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A shocking tragedy occurred to-day at the Sir Walter Scott Hotel, at the corner of Elizabeth and Franklin-street, city. A⁣ young man, John Tunks, cutting the throat of Amelia Dean, a barmaid, with a razor, and then inflicting frightful injuries upon himself with the same instrument. He died within an hour, and the woman is in. a critical condition. ⁣ ⁣

The crime was committed in a bedroom on the first floor⁣ of the hotel, and the first intimation the other inmates had of the occurrence was the sight of Mrs. Dean rushing downstairs with blood flowing from a gash in her throat, followed by the man, similarly wounded. He was in a shocking condition, and had barely reached the foot of the stairs when he collapsed. It was evident from the nature of his injuries that he had used the razor with⁣ frenzied determination. Mrs. Dean, who was also very weak, staggered towards several of the inmates of the hotel, who were conversing near the door, exclaiming⁣ “Jack done, it. Jack done it.”⁣ ⁣

The pair were promptly removed to the Melbourne Hospital, and it was then seen that the man’s end was near. Mrs. Dean’s recovery is regarded as doubtful. A blood-stained razor was found lying at the foot of one of the two beds in the room from which the man and woman came. Both beds were also blood-stained, and there was a trail of blood from one bed through the door and down the stairway.

There were signs that a struggle had taken⁣ place.⁣ ⁣

Amelia Dean died 6 weeks later ⁣ ⁣

ON THIS DAY – July 18, 1859

Yesterday morning at ten o’clock was the time fixed for the execution of Chew-a-Key, the Chinaman convicted of the murder of the late Mr. M’Elligott, at Ironbark Gully, Bendigo, On Sunday evening however, he contrived to evade the sentence of the law by committing suicide. He was last seen alive by Mr. Winkle, the Governor of the gaol, and the turnkey in whose immediate custody he was placed, at about four o’clock on Sunday afternoon. There are two doors to the condemned cell in which Chew-a-Key was confined, the outer one similar to those in general use in the gaol, and an inner one composed of perpendicular and transverse iron bars, so as to form a sort of grating, through which the prisoners might be observed by the turnkey on duty. At a quarter to five o’clock on Sunday afternoon, the turnkey went to the cell in which the condemned prisoner was confined, for the purpose of lighting the gas. On opening the outer door, he saw him hanging from one of the transverse iron bars of the inner door. The alarm was immediately given, the prisoner cut down, and every means employed for his resuscitation, but without avail. It was apparent that Chew-a-Key must have premeditated self-destruction for some time from the particular care which he had taken that the attempt should be effectual. He had torn up one of his blankets, and twisted it into a rope for the purpose; and it was evident that he must have managed so to raise himself from the floor of the cell as to obtain a seat on one of the bars of the door, whilst he fastened the rope with which he hanged himself. He had also tied his feet together, and had then connected his hands with his feet by means of a piece of the blanket twisted into a rope in such a manner as entirely to prevent any attempts which he might have made to save himself, supposing his courage to have failed him at the last moment. The Sheriff was not informed of the occurrence until he arrived at the gaol yesterday morning, shortly before ten o’clock, to see the sentence of the law carried into effect. An inquest was held on the body yesterday, at twelve o’clock. The Coroner then drew attention to the fact, that in England, from the time sentence of death was passed on a prisoner until that sentence was carried into execution, he was never suffered to be alone, and said he thought the recent occurrence would show the authorities the necessity of adopting a similar practice in the colony.

 

ON THIS DAY – July 13, 1961

A slight, auburn haired woman yesterday had a 25th birthday she will never forget. She was acquitted in the Criminal Court of the murder of her 17 month old daughter.

Mrs Hughann Legget Prescott, of Murphy Street, Gardenvale, had pleaded not guilty to the charge before Mr. Justice Little and a jury. In a three day trial the Crown claimed that Mrs Prescott had attempted to take her own life and that of her daughter, Elizabeth Louise. Mrs Prescott was found beside the body of her daughter in the gas filled kitchen of their home in Gardenvale on July 13 this year. Eight days previously, Mrs Prescott’s husband, Peter, had gassed himself in the same kitchen after an argument over financial matters. She blamed herself for her husband’s death,

Crown witnesses told the court. Mr. E.D. Lloyd (for Mrs Prescott) did not lead any evidence in defence, but relied on his final address to the jury yesterday. Mr Lloyd told the jury that in 70 years of trying cases in the Criminal Court there had never been a case like this. “It would be cruel, unjust and wrong to convict this woman of wilful murder as it would be the culmination of a long series of wrongs done to her. A gift of £1900 from Mrs Prescott senior to buy a house had to be repaid within three years with interest. If they would not do this, Mrs Prescott threatened to take legal action,” Mr Lloyd said. He said that by some strange irony of fate this little woman was on trial for murder on her 25th birthday. Never Known “For the rest of your lives how will you know that the door inside the house from the kitchen, which was not locked, might not have swung open? And the little girl, driven by the most basic urge of all – mother love – came in and laid down by her mother, who was at this stage affected by the gas?” Mr Lloyd asked the jury. Mr J F Moloney appeared for the Crown.

