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The Execution of Christian William Benzing 1917

Execution of Christian William Benzing 1917

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

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

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

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

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

lp trench 1915

28 August 1915

Sydney Morning Hearald







GABA TEPE, Aug. 18.

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

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

lone pine cigggie card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lone pine 1919

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

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

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


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

telegram benzing

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

discharge letter

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

The Crime

15th January 1917

Ballarat Courier

Murder Alledged

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

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

central police station

The Inquest

23 January 1917

Young Examiner.





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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Were her finger nails long?—Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Trial

23 March 1917

Sydney Morning Hearld


 (Before Mr. Justice Sly and a Jury.)

Mr. Herbert Harris, Crown Prosecutor.


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

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

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

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

The accused was found guilty, and sentenced to death.

The Appeals

14 April 1917

Bendigo Advertiser




Sydney, 13th April

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

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

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

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

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


The Hanging

17 June

Sunday Times





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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

benzing grave





Filed under Gone wrong...

The Execution of Charles Hines 1897

charly hines

The Execution of Charles Hines 1897

The township of Maitland in New South Wales on the tidal extreme of the Hunter River, established in 1820 took 23 years to warrant the construction of a Gaol for the uses of the whole Hunter district.

From 1843 through to 1897, sixteen men were executed on site at the Maitland gaol. Although Public hangings had been outlawed in New South Wales in 1855, Maitland Gaol appears to have not received that particular memo and continued to hang people publicly until 1861. I will endeavour to find an account of that last public hanging in future blog posts.

This post is the circumstance of the last man hung at Maitland Goal, Charles Hines.

The public hangings were held in the area at the front gates and when hanging were no longer a public event, they were held in the north western corner of the main exercise yard of the gaol.

The Hangman was Robert Rice Howard and was one of his better jobs.

 mailand courthouse

Trial and Verdict

 1 April 1897

 Newcastle Miners Herald

A Capital Charge.

Charles Hines was charged that he did at Gundy on 1st May, 1890, without her consent ravish and carnally know Mary Emily Hayne.

Mr. Gannon, instructed by Mr. J. A. Shaw, appeared for the accused.

Matilda Davidson, a married woman, residing with her husband at Spring Yale, near Gundy, said she was acquainted with the accused. She had known Mrs. Hayne, who was now dead, but who formerly lived with the accused.

Witness also knew Mary Emily Hayne, who had lived with Mrs Haynes and Charles Hines. The girl was now 20 years of age. By Mr. Gannon: At the time of her death the girl’s mother and the accused were married.

By the Crown : Hines’ children appeared to be afraid of him.

By Mr. Gannon: She had never seen the accused ill treat the children. He appeared to be kind to them. He left Eaglevale with his family seven years ago, and she had seen very little of the family since.

Matthew Hayne, a resident of Wet Creek, near Bell Trees, stated that his mother and accused had resided together for three or four years. They were married. He had lived away from home for 15 years.

Last November he received a letter from Mabel Hayre, in consequence of which he gave information to the police. He had been athome on short visits occasionally. The girls always appeared to be afraid of the accused. Constable Williams, of Scone, stated that the read the two warrants produced to the accused, who made no reply.

Mary Emily Hayne stated that she was 20years of age. Last August she was delivered of a child. On 11th November last she sent her brother Matthew a letter. Sh. had resided in the house with her mother and the accused from the time of her childhood. The witness gave evidence of an alleged assault upon her when she was 13 years old by the accused, and said he told her that if she spoke to :any one about it he would kill her.

The witness added that she was frequently assaulted by Hine subsequently, and that she had submitted through fear. She remembered her sister Mabel writing to her brother. Witness also wrote to him, and the letters were dispatched in one envelope Accused committed the offence against her consent several times. By Mr. Gannon: She lived at Hine’s house, and was on friendly terms with him until his arrest. She had also been on friendly terms with her mother and sister Mabel. She was living at Ellerston when 14 years of age, and was now residing with Mrs. Lewis, her step-sister, at Wingen. Mrs. Lewis had visited her mother at Ellerston, but she(witness) did not complain to her.

The child was born on 10th August last. In the month of June last a young man named Arthur Cram remained at the house  one night. Mr. Lewis, her brother-in-law, also visited the house. After June she went to stay with Mrs. Lewis She remained four months, and upon going home she wrote a letter. She complained because accused was not nice to her.

He refused to let her marry a young man. She was annoyed at the refusal, and afterwards wrote the letter. On one occasion she said she would give evidence against the accoused, and get him out of the way. She had complained, and felt- annoyed because Hines would not let young men visit the house.

In answer to the Crown Prosecutor, the witness stated that she had not been intimate with any person but the accused. She had been annoyed with Hine about a dress, and it was for that reason she wrote the letter. The intimacy was continued against her wish from the time she was 14 years of age. She was in fear of her life. Mabel Hayne stated that she was two years and seven months younger than her sister Mary.

