Category Archives: Gone wrong…

The Execution of Ronald Ryan, 1967

With the the 50th  Anniversary of the last man to be hung in Australia, there is a limited amount of newspapers to access on line for this blog entry as the 50 year copyright limit has just been hit this entry will be added to in time as more papers are released.

Ryan was in Gaol for a series of petty crimes and decided to effect an escape.

(Spelling as per the era in which it was written)

ron-ryan-looks

THE CRIME

Canberra Times

1st February 1967

THE DAY OF THE SHOOTING

Did Ronald Ryan fire the shot that killed the warder, George Hodson, at Pentridge Gaol, Melbourne, in December, 1965? The courts said yes and sentenced Ryan to hang.

But the last-minute production of what purports to be new evidence about the shooting has brought new doubts. The events of December 19, 1965, are reviewed below.

MELBOURNE, Tuesday.—George Henry Hodson was shot dead outside

Pentridge Gaol about 2.20pm on December 19, 1965. The bullet was never found.

Evidence was given by three witnesses at Ryan’s trial about what happened at the No 1 sentry post at Pentridge Gaol during the escape by Ryan and another prisoner, Peter Walker.

A prison officer, Helmut Lange, told the court last March 16 that he had been on duty at the No 1 post at the time of the escape. At 2pm on December 19 he had watched prisoners putting out milk bottles in the yard below him some distance away from the post.

Lange said that when he had turned he had found Ryan standing behind him. “He had his right arm raised and was holding a water pipe”, Lange said, Ryan had got hold of Lange’s rifle, which was in the rack on the post, pointed the rifle at Lange and tried to pull a lever to open the gate.

Then Ryan had asked Lange which lever opened the gate. Lange had pointed to a lever which opened the door at the bottom of the sentry post, but not through the outside gate.

Lange said that Ryan then had marched him at gunpoint towards the stairs leading to ground level, where he had seen Walker hiding.

When they got to the outside gate, Walker had found it was locked. Ryan had told Lange to return and push the right lever this time.

Hodson chased Ryan Lange said that Ryan had prodded the carbine into his kidneys as they went back. When Ryan had pulled the right lever, Walker had called out “the gate’s open”.

Ryan had backed along to the stairs, covering him all the time. As soon as Ryan had reached the stairs, Lange said, he had turned and run down them.

After raising the alarm, Lange said he had seen a scuffle between the two prisoners and Brigadier James Hewitt, a Salvation Army chaplain.

Hewitt had fallen to the ground, and Lange had seen Ryan kneeling beside him holding the rifle.

Lange had told Warder Hodson, who was coming out of the officers’ mess, that two prisoners had escaped and Lange said he had then seen Ryan stopping a car at gunpoint.

The car had driven off without Ryan, and he had then seen a prisoner running up from Bell Street towards North Coburg with Hodson chasing him, close behind.

“I saw Ryan lifting his rifle and aiming it in that direction”, Lange said.

“I looked up at the No.2 post because I felt rather helpless, then looked down at Ryan again.

“The next thing I heard one shot. I saw Hodson  raising his arm above his head and fall to the ground”.

Three times in the trial, Warder William James Bennett denied that he had fired a shot at all on the day of the escape.

Bennett told the court he had been on duty at the No.2 post.

A prison officer, Robert Paterson, who was on duty at the main gate, said at the trial that he had seen Ryan holding two warders at bay with a rifle.

Affidavit on shot Paterson said he had aimed his rifle at Ryan, but had not shot when he had found he would have to fire between the two warders.

He had then jumped over a small wall on to the pavement and taken aim a second time.

“I took the first pressure. Then as I was beginning to squeeze, a woman came into my sights”, he said. Paterson said he had lifted his rifle and fired into the air.

In evidence, none of the warders spoke about another warder named Patterson. In the Supreme Court last night John Henry Tolmie, of Dandenong, said that a warder known as Mr Patterson had fired a shot from the No 1 post at the time of Ryan’s escape.

Tolmie, who said he had been serving a 12-month sentence in Pentridge at the time, said that Mr Patterson was not the Mr Robert Paterson who had given evidence during the trial.

At the trial the defence made the point that, although 14 witnesses had heard only one shot, Warder Robert Paterson had agreed that he had fired one, but the Crown claimed that Ryan had fired the fatal shot that killed Hodson.

demo-ryan

Canberra Times

30 March , 1966

Ryan sentenced to death for gaol murder

MELBOURNE,

Wednesday.—Pentridge Gaol escapee Ronald Ryan, 41, was sentenced to death late tonight for the murder of a warder during the December 19 escape.

His companion in the escape, Peter Walker, was convicted of manslaughter and remanded for sentence.

When asked why the death sentence should not be imposed, Ryan replied: “I still maintain my innocence and will consult my counsel with a view to appeal.”

The slightly built prisoner was led out of the court under maximum security, involving at least 20 uniformed police and warders and a dozen plainclothes police.

After the 12 jurymen announced their verdict after a 7½-hour retirement, they were sent back to their room while Mr Justice Starke sentenced Ryan to be hanged.

The jury returned to hear Walker, whom they had just convicted of manslaughter, admit many previous convictions.

Neither showed emotion Walker, like Ryan, showed no emotion when convicted. The trial had lasted 12 days.

The trial hinged on acceptance of either the Crown case, supported by many witnesses, that Ryan took deliberate aim and shot the warder, George Hodson, or the defence claim that a warder in No 2 guard tower could equally have been responsible unintentionally for the fatal shot.

Whether or not Ryan will hang now depends on the State Executive Council.

The council will wait until Ryan lodges an appeal, if he elects to do so, before deciding whether he should be executed or have his sentence commuted to life imprisonment.

An appeal is now up to the Public Solicitor to decide. It was he who briefed Mr P. Opas, QC, to defend the case, as Ryan had no money to engage a private solicitor.

 

Sydney ABC Radio

3rd  February 2017

Here is a link to a recent Interview with Mike Richards, an author, who has written about the Ryan Case, on the eve of the 50th Anniversary of his death

http://www.abc.net.au/radio/sydney/programs/drive/ronald-ryan/8236574

head lines rayn 1.jpg

Canberra Times

15 December 1966

RIGHT TO HANG, SAYS CLERIC

MELBOURNE,

Wednesday.—To hang a man was just, and vast numbers of Victorians favoured hanging, the secretary of the Victorian branch of the Bible Union of Australia, the Reverend W. R. McEwen, asserted tonight.

He said Bishop G. T. Sambell, Coadjutor Bishop of Melbourne, was wrong in saying the Victorian Cabinet had no concern about Christian conscience in deciding that Ronald Ryan should hang on January 9 (1967)for the murder of a Pentridge warder.

Mr McEwen said the articles of the Church of England clearly laid down that a man who took a life should have his life taken from him.

The Bible had several witnesses to say that the realm could take a man’s life in the course of justice.

Reverend McEwen said that to hang Ryan was the decision of the law of the land and as such was justice. “Without justice, from men empowered to carry out our wishes, where do we go?” Mr McEwen asked.

He said Paul, and others throughout the Bible, had clearly indicated that once justice had completed its course and a man was found guilty of taking life, he should be hanged.

“But I must admit I think hanging, as the means of execution is totally archaic”,

Mr McEwen said “Surely in this day and age, even though I know it is a quick and painless end, there should be a more acceptable method of taking a man’s life”.

It was reported today that the Cabinet decision not to commute the death sentence on Ryan was reached by a majority of 11 to 4.

 ryan-burial

The Guardian

Date 4th February 2017

“Good bye, my darlings – remembering the  trauma of Australia’s Last Execution a 50th Anniversary article on the hanging of Ronald Ryan

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/04/goodbye-my-darlings-remembering-the-trauma-of-australias-last-execution?CMP=share_btn_tw

 

 

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The Execution of Edward Feeney 1872

THE CRIME

The Argus (Melbourne)

7 March 1872

THE TRAGEDY IN THE TREASURY-GARDENS.

Edward Feeney, the man who was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of shooting the man Charles Marks, who was found dead in the Treasury-reserve, was taken before the City Bench yesterday on a charge of murder. He made no remark, and Mr. F. Stephen appeared on his behalf. The Bench remanded the prisoner to the inquest, which will probably take place this afternoon.

The following further particulars have been obtained :- The two on Tuesday afternoon, about half-past 1, went to the shop of

Mr. Davies, photographer, Bourke-street, and had their portraits taken. They said they wanted to be taken “in action” with

pistols they had, and Mr. Davies jocularly suggested that they should represent bushrangers, and take their coats off. They took

off their coats, and were “larking” with each other, playing with the pistols. One of them suddenly presented a pistol at the head of the operator, and snapped the trigger, but the weapon was not loaded.

Feeney seemed to be aping the swell, and the other was rather sullen. They were taken standing hand in hand, and also in a very curious position which they chose themselves. They stood within arm’s length of each other, face to face, and each pressed the muzzle

of his pistol against the other’s breast.In this position their portraits were taken.

Marks, who was very bounceable, having given a deposit of 10s., had first had his portrait taken alone in a standing position. The two were not sober, and were consequently so unsteady that the photographs were somewhat blurred. They left instructions for a couple of copies of each picture to be prepared. One of them had something like a powder-flask in his pocket. The following is a copy of the

letter found in Mr. Clay’s wine-shop:

“Melbourne, March 6.

My Dear Mother, –

I send you this. You will never hear from me

again. When you hear from Jack Burton

I shall be in eternity. Send out money

to put a headstone to us. Two of us die as

brothers.

P.S. – Leave Louise what you were

intending on leaving me. I can say no

more, and I am, dear, yours while on earth

CHARLEY.

Heaven have mercy, and receive

our souls.”

A young man named Henry James, living at the Great Britain Hotel, Flinders-street, who knew the strange couple, has stated that the cause of the tragic occurrence was the two men being in love with one woman, who was employed at the hospital. Marks told him they were both courting this woman, and that it was not the first time they had fixed their affections upon the same object, both having courted one girl in Portsmouth.

One of these women was a Jewess. Marks tried to prove, in a conversation, that he was unaware of his chum’s being in love with the same girl, and that Feeney was much annoyed at this selection of one woman by both occurring so often,and said that, in consequence, the acquaintance between the two must cease. After Feeney took the poison at the hospital,Marks, who was then on board the Edina,

took some rat poison, but vomited it, and then tried to cut his throat with a razor, but failed. He afterwards said that it was Feeney’s attempt which made him try self destruction, and he told James that he intended suicide, and gave James a letter, which he said was important, for Feeney.

He said, when the Edina got to Warrnambool, he would either go up the country or something surprising would be heard about him. When James remarked on the folly of the proceeding,

Marks said, “Oh, it’s all right,” and rushed away. Marks had the woman in question on board ship on Sunday week, and was very frightened that Feeney should hear of it before Marks himself should tell him.

