Tag Archives: Murder

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.

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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 Alexander Pearce 1824

Hobart gaol

The Execution of Alexander Pearce 1824

These crimes occurred at a time in Australian History when newspapers were in there infancy and accounts of these events are sparse by modern standards. Alexander Pearce had been sent to one of the most notorious hell holes of a penal colony in the history of Australia.

The after the initial shock of transportation, Convicts in Australia felt that they had landed on their feet there was many letters sent to the homeland encouraging family members of Convicts to steal something and get themselves sent out to Australia. The British establishment decided to send a harsher Governor. In 1822 Governor Brisbane established a penal colony in Morton Bay to be a Prison within a Prison. This colony had a weather pattern so pleasant it kind of defeated its purpose. Governor Brisbane next established a Penal colony in the inhospitable and geographically isolated Macquarie Harbour on the western coast of Tasmania. Bleak is not putting a too fine a point on this place. This is where Alexander Pearce was sent as he was a repeat offending absconder.

To quote Mark Twain, Australian History is made of the most delicious lies, or rather  that the truth is stranger than fiction, to imagine that a prisoner confessed to eating his fellow escapees to be not believed and sent back to the prison camp to do it again is one of those particular and peculiar Australian historical moments.

The newly established Supreme Court of Tasmania cast it first death sentence on Alexander Pearce and was hung in Hobart gaol 1824.

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THE TRIAL

Hobart Town Gazette
25/6/1824
THE SUPREME COURT,
OF VAN DIEMEN’S LAND.
Alexander Pearce, a convict, was arraigned for the murder of a fellow-prisoner named Thomas Cox, at or near King’s River, in the month of November last, and he pleaded—Not Guilty.
The circumstances which were understood to have accompanied the above crime had long been considered with extreme horror. Report had associated the prisoner with cannibals; and recollecting as we did, the vampire legends of modern Greece, we confess, that on this occasion, our eyes glanced in fearfulness at the being who stood before a retributive Judge, laden with the weight of human blood, and believed to have banquetted on human flesh! It was, therefore, with much satisfaction we heard His Majesty’s ATTORNEY- GENERAL, whilst candidly opening his case for the prosecution, entreat the Jury to dismiss from their minds all previous impressions against the prisoner; as, however justly their hearts must execrate the fell enormities imputed to him, they should dutiously judge him, not by rumours—but by indubitable evidence.
The Learned Gentleman then proceeded to detail, certain confessions made by the prisoner, before the late much-lamented Lieutenant CUTHBERTSON, (Commandant at Macquarie Harbour), and at his examination by the Rev. ROBERT KNOPWOOD—confessions which, although in some respects inconsistent, would yet, when coupled with all the facts, merit the most serious attention.

From them it appeared, that as other evidence would prove the prisoner and the deceased, on the 13th November, absconded from their duty into the woods, each of them taking his axe, and the prisoner being heavily ironed;—that they for several days wandered on without provision and reduced by weakness, until, on the following Sunday evening, the deceased and prisoner arrived at King’s River;—a quarrel then arose because the deceased could not swim, and after prisoner had struck him on the head three times with his axe, the deceased seeing him about to go away (his irons having been knocked off), said, in a faint voice, “for mercy’s sake come back, and put me out of my misery!” Prisoner struck him a fourth blow, which immediately caused death; he then cut a piece off one thigh, which he roasted and ate, and after putting another piece in his pocket, he swam across the river, with an intent to reach Port Dalrymple.
Soon afterwards, however, he became so overwhelmed with the agonies of remorse, that he was constrained to recross the river, and, on seeing a schooner under weigh from the Settlement, he made a signal-fire, which on being seen, induced the pilot boat to put off and take him on board. He was then conveyed to the harbour, where he publicly owned the murder, and said “he was willing to die for it.
The Attorney-General concluded a thrilling tale of almost incredible barbarity, by calling Thomas Smith, who swore, that in November last he was coxswain to the Commandant at Macquarie Harbour; he knew the prisoner and the deceased; they absconded from Logan’s gang on the 13th; on the 22d, Pearce made his signal fire on the beach, near King’s River, and was taken back to the Settlement; he said Cox had died, and he had cut off a bit of his flesh to show what had become of him.
Witness, on the following day was ordered by the Commandant to go with prisoner, and get Cox’s body; he went, and it was found. The head was away, the hands cut off, the bowels were torn out, and the greater part of the breech and thighs gone, as were the calf of the legs, and the fleshy parts of the arms. Witness said to the prisoner, “how could you do such a deed as this?” he answered, “no person can tell what he will do when driven by hunger.” Witness then said, “Where is the head?” the answer was, “I left it with the body.” Witness searched for and found it a few yards off under the shade of a fallen tree; witness then picked up what appeared to be the liver of the deceased, and an axe stained with blood, on which prisoner was asked “if that was the axe with which he had killed Cox,” and he answered, “it was.” The fragments of the body were quite naked; near them were some pieces of a shirt, and the cover of a hat.
There had been a fire near the body, and not far from it lay a knife, which witness picked up. The body was then placed in two rugs, and witness, with the prisoner, returned to the Settlement. Prisoner on being asked “where Cox’s hands were,” said “he had left them on a tree where the boat landed;” a search was then made for them, but they could not be found.

Prisoner said, “he had cut off Cox’s flesh to support him on his intended journey to Port Dalrymple, but when he had crossed the river, something came over him, and forced him to return; he threw the flesh into the river, made a sign, and gave himself up.”