On This Day – June 27, 1930

Murder and suicide was the finding of the City Coroner (Mr. Grant, P.M.) today after the inquiry into the death of George Young, horse trainer, and Lily Maude Veal, 49, whose bodies were found after a violent quarrel at a house in Kent street, Richmond, on June 27.

The deceased man and woman were known as Mr. and Mrs. Shipp. They had frequent violent quarrels The evidence showed that Young killed the woman by firing three revolver bullets into her body, and he then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

ON THIS DAY – June 14, 1935

GUILTY OF MANSLAUGHTER

“I am not guilty! I am Innocent! God knows I am not guilty!” With those words Clifford Earl Smiles, aged 31 years, motor mechanic, of Warleigh road, West Footscray, burst into sobs in the dock of the Criminal Court on September 18 after a jury had found him guilty of the manslaughter of his wife and child. The jury had deliberated for a little more than three and three-quarter hours, having left the court at 5.15 p.m. Smiles was remanded for sentence.

Smiles was charged with having on June 14 murdered his wife, Edna May Smiles, aged 24 years, and his daughter, Norma Elizabeth Smiles, aged four months. The bodies of Mrs. Smiles and her daughter were found in the gas-fllled kitchen of their home at Warleigh road, Footscray, on the morning of June 14. The Crown alleged that Smiles had suffocated his wife and had then placed the dead body, with the baby, which was then alive, in the kitchen, turning on the gas at the stove to make it appear as if Mrs. Smiles had committed suicide and gassed the baby.

ON THIS DAY – December 7, 1915

On December 7, at Yanac North, near Nhill, Annie Sophia Thiele, 26, wife of Edward Reinhold Thiele, locked herself in a room with her two children. Subsequently the door was burst open, and it was discovered that the children—a boy aged one year and nine months and an infant aged five months — had been killed with a knife. Mrs Thiele was lying wounded, and was found to be past help.

It was surmised that she took the lives of her two children and her own while temporarily insane. Mrs Thiele had been packing up, preparatory to journeying to Forrest, on a visit to friends. She had not been in good health recently.

An inquest was opened.

 

ON THIS DAY – December 3, 1922

A Painter Charged

George Devitt, (27), a painter, who has discharged from the Melbourne Hospital this afternoon was immediately brought before the City Court on a charge of having murdered Emma Hill on the Yarra Bank on December 3. Devitt was remanded to December 23, the day after the inquest is to be held.

The crime alleged against Devitt happened on the night of December 3. About midnight he staggered across Alexander Avenue on the bank of the Yarra with blood streaming from his body. He stopped a motor car and asked to be driven to the Police Station saying he had murdered a girl and he then tried to commit suicide. He had been in the river.

After an all night search, the police found the body of the girl, a domestic employed at the Y.W.CA. The girl’s body was lying on a rookery on the bank of the river.

On This Day – November 3, 1923

DIVE INTO ENGINE FURNACE.

At Bowen, North Queensland, the strangest case of suicide ever reported in Queensland, and probably in Australia, occurred on November 3. A man, who had previously divested himself of clothing entered the engine shed in the railway yards, climbed on to an engine, opened the firebox, and dived head foremost into the furnace. Cleaner R. Gray was nothing on one of the engines, when he saw the man enter the yard naked and jump cm to an engine which was unattended, but which had steam up and the fire going. Gray ran in pursuit, but was not quick enough to thwart the demented man’s action. Leaping to the footplate, Gray made a clutch at the disappearing feet and managed to get a temporary hold; hut he could not hold on. Gray, with others, strenuously endeavoured to extinguish the flames, but did not succeed before the body was reduced to a charred mass. A pair of trousers and a singlet were found in the yard, and it is hoped to trace the man’s identity by their means.