She (witness) was frightened of her stepfather. The witness gave evidence as to the relationship which had existed in the house, of the accused, and stated that there had ·been regular intimacy between herself and the accused from the time she was 12 years of age. The witness gave a number of details in her evidence which are unfit for publication, and stated that it was on her information that Hine was arrested. She had written friendly letters to him since his committal. This concluded the evidence for the prosecution. The accused, who gave evidence on his own behalf, stated that he was a grazier and farmer, and was 62 years of age. 

Mary Hayne was not his daughter. He did not deny having been intimate with her. The intimacy commenced about five and a half years ago while he lived at Ellerston. The girl’s mother was alive at the time. He had never done anything indecent against the girl’s will. Had never threatened or terrified her. The children had never had reason to be afraid of him.: Hoe had always treated them well-too well.

On one occasion he had a dispute with Mary about a dress, and told her she had Liven him enough trouble, and he was done with her. The letters were then written. The girls were friendly with him after he was taken. By the Crown: He could not say that Mabel was not his daughter. He had frequently been intimate with her.

He understood that he had been the moral ruin of the two girls. In the first instance he suggested the intimacy to the prosecutrix. This concluded the evidence for the defence. Mr. Gannon, in addressing the jury, said the case was really a serious one. It had been put fairly by the Crown, and the accused would have the knowledge that he had been given an impartial trial. The evidence was of a kind to shook the sensibilities of every right-thinking person.

It was a capital charge, and if the case were considered proved the consequences to the accused might be dire. He could say nothing for the morality of his client, but even a brute as the accused was he was entitled to the closest consideration of the jury. The man had allowed his passion to run riot and had polluted the girls he should have protected. Any decent man would despise him, but seeing how easy it was to scorn such a creature, the jury should remember that they were trying him on the most important charge an English jury could try a man upon.

They must also recollect that they might rob him of his eternal soul. If; the case was true that the accused had taken advantage of the girls whose bodies he should have held sacred, his life might pay the forfeit, but the jury must consider the quality of the evidence brought against the man. The surroundings of the home must be remembered. What could come from a home of so much pestilence and sin ? Morality had not been regarded; the occupants were caged there like wild animals. Under these circumstances, was it not probable that the girls were willing instruments? The proseoutrix was at the time the alleged intimacy first took place residing with her mother. Counsel submitted that if any violation had taken place the mother would have been informed; the brother or Mrs. Lewis would have known of it. The advocate drew attention to the fact that the girl Mary was away from the accused for some time and that she returned to him without coercion. Referring again to the period of the mother’s life, Mr. Gannon strongly submitted that the deceased woman must have been cognisant of any impropriety, and would have fought like a tigress for the safety of her children. Counsel concluded a powerful appeal by saying that although the accused might be a moral monster who’s every appearance is just be loathsome to every decent man in the country, the jury should remember that his moral degradation imperilled his life unless they he old the scales of justice with thorough impartiality.. They must dismiss from their minds any preconceived notions of the case, and see justice done.

The Crown Prosecutor said he agreed with counsel for the defence that the jury had to consider only whether the accused had committed the crime with which he was charged. The man had in the witness box absolutely supported the girls in the story that they had been attacked. He had had some education, some experience, and if his evidence were true, had endeavoured to escape by six months the age which rendered him liable, with or without consent. Counsel drew attention to the evidence of Mrs. Davidson, who had testified to the terror  the children seven years ago, and submitted that this agreed with the statements of the girls.

The Crown Prosecutor added that never previously had he known of such a case. The jury were informed that there might be submission without consent and were reminded that their duty was to sift ‘the evidence ‘carefully, and return a verdict thereon, no matter what the results might be. His Honor, in summing up, said it was a case which required perhaps as much care on the part of the jury as any ease ever heard in the colony. The story of the girls and of the accused was a sobering one. The jury must not allow their judgment to be carried away, however, by the natural horror with which the evidence of the accused must have impressed every person who heard it.

The jury must dismiss the story of the girl Mabel from their minds, so far as the present ease was concerned. It was quite possible, and might be extremely probable, that what had taken place during the past five years was with the consent of the proseontrix; but the question was whether she consented on the first occasion.

Was it done with her consent, even though she might have submitted. His Honor referred to the evidence of the prosecutrix regarding what she alleged took place when she was ,between 13 and 14 years of age, and also dwelt upon the version the accused had given of the girl’s action. She had stated that she was 13 years old, he (the accused) stated that she was 14 years of age. If the jury said the girl was immoral, they must ask themselves how she became immoral. If they concluded that the girl was not a consenting party on the first occasion, no matter what her age might have been, they must convict the accused on the capital charge. If there. was a reasonable doubt on the question of the consent, the accused was entitled to the benefit of it.

