60 years of Australian TV

Division 4 was an Australian television police drama series made by Crawford Productions for the Nine Network airing on the 5th of March 1969 and ran till 1975 for 301 episodes. The series was one of the first dramas to follow up on the enormous success of the earlier crime show Homicide and dealt with the wide variety of cases dealt with by police in the fictional Melbourne suburb of Yarra Central (modelled on St Kilda). The series was both popular – winning 10 Logie Awards, including two Gold Logie awards (for Australia’s most popular entertainer) for Gerard Kennedy – and critically acclaimed, winning a number of Penguin and Awgie awards for its scripts and actors. After Kennedy decided to leave Division 4, the Nine Network summarily cancelled the series; only one episode was made with his replacement John Stanton. Yarra Central Police Station was filmed on location at 95 Montague St, South Melbourne. The building has since been demolished.

ON THIS DAY – May 17, 1941

At an inquest on William Henry Coleman, 74, of Napier st., South Melbourne, who received fatal injuries when knocked down by a car in Moray st., South Melbourne, on May 17, Mr. Mohr, PM, coroner, committed Leslie Henry Painter, 31, of Page st.. Albert Park, for trial on a charge of manslaughter. Bail was fixed at £100, with a surety of £100.

EXECUTED THIS DAY……. 15th May 1885


William Barnes was executed at the Melbourne Gaol for the murder of Joseph Bragge Slack at South Melbourne on the 9th September last. Since his conviction the prisoner had been much depressed, and he showed signs of breaking down. He became subject to fits of stupor, but during the visits of the Rev. H. R. Scott, who attended him assiduously, he listened attentively, and showed signs of repentance. On the night before his execution he sank into an apathetic state of half consciousness, and it was feared that he would not be able to walk on to the drop. At half past 7am he refused breakfast, and he had to be supported when an hour later his irons were knocked off and he was conducted to the condemned cell near the gallows. Presently the Rev. H. F. Scott arrived at the gaol, and found him in a most abject condition, but he rallied under the reverend gentleman’s ministrations, and asked that his last words should be given as words of warning to all evil doers to give up their crimes before they were brought to die on the scaffold like “Billy Barnes.” He said gambling and women had been his ruin. He also told Mr. Scott that on the drop he would say he was guilty, but the clergyman said he need not do so, as he had already confessed. Just as the clock struck 10 the sheriff, Colonel Rede, accompanied by Dr. Shields, the medical officer of the gaol, went to the door of the condemned cell and demanded the body of the prisoner. The hangman, William Jones, pinioned Barnes, who was offered a cordial by Mr. P. Dwyer, governor of the gaol, but he declined it. He walked on to the scaffold with a feeble step, and looking very livid. In a low voice, when Colonel Rede asked him whether he had anything to say, he replied, “No.” While the rope was being adjusted, prisoner’s fingers twitched at it convulsively. The white cap was then drawn over his face and while the Rev. H. F. Scott was reading the service for the dead the signal was given, and Barnes died instantaneously, the sole sign of life after he fell being a single convulsive contraction of the legs. The usual inquest was held an hour after the execution, and a formal verdict returned. The crime for which Barnes suffered the last penalty of the law is doubtless familiar to our readers. His victim, Joseph Bragge Slack, an old man, lived by himself and had some jewellery in his keeping which had once belonged to a man named Thompson, who was a fellow prisoner of Barnes, while the latter was serving a sentence in Pentridge. On the 9th September, a few days after Barnes was liberated, Slack was found dead in his bed with his throat cut, and with a razor clasped in his left hand. The verdict of the jury at the inquest was one of suicide, but three months afterwards Barnes, who had returned to Pentridge on a charge of robbery, confessed that he had gone into Slack’s house to steal his jewellery, that he was surprised while under the bed waiting his opportunity, and that in a struggle with Slack he killed him, and made it appear that the unfortunate man had died by his own hand. Slack’s body was exhumed, when it was found that his neck was broken. Some of his property was traced to the possession of Barnes, and a complete chain of evidence, resulting in his conviction, was established by the police. At the trial Barnes pleaded not guilty, but after his condemnation he repeated his confession and asked for mercy on the ground that the murder would never have been discovered if he had not voluntarily brought it to light. The Executive, however decided that the law should take its course. After this decision His Excellency the Governor was addressed by the prisoner’s solicitors in favour of a commutation of sentence, on the ground, among others, that the murder was unpremeditated, and was really the result of an accident while Barnes was trying to make his escape from Slack’s grasp, but Sir Henry Loch replied that the petition did not raise any considerations which had not previously received full attention, and no respite was granted.

ON THIS DAY ………. 4th of May 1988

A disturbed man, who had previously escaped from a mental health facility, cooked and ate pieces of his victim and left body parts strewn in public places. David William Philip, then 32, stood trial in the Supreme Court in December 1989 charged with the murder of 42-year-old vagrant Kyung Eup Lee. The court heard Philip killed, cooked, and ate parts of Mr Lee in May 1988 after an argument over squatting in a disused South Melbourne factory. Philip stabbed Mr Lee in the stomach and cut his throat. He then severed the dead man’s genitals, and sliced flesh from his thighs before burning the body overnight, the court was told. Philip had cooked flesh from the man’s thigh in a wok and eaten it. He burned the body on a fire fuelled by rail sleepers. He later left Mr Lee’s penis in the foyer of the female toilets at Flinders St Railway Station, where a woman had found it. His scrotum was located by police on tram tracks in South Melbourne. New Zealand customs officials intercepted a letter written by Philip inside an Australia Post Postpak, in which he detailed aspects of the killing and bragged that he had “done in a Korean”. When they went to the South Melbourne warehouse they found bones, a pile of ash and weapons including a knife stained by blood and with human hairs still attached. The ash was piled up in front of an armchair. Philip had been seen driving Mr Lee’s car after the killing, and police later found his birth certificate inside it. In a video-taped record of interview Philip admitted he killed Lee after Lee tried to move into his home at a disused factory in Normanby Rd. Mr Lee, a Korean national, had been living in his 1980 Toyota station wagon in the months before his death. The day before his murder, he told an accommodation service he had found “a nice place to stay” in South Melbourne. The warehouse was popular with squatters, but had no running water or electricity. Supreme Court Justice O’Bryan told the jury “not to be angry at the horrifying aspects of the case”. Instead they must bring down a verdict which took into account evidence relating to Philip’s paranoid schizophrenia, he told them. Several months before the killing, Philip had escaped from a Parkville facility after being certified. It took the jury of 12 just 20 minutes to find Philip was insane during the attack and dismemberment, rending a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity. Philip was ordered to be held in strict security at J Ward’s Aradale Hospital for the criminally insane until and unless deemed safe for release by government clinicians.

