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ON THIS DAY….. 27th May 1952

An East Brunswick man murdered his wife and committed suicide because of his wife’s association with another man, the Coroner (Mr. Burke. S.M.) found. The man’s daughter had said that she heard her father say: “You’re not coming back? Well, love, this is it” before two shots were fired on May 27 at their home. The dead couple were William Anthony Kilmartin, 49, storeman, and Margaret Alice Kilmartin, 47, barmaid. Their married daughter, Mrs. Eileen Margaret McNeill, also of East Brunswick, said that her mother left home in May the previously.

 

EXECUTED THIS DAY……. 15th May 1885

Melbourne

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 – May 9th, 1889

On May 9th, 1889, a man named Walter Brooks, an insurance agent, attempted to murder a woman with whom he had been living, named Matilda Thompson, at Earl-street, North Carlton.  Brooks was charged with wilful trespass at the house of Mrs Thompson’s son the week before. He went to gaol, and was liberated on the 8th of May.

On the morning of the 9th of May, he again went to the house of Mrs Thompson’s son, in Earl street, and knocked at the door.  He was refused admittance, and immediately placed a small six chambered revolver at the keyhole and fired two shots. A young woman, named Emily Spooner who was in the house with Mrs Thompson, and on hearing the shot she rushed out the back door. Brooks met her at the door as she was going out, and rushed into the house. Mrs Thompson was in the front room, and Brooks went to where she was and caught her by the neck and threw her across his knees and threatened to blow her brains out, at the same time placing the revolver at her head. At this moment Mrs Liddy, who is the landlady of the house, and Constables Reidy and Lowry, who had been attracted by the sound of the gunshot, arrived on the scene, and Brooks, who was struggling with Mrs Thompson, released her and let her go to answer the door. As soon as the door was opened Mrs Thompson rushed out. Brooks followed her to the door, and on seeing the constables drew back and closed the door.

Almost immediately, another shot was heard, and on the police entering the property, they found the man lying on a bed in the bedroom, with the revolver clutched in his hand, whilst the blood was flowing profusely from his mouth and nose.

In the deceased’s hand was found a portrait of Mrs Thompson, and also a letter in which he stated that he and Mrs Thompson had been living together as man and wife for some time. All was alright until about three weeks ago when she had neglected his children, which were by his late wife, and had then left him. He stated that he loved her better than his soul and intended to murder her and then commit suicide, and prayed that God would assist him to complete it.

ON THIS DAY – May 3, 1910

MELBOURNE

Melanie Dean, whose throat was cut on May 3 by John Tunks, died yesterday in the Melbourne Hospital. Tunks and Mrs Dean had been living together, and in a fit of jealousy or temper he cut her throat at the Sir Walter Scott Hotel, in Elizabeth street, and then committed suicide by cutting his own. The body was removed to the Morgue

EXECUTED ON THIS DAY ………. 14th April 1902

Albert Edward McNamara, was executed at Old Melbourne Gaol

On the 5th of January 1902, Albert Edward McNamara took his wife and children for a long walk, and when they returned he gave his wife some gin and then she and the children went to bed. McNamara then set fire to his house in Carlton by soaking a number of rags in kerosene and lighting them. The motive of the crime was to secure insurance money of £350, the life of Mrs. McNamara having been insured, as McNamara was in financial difficulties. His wife, Catherine, woke up in time and managed to rescue her 6-year-old daugher, but 4-year old Albert had already been severely burnt before she could carry him outside and died a few minutes after being admitted to hospital. McNamara was charged with arson at the Criminal Court at Melbourne on the 18th of February 1902, but the jury disagreed and were discharged. A second trial was held on the 19th of March 1902, and this time the jury found McNamara guilty and he was sentenced to death. He was hanged at Melbourne on the 14th of April 1902. Shortly before his execution he attempted suicide by dashing his head against the bar of his cell.

 

ON THIS DAY ……. 27th March 1939

COLLINGWOOD

Findings of murder and suicide were recorded by Acting City Coroner Mr. Mohr, at the inquest into Annie Forsey and John Forsey, who died in a shooting in a bakehouse in Collingwood on this day 1939. Kenneth Forsey, pastrycook, of Collingwood said while he was in bed late on March 27th, he was awakened by a report which he believed at the time to be the backfiring of a motor car. He did not investigate and dozed off to sleep again. Later he got up and saw his mother lying on the floor at the foot of the stairs. His father was lying on the floor with a pistol in his right hand. He was groaning, but did not speak. His father and mother had not been on good terms for about 12 months and had not spoken to each other for about three months He did not know the cause of the disagreement.

 

ON THIS DAY ………. 14th March 1913

FITZROY

The Coroner held an enquiry into the tragedy which occurred in George street, Fitzroy, on this day in 1913. Walter Edgar Erfurth, a labourer aged 23 years, killed Ada Doalman, aged 21, and wounded her baby, before shooting himself. William Lawrence, who lived at the same house as deceased, said that on the 14th March Erfurth came home slightly intoxicated. He went out again, and upon his return retired to his bedroom. Witness heard a muffled dispute between him and Doalman, which was followed a few minutes later by a scream. He tried to open the door, but it was locked. Lawrence then went into the street and returned with a constable, who forced the door. He then saw the bodies of Erfurth and Doalman stretched on the bed, and the baby, with a wound in its mouth, was lying across the woman’s arm. Erfurth had a bullet wound in the forehead, and the woman had been shot in the breast. Grace Erfurth said she believed Doalman to be her son’s wife. He was arrested two years ago for the maintenance of an illegitimate child, but the Drouin Court dismissed the case. The matter may have preyed on his mind. A verdict of murder and suicide was returned.