If the girl were under the age of 14 years, it mattered nothing whether she consented or not, as far as the carnal knowledge was concerned. The case was, as the Crown Prosecutor had stated, a’ unique one. No other case of the kind had overcome before a jury in this colony, and it was to be hoped that admissions of the nature of those made by the accused would not be made again in a court of law.

The jury retired at 6 o’clock, and returned at 7.25 to ask what was the difference in the crime in the case of a girl under 14 years of ago with and without consent. His Honor pointed out that in the matter of carnal acknowledge it was of no moment whether there was consent or not.

His Honor, in answer to another question. said if there was not consent it was rape. If there was consent, it was carnal knowledge. The jury again retired, and returned to court at 9 o’clook with a verdict of guilty, and prisoner was then sentenced to death.

front maitland gaol

The Hanging

21 May 1897

Sydney Evening News








(From Our Special Reporter.)

EAST MAITLAND, Friday.— For the first time in twenty-six years an execution took place in Maitland Gaol this morning, when a resident of the Scone district named Charles Hines, for a serious offence against morality, suffered the extreme penalty of the law.

Death was well-nigh instantaneous, and, on life being pronounced extinct by Dr. Alcorn, the visiting medical officer, the body was cut down, and removed to the gaol morgue.

Subsequently Mr. Scott, P.M., local coroner, and a jury of twelve freemen, held an inquest in the gaol, when the usual verdict in cases of judicial hanging was returned.

Hines bore up well towards the end, and walked to. the gallows with a firm tread. Once or twice he appeared to falter, but he quickly recovered himself, and stepped forward again. At 9 o’clock Mr. S. Guy, the under-sheriff, made a formal demand for the body of the condemned man, and he was immediately handed over to Howard, the executioner, and his assistant, who pinioned him in the cell. Hines was attended by Archdeacon Tyrrell, to whose spiritual ministrations he appeared to pay the utmost attention.

He last night expressed himself as resigned to his fate. He spent many hours in reading his Bible, and did not retire to bed until late. His slumbers were fitful and broken. At Hines’s urgent desire Archdeacon Tyrrell wrote letters to several of his step children, bidding them farewell, imploring their forgiveness and commending them to the care of a higher Power, He is said to ‘have other friends in Sydney, but with these he declined to communicate.

After the final decision of the Executive was made known. Hines was visited by his son, who is engaged in agricultural pursuits near Scone. But few persons were permitted within the precinets of the prison to witness the execution.

The little group of spectators that stood beneath the scaffold as the condemned man mounted to his doom, comprised of these representatives, Dr. Alcorn, (medical officer), Mr. Scott (visiting justice),Mr. Graham (governor of the gaol), and a few other prison officials. The scaffold was erected close to the north-west wall of the gaol, and distant about forty yards from the wing, wherein Hines had been confined since his conviction. The drop was reached by a flight of wooden steps, about fifteen in number. Suddenly turning an angle of the prison building, the condemned man’s face blanched as he beheld the instrument of death. He was assisted up the scaffold steps in the midst of a heavy shower of rain.

Hines, addressing the spectators, in a few words, protested his innocence of the crime for which he was to die. The intervening walk from the cell in a wing !to the scaffold -was a trying ordeal for the unfortunate, it would have been much, better if the gallows had been erected in one of the wings.

At the foot of the steps leading to the drop, the Venerable Archdeacon took his leave. ‘Have courage,’ said he, and Hines, nodding his head in acquiescence, mounted to meet his doom. . Upon reaching the fatal platform he was placed upon the drop by Howard. Then facing round, Hines, in a voice that displayed not a trace of emotion, said: ‘Gentlemen, I am innocent ‘of the crime. I told the judge so at the time. May the Lord Jesus have mercy upon, my soul.’ ]The rope was then affixed, the white cap drawn over the face, and, at a signal from the hangman, the assistant pulled the lever, and Hines, who had been given a drop of 7ft 6in, dangled lifeless in the pit beneath. The man never moved after the bolt was drawn, his neck being dislocated instantly.

The body, later lying in the prison morgue for the statutory eight hours, will be handed over to the friends for interment. Owing to the heavy rain last night it was feared that the timbers of the scaffold might swell, and throw the apparatus out of gear.

Mr. Guy, the Under-Sheriff, as a precautionary measure, had the mechanism of the drop covered with bagging. This morning ‘ a final test was made, and it was found that everything worked smoothly. The trap fell at eight minutes past 9, and twenty minutes later the body was cut down. Last night the Rev. Mr. W. H. Tarrington, vicar of St. Mary’s Church of England, West Maitland, wired to the Acting-Premier, Mr. Brunker, asking that a respite might be granted, with a view of inquiring into the question of Hines’s sanity. A reply was received from Mr. Brunker to the effect that the case had already been fully dealt with, and very fully considered by the Executive, and that It could not be reopened. The old scaffold in the gaol was last erected fifteen years ago for the execution of a prisoner named Sinclair. He was, however, reprieved at the last moment, and tile structure has not been required since.