Feeney and Marks slept in the same room in the Great Britain Hotel on Sunday night, and were heard talking over this double mutual murder, which Marks at other times made no secret of, speaking openly about the proposal.

James is to be a witness at the inquest.

marks feeney 2

THE COURT

The Argus (Melbourne)

18 APRIL 1872

 THE TREASURY-GARDENS MURDER

THE TREASURY-GARDENS MURDER.

Edward Feeney was indicted for the wilful murder of Charles Marks on the 5th March.Mr. O’Loghlen prosecuted; Mr. Moles-worth (who was instructed by the Crown) defended the prisoner.

The witnesses examined for the prosecution were— Dr. W. McCrea, Thos. Ambrose, gardener at the Treasury gardens; Michael Cain, another gardener; Benjamin Bride, caretaker at the gardens; Nicholas Bickford, Crown lands bailiff; John Balfour, police constable; W.A. Bradford, surgeon at the Melbourne Hospital; Dr. Edward Barker; James Stewart, photographer (assistant to Mr. Davies, Bourke street); A. Clay, wineseller, Bourke-street east; Frederick Rutherford, hall porter at the Melbourne Hospital; and Anne Mackenzie, formerly nurse at the hospital, a witness who was only found a few minutes before the case for the Crown was brought to a conclusion.

The case as proved by these witnesses was that Feeney had been for about l8 months a wards man at the hospital. Marks was wards-man for about a year.

Both left about the beginning of February. After Marks left he was employed as steward on board the Edina steamer, and whilst thus engaged he attempted to commit suicide. None of the witnesses spoke of this as to their own knowledge, but Clay said he had heard it. Feeney had also tried to commit suicide by taking laudanum, and Mr. Bradford said there was great difficulty in saving his life. On Sunday, the 3rd March, Feeney and Marks were seen together on board the Edina. On the following Tuesday, about half-past 1, they went together to Mr. Davies, to be photographed. Mr. Davies asked how they wished to be taken. Marks replied that he wished to be taken in action.

Davies answered, “What, as young bushrangers?” Stewart then asked how they would be taken, and Marks said with the pistols pointing at each other. Stewart told them if they wished to get into one carte de visite they must not stand too far apart.

Marks replied, “Oh no, we won’t stand far apart; we want the pistols pointing at the breasts.” They then placed the pistols close to each other’s breasts. They then had another photograph representing each as shaking hands with the other. Feeney objected to the photograph being taken, but, Marks insisted upon it, and spoke in a very commanding voice. Marks then had a picture of himself taken alone.

According to Stewart he was very talkative and excited, Feeney being rather depressed. Between 3 and 4 o’clock on the same day Feeney and Marks went to Clay’s wine-shop. Clay knew them both for about nine months. Marks ordered two glasses of wine. They both went into a sitting room, and Marks got pens and ink from Clay.

Both were engaged for some time in writing. Marks said they were going home. During the conversation that took place Feeney held up a pistol, cocked and loaded apparently to the muzzle, as there was some blue paper sticking out of it. Clay seized hold of the weapon, and Marks told Feeney to put it up. Marks also had a pistol in his breast. As they were leaving the shop, Feeney said, “You’ll see me again this evening, Clay;” to which Marks rejoined, “No, you never shall.” Nothing more was seen of them till about 25 minutes past 4, when the report of a pistol was heard in the Treasury-gardens.

 Dr. McCrea, Ambrose Cain, Balfour, and Bickford, with a number of other persons, rushed to the spot. Feeney and Marks were lying under a large willow, beside an artificial watercourse, or creek. The “creek” was 3in. or 4in. deep, and about 18in. wide.

Both Marks and Feeney were lying on their backs, and about 6ft. distant from each other. Between the two was a loaded pistol, capped and cocked. This pistol was about 2ft. 9in. from Marks, and less than 4ft. From Feeney. Portion of another pistol—the one that was fired, and which had exploded—was found in the creek, about 4ft. From Feeney, and 10ft. from Marks. Marks was  quite dead. His left breast was exposed, portion of his shirt having been on fire. Feeney was lying smoking a cigar. Dr.McCrea asked who shot the deceased. Prisoner replied he shot himself. Cain also asked who shot the deceased, but got no answer. Cain tore off a portion of the burning shirt and threw it into the creek. Some linen material was afterwards picked up there, all scorched, which Cain thought was what he had thrown away.

Bickford also asked the prisoner who shot Marks, and Feeney replied, “We came here to die together. He tried to shoot me, but could not.” Bickford said, “But you shot him though.” To this he made no reply. Bickford expressed an opinion that both were lying down when the shot was fired, as the branch of the willow under which they were was only about 3ft. from the ground.

Balfour, the constable, said that when he arrived he asked Feeney “Are you wounded?” Feeney

took part of a cigar out of his mouth, and said

“No.” The constable, on examining him, found

embedded in the breast of his coat a small

piece of wood, part of the exploded pistol. As

he was pulling out the fragment, Feeney said,

“It’s all right; I’m an old campaigner.”

Balfour also noticed that his right forefinger was cut. He found on him a powder flask, 15s. in silver, a bank pass-book, and three letters—

13th February, from Marks ( To Edward Feeney – Ned) 

27th February, from Marks ( To Edward Feeney – Ned) 

And the 28th February, from a woman, under the signature of “A.”

This last letter Anne Mackenzie acknowledged to be in her writing. It was as follows:—

“Melbourne, 28th February.

” Ned, you wrong me very much when you speak about Marks. I asure [sic] you this would be the last of my thoughts. If there was not a nother man in Melbourne, I would not cast a thought over him. Walk with him that I did twice, but never a gain Ned, let me know When you can see me a gain once more, and then as you like let us be as strangers, and believe to be yours &c, one who Wish you Well. A”

The other letters were .”S S. Edina, 13th February, 1872.

” Dear Ned,

—I have wanted a serious chat with you for some days, and have not had the chance, so I have written what I wanted to say. Ned, we are much alike; placed in this way, we have both lived, but cannot obtain our ambition; therefore we shall both remain single. I want to know if you like me well enough to accede to the proposal I make, that is, to remain fast friends, not friends to-day and to-morrow, but for ever. I do not attempt to deny, but am proud to say, I love you as a brother, and perhaps more, for I don’t know a brother’s love, never having had one, and I know you are fond of me, or at least I hope you are. Ned, we are both getting old enough to look out for the future, so I want us not ever to part. I am, as I told you before, expecting at the death of my poor old mother about £800 to £1,000, but in what way I am to receive it I cannot say; but when I know you shall know also. Of course, when we have sufficient to start business with, we will, that is if you intend to be the friend I desire, which I sincerely hope you do; but think, Ned, if you like me well enough for that; I hope you do. If I go home you come. If you go I come with you, but as we neither have many friends we care much for, I think we might do far worse than be united in close brotherhood. If, as I said before, you can without any scruple say yes, do. I shall be waiting in dread, for fear of no.

Answer this in the same manner, by writing. Hoping, please God, you accede to my proposition, which I’ll close, and believe me to remain your sincere friend until death does part us, Charlie.

I mean every word, and more than is here written,

—Yours, CHARLIE.”

“Don’t be advised by any one, but let it come from your own heart.”

“S.S. Edina,

Tuesday, 27.February

“My dear Ned,

—I was glad you got in all right last night, not but what I should be very glad for you to leave, but I should like you to leave on your own account.

“Ned, you know the strain you were in at — time. Now, as you are my friend, don’t do anything of the sort. If you do I shall not remain long. Ned, now I know the reason of your determination, and that we  are, what by the blessing of God we shall remain, true to the core. I feel happy, and shall sail to-day with a light heart. “Fancy the good reception we gave each other in the morning, and then at night, and that you and I are the same as before. “Ned, for my sake don’t do anything to yourself. When you look at your money you will find you are a note short. Perhaps you remember my taking it. I only took it, Ned, as you should not lose it. When I see you on Friday I will return it. “Hoping you will enjoy every blessing life can afford, I close. I remain yours truly,

“CHARLIE.

“P.S.—My hand shakes so from taking a little too much last night—CHARLIE.”

On Marks were found a D box of percussion caps, a memorandum-book, a bag containing swan shot, two letters, and 14s. 8d. The letters were said by Rutherford, of the hospital, to be in Feeney’s handwriting:—

“Melbourne

February 20th  1872.

“My dear Charlie,—I have at last come to the conclusion to answer your letter, and I dare say you will brand me as one of the most deceitful beings in existence. “I would have replied sooner, but I was trying to battle with myself; and as you noticed me every night so very dull, I suppose you won’t now wonder at the cause. I knew I would have to separate from you, and I did not like to mention it. The cause of my determination must remain a secret; and I trust that any little matters known to you will also remain secret. “Your kindness to me during and since my illness I shall never forget, also your offer last night, which I could not accept. “As I told you, I have come to the conclusion to remain in the hospital, as I consider it would be ungrateful for me to leave after the attention I got during my late illness. “Wishing you ever y happiness that the world can afford, I remain, yours,

“EDWARD.

“Your trunk I shall put a rope on. I dare say Jack will see it safe. Three shirts I have sent to the wash which I shall take an opportunity of forwarding next week. With regard to the little running account between us for tobacco, washing, and cash, let Jack know, and I shall forward it as soon as I possibly can.—E.”

“24th February, 1872.

“Dear Charlie,—

I received yours of the 20th February. I regret much that you should think I am so frivolous as to trifle with your feelings. As I said in my last letter, I am sorry that we should part, but fate has decreed it so, however unpleasant it may be to both of us.

“What I said in mine of 18th inst. I mean. “Trusting you will forget my unkind treatment to you, I remain, &c,

“EDWARD.”

pistol

The loaded pistol was drawn by the constable, who found in it nine swan shot, similar to those found on Marks; the wadding was white paper.

Dr. Barker made the postmortem examination on Marks. He found powder ingrained on the right hand; the left hand was across the breast. There were three gunshot wounds superficial on the left arm—one at the elbow, one in the centre of the fore arm, one about an inch lower down, and one between the thumb and the forefinger.

On the right side of his chest and on the breast there was ingrained powder; on the left side several scars. There were nine perforations in a square of two inches. Three of the shot had passed through the apex of the heart; that was apparently the fatal wound, paralysing the heart’s action.

Two of the pellets had also passed through the stomach and one was found in the liver. Seven of the shots altogether were found; the other two were still in the body. The weapon from which they were fired must have been about two or three feet from the body. The wounds could not have been self-inflicted.

On this evidence, the case for the Crown was shaped thus, that for some reason which could not be explained Marks had a hold over Feeney, and that Feeney was for some reason desirous of getting Marks out of the way. There was also probably some jealousy between them about the girl Annie. Whatever may have been the motive, there was little doubt that it was by Feeney’s hands that Marks came to his death.

