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The Murder of Rachel Currell

23 February, 1926

Henry Tacke, 65, Importer, was charged in the Criminal Court today with the murder of Rachel Currell, 34, at St Kilda on December 15th.

Frederick George Currell, barman, admitted under cross examination that he knew his wife and Tacke went to Sydney and Adelaide together and that Tacke paid 80 guineas for an operation upon Mrs Currell.  She acted in a secretarial capacity for Tacke.  Currell denied he knew Tacke paid for the upkeep of his house.

Currell said he was awakened on the night of the shooting when in bed on the front verandah.  He told Tacke he could not see Mrs Currell.  They quarrelled at the gate and Mrs Currell said; “you had better come inside instead of making a scene in the street”.  As they were going inside, Tacke hit Currell behind the ear knocking off his hat.  When asked to return it, Currell saw Tacke turn as if to go and saw something shiny in his hand which he had whipped from his pocket.  Tacke fired a shot at Currell but missed and hit Mrs Currell instead.  When Mrs Currell retreated inside, Tacke fired a number of shots into the dark hallway in an attempt to scare Mrs Currell.  Mrs Currell was shot dead and had 10 bullet wounds – 5 entry and exit wounds.

When arrested at Sorrento, Tacke said it was all an accident and he had intended to commit suicide.

In Tacke’s statement, he said he had spent 2500 pounds on Mrs Currell for dinners and theatres and by allowing her 2-10 pounds weekly for the past 3 years.

Tacke had met Mrs Currell in City Picture Theatre in February 1923.  Their friendship developed into intimacy and he fell deeply in love with her.  At the time of their meeting, he was friendly with own wife.  He had lost his whole family of 8 in infancy.  On Mrs Currell’s recovery from an operation he sent her to Daylesford and paid all her expenses.  He was also in the habit of sending out roast fowls and bottles of wine when she was in ill-health.

The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter.

Injury at Pentridge

2 April, 1927

When wardens went to Tacke’s cell as usual, to escort him to the warders library where he worked as a librarian, Tacke suddenly climbed up the bars to a height of 18 feet, then pitched headlong to the stone floor of his cell.  Tacke was conveyed to the Melbourne Hospital in an unconscious state.

Tacke was at one time a well known clubman, member of the MCG and conducted a successful business in the city.

The Death of Henry Tacke

10 September 1927

Henry Tacke, aged 65 years, who was serving a sentence of 7 years imprisonment for the manslaughter of Mrs Rachel Currell at St Kilda in December 1925, died in the Geelong Hospital last night.

Tacke was admitted to the Geelong Gaol on April 28 after he sustained a broken ankle the result of a fall from a gallery at Pentridge.

The coroner held an inquiry today.  Dr Purnell, the gaol medical officer, said Tacke’s ankle remained in splints until the middle of May when massage commenced.  On June 16, he went for a walk in the exercise yard.  Dr Purnell then formed the opinion that Tacke had no desire to get better and malingered at every possible opportunity.  He refused to try and walk and would let himself to the ground at every opportunity.

On July 30, while in the hospital, Tacke rubbed his back on the floors, producing large bed sores and feigned insanity.  Towards the end of August, he refused to take nourishment.  Death was due to heart disease.

A verdict in accordance with the medical evidence was recorded.

 On This Day – August 7, 1913

When going through the many statements taken for the information of the coroner in connection with the murder, on August 7 last, of the old woodcutter, Richard Knight, outside his hut in the bush between Lilydale and Coldstream (says the Melbourne ‘Argus’). Detective-Sergeant Arthur and Detective Keily discovered certain discrepancies in the stories of several boys living in Coldstream. Information concerning their movements around the time of the murder was proffered in such a manner that many possibilities were presented, and in order to satisfy themselves that the boys were not purposely withholding certain facts, the two detectives yesterday returned from Melbourne to Coldstream. Each of the boys was seen, and though they all presisted in their previous statements, they were not able to explain whether certain of their actions were, due to a coincidence or otherwise. They could not be shaken in their first statement that they had not seen the old man after he was shot at, though one of them admitted having been at his hut just previous to the time when two residents of the neighbouring bush heard two shots fired in the direction of the hut. The boys were questioned separately, but they showed no signs of wavering, neither did their statements contradict each other. In view of this, the detectives came to the conclusion that it was useless prolonging the examination.  Unless something unforseen happens nothing more will now be done until the inquest, the date of which the coronor (Dr. Cole) will probably fix within the next few days.  Altogether, about 20 witnesses will be subpoenaed, as the police intend having everyone present who may possibly be able to assist the coroner in determining when, how, and by whom Knight was killed.

ON THIS DAY – July 31, 1922

In the Malvern Police Court Robert Albert Scott, a French polisher, was charged with having, at Malvern, on July 31 shot Marie Dorothy Victoria Frith, a widow, aged 32 years, with intent to murder her.