 Sinclair, whose sentence was commuted to a long term of imprisonment, suicided subsequently in Parramatta Gaol. A man named McMahon, for murder, was the last, prior to Hines, to be hanged in Maitland. The scaffold was erected under the supervision of Mr. Lewis, the local representative of the Government Architect’s Department. Owing to the uprights resting upon the asphalt yard, it was found necessary to excavate an oval-shaped pit beneath to receive the body. Mr. Guy yesterday had this deepened to 6ft.



1 Comment

Filed under Gone right

The Execution of Boyce, Duffy Martin and Read 1887

The Mt Rennie Outrage, September 1886, (as the crime became known as) is a Gang Rape incident involving at least 11 young men in 1886. On the 27 November, 1886 nine were found guilty and sentenced to death, reading the newspaper accounts it is easy to get lost in the who’s who of this case so below is the following is a ready reckoner the names are alphabetical with ages in relation to the perpetrators and the single victim(brackets)

With a vast crowd of men committed to trial there was an equally vast number of witnesses for the defence and for the Crown. 100’s of newspaper column inches was devoted  to this trial. Followed by public meetings and petitions to the government and governor.


Mary Jane Hicks (16)   Moved to New Zealand after the case.

Committed to Trail

William Boyce        (24)  Sentenced to death  Hanged   7/1/1887

Michael Donnellan (18)    Senced to death  Reprieved  Darlinghurst 10 years

George Duffy          (18)     Sentenced to death  Hanged   7/1/1887

William Hill            (22)     Sentenced to death  Reprieved  Trail Bay 10 years

George Keegan       (19)      Sentenced to death  Reprieved  Parramatta 10 years

William Newman (18)       Sentenced to death   Reprieved  Darlinghurst 10 years

Michal Mangan      (19)       Acquitted                               

George Martin        (18)      Sentenced to death Hanged   7/1/1887

Hugh Miller            (18)      Sentenced to death  Reprieved  Parramatta 10 years

Thomas Oscroft      (17)     Acquitted                               

Robert George Read (20)  Sentenced to death   Hanged   7/1/1887“

Charles Sweetman  Taxi Driver    Accessory  11 years, served 9

The  Judge

Honour Mr. Justice Windeyer presiding over this matter.

Solicitors for the Accused

Mr. Gannon

Ellis , instructed by Mr. Gannon,

 Scholes, instructed by Mr. Gannon,

Mr. Gibson, instructed by Mr. Gannon,

Mr. O’Mara, instructed by

Mr. Moriarty, instructed by Mr. M. Williamson

Mr. H. Levien

Mr. Edmunds  instructed by Mr. Williamson.

Mr. Canaway for Duffy

 Which Lawyer for Whom    

William Boyce        (24) Hanged   7/1/1887     

Mr. Moriarty, instructed by Mr. M. Williamson


 Michael Donnellan (18)     Reprieved  

Mr. Edmunds instructed by Mr. Williamson


George Duffy         (18)        Hanged   7/1/1887

Mr. Canaway for Duffy


William Hill            (22)       Sentenced to death               

Mr. H. Levien                         


George Keegan       (19)        Reprieved



William Newman (18)         Reprieved  



Michal Mangan      (19)        Acquitted 

Mr. H. Levien                                                         


George Martin        (18)        Sentenced to death



Hugh Miller            (18)        Sentenced to death



Thomas Oscroft      (17)      Acquitted  



Robert George Read (20)   Hanged   7/1/1887 

Mr. O’Mara, /Mr. H. Levien 

Solicitors for the Prosecution (Victim side)

Mr. Williams,         Crown Solicitor

Mr. Teece,              Solicitor

Mr. Pring,                Solicitor


Sydney Morning Herald




Michael Mangan, 19, labourer, was charged at the Water Police Court yesterday, before Mr. M. Marsh, S.M., that he did on the 9th day of September instant, in company with others, outrage one Mary Jane Hicks. The court was again densely crowded when the case was called on .On the application of the police, the prisoner was remanded till Friday next.


Sydney Morning Herald



 At about 4 o’clock on Thursday afternoon a respectable-looking man arrived in a breathless state at the Redfern Police Station, and reported that half an hour previously he had witnessed a horrible scene in Moore Park. He said that he was walking through the scrub in the neighbour-hood of Mount Rennie when his attention was attracted by the piercing screams of a female.

 He rushed towards the direction of the sounds and shortly came upon about a score of men surrounding a girl, whose clothing was in a mutilated condition, and who lay prostrate on the ground. Two or three of the ruffians were holding her down whilst another was criminally assaulting her. He immediately  shouted out to them to stop, and ran forward with the intention of rescuing the unfortunate girl, who screamed for help, but was met by a shower of missiles and emphatic threats that if he attempted to interfere it would cost him his life.