That Marks inflicted the wounds himself was disproved by the evidence. There could be only two lines of defence. One that Feeney was insane—of this there was not a shadow of evidence, and the jury might dismiss it from their consideration—the other that the shot was fired in self defence.

But this was contradicted by Feeney’s own statement that Marks had tried to shoot him and failed, whether from want of nerve or having changed his mind did not appear. As to both persons determining to commit a sort of cross murder, the law was clear that where parties went out with such a design and only one was killed, the survivor was guilty of murder.

Mr. MOLESWORTH addressed the jury for the defence, remarking that the difficulties of his position were considerably increased by the

fact that neither he nor the attorney could get the prisoner to give any account of the transaction which would guide them in shaping the defence.

All he could do, there-fore, was to watch the case, and to make such suggestions on the evidence as might assist the jury in arriving at a just decision.

He contended, first, that Marks inflicted the wounds himself; and, secondly, that on the evidence the only conclusion to be arrived at

was that Feeney was insane. Feeney had no motive whatever for committing the crime.

He appeared to have been very friendly with Marks—so friendly that Marks offered to share £1,000 with him. Was it likely that he would voluntarily kill a person who was on such terms of friend- ship with him. The motives of jealousy were altogether disproved, for till the last both were on very friendly terms.

That he never contemplated committing any crime was shown by his telling Clay he would see him again that evening. He argued, therefore, that Marks had killed himself; and that unless it was shown Feeney had persuaded or encouraged him to the act, he could not be found guilty. Instead of Feeney encouraging Marks, all the evidence was that Marks was the one who possessed the most influence.

As to his insanity, he urged that it was not probable any one in his right senses would commit such an act, and Feeney’s whole demeanour from the time of the occurrence till that hour was proof of his not being in his right mind. Of all the persons who were in court Feeney was the one who was most unmoved at this trial. He concluded by asking the jury to find the prisoner not guilty on the ground of insanity, when he would be confined in a lunatic asylum for the rest of his life.

Mr. O’LOGHLEN submitted that the jury could not consider the question of insanity, as there was no evidence of it.

His HONOUR, in summing up, said that there were two defences—one that Marks did the act himself, the other insanity. The latter might be disposed of at once. Evidence should hve been brought forward for the defence to show his state of mind before and

after the occurrence. It would never do to say that a man was insane because he committed a crime, otherwise there would be a direct encouragement to crime, and the more atrocious the offence, the more reason for saying a man was insane. It would be said that a sane man would never murder his mother, nor a sane clergyman murder his wife.

The question of the prisoner’s sanity need not therefore be gone into. The other question was whether Marks destroyed himself. It was said, that as these two were friends, why should Feeney kill the other, and kill a man who offered to share £1,000 with him.

But look at Feeney’s letter, in which he declined the offer. The inference from it was, that he was trying to get rid of Marks—possibly in a gentle way, still that he was trying to edge off from him. Marks’s letters were all more warm than those of the other. There was no doubt that all through that day of the 5th March the prisoner was under Marks’s influence. Marks was the spokesman on all occasions, and once insisted on him doing what he wanted.

All through there was for some reason a dominance by Marks  over the prisoner. The law as to two persons going out with a common purpose of taking away their lives was this—that if one died, and the survivor, repenting at the last moment, saved his own life, the law would demand that life from him afterwards.  But the case for the Crown was not put on that footing; and it would be better, therefore, for the jury only to consider it in the aspect in which the Crown did present it, namely, whether the wounds were self-inflicted or not. If they found that Feeney fired the shot, they ought to find him guilty.

The jury, after deliberating 20 minutes, returned into court with a verdict of “Guilty,” The foreman of the jury stated that the scorched linen handed to them as part of the deceased’s shirt was really part of a handkerchief.

In reply to the usual question as to what he had to say why sentence should not be passed upon him, prisoner said he had nothing to say. His HONOUR, addressing the prisoner, said:

I really have not much to say to you. But I do think that if the statement you made is true, that both of you went out to die together, it was a cowardly act on your part when you found that the deceased’s life was gone you did not take the pistol and blow your own brains out.

Probably this is the severest thing I could say to you. But it was a cowardly thing of you to go there at all; and it was cowardly in you not to per- form your part that you had agreed to do.

You took his life when he could not return the fire. What your motives were for going there are inscrutable; they are known only to you and to him, but they must have been powerful motives.

Prisoner was then sentenced to death in the usual form. He was removed to gaol; and was as much unmoved by the sentence

as by anything that occurred during the trial.

The Court adjourned till next day.

POST CASE EDITORIAL

The Argus (Melbourne)

19 April  1872

THE EDITOR

We have always been of opinion that a judge should feel himself capable of rising superior to public opinion when  his duty demands that he should do so. This virtue, however, may be exaggerated into a vice, and we fear that his Honour Mr. Justice WILLIAMS is prone to such amplification of the judicial faculty.

The way in which his Honour elects to ride roughshod over the proprieties of the Bench has become of late unpleasantly marked. Not long since we were compelled to remark upon the eccentric notions of his Honour as evinced in his sentence of DRAPER, and now a still more startling evidence of his peculiarity of temper has been thrust upon us by his alarming utterances when sentencing FEENEY on Wednesday for the murder of MARKS. 

There is no need to comment upon the merits of the case. It appears from the evidence that FEENEY and MARKS went into the Treasury-gardens resolved upon mutual murder. Each was simultaneously to fire at the other, and so bring about simultaneous death. It would seem that—whether by accident or design —we do not pretend to say—FEENEY fired first, and shot his companion. The jury properly found a verdict of ” Wilful Murder,” and it became the [duty] of Mr. Justice WILLIAMS to pass the just [unclear] sentence of the law upon the survivor of this strange duel.

His Honour seizes the opportunity of displaying his opposition to commonplace views on the subject of suicide, by indulging in the following observations upon the conduct of the prisoner :-

” I ” really have not much to say to you ;

” but I do think that if the statement  you ” made is true, that if both of you went ” out to die together, it was a cowardly “act on your part, when you found ” that the deceased’s life was gone, that ” you did not take the pistol and blow ” your own brains out. Probably this “is the severest thing I could say to ” you.” It seems to us to be the most foolish thing that could possibly be said to anybody.

Whatever may be the private opinion of Mr. Justice WILLIAMS on the question of the cowardice of a man who refuses to kill himself after having failed to be killed by somebody else, the Bench is of all places in the world the precise spot where he should have refrained from

uttering such a sentiment. Suicide is recognised by the English law as a punishable crime, and for a judge to publicly call a man a coward because he did not break the law is an indefensible piece of folly. But when we remember that this judge was at that instant addressing a murderer for the purpose of sentencing him to death the folly becomes a public scandal which cannot fail to bring discredit upon the judicial office.

 We wonder how Mr. Justice WILLIAMS will justify himself when it next becomes his duty to reluctantly punish some courageous person for “an attempt at suicide.”

The law of partnership seems to have been intruding itself into his Honour’s mind, and having a dim recollection that by civil law a  ” contracting party ” is compelled to perform his contract in all particulars the unfortunate dulness of his reasoning faculty induces him to apply the argument to murder. If Mr. Justice WILLIAMS is determined to bring his office into contempt, nothing that we can hope to say will turn him from his purpose. We can only regret that we are charged with the painful duty of recording such exhibitions of indiscreet whimslcality —prejudicial alike to the Bench and to society at large.

VictorianCollections-medium

The Argus (Melbourne)

7 May 1872

The condemned man Edward Feeney, who  is to be executed on Tuesday morning for the murder of Charles Marks in the Treasury- gardens, still maintains the reticent and  almost indifferent demeanour which has  characterised him since the day of his conviction.

During the last week he received a letter from his mother in Ireland, which   he was permitted to answer, and a re- quest he made for the contents of his Communication to be kept secret, was com- plied with by the authorities. The Rev. Mr. Lordan and another Roman Catholic clergy- man attend regularly on the prisoner, who pays earnest attention to their ministrations. In the course of the week Feeney was visited by an old soldier comrade of the 18th Regi- ment, to which Feeney formerly belonged, and also by Miss Annie McKenzie, with whom Feeney and Marks were acquainted. He declined taking any exercise on Thursday and Friday, and seemed rather duller than usual, but on Saturday he again took the usual exercise allowed to prisoners in his situation.

 The warrant for his execution has been received by Mr. Costieau.

 THE HANGING

The Argus (Melbourne)

14 May 1872

Edward Feeney will be executed at 10 o’clock this morning for the murder of Charles Marks, which was committed in the Treasury-gardens. The condemned man was last night calm, self-possessed, and cheerful. After 9 o’clock last evening Mr. Castieau, Governor of the gaol, remarked to him that he was glad to see him so cheerful; and Feeney replied that he was quite resigned to his fate, but that he wished before dying to state calmly that there was not the slightest ground for the suspicion which he was told existed that there had been any relations beyond those of ordinary friendship between him and Marks.

He thought it was unfair that any reports damaging to his character should have been circulated without his being given an opportunity of disproving them. He then spoke disparagingly of Marks, and said the latter had professed to be very fond of him, and was very troublesome in consequence. He requested that this statement should be made public, and Mr. Castieau promised that it should.

He was then advised to get asleep, and said he would go to bed in about an hour.

Mr. Castieau states that, from his experience of the manner of condemned criminals, especially Catholics, immediately before execution, and from the solemn manner in which Feeney spoke, he believes that what he said was true. This statement, it maybe observed, even if true, does not affect the question of the murder, except in so far as it tends to remove one motive which has been assigned for the crime.

The Argus (Melbourne)

15 May 1872

The execution of Edward Feeney for the murder of Charles Marks in the Treasury- 
gardens on the 6th March last, took place yesterday morning in the Melbourne Gaol at 
the appointed hour of 10 o’clock. The sheriff (Mr. W. Wright) was present, as were also the
governor of the gaol, Drs. Barker and Moloney, the representatives of the press, and 
a few other persons.

When the prisoner stepped out of his cell he appeared to be quite resigned to the awful punishment about to be  inflicted upon him, and submitted to the pinioning operations of Bamford without any visible signs of emotion or fear. The Rev. Mr. Lordan, the Roman Catholic chaplain of the gaol, who had been in close attendance on the prisoner all the morning, read prayers during the whole time he was on the scaffold. When the drop had fallen there were slight spasmodic muscular contractions of the body, which lasted for about two minutes, 
but it did not seem that there were any remains of life, or that the contractions 
were different from what are sometimes seen in the bodies of other strongly-formed men in 
similar positions.