 

 

ON THIS DAY – February 25, 1896

ALBERT PARK

Enquiries made concerning the murder and suicide at Albert Park on this day in 1896, were not altogether successful in demonstrating a motive for the crime. Some additional facts were discovered, however, which tend to show that John Priestley was probably seriously involved in domestic troubles, and might by them have been driven to murder his child and kill himself. Priestley came from Adelaide to Melbourne about six years prior accompanied by a woman who joined him about the time of the disagreement with his wife. When he arrived here he had in his possession over £600. With this sum of money he entered into occupation of a free hotel at Carlton. Within two years he ran through all his money, and quarrelled with his female companion, who passed herself off as his wife. He sought, to shake her off, and suddenly and secretly left for Adelaide by sea. She learned of his intention somehow, and, taking the child with her, journeyed to Adelaide by express train, and was the same woman he saw as the boat reached the wharf. The quarrel was patched up, and they returned to Melbourne together. They quarrelled again, and Priestley finally deserted the woman. He went to South Melbourne and took service with the Gas Company. The woman remained in Carlton, where she was arrested on some minor charge. Priestley attended the Court when her case, came up for hearing. He undertook the care of their child, but refused to have anything to say to the woman. The child was the one he killed.

 

 

ON THIS DAY – FEBRUARY 13, 2005

Maria Korp was an Australian woman reported missing for four days and later found, barely alive, in the boot of her car on the 13th of February 2005. She spent a short time in a coma before emerging into a state of post coma unresponsiveness. She became the centre of a controversy in Australia during 2005. Depending upon their viewpoint, persons characterised the controversy as being about euthanasia or about human rights and protecting people with disabilities. On the 26th of July 2005 Victoria’s Public Advocate, Julian Gardner, announced that the feeding tube to Maria Korp would cease to be used for providing artificial nutrition and hydration, that palliative care would be implemented and that she was expected to die within 7–14 days. Korp died on the 5th of August 2005. Her husband’s mistress, Tania Herman, pleaded guilty on 8 June 2005 to attempted murder, and was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment; Husband Joe Korp, also charged with her attempted murder, committed suicide on the day of her funeral.

 

 

ON THIS DAY – FEBRUARY 13, 1898

ARARAT

An inquest was held on the body of Joseph McDonald, which was found in his hut at Warra Yadin, near Ararat on this day in 1898. The medical evidence showed that death was the result of a gunshot wound in the head. The jury returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown. Detective Whitney and Sub-Inspector Charles have been questioning the people of the district and spoke to Mr Michael Freeman, a farmer, living at Dunworthy, who had had a Police Court case with McDonald and was believed to harbour bad feeling against him. When the detectives made a second trip to Freeman’s they found him lying on his bed dead, having evidently taken arsenic, traces of which were found in his stomach.

 

 

ON THIS DAY – February 11, 1876

There was great excitement in Geelong on this day in 1876, with respect to the horrible murder and suicide by William Stenton. An inquests were held on the body of the maniacal murderer and his unfortunate victim. The jury found that Mrs. Stenton had been killed by her husband whilst he was in a state of insanity, and that the murderer committed suicide whilst temporarily insane. With regard to the lunatic the jury expressed regret that the authorities at the Kew Asylum had allowed Stenton to leave so soon after his admission about a month or so. The evidence which was adduced at both inquests showed showed that Stenton had been very morose since his return from Kew, but although he was sullen and avoided strangers, his actions over aroused any suspicion that he would commit such a desperate murder as that enacted on the banks of the Barwon river.

 

 

ON THIS DAY – February 9, 1908

At the Supreme Court John Charles Manning was charge with having murdered his wife, Mary Ada Manning, at Golden Square, Bendigo. On the February 9, Manning sliced his wife’s throat. Manning, who is of small stature, presented a haggard and aged appearance, and appeared to have aged in looks since the inquest. He still wore a bandage round his throat, thus covering the wounds which, after he was found alongside the dead body, of his wife, he acknowledged had been self-inflicted. George Rowley Manning, son of the prisoner and deceased, said his mother was a good, religious woman. He denied the truth of the accusations that had been made by the prisoner against, his mother in his diaries. The jury retired at 12 minutes past 4 o’clock, and returned with a verdict of guilty of murder at seven minutes to 6 o’clock. Prisoner staggered when asked if he had anything to say. He shook his head, and said in a weak voice, “I don’t plead guilty in my own conscience.” Mr. Justice Cussen, without changing his wig for the black cap, and still wearing his scarlet and ermine robes, then passed the sentence of death. The prisoner for a moment was motionless. Then he buried his face in his hands. When removed to the cells, however, he walked with a steady step.

Manning’s sentence of death was commuted to life imprisonment