William Evans, of the Waterloo schooner, had gone on shore to take the prisoner, who said, ” Cox was drowned in the King’s River.” Prisoner’s hands were fastened, and his pockets searched, in one of which was a piece of flesh; he was asked “what that was?” and said, “it’s a piece of Cox, and I brought it to show that he is lost.”Witness heard the Commandant say to prisoner, “tell me, Pearce, did you do the deed?” prisoner answered “yes, and I am willing to die for it.” Witness asked him “why he had killed Cox ?” he said, “I’ll tell no man, until I am going to suffer.”

Many other witnesses were then called, who corroborated the above depositions in every essential point; and proved, that the clothes and hat, worn by the deceased when he absconded, were those which the prisoner wore when he was taken on board the pilot boat; but that the hat covering had been taken off.

The prisoner’s written confessions were afterwards most fairly commented on by the CHIEF JUSTICE, who addressed the Jury at considerable length with much solemnity, and submitted to their consideration, whether or not it was fully proved that the deceased had died from blows inflicted by the prisoner? and then, even if he had so died, whether, as a quarrel had been stated to have occurred before death, the prisoner was guilty of the crime charged, or of manslaughter? The Jury retired for a short time, and found a verdict of—Guilty.

alex pearce d sent

THE HANGING
24/7/1824
Hobart Town Gazette
Executions.—On Monday, Alexander Pearce, for murder, and yesterday, John Butler, for sheep stealing, John Thompson, Patrick Connolly, James Tierney and George Lacey, for burglary and highway robbery, were executed in this town pursuant to their sentence

Pearce’s body was, after it had been suspended the usual time, delivered at the hospital for dissection. We trust these awful and ignominious results of disobedience to law and humanity will act as a powerful caution; for blood must expiate blood and the welfare of society imperatively requires, that all whose crimes are so confirmed, and systematic, as not to be redeemed by lenity, shall be pursued in vengeance and extirpated with death !

We have reason to expect that by next week, we shall, through the kindness of an esteemed Clergyman, be empowered to communicate some extensive information, of a very interesting kind, respecting the murderer Pearce!

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THE PREIST’S ACCOUNT OF THE CONDEMNED MANS CONFESSION
6/8/1824
Hobart Town Gazette
ALEXANDER Pearce. –
In our Paper the week before last we noticed the execution of this criminal for the Murder of Thomas Cox, the leading facts of whose untimely death have already been reported in this Gazette. From much respected Gentleman, in whose Knowledge and veracity the most un-bounded confidence may be placed, we derive the following particulars, which it is to be hoped may excite a proper feeling among that class of society to which it is earnestly addressed:-

The Rev. Mr. Connolly, who attended this unfortunate man, administering to him the consolations of Religion, addressed the crowd assembled around the scaffold, a few minutes before the fatal drop was let to fall, in words to the following effect:- He commenced by stating, that Pearce, standing on the awful entrance into eternity on which he was placed, was desirous to make the most public acknowledgment of his guilt, in order to humble himself, as much as possible, in the sight of God and Man; – that, to prevent any embarrassment which might attend Pearce in personally expressing himself, he had requested and directed him to say, that he committed the murder of Cox, under the following circumstances:

Having been arrested here, after his escape from Macquarie Harbour, Pearce was sent back to that Settlement, where the deceased (Cox) and he were worked together in the same gang. Cox constantly entreated him to runaway with him from that Settlement, which he refused to do for a length of time. Cox having procured fishhooks, a knife, and some burnt rag for tinder, he at last agreed to go with him, to whom he was powerfully induced by the apprehension of corporal punishment, for the loss of a shirt that had been stolen from him. For the first and second day they strayed through the forest – on the third made the beach, and travelled towards Port Dalrymple until the fifth, when they arrived at King’s River.

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They remained, for three or four days, in an adjoining wood to avoid soldiers who were in pursuit of them, and were all the time, from the period they started, without a morsel teat. Overcome by famine, Pearce determined to take Cox’s life, which he effected by the stroke of an axe while Cox was sleeping. Soon after the soldiers had departed, Pearce occupied the place they had been in, where he remained part of a day and a night, living on the mutilated remains of Cox; he returned to the Settlement, made signal, and was taken up by the pilot, who conveyed him to Macquarie Harbour, where he disclosed to the Commandant the deed he had done, being weary of life, and willing to die for the misfortunes and atrocities into which he had fallen.
The Rev. Gentleman then proceeded to state, that he believed it was in the recollection of every one present, that eight men had made their escape, last year, from Macquarie Harbour. All these, except Pearce, who was of the party, soon perished, or were destroyed by the hands of their companions. To set the public right respecting their fate, Pearce is desirous to state, that this party, which consisted of himself, Matthew ravers, Bob Greenhill, Bill Cornelius, Alexander Dalton, John Mathers, and two more, named Bodnam and Brown, escaped from Macquarie Harbour in two boats, taking with them what provision the coal-miners had, which afforded each man about two ounces of food per day, for a week.

Afterwards they lived eight or nine days on the tops of tea-tree and peppermint, which they boiled in tin-pots to extract the juice. Having ascended a hill, in sight of Macquarie Harbour, they struck a light and made two fires. Cornelius, Brown, and Dalton placed themselves at one fire, the rest of the party at the other; those three separated, privately, from the party, on account of Greenhill having already said that lots must be cast for someone to be put to death, to save the whole, from perishing.

