The Execution of Jean Lee 1951

lee mug x2

The Execution of Jean Lee 1951

Jean Lee was the last woman hanged in Australia, after having been convicted of the Robbery and Murder in company, of a Bookmaker aged in his 70’s.

There have been accounts of the sheer nastiness of this murder, but I cannot find this information in the newspapers of the day. Wikipedia states the victim had his penis cut off and stuffed into his mouth, but I cannot find where this information came from.

The involvement of a woman as an active participant in this murder that was not a crime of passion, but a robbery, disgusted the public at large and was seen as an unnatural act; and these social conventions went against her in pursuit of her appeals and sealed her fate.

(Spelling as per the era it was written.)


Sydney Morning Herald  



Three Charged With Murder

MELBOURNE, Tuesday.—Police this afternoon charged two men from Sydney and a woman with the murder of William George Kent, 73, an S.P. bookmaker.

Those charged were:—

Norman Andrews, 38, book-maker’s clerk, of Sydney.

David Clayton, 32, clerk, of Sydney, formerly of Adelaide.

Jean Lee, 29, domestic, no fixed place of abode.

Kent was found strangled in his room in a lodging house in Dorrit Street, Carlton, about 10p.m. yesterday. He was lying face downward, bound hand and foot. His thumbs were tied together behind him with a bootlace, and his arms and legs were bound with old sheets.

A post-mortem examination at the City Morgue to-day revealed marks similar to finger nail marks on Kent’s throat. His nose was broken. Dr. Bowden, a Government  pathologist, reported that Kent had been choked to death.

The two men and the woman were detained at the Great Southern Hotel, Spencer Street, at 4 a.m. to-day. Police state that they came to Melbourne a fortnight ago for the Melbourne Cup meeting.

Carlton police found Kent dead in his room after a man and a woman at the lodging house knocked on the door and, receiving no reply, had reported their suspicions.



Sydney Morning Herald


Sydney Woman, Two Men To Be Hanged In Victoria MELBOURNE, Monday.—Two men and a woman will be hanged at Pentridge Gaol on January 8. They are:— Norman Andrews, 38, book-maker’s clerk, Robert David Clayton, 32, clerk, and Jean Lee, 29, domestic. They were sentenced to death in March for the murder of William Kent, a 73-year-oldbookmaker, at Carlton on November 7, 1949.

Lee will be the first woman executed in Victoria since1894, when Martha Needle, who tried to poison her whole family, and Frances Knorr, a baby farmer, were executed.

The last man hanged in Victoria was Alfred Bye, a soldier, who was convicted by Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy, in December, 1941, for the murder of a man in the Alexandra Gardens.

Edward Leonski, an American soldier, was hanged in1942 by the U.S. Army authorities after he had murdered three women. The death sentence on Andrews, Clayton and Lee was confirmed by Cabinet late to-day alter a lengthy discussion. A special meeting of the Executive Council at 6 o’clock confirmed Cabinet’s decision.

Andrews, Clayton and Lee were convicted of murder and sentenced to death by Mr .Justice Gavan Duffy in the Criminal Court on March 25. On May 19, the Criminal Court of Appeal quashed the conviction and ordered a retrial.

In June, the Crown appealed to the High Court and the conviction was upheld.

Andrews, Clayton and Lee said they would appeal to the Privy Council and asked for State financial aid. Cabinet re-fused this on July 17, when the Attorney-General said the High Court decision was unanimous.


Jean Lee shortly after her arrest in 1949, Still wearing the coat she was in at Spencer Street station

Jean Lee shortly after her arrest in 1949, Still wearing the coat she was in at Spencer Street Railway Station.


21 Feb 1951 Sydney Morning herald

Men Say Farewell At Gallows

MELBOURNE, Monday.—two murderers said good-bye to each other in muffled voices a few seconds before they were hanged at Pentridge Gaol this morning.

With his face covered by a white mask and the noose around his head, Norman Andrews said to Robert Clayton “Good-bye Robert.”

Clayton, who was standing about two feet away, replied “Good-bye, Charlie.”

Andrews, 38, bookmaker’s clerk; Clayton, 32, clerk; and Jean Lee, 31, domestic, all of Sydney, was sentenced to death for the murder off a 75-year-old S.P. Bookmaker, William Kent, in November, 1949.

Lee was hanged at 8.11 a.m.—the first woman to hang in Victoria since 1896. She could not walk to the gallows. The hangman and his assistant had to carry her from her cell about 20 feet away. She was hanged while sitting in a Chair.

Lee appeared to be unconscious, and would have fallen from the chair if the hangman’s assistant had not held her.

The Governor of Pentridge, Mr. J. Edwards, said later that Lee had been given a mild sedative last night, but nothing this morning. She wore a grey skirt, whitish blouse, and a white mask.


At 10 a.m. prison warders led Clayton and Andrews, already masked, to the gallows. Their hands were manacled behind them, but their gait was steady.

Two chairs had been placed side by side on the trapdoor but they were not needed.

The two men’s ankles were manacled just before the trap door was released.

The executions were witnessed by the Supreme Court Sheriff ,Mr. W. Daly, the Assistant Sheriff, the gaol Governor, Mr .Edwards, the Government Medical Officer, Dr. D. J. Whiteside, two clergymen, the chief warder of  Pentridge, about 12 other warders, and seven Pressmen.

Mr. Edwards said Clayton and Andrews had seen their last visitors up to 4 p.m. yesterday. Lee’s last visitors had seen her and flown back to Sydney on Saturday.

There was no attempt to stage a public demonstration near the gaol against the hangings.

After the executions Dr. Whiteside signed certificates to say that the sentence of law had been properly carried out.

jean x3


The following report is from a record kept by the Gaol Warders closely involved with the Execution of Jean Lee

Jean Lee

Executed at Metropolitan Gaol at 8 am 19/2/1951

Aged             31 years

Height          5 foot 7 inches

Weight         7 stone 6 lbs.

Drop             8 foot

Owing to a collapse of nerves a chair was needed. Death was instantaneous, no more movement occurred.  At 8.05 am a few weak pulsations were felt in the right wrist, no heart sound were heard. Certificate of Death signed at 8.20 am

Autopsy Performed at 11 am

Moderate bruising of the neck tissues at level hyoid cartilage and occurring posterically. No Life. No PM staining. No cyanosis. All internal organs normal. Skull normal at death. Brain Normal at death Cervical Vertebrae dislocation between the first and second vertebrae.

Cause of Death (Coroner’s finding)

Dislocation of the neck caused by hanging.


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