Knowing that it would be worse than useless to attempt to cope with the infuriated wretches he ran away, and made his way with some difficulty across country to the Redfern Police station, where he told his story as stated. As there were no constables available at Redfern  at the time the intelligence was communicated by telephone to the No. 3 station (Darlinghurst), and as soon as practicable police were despatched from both stations to the scene of the outrage. When they came within view of the spot it was apparent that the informant’s story was true, for the sickening scene described by him was still being enacted.

The ruffians, however, were quickly aware of the approach of the officers of the law, and made off with all speed in different directions. Pursuit was given, but, owing to the boggy nature of the ground, and the fact that the police were unacquainted with the locality, the male-    factors succeeded in eluding capture. Their victim was afterwards found in the same spot, in a terribly exhausted condition, with the clothes nearly torn from her body.

As quickly as possible her deliverers got her out of the scrub, and placed her in a cab, by which means she was conveyed to the No. 3 police station. Here she appeared dazed for awhile, but partially regained consciousness at intervals, during which she was able in a disconnected manner to relate how she came to be in such terrible straits.  

She stated that her name was Mary Jane Hicks, and that she was between 16 and 17 years of age. She had gone out to the neighbourhood of Moore Park in a cab, and, afterwards, while walking towards Forsyth’s rope manufactory, which is situated at some distance from Mount Rennie, was accosted by some men whom she did not know. She was thrown down and criminally assaulted by one of them, whilst others held her; and she was assaulted by a dozen men afterwards before the arrival of the police.

She also stated that she was a domestic servant, but where she had been residing is at present uncertain. She was examined by Dr. Marsden on the same night, and that gentleman discovered undoubted signs of her having been brutally outraged. There were also bruises on her body.  

She remained in the care of the police until yesterday evening, when she commenced to vomit blood, and was immediately conveyed to the Sydney Hospital, where she was attended by Dr. Fisher. At a late hour last night her condition was somewhat improved. Since the occurrence the police have succeeded in arresting two men who have been identified by the girl as participants in the assault.

One of these named, Hugh Miller, was arrested about midnight on Thursday, and was brought up at the Water Police Court yesterday and charged with rape. He was remanded till Friday next. Yesterday afternoon George Keegan was also arrested, and will be charged    with the same offence at the Water Police Court this morning when he will probably be remanded till Friday.

Both these men were arrested in Waterloo, and were also recognised by the man who first gave information to the police. The latter are in possession of information which they hope will lead to the detection of the other offenders.  

police museum

Sydney Morning Herald




At the Water Police Court (before Mr. Marsh, S.M.) yesterday, William Hill, 22, engine-fitter, and George Duffy, 18, woolwasher, were charged by warrant with feloniously assaulting Mary Jane Hicks. The court was crowded when the case was called on, as it was anticipated that some of the particulars of the outrage on the girl might be heard by the Bench.Tho police, however, asked that the prisoners should be remanded until Friday next, and the magistrate granted the application. The whole of the men who have been apprehended and charged with being concerned in the assault will be brought before the Court on Friday morning, when it is expected that, the girl will be sufficiently re-covered to be enabled to give evidence regarding the terrible crime which is alleged to have been perpetrated at Moore Park last week.    


Sydney Morning herald



At the Water Police Court yesterday (before Mr Marsh)  

William Newman, 18, of no occupation, was charged with being concerned with others in committing a criminal assault on one Mary Jane Hicks on the 9th instant the accused was remanded until tomorrow morning when the whole of the prisoners will be brought before the bench.


Sydney Morning Herald



Yesterday morning in the Water Police Court, before Mr. G. O’Malley Clarke, S.M., Leslie Douglas, John Fuller, Michael Donnellan, William Hill, George Duffy, Michael Mangan, William Newman, Hugh Miller, George Keegan, and Charles Sweetman, on remand, were charged by warrant for that they did on the 9th September instant, in company with others, without her consent, criminally assault one Mary Jane Hicks.

Mr. Roberts, appeared for the Crown; Mr. Wallace appeared for Miller, Mr. F. Gannon for Fuller and Mangan, Mr. Shorter for Douglas, and Mr. Williamson for Hill  and Duffy.

The Court having been cleared, The Bench said he thought it would defeat the ends of justice if the evidence should be reported from day to day.

Of course he had no power to prevent its publication, but he would suggest to and request the press not to publish the evidence until the case should have been completed, otherwise the ends of justice might be defeated.    

Mr. Roberts asked the Bench to make an order prohibiting the publication of the evidence, as the Bench had power to make that order.

The Bench said that members of the press might remain in court, on condition that they did not report any of the evidence; but if they published the evidence they would be excluded.

Mr. Roberts applied for a remand until Friday morning next, at 10 o’clock.

The Bench granted the application.

Mr. Gannon applied for bail for Fuller and Mangan.

Mr. Roberts said he should oppose the application for bail for any of the accused, and

The Bench said he could not hear of it, and should refuse bail to any of the accused.