Pearce does not know, personally, what became of Cornelius, Brown and Dalton; – he heard that Cornelius and Brown reached Macquarie Harbour, where they soon died, and that Dalton perished on his return to that Settlement. – After their departure, the party, then consisting of five men, lived two or three days on wild berries, – and their kangaroo jackets, which they roasted; at length they arrived at Gordon’s River, where it was agreed, that while Mathers and Pearce collected fire-wood; Greenhill, and Travers should kill Bodnam, which they accordingly did. It was insisted upon that everyone should partake of Bodnam’s remains, lest, in the event of their ultimate success to obtain their liberty, any of them might consider himself innocent of his death, and give evidence against the rest. After a day or two, they all swam across the river, except Travers, whom they dragged across by means of a pole, to which he tied himself. Having spent some days in distress and famine, it was proposed to Pearce, by Greenhill and Travers, that Mathers be killed, to which he agreed.
Travers and Pearce held him while Greenhill killed him with an axe. Living on the remains of the deceased, which they were hardly able to taste, they spent three or four days, through weakness, without advancing beyond five or six miles, Travers being scarcely able to move from lameness and swelling in his foot. –

Greenhill and Pearce agreed to kill Traver’s, which Greenhill did, while Pearce collected fire-wood. Having lived some time on the remains of Travers, they were for some days without any thing to eat – their wants
Were dreadful – each strove to catch the other off his guard, and kill him. Pearce succeeded to find Greenhill asleep – took his life – and lived on him for four days. He was afterwards for three days without any sustenance – fell in, at last, with the Derwent River, and found some small pieces of opossums, &c. at a place where the Natives had lately made fires. More desirous to die than to live, he called out, as loudly as he could, expecting the Natives would hear him, and come to put an end to his existence! Having fallen in with some bush-Rangers, with whom he was taken, Pearce was sent back to Macquarie Harbour, from whence he escaped with Cox, as has been already stated, for whose death he is now about to suffer.

Alluding particularly to those who ought to be deterred from the commission of crime by examples like the present, how often, said the Rev. Mr.Conolly, does the justice of Providence bring to light the dark deeds of death and how frequently do we see it verified, that “Whoever sheds the blood of Man by Man shall his blood be shed !” Having stated that the unfortunate Pearce was more willing to die than to live, he concluded by entreating all persons to offer up their prayers, and beg of the Almighty to have mercy upon him

PEARCE SKULL

 

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The Execution of Nicholas Baxter 1907

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The Execution of Nicholas Baxter 1907

Nicholas Baxter was the last man hung at Darlinghurst Gaol, hangings after that time were performed at Long Bay Prison. The newspaper report made mention of the older traditions of a hanging were pared away. NSW  in the later part of the  1800’s had the same hangman (read the post Robert Rice Howard, Executioner NSW 1873-1903) for 30 years, he retired just a few years prior to this hanging and must have had his own ways of going about the hanging.

THE CRIME

17/7/1907

Cootamundra Herald

The Enmore Tragedy.

BAXTER COMMITTED FOR MURDER.

Sydney, Monday.

The inquest concerning the death of Mrs. Mary MacNamara, who was murdered at Sarah Street, Enmore, on 5th instant, was held today.

Nicholas Baxter was present in custody. The prisoner occupied a seat at the table, and appeared composed. Sergeant Curry said that at the police court, Baxter said, ‘ I don’t know what possessed me to do it.

I must have been mad. I did not intend to hurt the poor old lady, but she would not’ keep quiet. After what I had done I took train for Homebush.’ Baxter said his ‘object was money.

”If I had got a few pounds, he said, ‘I would have gone to Queensland. It is a bad job for the wife and children. ‘The Coroner found that Baxter wilfully murdered deceased, and committed him for; trial. 

THE CONFESSION

13/7/1907

Maitland Mercury

The Enmore Tragedy.

Nicholas Baxter, the man held for the brutal murder of Mrs. Mary Macnamara, at Enmore, on Tuesday made a confession.

At 9 a.m he was driven in a cab with two officers from the Burwood police station to the morgue at Circular Quay, and in the presence of the City Coroner (Mr. A. N. Barnett), Dr.Hardman, nephew of the murdered woman, and the police, identified the body.

It’s rather dark, I can’t see, be remarked as he stood before the glass partition running along the front of the chamber. He was taken along through a doorway, and allowed to stand beside (he slab, ‘ That’s the body of Mrs. Macnamara — I know her, ‘were his words Baxter was next taken to the Water Police Court, and while Sergeant Curry was Standing near the door be leaned forward, and, speaking in a low, husky voice, confessed that lie was guilty. He intimated that later he would put his statement in writing.

Five charges were shortly afterwards preferred against’ the prisoner He pleaded guilty to having been drunk in Bridge road, Strathfield, on Monday, and was fined 5 shillings, or the rising of the court. A charge of having murdered Mrs. Macnamara was read, and on the application of the police a remand was granted till Tuesday next. The following charges were also held over till Wednesday: — having in his possession two gold brooches, suspected of having been stolen; assaulting Constable Holtsbaum while in the execution of his duty, and damaging that officer’s trousers. Later in the day Baxter told the police how he entered the house, and conceded with a full confession of the murder.

On Thursday last he left his home, a cottage next door to the factory, on the opposite side to where he committed the terrible deed, and took with him a tent and other things. He told his wife be was going to Nyngan.

He walked along the railway line, and pitched his tent in the scrub near Homebush. He remained there until Sunday, when he started to return, and at 1 o’clock on Monday morning he went to his home.

He did not enter the cottage, however; but passed along the yard, and by climbing: to the roof of an outhouse built against the factory wall, it was an easy matter to reach up a few feet still higher, and then drop over into the factory yard.

The locality was very dark, and Baxter, stealing along the outskirts of the buildings, reached the email double gates leading to the house near the office. Both doors leading to Mrs. Macnamurra’s room were securely looked.