All the particulars of the history of the deceased man which are known in this colony have been already published. He was born in Ireland in 1834, came out to Victoria with the 18th Regiment, in which he was a private, in the year 1853, and was for some time latterly employed in the Mebourne Hospital. No public confession was made by him excepting the statement to Mr. 
Castieau published in yesterday’s Argus, in which he denied another crime that had commonly been imputed to him besides that of murder. 

marks feeney 1

THE WEEKLY

18th  MAY 1872

THE EXECUTION OF FEENEY

On Tuesday morning the sentence of death was carried out against Edward Feeney, the man who murdered Charles Marks, in the Treasury Gardens, in March last.

The attendance within the gaol was confined to a limited number of persons, consisting chiefly of those whose professional, duties required .their attendance, and -a. Few others who had gamed admission from motives of curiosity.

There were groups /of people outside the gaol at the time announced for the execution sufficiently large to remind one of those happily bygone days when the

Horsemonger lane gaol and Newgate presented the horrid spectacle of a malefactor swinging in mid air over the heads of the assembled thousands.

The postern door of the .gaol was also besieged by applicants for admission ; but none were let in without showing some good reason why they should be so.

At 10 o’clock the door of the condemned cell was opened for the exit of Feeney, who was preceded by Father Lordan.

The culprit displayed as much indifference as a man possibly could who knew that in another five minutes he would be dangling a

Corpse  at .the end of a few yards of rope.

 The state of mind that enabled him to coolly indulge in a cigar on the broad of his back in the Treasury Gardens, while yet the smoke from his murderous pistol was wreathing above the body of his murdered comrade— the apathy that made him, apparently, the most indifferent man present at the coronial inquiry into the cause of Marks’s death — the unconcern that enabled him to stand in the doek unmoved when the sentence of death was passed upon him, characterised him to the last. The ruling passion of the man was strong in death. His face was perhaps a little blanched, but he submitted to be bound with as much complacence as an ordinary mortal would be able to bear the application of the tailor’s tape to measure  him for new – suit of clothes.

 He muttered the responses to the priest’s ghostly consolations, walked to the middle of the drop with, a firm step, and stood there, seemingly as a matter of course.

Bamford then stepped quickly aside pulled towards him an iron lever like the switch on a railway line, and Feeney was shunted in to Eternity On Monday the man denied the filthy rumours in circulation respecting him and requested tint they might be publicy contradicted

Feeney came to this.colony in the ship Elizabeth Anne Bright in 1863. He was a native of Ireland and had a soldier in the 18th Regiment. His colonial career has been  placed before the public in detail recently.

THE WAGGA WAGGA EXPRESS

18th MAY 1872

THE EXECUTION OF FEENEY

Edward Feeney, themurderer, found guilty at the last Melbourne Criminal Sessions of shooting Charles Markes at the Treasury Gardens in March last, expiated his offence on the scaffold inside the Melbourne Gaol, according to law, at 10 o’clock on Tuesday morning, and a more painfully imposing scene is scarcely possible to be realised.

The terrible ordeal of publicly choking criminals has happily been discontinued in this country, yet the substitute of the private spectacle is none the less revolting, nor less fearful to contemplate, by those whose duty requires their presence on such occasions; and the ceremony of Tuesday morning was, indeed, a very painful one to look upon.

A man in the prime of life pinioned, and with the noose of a rope round his neck, dropping into eternity—not so, however, in this case, for the unfortunate man struggled for fully three minutes after the fatal rope had extended to its length, so clumsily had the mechanical part of the operation been performed by the common hangman, Bamford, who is himself at present undergoing a sentence of imprisonment for vagrancy. The particulars of Feeney’s case are so fresh in the memory of our readers that it is unnecessary to repeat any portion of them to-day.

Since his conviction, the prisoner has maintained the most stolid silence and indifference as to his fate, and also as to the crime of which he has been found guilty, neither admitting his guilt nor protesting his innocence in reference to it. And this determination on his part was maintained to the last. He was visited yesterday by the young woman Annie McKenzie, whose name has been mentioned as having been acquainted with both Marks and Feeney. He slept well during the whole of last night.

He was up early this morning, when he was at once visited by the Rev. Father Lordan, whose spiritual ministrations to the unfortunate man since his conviction have been most consoling and unremitting. When the hour appointed for carrying the sentence into effect (10 o’clock) arrived, the sheriff, the representatives of the press, and a few gentlemen authorised by Mr. Sheriff Wright, were admitted to the gaol, when the formal demand of the governor of the gaol, Mr Castieau, delivering the body of Feeney to the sheriff was gone through.

he was led from the condemned cell, which is immediately opposite the drop, to the platform of execution, the Rev. Father lord on still administering the consolatory assurances of his church, the prisoner appearing quite penitent and audibly repeating the prescribed responses. Bamford, having completed his arrangements, shook the prisoner by the left hand, and then let the long white cap over the man’s face, after which the fatal bolt was drawn, and the unfortunate man was on his way to eternity. Feeney struggled visibly by raising up his legs and dropping them down again. For fully three minutes he did this four or five times, and appeared as if suffering from cramp. The upper portion of the body gave no sign of animation.

Besides those mentioned, Dr. Maloney, the resident medical officer, Mr. Castieau, Governor, and several officers of the gaol, were present at the execution, and, the necessary certificate having 
been given and attested by several of those present, the awful ceremony had concluded. We learn the following particulars of the prisoner from the gaol 
register: —

His name was Edward Feeney, aged thirty-eight years, born in Ireland, arrived in this colony by the ship Elizabeth A. Bright, in 1863, had been in the 18th Royal Irish Regiment; he was 5ft 6in. high, stout make, fresh complexion, dark brown hair and blue eyes, a Roman Catholic, and could read and write  well.

He was admitted to the gaol on the 7th of March, on committal for trial for the murder for which he has suffered. During the last few days of his life he has been most anxious to leave the impression that he is entirely innocent of the charges made against him in connection with the unfortunate victim, and he wished this to be understood, although he made no actual denial of details in direct terms. He never once alluded to the terrible tragedy in the Treasury Gardens, and has remained doggedly reticent to the last.

He received a letter by the last mail from his mother in Ireland, which he has replied to, and the answer is now in Mr. Castieau’s hands for transmission by the next outgoing mail; but, as he requested specially that Mr. Castieau would not divulge its contents, we are, of course, unable to say anything about them. It is Mr. Castieau’s belief, from thought and close observation, that the man Feeney murdered Marks with premeditation and deliberation, and that, if ever man did, he has justly suffered for his crime.—Melbourne Argus.

THE AGE

20TH May 1872

The cast of Feeney’s head, exhibited in the window of the Waxworks Exhibition has attracted a large number of gazers. It is stated that the proprietor has obtained the actual hair and beard of Feeney to place on his wax model.

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The Execution of Alfred Bye 1941

THE CRIME

29.9.1941

Canberra Times

STABBED TO DEATH

Soldier Found with Five Wounds

MELBOURNE, Sunday.

Thomas Edward Walker, garrison soldier and returned soldier, was stabbed to death last night behind the Mines Department in Parliament Place.

There were six stab wounds on the body, five in the chest and one in the neck.

It appeared that they were inflicted with a dagger or a knife with a blade like a stiletto.

Money found in his clothing indicated that robbery was not the motive of the attack.

The police have not yet ascertained his address.

THE TRIAL

20/11/1941

The Argus

GUILTY OF MURDER

IN GARDENS

Sentence of Death

Sentence of death was passed on Alfred Bye, 42, driver, formerly of Railhead Camp, Bacchus Marsh, by Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy in the Criminal Court yesterday on a charge of having murdered Thomas Edward Walker, 45, in Treasury Gardens on September 27. Walker, at the time of his death, was a member of the Garrison Battalion at Broadmeadows.

The jury returned a verdict of guilty after a retirement of 45 minutes.

Asked by Mr. Justice Gavan Duffy if he had anything to say, Bye declared, “I never intended to murder him. I had to do something to defend myself. When he had me by the throat I had to make him release his grip.”

From the witness stand Bye denied saying to the police that he was jealous of Walker. On September 27he obtained leave from camp and came to Melbourne. He had a knife which he had bought some weeks before and brought it to town to put in a box to send to a friend in Gippsland. In Swanston st. That night he met Miss Ogier with Walker and her 2 nieces, and was speaking to her when Walker approached and “put his hands up.”

He thought Walker was going to strike him so he “got in” first and struck Walker.

At the corner of Swanston and Bourke streets he again approached Miss Ogier and asked her to forgive him for a previous occurrence and shake hands. Shortly afterward Walker approached and said: “I’ll see you in half an hour.” He did not say anything in reply.

Bye said he did not know where the others were going. He went to the corner of Bourke and Spring St.’s and saw Walker standing there.  Walker said, “Come over here”. He followed Walker, who seemed hostile, into the gardens. When they arrived at a spot in the gardens Walker took his coat off and said: “Come over here and take your coat off.”He walked to a tap and took his coat off.             

“I said to Walker,” Bye continued, “I believe you are an old Digger. Why should 2 old soldiers fight? Walker then let fly and hit me on the jaw. Before I could do anything he made a flying leap at me, knocking me on the broad of my back. He had me by the throat with his 2hands. His thumbs were pressed into my windpipe and he kept calling out, ‘You rotten —, you rotten —’I could not move. I had a knife in my pocket and reached down with my hand to get it out.”

Bye said the knife “got” Walker in the back as Walker rolled over on to it.

Bye then explained how he had struggled with Walker for possession  of the knife. Both had a grasp of it, Walker pulling it toward him, and he (Bye) pulling it back toward himself. He did not realise at the time that the knife was “getting” Walker, who, being stronger in the arm, kept pulling it back toward his  body. He realised Walker was wounded but did not think it was serious. When Walker began to call out he picked up his coat and walked away. After throwing the knife away he stopped to put on his coat. He returned to Bacchus Marsh by the 11.25 train that night. Before catching the train Bye said he washed some blood of his trousers at a horse trough in Spencer Street.  

Mr. Murray McInerney (instructed  by Mr. J. Barnett) appeared      for Bye. Mr. C. H. Book, KC, prosecuted.

PENTRIGDE  ELONG

PETITION FOR REPRIEVE

20/12/1941

Adelaide News

PETITION FORREPRIEVE

Victorian Murder

MELBOURNE.-A petition for commutation of the death sentence on Alfred Bye, 42, for the murder of Thomas Walker, 45, has been presented to the Governor-in Council by the Howard League for Penal Reform. Executive Council recently decided that Bye should be hanged at 8 a.m. on Monday. The petition states that it was not discovered until after the trial that the condemned man was under 7 st. in weight, and was thus of lighter build than Walker, and that this fact might have influenced Bye in having used a protecting weapon against possible odds in strength. Bye, according to the petition, was backward as a child at school and reached only the third class.

 

THE HANGING

23/12/1941

The Argus

Alfred Bye, 42, formerly a military transport driver at Darley Camp, was executed at the Metropolitan gaol, Pentridge, yesterday morning. He made no final statement.

