ON THIS DAY – January 12, 1869

Andrew Vair was charged with having committed wilful murder on January 12, 1859, by shooting Amos Cheale at St Arnaud. John Smith, Mining manager said — On the 12th January, 1869, about 2 o’clock, I heard the report of a gun. Opened the door, and saw a woman running from the place where I heard the report. She said, ‘Smith run.’ Proceeded to the spot, which was up a hill 130 yards to the place on a tramway. Saw Cheale lying on the ground. He said, ‘Andrew Vair has shot me.’ He repeated it three times. He appeared to be in great pain. Ran into the bush to look for the prisoner, but could not see anybody. Then returned and assisted Cheale to Cadzonv’s house. Examined him, and found two holes perforated in his body. There were stain of blood on his clothes, and a pool of blood where he was lying. Agnes Hardingham deposed — Between 1 and 2 o’clock on the 12th January, 1869, was going from my house to Mr Smith’s. Heard the report of a gun. Ran towards the place. Saw a man running in the scrub towards Walkers claim away from me. He was a middle-aged man. Did not see his face. He had on dark trousers, dirty shirt, and a black wide awake hat. Could not say if he had anything in his hand. Was frightened, and returned a little way back. Heard a man cry out. ‘Oh.’ Then same voice cried out “Murder”. Then saw Smith come out of his house. Told Smith to run, and followed Smith found Cheale lying on the ground. Cheale said ‘Vair has shot me.’ Smith went for assistance, and I remained with Cheale. Cheale said to me, ‘When he cocked the gun I did not think he would do it. Vair met me on the tramway and said, ‘Are you prepared to meet this?’ Cheale, said, ‘I am not.’ Cadzow, mining manager, St Arnaud, said — On January 12, 1869, Cheale was at my house at about ten minutes past 1 o’clock. About two minutes after he left I heard the report of a gun. Heard Cheale cry out, ‘Murder.’ Ran towards the place where I heard the report. Found Cheale lying on his side resting on his elbow. He called me by name when I came in sight, and said. ‘Vair has shot me.’ He tried to rise but could not. Assisted to remove him to my house. He lived about half an hour. Have heard Vair threaten Cheale. William Slaughter said— I was employed on the 12th January, 1869, as coachdriver between St. ‘ Arnaud and Moonambool. Left St. Arnaud on the morning of the 15th about 3 o’clock. Know the Black Range. Met the prisoner there. He called out, and I stopped the coach. I said, ‘Good God, is that you, Andrew?’ He said. ‘It is.’ He asked if Cheale was dead. I said, ‘ Yes, and buried.’ Prisoner said, ‘It was his own fault , I gave him plenty of warning.’ Prisoner told me that he asked Cheale to make him some recompense for the injury he had done him. Cheale said, ‘No.’ Prisoner then told me that he said to Cheale, ‘Are you prepared to receive this?’ He then raised the gun in his hand, but took no aim. Prisoner told me that he saw Cheale sometime before, and asked him what he would do with a man that robbed him of all his property. Cheale said, ‘I would shoot him.’ Vair told me that he told Cheale that he would shoot him. He (Vair) told me that he had shot him, and that he was not sorry for what he had done. During nearly the whole of the trial the prisoner was smiling and noticing different faces, and on several occasions got nods in return.


ON THIS DAY – January 4, 1951

Mrs Grace White, 36, was shot dead in the kitchen of her husband’s cafe at Swan Hill, near the NSW border. She was peeling vegetables with her brother, Mr Jack Dunstan, about 10 am, when a man walked in with a rifle under his arm. He said to Mrs White: “You tried to poison me last night,” and fired at her at point blank range. The bullet passed through her arm into her chest and she dropped dead Mr Dunstan seized the rifle and Mr White, who had rushed from the shop, grappled with the intruder. Tonight detectives charged William Leslie Dunstan, 41, kitchen hand, with the murder of his sister, Mrs. Grace White. He will appear before Swan Hill court.


On This Day – January 2, 1933

On January 2, John Johnson disappeared from his lodgings in Perth. To-day a wanderer hunting in the sandhills on the coast near Perth reported the discovery of signs of an old fire which appeared to contain human remains. Investigation indicated that Johnson had built a huge pile of wood and set fire to it, and then, shot himself so that his body would fall into the heart of the fire. Parts of the gun, bones and papers in Johnson’s handwriting reconstruct the story of one of the most amazing suicides recorded in this State. Hanging on a tree was a small luncheon bag containing a note in Johnson’s handwriting addressed to a woman asking the finder to inform the addressee “that he had taken a single ticket on a very long journey as he was tired of fighting the depression.”