One opened from the hall of the foot of the staircase and tho other stood faking the small verandah overlooking tho factory yard. The watchman was somewhere about tho factory on his rounds, and Baxter pushed his bludgeon through the glass in the double doors outside. He placed his hand through, turned the catch back, and was beside the sleeping women.

Whether he first of all murdered the woman or was disturbed in his search of the boxes and then committed the murder has not been told.

That Mrs. Macnamurra found beaten about the head and with a strip of sheeting round her throat wore subsequent facto. Baxter left tho room by the door he had entered, walked along the verandah, and then opened an unlocked door and was in the hall.

He passed on by the front door of the house, as was shown by bloodstains there, and went away to Homebush again.

About eight hours later he was arrested in Bridge road for drunkenness. When news of the murder reached the Burwood police the bloodstained articles in Baxter’s possession aroused their suspicions, and, as has before been told, he mode a dash for liberty when returning from the bush where, he told the police, he had his humpy. The bludgeon used By Baxter was made from a piece of wood obtained on his way to Homebush.

When found on the roadside on Monday night the unstained port revealed the fact that it bad been made quite recently. ‘ I took it with me to defend myself,’ he remarked to the police on Tuesday. The City Coroner will open an inquest on the victim at noon on Monday next.

The Burwood police on Tuesday made a search in the bush for what Baxter bad called his ‘ humpy,’ and to which he was supposed to have been leading them after he was arrested.

The officers at first thought, when they had been, walking through the scrub, that it was nothing but a hoax, had returned to the station, Subsequent happenings, however, proved that Baxter had taken a tent from home, It was still pitched when the police came across it in tho scrub at Flemington, on the outskirts of Homebush. They gathered in the tent, blankets, and miscellaneous articles belonging to Baxter, and took them to the Burwood Police Station.

THE TRIAL

The Byron Bay Record

31/8/1907

The Enmore Murder.

Sydney, Tuesday.

The trial of Nicholas Baxter, charged with the murder; of Mrs. Mary McNamara, aged woman, at Enmore, was concluded at the Criminal Court to-day.

Accused made a lengthy statement in which he said he did not know what he was doing at the time of the murder, as he was not in his right mind. He attributed the collapse of his mental faculties to the fact that for years he had worked 90 hours a week.

He called as a’ witness his wife, who stated that he had been strange in his’ manner for 18 months. ‘Dr. Bohrsman. who had attended accused for several years, regarded him as of weak intellect. Dr. Paton stated that accused had shown no signs of insanity during his confinement in goal. The jury after a brief retirement returned a verdict of guilty, and accused was sentenced to death.

The only, request made by the prisoner was that his wife should ‘not be present while the sentence was passed.

THE HANGING

Execution of Nicholas Baxter.

DEATH INSTANTANEOUS.

Tuesday.

Nicholas Baxter was hanged in Darlinghurst Gaol this morning for the murder of Mary McNamara at Enmore. The whole affair was carried out quietly and quickly.

Apart from the representatives of four daily newspapers, only officials were spectators of the scene. During the morning the condemned man was visited by the Rev. Father Barry, of St. Mary’s Cathedral, who had been in constant attendance on him since Baxter, was placed in the condemned cell, and from whose, ministrations he derived much consolation.

He was also visited by two Sisters of .Mercy, who left him a few minutes before 9 o’clock this morning Father Barry, however, remained with him to the last, and sought to comfort, him with words of hope. The many formalities of old executions were dispensed with, according to high authority the demanding, of the body by the sheriff is a fiction.

A few minutes before 9 the Executioner and his assistants went to the condemned cell and pinioned Baxter’s arms.

About three minutes after the gaol clock struck – the condemned man appeared at a doorway leading on to the drop. His spiritual adviser was concealed from view behind the doorway, although he accompanied him to the edge of the scaffold.

Baxter was clad in the regulation grey gaol uniform, wearing a tight fitting whitecap, and his arms tied behind, him.

From a momentary glance which was obtained of him he did not appear to have suffered by his incarceration. Although pale, he looked fuller in the face than at the time of his arrest, while his short beard appeared to have thickened and grown more regular.

Without a sign or word he walked unassisted to the drop. Ho gave one glance down to the yard in which the reporters were standing, then gazed on the drop, made a light movement as if to plant his feet solidly upon it, and in another couple of seconds the executioner emerged and placed the rope round his neck, drawing tho knot tightly round under the right ear.

That official then drew down the long flap of the cap over Baxter’s face. Giving the signal the bolt was quickly drawn the doors of the trap opened, and Mrs.’ Macnamurra’s murderer hung lifeless, with a string of rosary beads in his right hand.

Death was instantaneous, not the movement of a muscle being discernible.

During his incarceration Baxter had given no trouble, to the gaol officials. He had been visited frequently by his wife and children, and a commutation of his sentence never appears, to have been considered seriously, by him.

He was perfectly resigned to his fate, last night he, slept, fairly well and awoke quite, refreshed this morning.

baxter house pic

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The Execution of Charlie Deen 1913

boggo rd 4

Charlie Deen was the last man to be hung in the State of Queensland and Queensland was the first State in Australia to end Capital punishment in the Country in 1922.

THE CRIME

19/4/1913

Queensland Times

Northern Tragedies.

Commutation and Confirmation.

The Executive Council had before it yesterday the case of Paddy Flyn, an aborigine, against whom a sentence of death was recorded at Townsville, on the 4th March last, by Mr. Justice Shand, for the wilful murder of  an aborigine named Roderick; also the case of a Cingalese, named Charlie Deen, who was sentenced to death at the same sittings, for the wilful murderer of another Cingalese, named Peter Dins.

The sentence on Paddy Flynn was commuted to imprisonment with hard labour for the term of his life, but it was decided that’ the law should take its course in the case of Charlie Deen, at Brisbane Gaol, at 8 a.m. on the 5th May 1913.