Bye was sentenced to death for the murder of Thomas Edward Walker,45, a soldier, of Broadmeadows Camp, in a reserve near the Government Printing Office on September 19.Walker died from a number of knife wounds.

No appeal against the sentence was made by Bye, but requests for com-mutation of the sentence to life imprisonment were made by the Labour party and the Howard League for Penal Reform.

  interior pentridge

The following report is from a record kept by the Gaol Warders closely involved with the Execution of Alfred Bye…

Alfred Bye aged 42

Executed at Pentridge Gaol 22/12/1941

Height 5 foot 4 inches

Weight 7 stone 2 lbs.

Length of drop (was 8 foot 6 inches) N.B. Extra length of drop was allowed as Bye fell less distance owing to being in a sitting position in a chair. Drop 8 foot 9 inches.

Neck measure 13 inches .

After 13 and a half inches.

Bye was judiciously hanged today in this Pentridge Gaol by the hangman who performed this task in another State (NSW), and whose services were obtained for the last two hangings in this gaol.

“As Bye was a nervous wreck for some days, he was given some sedatives over the week and had hypertension this morning.

“He was therefore in a partially hypnotic condition this morning and incapable of standing erect, so that it was necessary to place him in a chair.

“His legs were not strapped. This preparation was necessary to avoid what would most certainly have been a hysterical scene at the gallows with all its attendant unpleasantness.

“Without delay, the hangman released the trapdoor and there was a slight break in the fall as the chair hit the trapdoor before the body left it.

“Death was instantaneous. The gaol priest anointed the body whilst it was hanging during the first 10 minutes.”

The pulse continued on right wrist for about 12 minutes and on the left wrist for 18 minutes, changing from regular strong beat for nearly 10 minutes to irregular rate and strength later. Heartbeat could be heard with a stethoscope up to 22 minutes.

The  autopsy showed a thin body with no external blemishes there were no marks or abrasions on the neck owing to his light weight, no doubt. The internal organs were well developed. the lungs were not conjested and air was found. a small amount of blood had been inhaled.The organs, kidneys, splein, pancreas and heart muscle were all tough. The heart valves were normal but there were abnormalities in the front part of the aorta. The stomach was empty except for a little fluid and blood stained mucus. The skull was thicker than normal and very hard in nature.

Death was due to fracture of the neck in the region of the lower 3rd and 4th cervical vertebrae.

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The Execution of Christian William Benzing 1917

Execution of Christian William Benzing 1917

Christian William Benzing’s name would not be out of place on any war memorial in the country had he the misfortune of being killed in action. But he wasn’t. He was a member of the 3rd Battalion, in the rank of Private, that was raised in response to the beginning of World War One and was a part of the Australian Imperial Forces.

The war was declared in August 1914 and Benzing enlisted in September on that year. He had been employed as a Drapery salesman from the Central Coast town of Gosford. Christian was 19 years and 9 months of age, 5 foot 6 inches tall, weighed about 60 kilos, brown eyes and fair complexion.

The 3rd Battalion arrived in Egypt in December 1914, from there arriving on the 7th May 1915 at Gallipoli for the second wave of troops to attempt to take the Cove.

Christian endured life at Gallipoli Cove from May through to August and then part took in another fabled battle, the Battle of Lone Pine between the 6th and 9th of August 1915. The 3rd Battalion suffered great losses in what was a diversionary attack to split the attention of the Germans and the Turks from some larger and more central actions taking place elsewhere.

These attacks by the Anzac were part of a plan known as the ‘August Offensive’. This was aimed at nothing less than victory by the Anzac forces, by driving the enemy from the heights of Chunuk Bair and positioning the Allies for an advance across the peninsula in the Turkish rear.

lp trench 1915

28 August 1915

Sydney Morning Hearald

LONESOME PINE.

HEROIC  FEAT.

FIRST BRIGADE’S WORK.

(FROM CAPTAIN C. E. W. BEAN, OFFICIAL PRESS

REPRESENTATIVE WITH THE AUSTRALIAN

FORCES.)

GABA TEPE, Aug. 18.

An inspection of the Turkish trenches captured at Lonesome Pine has shown what an extraordinarily formidable obstacle the First Australian Infantry Brigade was up against when ordered to take this position. For month upon month we had seen the Turks piling up colossal parapets, and could see that the place was a labyrinth. It was be-cause it was so strong and important, and because we desired to give the Turks a really heavy blow at the southern end of the line, that these trenches were chosen for attack.

The Third Brigade had made a famous assault on the landing; the Second made a wonderful charge at Helles. The First Brigade was therefore chosen to assault Lonesome Pine. It was a tremendous job to put before any brigade, but these Australasian infantry never from first to last showed the least concern about it. I was with them five minutes before the start behind tho parapet over which five minutes hence they knew they would have to scramble in face of rifle fire, machine guns, and shrapnel. They did not know what might be awaiting them in the deadly space between the trenches, but not one man showed the slightest sign of uneasiness. A man would pass along the trench to find his platoon just as a belated spectator might hurry to a seat before the curtain rises. Passing he would recognise some friend.

lone pine cigggie card

“Good-bye, Bill,” he would say; “meet you over there.”

“So long, Tom,” was the reply. “See you again in half-hour.”

“Are you going to got a photograph of us?”they would ask me. “How do you work it on sandbags or through a periscope? What sort of camera is it? My word.  A great chance for a photographer.”

And then conversation was suddenly cut short by the voice of a little officer crouching just below a parapet: “Get ready to go over parapet.”

He glanced down at a wrist watch, and so did I, 5.27. The men crouched up a little higher on the recess, preparing to spring. Those in the trench below got a firmer foothold. The little officer unstrapped a whistle from his wrist, and held it between his teeth. He looked down at his watch again.

The man next me asked “What time is it?” I looked down. “Well, I make it 5.30,” I answered. The bombardment had apparently stopped. A few minutes’ breathless silence, then a whistle sounded. Within a second the little officer had blown his whistle, too.

There was a scramble of feet over the parapet, the sound of falling earth, the knocking of accoutrements, the peck, peck of Mauser rifles from the trench opposite had already begun, and gradually swelled into a rattle. A man fell past me into the trench, bleeding from a wound in the mouth. Out in the scrub a line of our old pea soup Australian khaki was racing, jumping low bushes and wire, straight for the enemy’s trench. When they got there they experienced what in military phraseology is known as a check. That is to say, instead of an open trench into which they could jump and bayonet Turks they found themselves looking down on a solid roof of pine logs, covered with earth on which the bombardment had not made any perceptible impression. This surprise might well enough upset the nerves of some troops, but the behaviour of the First Brigade did not give the onlookers the least cause for anxiety. The men were clearly puzzled what to do, but did not show the least sign of ever thinking of retreat. Some ran on to the second and third trench till they found open trenches where they could fire down and jump in. Others strung out along the first trench, firingin to loopholes from which the Turks were still shooting.

Others jumped down into a few gaps left without head-cover; others noticed small manholes every here and therein the solid roof of the trench, and began to lower themselves into the trench feet fore-most through these, a feat of daring which, it had been a solitary example, would certainly have won the Victoria Cross in any previous war. Those who could not get in simply lay down outside on the parapet, firing down the communication trenches until they could think of something else to do. The first Australian infantry has made itself a wonderful name at Gallipoli.

Certainly no finer feat has been accomplished here than this taking of Lonesome Pine and holding it against a counter-attack-lasting six solid days. New South Wales cannot be too proud of her men.

The Australian naval bridging train has landed with a British force at Suvla Bay.

lone pine 1919

This was a hopeful attempt had all gone to plan, to achieve the original objective of seizing the Straits of the Dardanelles and the Royal Navy could sail triumphantly through to Constantinople.

Shortly after the Battle of Lone pine Christian caught a case of Salmonella Entrica, a form of food poisoning. On the 12th August 1915, he was admitted to the field hospital. He was moved to a hospital, in Heliopolis, suffering from debilitating Shock and the food poisoning. He received 10 days treatment.

The link below is Christian Benzing’s AIF 74 page, service record it is in parts in triplicate and so repeats itself over but you can glean lots of information about the state of his health from it.        

 http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=3074656

Like a macabre soap opera reporting about far off places no one could pronounce, mothers all over the country would watch like a hawk the body count reports of the dead or injured that would appear daily in the major papers. Christians’ mother Susanah, living in the family home at Rockdale, in late August 1915 saw his name in the lists. From the battle reports she would have been half out of her mind with worry about her only son. Susanah sent a telegram to the Department of Defence asking about where her son was and they replied they would inform her of more information when they knew.

telegram benzing

Christian was evacuated from Heliopolis Hospital and repatriated back to Australia in November 1915 and arriving back home in December. Christians medical records note his physical ailments from his food poisoning case like stomach pains not eating well regular bowel movements and the like but there is no notations in the records of his mental health. He was medically discharged from the AIF on the 14th March 1916 aged 21, having served his country for 18 months and seen active service for a solid 3 months of that time.

discharge letter

I felt it was important to give as much background information about Christian Benzing  and to explain that there was circumstances not mentioned in the newspaper reports but gleaned from his service record . Almost exactly 9 months after his discharge from the Armed services, with no further medical intervention and displaying the Encephalitic symptoms of Wernicke-Karsakoff’s Syndrome coupled with the  post traumatic stress /shell shock  the following happened…

The Crime

15th January 1917

Ballarat Courier

Murder Alledged

Sydney Saturday. In the Central Police Court this morning Christian William Benzing was held with the murder of Dorothy Myra Small at Rockdale. Benzing a native of New South Wales is a short thick set man 22 years old. Remand until 19th January was granted.

The above medical conditions do no way excuse the seriousness of this crime but possibly more weight could have been taken into account when sentencing this man.

central police station

The Inquest

23 January 1917

Young Examiner.

ROCKDALE HORROR.

WHAT A BOY SAID.

BBNZINO “WRITES TO HIS FATHER

VERDICT OF MURDER.

An Inquest  was held yesterday morning by Mr. Jamieson at the Coroner’s Court, Sydney, concerning the death of Dorothy Myra Small, aged 10, which took place at her home at Rocky Point Road, Rockdale, on January 12th January.

Christian William Benzlng, 22, who has been charged with murdering the girl, was in court.

Mr. ,W. P. Blackmore (Crown Law Office), represented the police, and Mr. E. J. Spear appeared on behalf of Bemzing.

Ernest Albert Small, a cooper, living in Rocky Point Road, Rockdale, stated ‘that .there were seven children in his family. Dorothy was his daughter, and was 10 years of age. She was born at Rockdale. He last saw her alive in Rocky ‘Point Road at 3 p.m. on January 12th 1917.