ON THIS DAY – April 27, 1895


The case of the man Arthur Buck, who is now in Melbourne Gaol under sentence of death for the murder of his paramour Kate Norton on April 27 last, was considered by the Executive Council. After carefully discussing the facts the Executive decided that the law should take its course. The execution has been fixed for July 1. It will be remembered that Buck met the woman, who was one of the unfortunate class, in Clive street, South Melbourne, on the night of April 27 last, and while engaged in conversation with her, he suddenly drew a razor from his pocket, and slashed it across the woman’s throat. An extensive wound was inflicted, from which she died soon after.


ON THIS DAY – April 23, 1930


Manslaughter Finding at Inquest.

Francis Kenny, news vendor, aged 52 years, of 6 Yarra street, South Melbourne, died in the Melbourne Hospital on April 26 from injuries received when he was struck on April 23 outside the Swanston street entrance to the Flinders street railway station. The city coroner (Mr D Grant) held an inquest yesterday into Kenny’s death Leo Patrick O’Hara, news vendor, of Marine Hotel York street, South Melbourne, said that on April 23 he was selling race books with his stepbrother Francis Edwards a news vendor, aged 26 years at the Swanston street entrance to the Flinders street railway station. Edwards and Kenny appeared to catch the attention of a purchaser at the same time and each held out a book. Kenny, pushed Edwards away, and struck him on the mouth Edwards struck him in return, and Kenny fell, striking his head on the pavement Edwards then went home. O Hara saw his step brother later in the afternoon and advised him to go away. Edwards said that he would go to the country and look for work. O’Hara had not seen his step brother since that afternoon. Vincent Victor Leonard, telephone operator, of Golding street, Canterbury, said that he saw Kenny fall. No one attempted to detain the man who struck the blow. Senior detective Carey, of Russell street, said that to the present he had not been able to trace Edwards News Vendor Carried £843 Constable Ayres, of Russell street, found £843/19/1½ in the possession of Kenny. It was stated in evidence that this was money saved by Kenny and his brother, Arthur Kenny. It was the custom that the brother who left home last should take the money with him. The coroner found that Kenny had died from injuries received on April 23 when he was feloniously and unlawfully struck by Francis Edwards. It was ordered by the Coroner that a warrant be issued for the apprehension of Edwards on a charge of manslaughter.


27 September 1919 

The police of Bourke street West Watchhouse, Melbourne, vouch for this story about a cockatoo.

Some months ago Mr Pearson, licensee of a South Melbourne hotel, reported the loss of the bird, which he valued at £50.

On Friday a plain-clothes constable traced the bird to a house in Park street, Melbourne, and arrested a woman on a charge of having

Then Mr Pearson was invited to the watchhouse to identify the bird. What happened in actual fact was that cockatoo identified Mr Pearson. As Mr Pearson entered the room the bird immediately recognised his former owner, shrieking excitedly.

The cockatoo cried out, Hullo, Pearson! Bring a whisky and soda for cocky,’ beating the sides of the cage in such a frenzy that the amazed police were prepared to believe that the bird had had one already that day.

ON THIS DAY ….. 13th April 1907


Mr Candler, the city coroner, recorded a verdict of manslaughter against Thomas Timmins, the manager of Dorman, Long and Co.’s factory, South Melbourne. Timmins who instructed employees to attach the brace to a fly wheel that fatally injured Frederick John Baker on this day in 1907. Without leaving the box, the Jury returned a verdict of not guilty, and Timmins was discharged.


ON THIS DAY …… 5th April 1929


On this day in 1929 a motor car driven by Arthur Harold Buckland aged 33, a postal employee, collided with a tram in Clarendon street, South Melbourne. William Samuel Deveston, aged 37, who was riding in the motor, was fatally injured. The Coroner found that Buckland was guilty of manslaughter and committed him for trial. Witnesses declared that Buckland drove at an excessive speed, but Buckland swore that he was travelling at only 15 miles an hour, and that the occurrence was purely accidental.


On this day ……… 31st of March 1909

A young man named Albert Rodgers, aged 18 years, suffered a serious accident on this day in 1909. Rodgers who was working at the corner of Victoria rd and Clarendon st., in South Melbourne, was hit on the head when a brick fell a distance of about 10ft. Rodgers was taken to hospital but was died on arrival.



ON THIS DAY – March 20, 1885

Charge of Manslaughter.

The trial of Michael Walsh, 40 years of age, a hotelkeeper in South Melbourne, for the manslaughter of John Mavaro, on March 20, during a row at the Flinders-street station, has resulted in an acquittal.



ON THIS DAY – March 3, 1953


Lionel Richard Lee was interviewed by police for the murder of Betty Iva Leighton Jones, aged 28. Jones was shot at South Melbourne on the 3rd of March 1953.