Geelong detective office Fitzpatrick, when told that Ryan had been shot, said he “could not remember a thing about it.” The hearing was adjourned.

ON THIS DAY – June 2, 1921


Arthur Ernest Dowling 17 years, who was convicted of the manslaughter of Patrick Duff by shooting him at Mordialloc on June 2, was sentenced to twelve months imprisonment with hard labour, until at the conclusion he is to be detained in a reformatory during the Governor’s pleasure.

ON THIS DAY….. 28th May 1892

Peter Smith was charged with shooting with intent to murder a man named Taylor at Bullarto. Both men were “spielers,” and had a difference. Smith waylaid Taylor on May 28 and fired several shots at him. Taylor escaped, but was severely wounded. The jury found Smith guilty, and the death sentence was recorded.


ON THIS DAY – May 12, 1919



Henry Stokes, was charged with having wounded, with intent to murder, Henry Slater, in Little Collins-Street on May 12, was granted bail by Mr. Justice Hood. Slater is in the Melbourne Hospital as a result of having been shot with a revolver. Bail was refused by the City Court Bench last week, and on the same day an application was made to Mr. Justice Hood, who then declined to grant bail. This afternoon a further application was made, and this was supported by fresh affidavits. Stokes, in an affidavit, stated that immediately after his arrest, he informed the police that he acted in self-defence in an encounter with Slater. Mr. Justice Hood granted bail, which was fixed at the accused’s surety of £L000, and one surety of £1,000, or two of £500 ea. It was made a condition of the bail that the accused should report to the detective office each day.