He was then about 300 yards away from his home. He gave her come money, later in the day, witness, who was working at Rockdale, was told something, and went to the Royal Hotel. A man said, “Your daughter has been murdered and criminally assaulted, come with me. Witness went to the home of Mr; Willoughby, which ls near witness’ place at Rockdale.

On arriving there he saw the daughter who was dead. Witness did not know Christian William Benzing personally, but he remembered seeing him once prior to his daughter’s death.

Dr. Sheldon said that on’ the 13th Instant he made an internal examination of the body of Dorothy Myra Small. She was 4ft. 4in. in height and about 11 years old.

About an inch below and a little anterior to the Jaw angle there were two abrasions, one on each ,side. There was very little bruising underneath these. Below thls on the left side at short intervals there were a few abrasions, which were more diffuse.

Tho upper part of the chest showed some signs of escape of blood into tho tissues. The lower, parts of the body were bruised, and the injuries had been inflicted just before her death.

There were two bruises on the tenor and anterior aspect of the right thigh. Tho lower one was peculiarly marked by certain straight lines. The buckle of a strap produced peculiarly corresponded with the mark on the thigh. The lateral margins were quite distinct. The tongue of the buckle had actually cut into the skin superficially, and a deficiency of leather of the buckle made a triangular gap which was distinctly apparent in the bruise. The roller at the end of the buckle had made a mark by the end of its margin corresponding with the deficiency of the lateral.

There was another “bruise, Dr. Shcldon said above this. It was much deeper in colour, and had a serrated edge, formed by something with more actual points at the end than the general something, which caused the bruise. The bruise itself was about an inch in diameter, There were some other abrasions. One above the left hip had been marked as if by a hand. The little girl’s ‘hair was plaited, and entangled in It, especially on the right side, were numerous -Bathurst burrs, and a good many in her loose hair. There was a spot of candle grease on her left thlgh. There were marks of haemorrhage on the left lung, and the lungs were filled with frothy fluid.

Mr Blackmore: What  was the cause of death?—She died from shock and exhaustion, as the result of strangulation.

Were her finger nails long?—Yes.

ln answer to ‘Mr. Blackmore, the witness said that if the belt produced had been worn by a person violating the deceased It would have made the mark spoken of. The belt would have had to be undone and to “be below where it is normally worn by a man. The marks on the little girls neck could have been made by a man’s fingers.

Dr. Asplnall, who was present when Dr. Sheldon made the post mortem examination, said he agreed with that evidence. Assuming that the “buckle produced had made the mark on the girl’s thigh, it might have been caused during the struggle before the belt was unbuckled. The whole of the injuries, in his opinion, had been inflicted at about the same time, which was shortly before death.

Dr. Meeke, of Rockdale, said he examined the girl at (Rockdale, at about 4.50 p.m. on January 12th. She was dead. He noticed swelling and bruises below tho angle on the left jaw. On moving here there was a copious discharge of blood. There was a large bruise on the upper part of her thigh. Some torn underclothing was shown witness which belonged to the girl.

Dr. J. Cahill, Assistant Government Medical Officer, Sydney, said at 8 o’clock on the evening of January 12th he saw Benzing at the Rockdale Police Station. Benzing was not drunk, but smelt strongly of drink. There were two scratches on Benzlng’s right wrist, which could have been caused by finger nails. Later, witness made an examination of Dorothy Small’s body. ‘He agreed with the evidence given by Dr. Sheldon. At about 9o’clock on the following morning he saw Benzing at the office of the Inspector general of Police, and ‘beyond being more depressed Benzlng appeared in the same state of mind.

Sergeant Stevenson, police .photographer, said he went to Rockdale on January 13th. In company with Constable Langworthy he took a photograph of the place where the body was found. There was a lot of “Paddy’s lucerne” growing there. He took another photograph showing the track of a bicycle wheel from the spot leading to the roadway.

Dr. Oleland, Government Microbiologist, detailed tho results of an examination of certain exhibits. On the man’s’ hat produced he found a trail, the coat was also stained near the right side pocket. There were blood stains on two pieces of girl’s underclothing handed to him by Constable Langworthy.

Mrs. Jessie Amy Small said that about half past three o’clock on the afternoon of January 12th she saw her daughter playing with some other children at the store in Rocky Point Road. On the previous Saturday, she saw a man outside her home, whom she now recognised as Benzlng. He asked her about her son “Herbie.” Witness said, “What’s your name ? He pronounced it and spelt It as “Bensing” At the time Dorothy was not there, but witness’ eldest daughter was present.

Arthur Cyril Willoughby, aged 8,living with his parents in Hegarty Street, Rockdale, who was a playmate of Dorothy Small’s, said to remembered being with a boy named Henry Goodwin on a Friday about a week ago. They were going to the Chinaman’s garden, and while crossing a small bridge saw a girl’s hat In a bush. A few yards away he saw the body of Dorry” Small.

 Just before this he saw a man get up and look around. The man had a bicycle, which had black things on the handles He wheeled the bicycle along the bank of the creek as far as witness’s home, and rode along the avenue. The man was wearing a “black suit, hat and boots. The bushes were about 18 Inches high at the spot.

Mr. BJackmore: Would you know the man if you saw .him?—No.

Mrs. Felicltas “Mary Martha” Willoughby, who lives on the corner of The Avenue and Hegarty Street, Rockdale said that on the afternoon of 12th January her son, Arthur, came running home and said “There’s a man down In the bushes with a little girl, I didn’t know whether she is alive or dead. The man rode away on his bike.

Witness ran towards the creek near the Chinaman’s garden, and found Dorothy Small lying on the grass. The lower part of her body was flat on the ground, although her head was slightly turned to one side. The clothing was disarranged. She was frothing at the nose. “Witness picked her up, but could not carry her, so she sent her son to bring “Mr. Willoughby.

Thomas James Willoughby, a brick maker, said that at about 4.45 p.m. on January 12th his son called out, Come at once, dad, a man has killed a little girl.” He went with his son a distance of about 100 yards, and saw “Mrs. “Willoughby with the child in her arms. Ho took the girl, who was dying to his home.

John Joseph Kain, aged 8, of Rocky Point Road, Kogarah, said that while he was going a message for his mother he saw a boy in Skidmore’s paddock, near the Chinamen’s garden, with a girl. The boy and girl were about three feet apart. The boy then got up and went away with a bicycle. The girl did not move from the-spot.

John Thomas Nicholson, a Blacksmith, of Rocky Point Road, said that at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon he was standing in the entrance of his shop, when he saw Benzing sitting on a bicycle talking to Dorothy Small. They were together for about 10 minutes. Benzing lifted his bicycle onto the footpath, and the two of them walked along past witness’ shop, and disappeared In. the direction of the Avenue.

Arthur Joseph Sweeney, telegraph linesman, said that at about 3:30 he, was working on the telegraph wires in ‘Rocky Point Road. Some children were playing in the garden at a cottage a little distance away. Witness noticed a young man sitting on a bicycle, with one foot on the. pedal, and the other on the gutter, kerb. He now identified Benzing as that man. Benzing was watching the children closely, and one or two youngsters’ said “Dorry’s got a sweetheart.” ,The child referred to as “Dorry” left’ the others, and went over to Benzlng.

“Detective Lynch said that Benzing made a statement at Rockdale Police Station on the night of January 12th. In it Benzlng stated that he had been In Sydney in the morning, but arrived at Farmer’s Hotel, Rocky Point road, at about 2 o’clock, He admitted riding past Smidmore’s bridge twice during the afternoon, adding that he did not speak to any girls, and did not know Dorothy Small. At Mrs. “Willoughby’s residence witness saw Dr. Cahill fit the buckle of a strap, which Benzing had been wearing, into the mark on Dorothy’s Small’s hip. Witness also showed Benzlng the girl’s body and looking at it ho said, No, I don’t know her, but I know her two brothers.” Later Benzlng said, ‘This looks very black against me.” Witness said, “Do you think so’ He then said, “If they find me guilty do you think they will hang me?”

In a letter to her father, written, while under arrest, he wrote:—

“I am sorry for what has happened. I did not hurt the girl wilfully as I do not  know what happened half the time. ‘I could not have been, responsible for my actions and I must have had one of these changes over me again.

In answer to Detective Lynch, Benzing said he had written the letter. The girl referred to in it was Dorothy Small.

Tho “Coroner returned a verdict of murder against Benzlng, who was committed for trial.

 

The Trial

23 March 1917

Sydney Morning Hearld

CENTRAL CRIMINAL COURT.

 (Before Mr. Justice Sly and a Jury.)

Mr. Herbert Harris, Crown Prosecutor.

ROCKDALE MURDER.

Christian William Benzlng pleaded not guilty to a charge of having murdered Dorothy Myra Small at Rockdale on January 12 of this year. Mr. Martin, instructed by Mr. H. E. McIntosh, appeared for the defence, assigned by the Crown.

For the prosecution the case was that the victim was, on the afternoon of January 12, playing with other children near the Rocky Point Road at Rockdale, and that’ accused lured her Into some bushes nearby and outraged her, also maltreating her to such an extent that she died the same day.

 She was found after the offence seriously injured, and was taken to a house. A doctor was sent for, but tho child died before he arrived.

Accused, at the conclusion of the Crown case, made a statement in which he detailed his movements on the day of the murder, and said he had never Interfered with the girl, and had no desire to do so. He had served four months and a half at Gallipoli, and had been drinking on the day of the alleged offence.

The accused was found guilty, and sentenced to death.

The Appeals

14 April 1917

Bendigo Advertiser

ROCKDALE MURDER CASE.

APPEAL REFUSED.

“GUILT CLEARLY ESTABLISHED.”

Sydney, 13th April

Today the Full Court refused the application of Christian William Benzing for leave to appeal against his conviction on a charge of having murdered Dorothy Myra Small at Rockdale.

BENZING was tried before Mr. Justice Sly at the Central Criminal Court, found guilty, and sentenced to death.

The grounds upon which the application was based were that on the day of the alleged murder he had lost his reason, that he had witnesses to call as to his character, that since he had returned from the war, which he blamed for his bad luck, he suffered at times from loss of memory.

Mr. Justice Pring, in delivering the judgement of the court, said that, the evidence clearly established the guilt of Benzing and in the reasons given by him in his application, he had practically admitted that he had committed the offence.

He now set up that he had lost his reason such defence had been put up at the trial. He wished to examine witness’s of his character, but such witnesses had nothing to do with the crime.

-long-bay

The Hanging

17 June

Sunday Times

ROCKDALE MURDER

BENZING HANGED

YESTERDAY AFTER TWO DAYS

 POSTPONEMENT

Christian William Benzing was hanged yesterday morning for the murder of the child Dorothy Small at Rockdale on January 13. He was to have been hanged on Thursday, but last-moment representations to the Government induced the postponement of the execution, and he was withdrawn from the condemned cell a few minutes before he should have gone on the drop. 