The prisoners were then removed.

 water pol court

Sydney Morning Herald




At the Central Criminal Court yesterday, before his Honour Mr. Justice Windeyer, the trial of the prisoners concerned in the Waterloo outrage continued. William Hill, George Duffy, William Newman, Michael Donnellan, Thomas Oscroft, Joseph Martin, William Boyce, Hugh Miller, Robert George Read, George Keegan and Michael Mangan were charged for that they did on the 9th of September at Waterloo, ravish and carnally know Mary Jane Hicks against her consent.          

Mr. Teece, with him Mr. Pring, instructed by Mr. Williams, Crown Solicitor, appeared for the prosecution.      

Messrs. Elles and Scholes, instructed by Mr. Gannon, appeared for Oscroft, Martin, Miller Keegan and Newman.

Mr. Gilson, instructed by Mr. Gannon appeared for Hill and  Mangan; Mr. O’Mara, instructed by Mr. H. Levien,  for Read; Mr. Moriarrty, instructed by Mr. M. Williamson (Williamson and Williamson), for Boyce; Mr. Canaway for Duffy, and Mr Edmund for Donnellan, both instructed by Mr Williamson.  

Mr. O’Mara continued to call evidence on behalf of the prisoner Read. Ann Fahey and Alice O’Brien gave evidence to the effect that they saw the prisoner Read at different times on the 9th September. Henry Harrison deposed that on the day of the outrage he went to the Bread carters’ picnic with Reid, and was in his company up to 2 o’clock.  


John M’Clinchy, bus driver, gave corroborative evidence. Richard O’Donnell also gave evidence.

This concluded the evidence for the defence.  

Mr. Teece then called the complainant, who denied the allegations made against her by the witness Doran and other witnesses were recalled by the Crown to give rebutting evidence.  

Mr Gibson proceeded to address the jury on behalf of Hill and Mangan. He referred briefly to the character of    the charge which had been preferred against the prisoners.    He said the charge was one of rape under most extraordinary circumstances and he thought such an extraordinary case had never before come before a court of justice.    

Very little circumstantial evidence had been given in the case, but the evidence for the most part had been direct evidence. He then reviewed the evidence at great length, and contended that there had been a mistake made with regard to the identification of Hill and    also that there was a great deal of conflict of statements on the part of the Crown witnesses with regard to the movements and actions of the person whom they had taken to be Hill. He contended that it had been clearly shown that Hill had taken no part in the outrage that had been committed.

With regard to the prisoner Mangan, he submitted that a substantial alibi had been proved by  respectable witnesses, including a number of men with whom he was employed on the day of the outrage.    

Mr. Elles, on behalf of the prisoner Newman applied to be allowed to call evidence in defence as the witness had not been in attendance at an earlier stage of the proceedings.

His Honour granted the application.

John Newman, of Walker-street Redfern, stated that the prisoner Newman was his grandson and that after breakfast on the morning of the outrage the prisoner went out for about 10 minutes, and afterwards went out to see about some work, but returned before dinner, about half  past 1 o’clock; the prisoner went out again at half-past 2 and witness did not see him again until about tea time.      

Witness was severely cross-examined by Mr Teece, but adhered to his statement.    


James Henry, conductor of the Strawberry Hills omnibus  stated that he knew the prisoner well; the prisoner got on  the omnibus at the Bakers’ picnic at Botany, and got off the bus at half past 4 o’clock on the afternoon of the outrage near Christ Church.

Cross examined by Mr. Teece; He stated he had been convicted of duck stealing; had never spoken a word to the witness Newman about this case.        

William Bogus, 17 years, stated he was at work at Rockdale on the day of the outrage and left work at 17 minutes past 4, reaching Sydney by tram at a quarter to 5 on the  afternoon of the date of the outrage; when he left the Redfern station he went down George-street and saw the  prisoner Newman whom he knew at Christ Church, at 10 minutes to 5; they stopped and spoke for about three minutes, and witness then went down George Street.      

Cross examined by Mr. Teece; witness stated he had known the witness Newman about 12 months, but had never spoken to him about this case; witness had been fined at the Police Court for playing “bonanza;” witness could not name anybody who had seen him at Rockdale on          that particular day; when he was served with the subpoena, he told Constable Meyers that he had not seen the prisoner that day.  

His Honor said that he would require all the witnesses in this case to attend until they were discharged. Constable Meyers, called by the Crown, stated that when he served the subpoena upon Bogus he said he had been working at Rockdale all the day and had not any opportunity of seeing, the prisoner Newman.  

Mr. Canaway, representing the prisoner Duffy, addressed the jury for the defence. He contended that his client’s life was in danger by the evidence of one witness for the Crown but he asked them whether she was a credible witness. He had brought evidence to show that she was not. Her statement that she had been    forced into a cab was on the face of it most improbable, and he traversed her evidence to show how unlikely her story was, and in what points she had contradicted herself. He contended that her statements as to the order of the assault differed, and that in one she had omitted to name one of her alleged assailants.