On This Day – January 1, 1915

At Melbourne on Sunday a double tragedy occurred at Toolern Vale. Mary Wynne (18) was walking near the village with a cousin. Peter Michel approached the girls, and pointing a gun fired killing Miss Wynne. The murderer, who had been on friendly terms with Miss Wynne, committed suicide. The motive is rather obscure, Michel was for six mouths living in a tent near Miss Wynne’s family. He stated he came to Australia with the American Fleet.

Robert Wynne, uncle of the murdered girl, knew him as a hardworking man. He was a frequent visitor at Miss Wynne’s house, and had established himself on friendly terms with the girl, and paid her a lot of attention in an undemonstrative way. Before the tragedy Michel wrote a letter to the girl’s father asking for work, and giving some particulars about himself. The letter read:

“Mr. Wynne,-I am a deserter from a Society of the French, who have taken an oath to fight for their country till death, and if they get me they would shoot me on sight. I am not afraid to go. Sickness would not have stopped me. I was begged not to go. Since then I have had no peace of mind. I used money from their sick fund when I was ill. I was trying to pay it back. I wish you would get done anything you have to do. I will then leave these parts. I will be satisfied with 5s a day from you, as I have had a lot of work from you. Thanking you for your kindness to Toolern Vale, French me.-Peter Michel.”

On This Day ……. 1st January 1911

Archibald Victor Martin Steane, Government Assistant Surveyor in the Maryborough district of Victoria, was found dead in Edinburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy, early on the morning on the 1st of January. He had a great cut across the eye and foul play was suspected, but investigations tend to show that he must have fallen on the stones in a portion of the Gardens, and after sustaining the injuries, had managed to reach a grass plot before collapsing. However a week later development were made in the mystery surrounding the death of Archibald Steane, aged 24, who, as previously wired, was found dead in the Edenburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy. Percy Lynch informed the police that late on New Year’s Eve he was walking through the Gardens with two females, when a man asked for a cigarette. Lynch gave him one. Then the man remarked that Lynch, had one girl too many, and suggested that he should escort one of them. The girls walked on, and the stranger according to Lynch left, but returned, and molested one of the girls. Lynch struck him, and the stranger pulled out what looked like a revolver. Lynch, fearing he would shoot, wrenched the weapon from his grasp, and hit him on the head. The stranger ; stepped up, and with a staggering blow sent Lynch to the ground. Lynch thought that he would be overpowered, and, rising, he ran away with the girls. He thought no more of the matter until he saw in the newspapers a report of the finding of the body. At a late hour Lynch was arrested on a charge of murder.

On This Day – December 29, 1932

In a shooting affray in a room at the North Grant Hotel, Ballarat on this day in 1932, Winifred Brooks, a married woman and a barmaid at the hotel was fatally wounded, while Harrys Lloyd, 83, received a bullet wound in the right eye. The sound, of two shots disturbed a boader, who rang the police. On arrival they found, Mrs. Brooks dead and Lloyd wounded.

At the Ballarat Court, Patrick Sheedy, who had been licensee of the hotel for some years, was changed with having murdered, Winifred Brooks and with having fired at Harry Lloyd with intent to commit murder. Constable Speed said it was alleged that during the dispute in which Sheedy had accused Lloyd and Mrs. Brooks of holding £45 which he claimed at his, Sheedy took a revolver from his pocket and fired. Patrick Joseph Sheedy, 29, hotel keeper, was found guilty by a Jury and sentenced to death, on a charge of having murdered Winifred Brooks, at North Grant Hotel, Ballarat.


On this day …….. 27th of December 1902

The strange conduct of the young man Frank Dunnemann, who on the 27th December, at Fitzroy, shot at and wounded a young lady, formed the subject of his trial for attempted murder at the Supreme Court. It will be remembered that the young people met first in Broken Hill, where Miss Elkins was appearing with a variety company, and residing at an hotel kept by the accused mother. Then she went to Adelaide, and accused followed her. She came across to Melbourne in December, pursued still by her ardent lover. She tried to be cool with him, and finally refused to have anything to do with him. She confessed to having written letters couched in loving terms to the accused. One night, while she was returning to her home in Fitzroy, the accused met her in a quiet street, and in the course of an altercation a revolver he was carrying exploded, the bullet striking the young lady on the forehead. The young man was chased by a bystander, whom he shot at, and missed. Then he pointed the revolver at his own head, and, firing twice, inflicted two wounds in the forehead. He was found lying behind a bush, and subsequently near the same spot a letter, signed by the accused, was discovered. It was addressed to Miss Elkins’s mother, and bade ‘farewell to all.’ It was full of curiously misspelt words, and aimed at in forming the world of the accused’s love for ‘his Connie, without whom I cannot live, and so I want to make sure she is dead.’ For the defence it was stated that the accused, who is only 20 years old, was subject to fits, and had been hit on the head some years ago. The plea of impulsive insanity was accordingly put forth. The jury brought in a verdict of wounding with intent to murder, and Judge Hodges recorded a sentence of death, saying that he did not feel justified in passing it.