Late on the night of Wednesday a deputation, of which Messrs. Brookfield and Hickey, M.L.A., were members, waited on the Acting Premier (Mr, Fuller), and stated that there was evidence available which would satisfy the Minister that Benzing had been subject to epileptic fits, and at time could not be responsible for his actions.

In other words, there were periods when the man was of unsound mind. This information was not before the Executive when it decided that Benzing should hang on Thursday, and Mr. Fuller took the responsibility of ordering the postponement of the execution. Further consideration was subsequently given the matter by Cabinet, with the result that it was decided not to alter the original decision.

THE STORY OF THE CRIME.

The locality of the assault and murder was a spot within a hundred yards of a group of houses. The child had been playing with other children, almost in sight of her parents’ home, and was on her way to spend a penny given her by her mother, when she was overtaken by Benzing. Shortly afterwards she was found dying in the scrub. There were marks on her throat which showed that she had been held tightly, probably to prevent her crying out, and other marks.

 Benzing was arrested, and at the Coroner’s inquest into the cause of death of the girl a confession by Benzing was read. In this he stated his sorrow, for what had happened, and said he was quite confident in his mind that he did not hurt the child wilfully. He said he forgot half what happened from the time he left the scene of the crime, had felt out of sorts all day, one of his changes (fits) had come over him, and he was not responsible for his actions on the day.

He concluded : ‘God alone knows I am not guilty, and not responsible for my supposed action. Fancy me doing such a thing like that in cold blood. I cannot realise that such a thing could have happened. ‘In the dock at the Central Criminal Court on March 22 the man denied that he had committed the crime, and said he had no recollection of having seen the little girl. He was found guilty.

Three weeks later there was an application to the Full Court of Criminal Appeal for leave to appeal, on the ground that on the day of the crime he had lost his reason, but as this line of defence had not been taken at the trial of the matter, and as the evidence had established the fact of the killing of the child, the application was refused. Benzing is an unknown. He was adopted by his foster-parents in 1895 in answer to an advertisement inserted from an address in the Richmond River country. When a boy he received a sunstroke, which caused him severe pains in the head and rendered him more or less irresponsible at time, subsequently.

 

He enlisted in June, 1915, and took part in the operations at Gallipoli. While there he was tried for assaulting a comrade, but was released on his application to volunteer for a difficult and dangerous service. He contracted fever while with the forces, and was invalided home, and from the time of his return till he was arrested on the charge on which he was convicted lived with his foster-parents at Bexley.

benzing grave

 

      

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The Execution of Dundalli 1854

The Execution of Dundalli 1854

The murder in Caboolture, Queensland of Andrew Macgregor and William Boiler caused a sensation and struck fear amongst the white settlers in the region. It was generally known who the murderer was but it took some time to apprehend the culprit. The hangman was Alexander Green, from Sydney, this was of a time when Queensland formed a part of New South Wales and so shared the same executioner. Green’s bungling of this execution may well have been the thing that got Governor Dennison over the line banning Public Executions. This form of bungling had happened before by Green, in 1848, but that time he had a shovel to dig a hole, this time he was interstate and out of his comfort zone and used some lateral thinking with a piece of rope to solve the problem. The Press were appauled.

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(Spelling as per the era in which it was written)

THE CRIME

Maitland Mercury

2/12/1854

Dundalli, an aboriginal, was indicted for the murder of William Boiler, at the Pine River, on the 16th September, 1847. Boiler and James Smith were working together that day in a sawpit, Boiler being the top sawyer, when a number of blacks threw several spears at them, several of which struck Boiler Smith was getting out of the pit, when Dundalli, one of the blacks, threw a waddy at him, which struck and stunned him; subsequently the blacks plundered the sawyers.

Smith took Boiler into Brisbane, where, four days afterwards, Boiler died, in the hospital, from the spear wounds. Smith, the principal witness, was positive as Dundalli’s identity, and another witness also saw him at the Pine River about the time.

Mr. Faucett addressed the jury for the prisoner. They returned a verdict of guilty, and Dundalli was sentenced to death.

Dundalli, the same aboriginal, was indicted for the murder of Andrew Gregor, at Cobulture Creek, on the 1st September, 1846.Dundalli was working for Mr. Gregor, at Cobuiture Creek, 30 miles from the Pine River ; Dundalli had brought some bark in, and Mr. Gregor was stooping down, examining it, when Dundalli struck him to the ground with the blow of a waddy, killing him on the spot; Dundalli and other blacks then rushed into Mr. Gregor’s hut, and killed Mary Shannon.

Mr. Gregor’s servant, and plundered the hut. These facts were deposed to by Ralph William Borrow, who was in Mr. Gregor’s employ, and saw the first at-tack. His correctness was disputed by Mr Faucett. The jury returned a verdict of guilty, and Dundalli was sentenced to death.

One or two prisoners were discharged, and the criminal business of the court was then finished.

 

THE HANGING

Sydney Morning Herald

19/1/1855

THE LAST WORDS OF DUNDALLI.-In our report of the execution of the aboriginal Dundalli, it was mentioned, that just before the cap was drawn over the wretched criminal’s face, he cried out with a loud voice to some native blacks assembled on a lull opposite the gaol, and addressed them with much earnestness and rapidity. The Brisbane blacks generally agree that this appeal was made to his wife and other members of his own tribe, whom he called upon to take revenge of those Brisbane aboriginals and others who had been instrumental in capturing him and lodging him in the watch house. There can be little doubt from the agreement of several statements, that this was the subject of the dying man’s address ; and he thus retained to the last moment that cruel ferocity of character which had so prominently marked his life.

 Notwithstanding the expression of many contrary opinions, we hold to the belief that this public and terrible punishment of a notorious criminal, in the presence of some of his own people, must act os a salutary warning upon them, as, from the years of impunity which he had enjoyed, they must have believed that he could forever defy the terrors of our laws. Nevertheless, no prudent     means should be neglected for the preservation of life, and we would again urge the propriety of immediately stationing a body of native police between Brisbane and the northern shores of the bay, to which the defunct outlaw belonged.

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The Moreton Bay Courier

6/1/1855

EXECUTION OF DUNDALLI.- This aboriginal native, convicted, at the last Brisbane Circuit  Court of the murder of Andrew Gregor and William Boller, paid the just penalty of his crimes by the forfeiture of his life, in front of the gaol, yesterday. Up to Thursday last the guilty man did not express much fear, but when preparation was made for erecting the gallows, he seemed to be aware that his case was almost hopeless ; and when the executioner went into his room to pinion him, he cried and wailed piteously, appealing to all near for their help to save him. As, owing to the desperate character of this criminal, some resistance was expected, more than the usual pre-cautions were taken to prevent an escape. A few Native Policemen, under Lieutenant Irvine, were on the ground with the town police, under arms, and a rope was passed through the cord that pinioned the culprit’s arms ; but he went up the ladder without the aid of force, continuing, however, to call upon the names of those who know him, and crying out loudly in his own tongue when on the scaffold, to some blacks who were witnessing the execution from the ridge at the Windmill Hill, opposite the gaol. The preparations having been completed, at a signal from Mr Pront the Under Sheriff, the bolt was withdrawn and the murderer fell ; but in consequence of some wretched bung-ling on the part of Green, the hangman, the feet of Dundalli fell firmly on the top of his coffin, beneath the gallows.

A turnkey quickly drew away the coffin, but still the feet of the hanging man touched the ground, and the spectators were shocked by the sight of Green lifting up the legs of the malefactor, and tying them backwards to-wards his pinioned arms, by the rope that passed through the pinioning.

Death seemed to be al-most instantaneous after the fall ; but, richly as the blood-stained convict deserved the death he suffered, it was still a most sickening sight to behold the cool and butcher-like conduct of the hangman, made necessary by nothing but the grossest neglect. If anything could be more disgusting than this, it was the presence of large numbers of women, many of whom had brought their children with them! After hanging the usual time, the body was lowered down for interment. Thus died one of the guiltiest and most incorrigible of the aboriginal natives of this quarter.

His many crimes had long made him the abhorrence of the whites, and it is to be hoped that his death will teach the blacks who had been in the habit of looking up to him, that our laws may overtake the guilty, however long the time since he first eluded his punishment.

 

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Alexander Green Executioner NSW 1828 -1855

noose

Alexander Green Executioner NSW 1828 – 1855

For the term of his natural life was the sentence bestowed upon Alexander Green in 1824 when sentenced for the theft of “brown stuff” from a shop. As non descriptive as the brown stuff was, it must have been expensive brown stuff to get a sentence of that severity.

 Born 1802 in the Netherlands to a circus performer, he was a tumbler by trade. He arrived at Sydney, on the Countess of Harcourt in 1824 aged 22 years of age.

In May 1825 inflicting much severe suffering he became the official scourge at both the George Street gaol and at Hyde Park barracks. He became the under study to Harry Stain the official hangman. Stain died in 1828 Green took the role of Official Government Executioner for the State of New South Wales.

There would be a steady increase of work for Alexander Green, as the Colony was going soft in the eyes of the British Government. Convicts liked what they saw in Australia and where reputedly writing home encouraging relatives to get caught stealing something with the express purpose to getting transported out to Australia. The British were about to recall Governor Brisbane and replace him with the far sterner Governor Darling.

During his career as hangman he was credited with 490 executions within the years 1828 – 1855 in Sydney and in the colony of New South Wales. When Green began in 1828 New South Wales encompassed all the states along the east coast from Queensland to Tasmania.  Green performed his duties on the east coast mainland states tho he never went to work in Tasmania.

For the most part Green’s employment was based at Hyde Park Barracks as a Flogger and as Hangman at the Sydney Gaol in George Street, but from his arrival in 1824 through to 1840 he would watch the construction of the new gaol rise up on the hillside of Darlinghurst and from the opening of the gaol in 1840 he was the hangman at Darlinghurst.

The Sydney Goal was the site of the first hanging in Sydney in1788, and the gallows was situated in the south western corner of the gaol.  At the site of the original hanging tree, the gallows consisted of a raised platform to accommodate the crowds that would gather for the public spectacle of a hanging. Prior to 1840, the public execution of prisoners was an event that lasted a few hours as there were mass hangings of four or more people the largest number to be “turned off” in one session was in  October1828 with eleven on the day.

Green was the finishing point for some of the most notable legal cases of that time. The condemned men from the Myall Creek massacre the first instance where white men were made accountable for the murder of Aboriginals:

(Spelling as per the era in which it was written)

2/2/1839

South Australian Gazette


SYDNEY EXTRACTS.