Moreover he maintained that she was a consenting party so far as his client was concerned, and on these grounds he claimed an acquittal at their hands.  

Mr. Elles, addressed the jury on behalf of the prisoners  Newman, Oscroft, Martin, Miller and Keegan He did not intend to rest his defence upon any hypothesis as his learned friend had done, but to rest it upon the difficulty, almost impossibility, of identification by a  woman who had been assaulted by so many men.  He contended that the evidence respecting identification on the part of the complainant was very unsatisfactory. He pointed out that before the jury could convict they would have to be satisfied that the prisoners either perpetrated the  offence or aided those by whom it was committed. The case was one in which there must be no doubt or balancing of probabilities. He contended that it would be very dangerous for the jury to rely upon any evidence of identification given by the girl Hicks. He then went through the evidence and called attention to what he considered were discrepancies in the statements made by the witnesses for the Crown.    

Mr. Edmunds then addressed the jury on behalf of the prisoner Donnellan. He said no one would dispute the fact that an outrage had been committed upon the complainant Mary Jane Hicks, but t was for the jury to say which of the prisoners were concerned in it. He commented upon the different statements made by the girl, and asserted that she had made distinct statements, viz., the one before the  arrest of the prisoners, another to the Water Police Court and the third to the jury, and contended that she had made such dangerous discrepancies that the jury would not  be justified in accepting her testimony.

He contended that she did not say a word about Donnellan until after she had named seven or eight others. He referred to the evidence given by the witnesses Smith and Brown and pointed out that the witnesses had made different statements, and therefore their evidence could not be relied upon. In conclusion, he called attention to the evidence which had been given on behalf of his client, and contended that a substantial alibi had been made out on his behalf.      

Mr. Moriarty then addressed the jury on behalf of the prisoner Boyce. He pointed out that although a number of witnesses had mentioned Boyce’s name, only one had sworn to his having assaulted the complainant and that was the complainant herself. He contended that she was        in such an excited state when called upon to identify the prisoners that her word could not be relied upon. He    submitted that they could not rely upon the evidence of the lad Colley, nor of two of the other witnesses, because they declared they recognised some of the men at a distance of 190 yards. The evidence of Smith, an intelligent witness, who deposed to having seen the crime committed, went to show that the prisoner Boyce was not one of the perpetrators.  A statement made by Duffy, one of the prisoners, had been read, but the jury must discard it altogether so far as it referred in any way whatever to any one of the other prisoners.    

Mr. O’Mara spoke at length in defence of the prisoner Read.

The Court was still sitting when we went to press. It is understood that his Honour will commence to sum up at 9 o’clock this morning.


The Trial Result

Sydney Morning Herald



The Judge commenced to sum up at 9 o’clock on Saturday morning.                        

His Honour, in committing his address, said he regretted very much that he had found it necessary to keep the gentlemen of the jury sitting for so many hours at a time, but as some of them were not in good health, he thought it desirable to push the business on, looking at the great importance of the case with which they were dealing.

It was desirable that the case, when once begun, should be brought to a conclusion in the ordinary way. He was afraid he did put some pressure upon the counsel in the case, and he could not sufficiently thank them for the able manner in which they had defended the prisoners.

Although one of them complained of having been called upon to address the jury at 3 o’clock in the morning, he thought they would agree that it was not probable that he would have made a better speech at the present time than he made when called upon to address the jury, and he was sure he would not think that any more pressure had been put upon  him than upon any other counsel. He (his Honour) knew what the responsibility of counsel was, and the course he adopted was one which had been followed over and over again. The jury could not be too careful in weighing the evidence which had been given, and in giving a cool and collected decision.

The jury had already been told in most expressive terms how great their responsibility in the case was. They had been told on the one hand that the case was one of the utmost importance to the prisoners, but it was no less  the fact that on the other hand it was one of the greatest importance to society. He need not urge upon them the necessity of  dismissing from their minds anything they may have read  or heard respecting the case with which they had to deal, nor could he sufficiently impress upon them the necessity of considering the horrible facts which had been given in evidence before them with all the coolness they could command.

The facts of the case were calculated to disturb the calmest and best balanced minds. They were of an character not only calculated to enlist the sympathy    of everyone present for the victim of the  outrage, but were also calculated to raise a feeling of disgust, and he might be permitted tosay hatred, towards those who could be considered capable of committing such a crime. The jury, however, should not allow any such prejudice to act on their minds in weighing the evidence that had been produced.

They must as far as possible dismiss all feeling in the matter. It was of momentous importance, not only to the prisoners, who had at stake everything that was dear in this world; but it was of the greatest importance to the State and to society that the truth should be arrived at boldly and fearlessly. There was no doubt a horrible crime had been committed, and those guilty of it should be brought to justice.