Marié Dorothy Victoria Frith said that she had known Scott for about 14 months. They had been on friendly terms. On the evening of July 31 she met him by appointment at the Malvern Town Hall, and they walked along High-street until they came to a seat near the reserve at the corner of Edgar-street, where they sat down. In reply to a request by Scott that he should be allowed to continue to meet her witness said : “No, we have talked the matter over before and I am still of the same mind. I do not wish to talk about it any more.” Scott was silent for a few minutes. He then said: “Well if I can’t have you no one will. This ends it.” He drew a revolver and fired at her. The shot missed. Witness ran to the middle of the road. He then pointed the revolver at her face and fired four shots. She put up her left arm to shield her face. She thought that two shots entered her arm. She cried out: “What are you shooting me for? Stop shooting me.”

Witness noticed about half a dozen people standing on the footpath. A carrier’s van passed. The carrier looked out at the side and slowed down, but he passed on. Nobody came to her assistance. Scott said: “What are you making all this fuss about, you silly woman?” He then drew the revolver again and fired about four more shots. . He hit witness three times. One shot was in the left arm, which she had again put up to protect her face. She said to Scott: “You said that you would not shoot again” He said: “I intend to finish you.” Witness tried to run to the road again, but he grabbed her by the hair and threw her to the ground. Scott fired again, the bullet striking witness in the neck. Witness struggled with her arms over her face and another shot struck her in the elbow. She was trying to scream, but could not, as blood was flowing from her mouth freely. Scott took her further down the paddock and sat her down against a fence in a lane, saying: “Now don’t you move.” He then went to look for witness’s hat and glasses, and returned with the hat. Witness felt very weak and was in great pain. She was bleeding freely from the neck and arm. Scott next took her by the arm, and she said “Now let me get home. Will you stop following me any more? Will you stop shooting me?” They walked towards her home and be held her by the arm. She was holding his other hand so that he could not use the revolver. They walked up Tooronga-road to Wattle Tree-road, where witness resides. He said to her: “Will you promise me not to inform the police or tell anyone?” She said: “No, I will not tell the police.” Witness was terrified. He said “Will you meet me on Wednesday night?” Witness said “Yes,” not meaning, however, to keep her promise. He kissed her goodnight and said again. “Will you meet me on Wednesday night?” .She answered “Yes” and then said suddenly “There is your tram,” and left him. Witness complained to Mr and Mrs. M’Call, where she was boarding. Subsequently she was taken to the hospital. Scott was committed for trial.

ON THIS DAY – July 29, 1992

A gunman convicted of the cold-blooded, execution style murders of three young people in their suburban Melbourne home last year was  jailed for life for his “unfathomable” crimes. In the Supreme Court, Justice Bernard Teague sentenced Ashley Mervyn Coulston, 36, to life on each of the three counts of murder. He fixed a minimum term of 30 years with no remission. Justice Teague told Coulston, “The crimes for which I sentence you are unfathomable. “They are also chilling, because they were so calculating, so suggestive of cold-blooded planning, so indiscriminate.” Coulston, who was arrested after an armed hold-up a month after the murders, has stated through his counsel that he will appeal. The bodies of Kerryn Henstridge, 22, of Hamilton; Anne Smerdon, 22 of Kyabram; and Peter Demspey, 27, were discovered bound and gagged and shot through the head at their rented home in Summit Road, Burwood, on July 30 last year.

ON THIS DAY – JULY 25, 1916

Antoine Picone the Italian who shot and killed Joseph Luricella, a compatriot, in Queen Victoria Market on July 25, was hanged in Melbourne Gaol. Picone had been attended until the last minute by Father J. Donovan, and when led on to the scaffold carried his hand a small photograph and a paper containing a lock of hair. He asked that they might be buried with him. The sheriff promised him the request would be granted, and then asked him if he had anything further to say. Picone said something in a low, inaudible tone. The lever was then released, Death was instantaneous. Luricella was shot through the head with an automatic revolver as the result of a quarrel with Picone. The tragedy occurred in the early morning.

MURDERED ON THIS DAY ……….. 21st July 2003

Small time drug dealer Willie Thompson, 39, was killed on 21 July while sitting in his car after leaving a karate club in Chadstone. Police say the gunman strolled up to the car and shot Thompson dead before escaping with a second person in a stolen Ford sedan. Some bullets were lodged in nearby shops. Thompson’s official occupation was a lollipop vendor inside nightclubs, and a police report said he had recently developed an enemy with Nik Radev.

ON THIS DAY – July 19, 1948

John William McRae, 19, was sentenced to death in the Sale Supreme Court today for the murder of his sister, Hazel Mary McRae, Bairnsdale beauty queen, on July 19. The jury returned a verdict of guilty after a retirement lasting exactly an hour. Some of the large crowd, which included many young women In the public gallery, gasped as Sir Charles Lowe passed the death sentence. McRae’s mother, who had been present in the court during most of the trial, was not there when the jury returned. McRae, who was described as mentally backward, and frequently fidgeted with his hair and clothing daring the trial showed no emotion. Sir Charles Lowe asked him if he had anything to say before, being sentenced, and be replied: “No, sir.” Hazel McRae’s partly-clad body was found In the back yard of her Bairnsdale home on the morning of July 20 with her head bashed and a bullet in her head.