EXECUTION.—Yesterday morning was that appointed for the execution of the seven unhappy men found guilty of the massacre of one or more of the twenty eight native Blacks at Dangar’s

Mile Creek, at the Big River, beyond Liverpool Plains. Their deportment was humble and penitent, free from all vulgar bravado or cowardice. They were very pale but did not tremble. A most becoming deportment characterised their behaviour from their entrance into the yard to their final exit on the scaffold. They listened with devote attention to the exhortations of the clergy of their respective religions, and fervently responded to their prayers. Previously to commencing their religious exercises, one of them    requested permission to embrace his fellow sufferers, which was instantly acceded to. They  all arose, and saluted each other on the cheek, and then shook hands in a manner very affecting to the bystanders. Preceded by their respective ministers they ascended the scaffold. Being ranged in order, the executioner and his assistant adjusted the ropes about their necks, the clergy  men continuing their attendance until warned to retire. Then shaking hands once more with each, each whispering to his fellow the last adieu, the cap of death was drawn over their faces, and the world was forever shut out from their sight. While the executioner and his assistant were descending to withdraw the bolt, they called upon a merciful God in an audible voice. In the midst of their prayers, the bolt was withdrawn, the floor fell from under their feet, and they descended till brought up by the fatal rope. After hanging the usual time, the seven lifeless bodies were cut down and deposited in their last home.— Sydney Monitor, December 19,1838.

Of almost five hundred he hung more than 360 hung in his first ten years such was the strict penal policies of the day during the time of Governor Darling he hung 170 people in 3 years 10 months where as the slightly more lenient Governor Bourke 183 people were hung in a 6 year rule, (including the controversial Myall Creek Massacre Murderers) under Governor Gipps it was 10 people in a 8 year reign, Governor Fitzroy 27 people in 8 years. Governor Dennison thought the side show that went with a public hanging vulgar and Green his last hanging was the first private hanging one, William Ryan in 1855.

Australia was ahead of Britain in that respect where the last public hanging was thirteen years later in 1868.

Sydney Morning Herald

1/3/1855            

EXECUTION OF RYAN FOR THE MURDER OF HIS WIFE

Yesterday morning at nine o’clock, the murderer, William Ryan, suffered the extreme penalty of the law, upon the scaffold erected In the hard-labour yard, Inside the walls of Darlinghurst Gaol. Six respectable citizen« (jurymen) were in attendance, in obedience to summonses which had been served upon them as witness’s of the execution, and with the exceptions of the Governor, medical, with other officers of the gaol,  Inspector, two sergeants, and a division of police, comprised all the spectators at the scene.

The intelligence that the Governor-General had signed the warrant for his execution to take place on. the 28th Instant, was officially made known lo the condemned man a fortnight ago, but he persistent in the belief that a reprieve would be granted him, up to this night before his execution Prior to .that night, he appeared quite callous to his crime und fate, and a week ago, he told one of the turnkeys that the rope was not yet made with which to hang  him. But on Tuesday night, be became apprehensive and anxious, and did not sleep at all during the entire night continuing in unremitting. – Prayer with his spiritual advisers, the Ven. Archdeacon M’Encrno, and tile Rev. Mr.Sheehy, who have been most attentive to the unfortunate convict since his condemnation. Yesterday morning, under the ministration of the clergy he began to express symptoms  of sorrow and penance.  A few minutes after nine o’clock, the death bell began to toll, and the condemned man appeared, pinioned and walking firmly, and erect between the clergymen.

 He was calm and collected, going up to the instrument of his death with a look of slight curiosity, apparently without fear, and stooping his face towards hls pinioned hands to wipe his mouth with his handkerchief Ryan then spoke In an unfaltering tone as follows :- It is owing to spite and malice that I am brought to this end.

My brother in law. Sergeant Newton, my sister, and inspector Higgins, and  the cause of my misfortune, and of my, wife and children. I  forgive them all, and hope God will forgive them.

 I could get out of this, but I know that I could do nothing In this world to make a recompensed for killing my wife; she was n very good woman,” He then firmly ascended tho scaffold, mid the reverend gentlemen continued with him In fervent prayer while the fatal noose and cap were being adjusted.

He shook hands with them, and they descended the ladder, leaving him standing on the platform, earnestly saying aloud, “Oh! Lord have mercy upon my soul!” until the executioner drew the bolt and he fell through the trap. Although the first shock was so great as probably to deprive Ryan almost immediately of feeling, still, being a remarkably powerful man, of at least 12 stone weight, and just ,38 years of age, tho muscular action continued during nearly five minutes. After hanging three-quarters of an hour, the corpse was cut down, placed in a coffin, and convoyed to the Roman Catholic cemetery.

This is the first (so-called) private execution under the Act of Council passed during the last session. There were about fifty females, and as many children, together with three or four men, assembled out-side the gaol gate. The scaffold was erected in the rearward of the building, so that not even with the gates open could it be seen from tho outside, but the top of some high buildings in the neighbourhood, from whence the spot might, perhaps, be seen, were covered with spectators.

 He was paid an annual rate of £15 14s. 2d., with an additional option to live at the gaol. The hangman previous to Stain, Thomas Hughes had difficulty finding accommodation due to his job and the accommodation option became a part of the job. Green lived at the gaol as well as being one of the first inhabitants of the fledgling suburb of Newtown, which at that time was a collection of unused paddocks.

By the mid 1840’s he was earning £60 p.a. Green was growing with disfavour amongst the Public Judicial Officers of the day and had several minor brushes with the law himself. His tendency to drink, brawl and be generally raucous did himself no favours. By 1841 he was living o a small piece of land next to the Darlinghurst gaol that was later became  known as Green Park. From his time as a Public Executioner he was recognisable figure about Sydney town, that became enhanced when he was struck across the face with an axe, in 1830 by a prisoner, apparently you could not mistake the discoloured scar across his face.

To achieve a successful execution by hanging, there is a required amount of cooperation by the condemned person any last second flinching as the bolt is drawn can result in any number of undesirable results. Although Green had his number of less than clean hanging where the prisoner “died hard” for the most cases he was a competent practitioner of his calling. One memorable exception was the hanging of a man named Mackie in 1848, where he miscalculated the length of rope required and Mackie dropped through the trapdoor and found his  feet touching solid ground, Green grabbed a shovel and pick axe and began digging a hole beneath Mackie’s feet so that he would be suspended.

Although not stating his name the hangman in this incident was Alexander Green, The following was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald in an article about years gone by (26 December 1857).

Sydney Morning Herald

August 23 1830.

 Tiernan, a Capital felon, aged 17, was about to be hanged at Windsor. Having mounted the scaffold, pinioned, he violently jostled the executioner, who thereupon fell a distance of seven feet to the ground, the culprit falling likewise. The hangman was greatly bruised by the fall, and could only be induced to ascend the scaffold again after very much persuasion and entreaty from the Under-Sheriff.

There are many mentions of the hangman or executioner in the papers of the day without naming Alexander Green the following are newspaper mentions of him outside the job.

NSW Advertiser

24/6/1837

POLICE INCIDENTS

Alexander Green was charged with being drunk, and found upon a person’s premises for unlawful purposes.

 Bench : What are you?

Green : A public officer.

Bench (with astonishment) : What ?

Green : The executioner or hangman.

Bench (with a shudder) : Oh ! we know the light in which you are regarded here : to put a man like you in the stocks would not be to make an example You are discharged ; but you may depend upon it that you will be punished in a different manner to being put in the ¡stocks if again brought here.

 

Although he never officially married Green appears to had a de facto relationship with this woman

The Australian

26/11/1840

Alexander Green (out on bail), the public executioner, was indicated for a violent assault upon his wife. The woman, on being sworn, stated that she was unwilling to prosecute, the prisoner having behaved well to her and her children, both previously and subsequently to the assault charged — she was therefore not examined. Margaret Robinson, the prisoner’s daughter in-law, proved the assault. The prisoner stated in his defence, that it arose out of a drunken spree, he having been exasperated by Robinson calling him a hangman. The Jury found him guilty, and the Court sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment in gaol.

 

Sydney Gazette

23/10/1841

SLIP RAILS AND SLIP KNOTS.

Yesterday a milkman residing at New Town, in the neighbourhood of Alexander Green, alias Jack Ketch, the assistant hangman, was brought before the bench by his official neighbour, charged willingly permitting his cows to trespass upon his close.

The defence was that the sliprails was continually down, and as a matter of course the cattle would trespass. A wordy war then ensued between the milkman and the hang-man. The milkman said when he was sitting down reading hid bible of a Sunday afternoon, the horrid oaths and imprecation of the hang-man diverted his attention, and that of his family from their godly exorcise.

The hang-man recriminated and harped upon the cows. They argued and bullyragged each other until they nearly argued and abused themselves into reconciliation–when Mr. Windeyer, after listening to them with great patience for a considerable time, advised the parties to make up.

The milkman then made an open and public declaration that if the hangman should afterwards meet him and say ” it’s a fine day ,”he (the milkman) would say ” it is”-or if he the (milkman) would say the like-or if the hangman met him and’ did ” nothing at all ,”he (The milkman) would say ” nothing at all.”In fact if the hangman said .’ the moon was made of green cheese,” the milkman consented to say the same anything at all for a quiet life? “Very well” magnanimously ejected the hangman, pay the shot and mizzle.”, This done the parties left the vicinity of the office, their faces averted, and walking on opposite sides of the street.

 

In early May 1855 the colonial secretary ordered Green committed and was admitted to Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum (now known as Gladesville Psychiatric Hospital) for an undisclosed condition and lived in various institutions until his death in 1879.

Morton Bay Courier

14/7/1855

SAMUEL WILLCOX and WILLIAM ROGERS, the former for the murder of JOANNA SMITH, in, Sydney, and the latter for the murder of JOSEPH ALLSOPP, at Baulkham Hills, were hanged within the walls of Darlinghurst Gaol on the 5th instant. The execution was carried into effect by a prisoner named ELLIOTT, the hangman GREEN being confined in Tarban Creek Asylum as a lunatic.

At some point Green was moved from Tarban Creek to Parramatta Lunatic Asylum as per this exert from the Sydney Morning Herald dated  4/8/1866 tells of a Ministerial inspection of the institution… The party then proceeded to inspect the establishment in every part, commencing with the dormitory for the general male lunatics. The bedding was very clean, under the vigorous physical exertion of a lunatic, named Green the hangman under the old regime, whose ribboned unmentionables pointed him out an a person of distinction, who was energetically operating upon tho floor with a mop. Tho floor and dormitory generally were clean, comfortable appearance… 

Although the below article states Green’s age as 85 years, all his penal records say he was born in 1802, making him 77 years old. Perhaps he just looked older from hard living.

The Maitland Mercury

4/9/1879

Green, formerly the hangman, died at the Lunatic Asylum, aged eighty-five. He had been an inmate of the asylum for twenty-five years.

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