The Judge’s notes in connection with the trial of Paddy Flynn, state that at about midnight on the 30th December, the prisoner went into the yard of the Great Western Hotel, Hughenden, where Roderick and two others aborigines where camping and shot Roderick through the head with a revolver, killing him instantaneously, in his sleep. The motive suggested was a desire, not apparently of Roderick himself, but of another aborigine to obtain possession of the prisoner’s gun.

The facts in the case against Charlie Deen briefly were as follow: The prisoner, the deceased, (Peter Dins), a kanaka, and a Chinaman were boarding at a work-shop in Innisfail, kept by a China man named Kum Koon.

At the end of January last the cook-shop was flooded, and on Saturday, 1st February, the house was still surrounded by water.

On the morning of that date the prisoner and Dins were helping. Kum Koon to clear the water out of the house and scrub the walls. A quarrel occurred, in the course of which Dins struck the prisoner with his fist. Kum Koon separated them, and Deen went away to a back room, in which he, the deceased, the kanaka, and others were accustomed to sleep. 

Deen got up into the loft or shelf where he usually slept. The kanaka who did not sleep at the cook-shop on the night of the 31st January, went back to room the morning of the 2nd February and got up into a loft opposite to that occupied by the prisoner.

Dins came into the back room from the front part of the house, and was standing at a side door looking out into the yard, when the prisoner jumped down from his loft, and, coming behind Dins, stabbed him in the right side, under the ribs, with a knife. The prisoner then got back into the loft, and Dina managed to rise and stagger into the front portion of the house. Dins died at about 7 a.m. on the 3rd February.-“Telegraph.”

 boggo rd 1

THE HANGING

Townsville Daily News

6/5/1913

Charlie Deen Hanged.

(By Telegraph.) BRISBANE,

May 4.

Charlie Deen, a Cingalese, suffered the extreme penalty of the law in Boggo Road Gaol this morning. Punctually at eight o’clock the prisoner who was rather short and thick set, walked from the condemned cell, escorted by a number of warders, and accompanied by Major Geo. Wilson, of the Salvation Army. The Army officer was reciting the Lord’s Prayer in slow measured tones as the condemned man walked into view of the scaffold. Deen walked with firm steps, and did not require any assistance from the warders. He walked with a steady tread up the stairs to the drop, where he stood unflinchingly, gazing down upon the small group of prison officials and pressmen.

He called out in a firm voice: “Good-bye, all you gentlemen, I am going.” The noose was placed round his neck, and he was asked the usual questions as to whether he had anything to say before he died. Deen appeared to have become bewildered, and slowly replied: “Nothing to say.” The question was again put to him, and he replied “Nothing.” The white cap    was placed over his face and the rope adjusted.

The under Sheriff dropped his handkerchief by way of a signal, and the hangman pulled over a lever causing the trap doors to fly open with a crash. Death was apparently instantaneous, as there was not the slightest tremor in the body. After waiting 15 minutes Dr. Dods  examined the swinging body, and pronounced life extinct.

The body was quickly placed in a rude coffin and taken from the prison. The prisoner, who was middle-aged, weighed 11st. 7lb., his height being 5ft. 6½in., and he was given 7ft. 1in. drop. He gave the prison officials no trouble during the time he was under their care. Deen was sentenced to death at Townsville in March last for murdering a fellow countryman named Dins at Innisfail, after having a quarrel with him. Deen was a Buddhist prior to being placed in Boggo Road Gaol, but he became a convert to Christianity.

 

boggo rd 3

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The Execution of Fredrick Bailey Deeming 1892

NEWS GRAPHICS

The Execution of Fredrick Bailey Deeming 1892

From all accounts, that I have looked into, Frederick Bailey Deeming (1853-1892), appears to be a socio path and serial killer long before those terms had been coined.

He was a self gratifying murderer, fraudster, braggard and bigamist. The retelling of his story will at times leave more questions unanswered than answers. He went by many names and smoozed and faked many occupations in his travels. He weaved many a tale about his past as it suited him at the time, making the facts and the fictions hard to separate. Many of these tales were disputed by his brother Albert at the time of his last arrest.

He married 3 times and was about to marry a fourth woman when apprehended, his victims were his wives and his four children. He was widely travelled, and came out to Australia  from the UK several times, he was caught for some of his minor offences in various countries and spent some time in various prisons. This relentless travelling and name changing aided with his subterfuge for both murder and bigamy. He was known to have at least 8 aliases.

He has been accredited as one of the Jack the Ripper suspects. I will concentrate on his exploits and offences carried out in Australia as this is where his final undoing was detected and where he was eventually executed.

 On Deeming’s last trip to Australia he murdered his most recent wife, Emily Lydia Mather and buried near the fireplace of No. 57 Andrews Street, Windsor (Victoria), the body being discovered after he had left the State, for Southern Cross in Western Australia, changing his name to Baron Swanston.

57 Andrews street Windsor as it is today

https://www.google.com.au/maps/@-37.851826,144.987608,3a,90y,9h,90t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sRJjgwFYeN_E4jSjadwt4AQ!2e0!6m1!1e1?hl=en

Upon his arrest there was a frenzy of hysterical press coverage and it could be fairly said that this was the first incidence of trial by media in Australia. 

On 3 March 1892 the distinctive smell of death was emminating from 57 Andrew Street leading to the discovery of Emily Mather’s body.

A banquet invitation from Rainhill (UK) in the name of A. O. Williams was also found in the house and around this same time (16 March 1892), the bodies of Deemings first wife and four children were found within a recently cemented floor of the Dinham Villa at the Rainhill premises. On 11 March 1892 Deeming was arrested at Southern Cross, Western Australia.