On This Day……..17th July 1946

Scores of people on the main platform at Spencer Street Railway Station in Melbourne and hundreds of others going to work early saw a warder firing shots at an escaping prisoner. The man had jumped from a train as it was leaving the station. He was chased for 250 yards before he fell with a bullet in the head. His condition was not considered serious. The fugitive, Ian Mitchell, 34, whose address was given as Pentridge Prison, was taken to hospital, handcuffed to the warder. He was handcuffed to his escort while being examined by doctors in the casualty section and was still handcuffed to the warder when taken to the X-ray department. Although wounded in the head the escapee was recaptured. Two prisoners, each escorted by an armed warder, were brought from Pentridge in a police car to be taken to Ballarat Gaol by train, leaving Spencer Street at 8.50 am Prisoners and warders were all in civilian clothes, and, to save the prisoners from embarrassment on the train, the warders had not handcuffed them. Warder John Eddy Dihm had charge of Mitchell, and Warder Mervyn Aldous was escorting the other prisoner, who was a clergyman and was wearing clerical dress. He is serving a five-year sentence. Both were being transferred from Pentridge to serve the rest of their gaol sentences. The train was on No. 1 plat form and the prisoners and their escorts were sitting together in a compartment. As the train was pulling out of the station. Mitchell sprang to his feet, raced along the corridor and leapt on to the platform at the back of the cloak room. Business people coming from that part of the station along the concourse scattered in alarm when they heard shots bring fired and railwaymen and people who had seen passengers off fled for cover. Calling on the fugitive to stop, Dihm fired four shots as he chased him to the enclosed end of No. 1 platform and along a barricaded concourse past the end of several adjoining platforms.

 

ON THIS DAY – July 16, 1983

Murder verdict

A man alleged to have shot his tenant dead after bad feeling had developed because the tenant had failed to shut a security gate and had parked his car in the courtyard instead of in the garage was found guilty of murder in the Supreme Court in Melbourne on Thursday. Mr Fadil Zecevic was found guilty of having murdered Mr Harold Peter Triebel at a block of flats in Pascoe Vale on July 16, 1983.

ON THIS DAY – July 16, 1900

John Pridmore, who shot and killed his wife. Annie Jane Pridmore, at Brunswick, on July 16, was to-day found guilty of wilful murder by a coroner’s jury, and was committed for trial. The inquest had been held over, pending Pridmore’s recovery, for at the time he shot his wife he also attempted to shoot himself.

ON THIS DAY – July 13, 1979

At about 11.30 am on Friday, 13th July, 1979 Detective Lane accompanied David Bernard Chapman, an 18 year old car theft suspect, to a disused bus parked in a camp site at Kyalite, Southern New South Wales. Chapman had been living there for a short time, and had told the Detective he had a receipt amongst his possessions which would exonerate him of the theft.

Whilst Lane searched the bus Chapman took a .22 calibre rifle and shot the Detective in the head. The policeman fell to the floor, and Chapman then walked up and again shot him in the head. He then dragged the corpse to a nearby sullage pit, where he dumped it, before making his escape in the police car, in company with his 17 year old girlfriend Kerryn Anne Bonser.

He later dumped the car in the Edwards River, 5 kilometres away and took to the bush. Despite a massive man hunt he was not located until the 19th uly, 1980 at a property in the Kyalite District. He admitted his guilt, and appeared before Paramatta Supreme Court charged with the murder. On 1st July, 1980 he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

ON THIS DAY – June 29, 1908

The fourteenth execution in the Ballarat Gaol took place at 10 o’clock this morning, when Charles Henry Deutschmann paid the supreme penalty for having murdered his wife.

The crime took place at Dobie, a few miles from Ararat, on Saturday evening, April 11. Mrs. Deutschmann, who had been married in 1890, was stopping with her stepfather. Her husband travelled from Melbourne to Ballarat, and there purchased a revolver and 25 cartridges. He continued his journey to Ararat, and arrived there at 9 o’clock, to the surprise of his wife, who expected him on the Monday. He was under the influence of drink, and a quarrel ensued. The stepfather endeavoured to pacify him, when he drew the revolver, and shot his father-in- law. Deutschmann then returned to his wife’s room, and fired two shots at her, the second striking her in the breast, and killing her immediately. He was arrested next morning by Sergeant Hancock. The old man recovered from his wounds.  A defence of insanity was unsuccessfully raised at the trial at Stawell.

Since he came to the Ballarat Gaol Deutschmann behaved quietly, and appeared to realise the enormity of his deed. He was attended by the Rev. Charles Cameron, whose ministration he listened to with interest. Just on the stroke of 10 o’clock the sheriff demanded the body of Charles Henry Deutschmann, and, in response to the demand of the governor, produced his warrant. Deutschmann walked steadily on to the drop, and was asked by the sheriff if he had anything to say. He replied slowly, and with emotion, “No, sir; I have nothing to say. God have mercy on me. Good-bye, good-bye.” Death was instantaneous. Deutschmann made no private statement further than expressing his deep regret for the crime, and commending himself to God’s mercy. Deutschmann was a native of Ararat, and was 41 years old.