ON THIS DAY – December 26, 1969

Helmut Masin aged 25, of Dee Why, NSW, appeared in the Melbourne City Court charged with the murder of a 14 year-old schoolgirl, Ella Rosvoll, of Mt Waverley. The court was told that Masin shot the girl on December 26 on the Murray Valley Highway, near Wodonga.


ON THIS DAY – December 25, 1888

At the Melbourne Supreme Court, John Anglin was charged with the murder of his wife, Jemima Caroline, by shooting her at the residence of her brother in law, Mr Herbert John Rhodes, Inglesby road, Camberwell, on the 25th December. Anglin had been married to his wife for nine years before the murder. The accused was always exceedingly jealous of his wife, and strange and eccentric in his behaviour towards her, labouring under some delusion concerning her faithfulness. In consequence of that delusion, he used to strike her, and treated her abominably. She had ultimately to leave him, owing to his violence and jealously, mid supported herself by teaching music. At the time of the murder she was stopping with her sister, Mrs. Rhodes, at Camberwell. The prisoner called at the place on Christmas Day, and said he wanted to see his children Mr Rhodes ordered him away, and, as he did not leave, went to the yard and took an axe, with the view of frightening the prisoner away. On Mr Rhodes reappearing at the door with the axe in his hand, the accused shot at him, and on Mrs. Anglin coming out of the dining room into the passage to ascertain the cause of the discharge of firearms the prisoner shot her also, and followed her into the house, where he shot her again one of the bullets entering the lungs and causing her death. The accused then went away, and on being arrested said “I suppose I will be hung for this.” The frequent strange demeanour and behaviour of Anglin towards his wife would render it necessary for the jury to consider whether the prisoner was labouring under a delusion and was to some extent out of his mind, or whether he was sane and conscious of the awful deed he was committing when he murdered his wife. The remark which the accused made on being arrested went a long way to a reasonable man to show that he knew what he was doing when he killed his wife. Anglin received 16 years at Pentridge Prison. On passing sentence his Honour remarking that the question which they would have to consider was not whether the prisoner murdered his wife, but merely whether he was sane or insane at the time.


 ON THIS DAY – 24th of December 1928

Phillip Pope aged 14, who disappeared from his home after his brother, Jack Pope aged 10, had been shot dead on the 24th of December 1928, was discovered by the police on the 27th Cockatoo picnic ground. He had just run third in a children’s race when he was recognised by the police. The boy was taken to headquarter where he told the story of his wanderings. He also made a statement as result of which he was later charged with having murdered his brother.


ON THIS DAY – December 20, 1940


Found guilty of the murder of Alfred Thomas Atherton, 35, hotel useful, on the 20th of December, at Ferntree Gully, Morris Ansell, 19, metal polisher, of Victoria Street, Carlton, was sentenced to death by Mr. Justice Martin in the Criminal Court. The Jury added a strong recommendation for mercy because of Ansell’s youth. In the course of evidence at the trial, Mrs. Atherton, wife of the murdered man, said that she had been living apart from her husband. About eight months ago she met Ansell in a house in South Yarra, and two months later went to live at Ferntree Gully, and later at Victoria Street, Carlton. She had hoped to obtain a divorce so that she could marry Ansell. According to police evidence, Ansell confessed that he shot Atherton. An sell had said that he had arranged to go with Atherton to Ferntree Gully, where he Informed Atherton that Mrs. Atherton was working. Before leaving home he had placed his pea rifle under his coat. When walking along the road to Boronia, Atherton had said to him (An sell): ‘I suppose my wife is running about with other men. If I thought that she was in trouble I would kill her.’ Ansell told the police: ‘I said to myself I will kill you first.’ Ansell then said that ‘Atherton turned his head and I shot him.’


ON THIS DAY – December 19, 1953


Bunyip shooting murder charge

Ivan Francis O’Shannessy, sawmill worker of Bunyip, appeared in the City Court on a charge of having on December 19 murdered William Régnier at Bunyip. O’Shannessy became involved in an argument with William Régnier over the loss of keys to a truck. O’Shannessy armed himself with a shotgun and twice Régnier challenged him to use it. O’Shannessy then shot Régnier in the chest and Regnier died almost immediately. The trail was transferred to February and O’Shannessy was granted bail. O’Shannessy drowned on the 31st of January in a dam, the banks of which were steep and slippery. O’Shannessy was known to be a fair swimmer, the court was told. Mr. Duggan said he could not decide whether the drowning was accidental or not. He returned an open finding. Mr. Duggan said he would have committed O’Shannessy for trial, but the evidence did not allow him to return a finding that Regnier was maliciously and feloniously murdered. Evidence was given that Regnier was shot after an argument with O’Shannessy. Both men had been drinking heavily.