THE CRIME

5/3/1892

Daily News

THE WINDSOR MURDER.

Further particulars of the Windsor murder shows that the body was built in in cement under the hearthstone, which was evidently done by an expert workman. The tenant of the cottage has not yet been traced.

 He was more than once seen seen at home with a female companion, about 35years of age, fair complexion, and light hair, who was showily dressed. The supposed murderer is of gentlemanly appearance, medium height, square shoulders, wore light moustache, and in appearance generally was a Swede or Norwegian, but betrayed no foreign accent. He had plenty of money, sovereigns and notes. The parties had evidently only just arrived from a long sea voyage, as they had sent a large quantity of linen to be washed.

 

16/3/1892

Border Watch

THE WINDSOR MURDER

About half-past seven last Friday evening the following message came through from

Western Australia to Melbourne:

“Perth, Western Australia,

“March 11, 1892.

“Telegram for the Chief Commissioner of Police, Victoria.

“Williams, alias Swanson. arrested today at Southern Cross. Arrive here next week. Send officer to identify, &1BO original warrant and information.

“(Signed) “G. PHILLIPS, Commissioner.”

This was the first news of the arrest of the Windsor murderer, and it was at once handed to the police authorities, to whom it caused no small satisfaction. There was some delay in handing it to the press, but by midnight it had been wired through to the leading dailies inthe other colonies.

 DEEMING AS SWANSTOM

THE INQUEST

22/3/1892

Adelaide Register

THE WINDSOR MURDER CASE.

The more the circumstances revealed in connection with the Windsor murder case are studied the greater is the horrible fascination which the tragedy creates.

The display of public feeling has been phenomenal, and what was written of as “The Windsor Mystery “in small paragraphs less than three weeks ago has already filled many scores of columns, whilst the sensational story has been circulated throughout the British dominions.

 Beside so general a manifestation of popular feeling the excited demonstrations begotten by the atrocious Sullivan murders in New Zealand at the Hokitika gold rush and by the villany of the Kelly Gang of bushrangers in Victoria during1879 seem very ordinary and tame.

There can be little doubt that if Williams or Swanston had been in the United States instead of in Australia he would before now have been unceremoniously tried by Judge Lynch and executed as summarily by the mob. Fortunately for the interests of justice and of human life the thirst for blood which so characterizes the American people in their treatment of such cases is not a distinguishing feature of  the Australian.

 Here even the most graceless criminal is sure of a fair trial. The unprecedented character of the proceedings of Williams have caused his case to be quite exceptionally treated, and less than this could not in, the nature of things have been expected.

It may be well, however, to remember that, speaking judicially, the accused man is not legally proved to have com-mitted the crimes charged against him in the legal indictments. This may modify the tendency to connect him under some of his many aliases, and in circumstances of greater or less cruelty or romance, with most of the mysterious crimes or other wrongdoings which have occurred in Australia during many years past.

There must be a limit even to the atrocities of such a scoundrel as he who murdered Emily Williams. The proceedings in Western Australia, detailed with great minuteness by our correspondent, throw important side-lights upon the circumstances of the Windsor murder.

Previously the identity of Swanston with Williams had not been absolutely established. Now the accused is understood to admit that he arrived in Victoria with his wife under the name of Williams. He states, however, that she could not have been murdered on the date which conjecture named for her death, because he saw her about a week later.

He asserts that he quarrelled with her at the Federal Coffee Palace on account of her conduct with some other man, and knew no more of her fate.

The effect of this statement would be to raise a question respecting the identity with Mrs. Williams of the woman found in the Windsor cottage, and, presuming that were sufficiently established, to throw the onus of the murder upon a third party.

When the inquest was opened a fortnight ago in Melbourne, however, the body of the dead woman was positively identified as that of Mrs. Williams by the gentleman who was a fellow passenger with the accused and his wife in the Kaiser Wilhelm, and who picked out Williams yesterday in Perth from amongst a number of other prisoners.

Another witness stated that he met Williams in Sydney late in January, and that Williams told him that his wife was “all right and up here.” A point which suggests further  enquiry is why, if Williams left his wife in Melbourne because of her misconduct, he should within a few days have proposed marriage to Miss Rounsefellon his way to Sydney, where his wife then was, according to his own assertion.

Concerning the theory that the cottage must have been taken and the murder committed by another man, the evidence already adduced sets forth that the house was rented by a person who described himself as a toolmakers engineer, whose general resemblance to the man now under arrest in Western Australia has been presumptively established.

The complete closing of the link rests, of course, with the prosecution. Passing without discussion the improbable idea that the six-feet man who married a South Australian lady in 1875 and then mysteriously disappeared has reappeared as Williams and shrunk six inches in the interval, the attempt to connect Williams with “Jack the Ripper” is worthy of reference.

The incriminating testimony appears to be of the slightest kind. It may be expressed in the logical formula—the Whitechapel assassin was a clever scoundrel; the accused Windsor murderer is a clever scoundrel; therefore  the Windsor murderer is the White-chapel murderer.

There is a distinct difference in the nature and evident motive of the crimes in the case of “Jack the Ripper” and in the  present instance, and the only evidence yet published of association between the two is that the chronological sequence thus far traced would allow of the bare possibility that the man who left Australia for South Africa in 1887 or early in 1888 arrived in London a few weeks later, in time to appear in the fiendish character of “Jack the Ripper ,”and perform his other misdeeds in the intervals of the subsequent White-chapel murders. One thing beyond question is that the atrocities of “Jack the Ripper” seem almost to dwindle down in comparison with the barbarous cruelty of a man who murders his own wife and children to pave the way for another marriage. Minor matters of interest amongst the disclosures of the last few days are the apparent fact that Deeming or Williams, like the poisoner Wainwright, cannot plead hereditary predisposition to crime, as his family seem to be of respectable character. Whether, also like Wainwright, the Windsor and Rainhill murderer is afflicted with that moral insanity which to some extent is distinct from mental insanity, future revelations may disclose.