ON THIS DAY – July 18, 1859

Yesterday morning at ten o’clock was the time fixed for the execution of Chew-a-Key, the Chinaman convicted of the murder of the late Mr. M’Elligott, at Ironbark Gully, Bendigo, On Sunday evening however, he contrived to evade the sentence of the law by committing suicide. He was last seen alive by Mr. Winkle, the Governor of the gaol, and the turnkey in whose immediate custody he was placed, at about four o’clock on Sunday afternoon. There are two doors to the condemned cell in which Chew-a-Key was confined, the outer one similar to those in general use in the gaol, and an inner one composed of perpendicular and transverse iron bars, so as to form a sort of grating, through which the prisoners might be observed by the turnkey on duty. At a quarter to five o’clock on Sunday afternoon, the turnkey went to the cell in which the condemned prisoner was confined, for the purpose of lighting the gas. On opening the outer door, he saw him hanging from one of the transverse iron bars of the inner door. The alarm was immediately given, the prisoner cut down, and every means employed for his resuscitation, but without avail. It was apparent that Chew-a-Key must have premeditated self-destruction for some time from the particular care which he had taken that the attempt should be effectual. He had torn up one of his blankets, and twisted it into a rope for the purpose; and it was evident that he must have managed so to raise himself from the floor of the cell as to obtain a seat on one of the bars of the door, whilst he fastened the rope with which he hanged himself. He had also tied his feet together, and had then connected his hands with his feet by means of a piece of the blanket twisted into a rope in such a manner as entirely to prevent any attempts which he might have made to save himself, supposing his courage to have failed him at the last moment. The Sheriff was not informed of the occurrence until he arrived at the gaol yesterday morning, shortly before ten o’clock, to see the sentence of the law carried into effect. An inquest was held on the body yesterday, at twelve o’clock. The Coroner then drew attention to the fact, that in England, from the time sentence of death was passed on a prisoner until that sentence was carried into execution, he was never suffered to be alone, and said he thought the recent occurrence would show the authorities the necessity of adopting a similar practice in the colony.

 

ON THIS DAY – July 13, 1961

A slight, auburn haired woman yesterday had a 25th birthday she will never forget. She was acquitted in the Criminal Court of the murder of her 17 month old daughter.

Mrs Hughann Legget Prescott, of Murphy Street, Gardenvale, had pleaded not guilty to the charge before Mr. Justice Little and a jury. In a three day trial the Crown claimed that Mrs Prescott had attempted to take her own life and that of her daughter, Elizabeth Louise. Mrs Prescott was found beside the body of her daughter in the gas filled kitchen of their home in Gardenvale on July 13 this year. Eight days previously, Mrs Prescott’s husband, Peter, had gassed himself in the same kitchen after an argument over financial matters. She blamed herself for her husband’s death,

Crown witnesses told the court. Mr. E.D. Lloyd (for Mrs Prescott) did not lead any evidence in defence, but relied on his final address to the jury yesterday. Mr Lloyd told the jury that in 70 years of trying cases in the Criminal Court there had never been a case like this. “It would be cruel, unjust and wrong to convict this woman of wilful murder as it would be the culmination of a long series of wrongs done to her. A gift of £1900 from Mrs Prescott senior to buy a house had to be repaid within three years with interest. If they would not do this, Mrs Prescott threatened to take legal action,” Mr Lloyd said. He said that by some strange irony of fate this little woman was on trial for murder on her 25th birthday. Never Known “For the rest of your lives how will you know that the door inside the house from the kitchen, which was not locked, might not have swung open? And the little girl, driven by the most basic urge of all – mother love – came in and laid down by her mother, who was at this stage affected by the gas?” Mr Lloyd asked the jury. Mr J F Moloney appeared for the Crown.

On This Day – June 27, 1930

Murder and suicide was the finding of the City Coroner (Mr. Grant, P.M.) today after the inquiry into the death of George Young, horse trainer, and Lily Maude Veal, 49, whose bodies were found after a violent quarrel at a house in Kent street, Richmond, on June 27.

The deceased man and woman were known as Mr. and Mrs. Shipp. They had frequent violent quarrels The evidence showed that Young killed the woman by firing three revolver bullets into her body, and he then committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

ON THIS DAY – June 14, 1935

GUILTY OF MANSLAUGHTER

“I am not guilty! I am Innocent! God knows I am not guilty!” With those words Clifford Earl Smiles, aged 31 years, motor mechanic, of Warleigh road, West Footscray, burst into sobs in the dock of the Criminal Court on September 18 after a jury had found him guilty of the manslaughter of his wife and child. The jury had deliberated for a little more than three and three-quarter hours, having left the court at 5.15 p.m. Smiles was remanded for sentence.

Smiles was charged with having on June 14 murdered his wife, Edna May Smiles, aged 24 years, and his daughter, Norma Elizabeth Smiles, aged four months. The bodies of Mrs. Smiles and her daughter were found in the gas-fllled kitchen of their home at Warleigh road, Footscray, on the morning of June 14. The Crown alleged that Smiles had suffocated his wife and had then placed the dead body, with the baby, which was then alive, in the kitchen, turning on the gas at the stove to make it appear as if Mrs. Smiles had committed suicide and gassed the baby.