With all its repellent horrors the whole case is intensely interesting to the student of human nature in its most morbid and revolting aspects.

 DEEMING MUGSHOT

  The Windsor Murder

The public excitement in connection with the Windsor and Rainhill tragedies continues unabated.

A large crowd has assembled daily outside the house at, which the Liverpool murders were committed and, overborne with mad excitement the people broke through the cordon of police and stormed the building which the owner has now resolved to demolish. The search for further discoveries there has now been completed without any developments of a especially exciting nature.

Swanson was despatched from Perth on Friday morning en route for Melbourne via Guilford and Albany. On the way from the inland towns to Albany the Prisoner was subjected to strong demonstrations of an all but unimaginable horror and hatred on the part of the crowds of spectators who everywhere lined the route in a fearfully excited condition.

He was hissed and hooted, while a woman mustered courage to fling a stone through the carriage window, and others shouted ‘ Lynch him,’ ‘Drag hint out and etc.’

The prisoner has borne the trying ordeal with remarkable equanimity though lie expressed at one time the tear that he is afraid ‘ he would peg out to the evident disgust of the interested world, who would bitterly regret his death by natural causes.

On being lodged at Perth, Swanson, with some inexplicable object except it be that of self disguise attempted to shave off his hair with a piece of glass from the neck of a bottle about the size of a shilling.

But this appears to have been but partially successful for at least 75 per cent of the hair found in the cells has been pulled out by the roots, On being taken aboard” the R.M.S. Ballarat for Melbourne, Detective Cawsey, who has been largely identified with the investigations which hire proved so successful, placed the prisoner in manacles; and under the joint care of 3 police officers and 4marines, he has been sent on his way to Adelaide. Detective Ciawsey strongly believes, for reasons he does not see fit to disclose, that Williams is identical with the notorious murderer, Jack the Ripper.

The Iatest intelligence has brought some further disclosures of a most startling character. The Criminal Investigation Department has now in its possession information which identifies the prisoner with the assasinations of a white man and two coloured lads in South Africa, where Swanson is also known to have been the principal actor in certain diamond robberies.

 

THE TRIAL

27/4/1892

The Mercury

THE WINDSOR MURDER.  

The lawyers retained by Albert Deeming on behalf of his brother Frederick hope to be able to collect sufficient evidence of insanity to procure a mitigation of the death penalty in the event of Deeming being found guilty of the murder at Windsor.  

 

19/5/1892

Wagga Wagga Express

THE WINDSOR MURDER.

It has now transpired (says the Melbourne Herald) that Williams, under a strong pledge of secrecy, made a confession of his having committed the crime prior to his conviction and the sentence of death.

Under a pledge that this statement would not be revealed until after the trial, if at all, the prisoner stated that he had committed the murder, but did not recollect a great deal about it.

He was afraid of killing his wife, and warned her to leave him, but she refused. He would not say when the murder was committed, but it may be taken for granted that it was close to Christmas Day, for on more than one night about this time his apartment at the Cathedral Hotel was not visited by him at all.

He states that he killed his wife by using the battle-axe first and cutting her throat immediately after.

She made no cry, and she was lying on the air bed at the time, so he was enabled to prevent any blood getting on the floor. Immediately after the murder, so Williams told the doctors for the defence, he went to sleep, and slept for six hours. All this time the body of his wife lay beside him wettering in the blood which had poured from the terrific wounds inflicted upon her.

He does not know, he declares, why he killed his wife, but this, the doctors remark, is the secret which has yet to be dragged out of him, and it is suggested the task should be undertaken by Dr. Shields, the Government medical officers

.It appears that at no time in his defence did the murderer suggest the plea of insanity — or, rather, not until close to the day of trial. He argued that no one had seen him kill his wife, that she could not be properly identified, and that the Crown could not prove him to be the murderer.

 

 deem mask

 

THE HANGING

Execution of Deeming.    

AT three minutes to 10 on Monday, the unhappy man was hurriedly brought from his cell. The fall front of the white cap being raised, exposed the livid pallor of his fierce, repulsive face.

When he was led on to the drop he gazed round at the assembled crowd with a dazed, uncertain look, asthough even yet he failed to appreciate his awful proximity to death.

A stony smile flitted over his features for a moment, and then his face became as rigid as marble, and utterly expressionless.

The strain on his nerves during the last week had made a great change, and his old defiant and wolfish malignity had deserted him.

As he cast one glance at the little window behind the drop and saw the last gleam of light he would ever gaze upon his lip quivered, and he slightly trembled, then bracing himself up and looking straight into the crowd he resumed his look of hopeless inanity.

The hang-man who had led him on to the drop in a quick businesslike manner, made a hasty examination of the rope, running the noose quickly up and down to be sure it was sufficiently greased, and glancing hurriedly at the knot, adjusted it behind the murderer’s ear.

There was a deathlike silence in the echoing gaol as the sheriff asked the doomed man if he had anything to communicate, and the grave faces of the spectators were strained to catch the  merest whisper of the confession they had waited for so long; it was the last chance that would ever occur, and everyone felt their nerves strung to their highest tension.

The prisoner opened his mouth to speak, and the words came so faint and tremulous as to be scarcely audible, as though he was labouring under a tremulous emotion or like one in a dream.

” The Lord receive my spirit.” That was all. The white cap was then drawn over his face. At this point the wonderful nerve of the man seemed about to fail him; but he braced himself up and stood swaying slightly as he listened to the last words he would ever hear in life. Amid the awful stillness of the gaol arose the quiet low tones of the Rev. Mr. Whitton, who read the last impressive service over the doomed wretch as he stood quavering on the drop: ” Man that is born of a woman hath but  a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down, like a flower; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay. In the midst of life we are in death.”

A sound like a giant’s sigh swelled up from the body of the gaol as the lever was thrust quickly forward by the assistant hangman, and the murderer fell into the yawning space that would see his last death agony.

The tremor and consequent swaying of the body immediately the white cap was drawn over his face flashed across my mind, and the theory that he had fainted before the fatal bolt was drawn seemed incontestable. Inquiry of several medical men who happened to be present strengthened my sup-position (writes the Evening News correspondent),and I believe I am correct in asserting that over-come by the awful reality of the terrible ordeal this man, whose iron nerve has puzzled the whole world, succumbed to the last strain put upon his system, and lost all consciousness before the hang-man’s rope summoned him to appear before his last tribunal.

He fell like a man of stone, and indeed never moved a muscle after the white cap had been placed over his face. To the last he played his part, and followed but the lines he had laid down for himself. He had told a warder when he came to speak he would not confess. “I shall merely call upon the Lord to receive my spirit,” and though the words came faint and hollow he said it. Soon after the terrible event the visitors began to leave the gaol.

Contemplation of the Rainhill criminal’s career compels one (says the Times) once more to repeat that process of enlarging one’s conception of human folly, which is, perhaps, the most frequent of major mental operations. The fellow was a vulgar and palpable fraud. Wherever he went he was distrusted and disliked by persons of any discernment, yet he never wanted for dupes. It may be admitted that he was clever in his own way, but his cleverness lay chiefly in his instinctive under-standing of fools and how to play upon their weaknesses. Bounce, bluster, romances about far off lands, and a lavish display of money were his principal weapons. Nothing is more curious than to note how, if the right persons be executed for operations, everything that ought to excite distrust be-comes a means of securing blind confidence.

This man swindled his way through the world with the most complete ease and security by adding some elementary strategy, to his knowledge of human weakness. He understood the immense value of capital in such a business as his. He never attempted a coup except when he was still well provided with the proceeds of the last one.

Want of this cautious resolution not to trade beyond the limit of the capital available has been the ruin of many a promising criminal as of many an honest merchant. A man short of funds is driven to expedients which his cool judgment would probably condemn, and his capture becomes a mere matter of time and accident.

The rogue now in question could always afford to take the beat and most expeditious mode of leaving dangerous quarters, and that fact alone goes far to explain his long immunity from detection. Complete analysis of this criminal is difficult; the materials, in fact, are hardly yet forthcoming. It is probable however, that he is essentially swindler and incidentally murderer.

No adequate motive has yet been suggested for the brutal butchery at Rainhill, but it is possible that his wife had found out too  much about his past. His instinct of self-preservation was strong, and it the unfortunate woman once presented herself in the sight of a danger he would stick at nothing to get rid of her. The murder of the children probably followed as a corollary in a mind to which ethical conceptions were apparently foreign. His absolute indifference  upon any hypothesis to every kind of moral restraint, and to every emotional prompting that might have interfered with his prompting, marks him out as a singularly perfect example of those negations of all that is human in man, which civilisation seems to turn out from time to time.

The Daily Chronicle says: A most singular affair, writes a correspondent, has occurred at Madame Tussaud’s in connection with the notorious Deeming.

As is well-known, the enterprising proprietors of the famous waxwork exhibition have purchased the materials of Denham Villa, and the whole have been removed from Rainhill to London where many of the kitchen stones and cement have been put in the Chamber of Horrors. In the cement there is the print of a hand which is believed to be that of Deeming. A workman was sent into the Chamber to arrange the materials, and, not returning, he was sent for. He was found dead on the very stones which he had been sent to prepare for exhibition this Easter.

The following are note by Gaol warders closely aligned to the Hangman on the day of the hanging.

 hood

AFTERMATH

10/3/1927

Canberra Times

Deeming‘s Skull.

The skull of Australia’s most notorious murderer, Deeming, did not corrode in quick lime with the rest of his body when he was executed in Melbourne Gaol in mid-1892.

His cranial abnormality was so marked, and various or-gans of the body so out of the ordinary that several surgeons of that per-iod put in a special request for an independent inspection and examinationof the body after it was cut down sub-sequent to hanging for the prescribed two hours.

When the examination was concluded, it was pointed out to authorities that the retention of Deem-ing’s head would serve a valuable purpose, not only to the medical profession,but to the public and students of criminology in general.    

When the skull was measured phre-nologically, the brain weighed and balanced, astounding differences were dis-covered between it and those of the average person post-mortemed, the resultsbeing carefully checked, written down, tabulated, and placed in their proper or-der in the medical and surgical laboratory, which had asked for the head of the assassin.

Not only was there a physical hiatus wherever the veneration, benevolence and kindliness should have been, but where the ordinary combativeness and assertiveness should have been seen, there was enough to fill the cells of savagery in a tiger, the destructiveness in a gorilla, and the ferocity of a cannibal.

Bravery was absolutely absent; while craven fear was in abundance, and in its place was the crowded brain cells of a leopard and the flattened bone of a cobra. The skull and brain are, or were a few years ago, in the museum of a section of a big surgical exhibition attached to a university, and probably they are still there.

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