In this case, as in every other case, the jury must get beyond suspicion. His Honour, then repeated the facts of the case according to the statement of the girl, Mary Jane Hicks. The case for the  Crown was that those who took part in the assault upon the  man Stanley were acting with the common design, their design being to commit rape upon the complainant.


He then defined the offence with which the prisoners were  charged, and pointed out that with only one exception the  learned counsel for the defence had not attempted to set up  the question of consent on the part of the unfortunate girl Hicks. The facts showed that the girl screamed time after time, and resisted the assaults made upon her.

He pointed out that the horrible assaults made upon the girl precluded the idea of consent, and, with one exception, the learned counsel had honourably acquitted her of any such horrible immorality. There were circum-stances in this case which would cause them to dismiss any idea of consent from their minds.

His Honour then went on to explain that the law protected even the  very worst character from assaults such as   had been made upon this unfortunate girl. His Honour then proceeded to deal with the alibi proved on Mangan’s behalf. He considered the evidence worthy of the gravest consideration. The witnesses were respect-able working men in the municipality of Waterloo, who said they had seen him working during the time he was alleged to have been concerned in the outrage on the girl.

The case of Oscroft was the next one dealt with by his Honour, who read portions of the evidence, showing that the prisoner was on the ground at the time the assaults were committed,  even if he did not participate in the outrage itself. The girl mentioned the name of Oscroft several times, but appeared to have entertained some doubt on one occasion at the police station as to whether he was the man, and on another occasion she expressed herself sure that Oscroft was one of the set engaged in assaulting her. It appeared that the girl had been assaulted by two different sets of four each, and Oscroft was named by her as being concerned with the second set. There was also  evidence to show that he had set out for and returned from his usual business at the usual time that day, and that he did his usual work, or at any rate made his usual wage.

On the other hand, it was quite possible that the evidence bearing on this point, which was not very strong, must have been given in mistake, the witness, perhaps, confusing his recollections of one day with those of another. The next case dealt with by his Honour was that of William Hill  who was accused of having prevented the witness Stanley from coming to the girl’s assistance at the time of the outrage by dragging him away by the arm. The prosecutrix corroborated the evidence of Stanley in this particular, and further charged Hill with having taken her into the bush.

The question for the jury to decide  was whether Hill’s object in taking the girl away from Stanley was, if not to ravish her himself, at any rate to enable the others to ravish her. Both Stanley and the girl swore to Hill’s having taken the girl in the direction of the swamp, and then went away, leaving her with four others who, she alleged, outraged her. She stated that she did not see Hill again till she was sitting with two men by the drain. It was proved beyond a doubt that the girl was taken by someone to the swamp.  

Hill admitted himself, that he was present on the occasion, and if the jury believed what the girl said of him, whether he actually outraged her or not, then he was the main cause of the outrage having taken place, and therefore guilty accordingly; and if he carried her off for  the purpose of being outraged by the others, then he was just as guilty as the rest, for without his interference the outrage would in all probability not had taken place. The girl herself did not accuse Hill of having  actually outraged her, but another witness averred    that Hill had his arms around her waist, the girl not appearing unwilling, although she had just uttered a scream, when one of the others threw her down and effected an assault.

She then got up by herself and was walking away, when Hill, it is said, went after and brought her back. He is even alleged to have thrown her down himself, although he does not appear to have succeeded in effecting any further assault. One witness—Stanley—was positive in asserting that Hill had called to three others to come up and assault the girl the very moment after he had told the girl to rely on his protection. The prisoners were armed with knives and sticks, while Stanley had no weapon, so that he was unable, single-handed, to rescue the girl.

His Honour next referred to the case of Miller, and read the evidence relative to his identification by the girl. When she first saw him she was in a half-fainting condition, and said she did not think he was there. Soon after she was confronted with him, and said he was one of the men. In her deposition she positively declared that Miller was one of the men who assaulted her, and that it was he who at one time put his hand over her mouth. The witness, Smith, identified Miller, as one of the men who took part in the outrage.

 The weight of Smith’s evidence depended upon the reliance they placed upon it, and it was for them to weigh the evidence with the rest that was offered.

The evidence of Denny against Miller was read, and then his Honour read the evidence against Keegan, which showed that the girl at once recognised Keegan when he was placed before her, and about a week after she identified him amongst a number of men, and afterwards recognised several of the prisoners. She recognised Keegan by his pale face. She identified Miller as the man having his handover her mouth, and Keegan as the man who held her legs.

His Honour then proceeded to deal with the evidence with respect to Duffy. When Duffy was arrested he denied having been connected with the outrage. His Honour then read the evidence of the complainant, in which she asserted that Duffy was one of the first four who criminally assaulted her, and that it was Duffy who threw her down.  

According to the complainant’s evidence it was Duffy who made her take off her boots and stockings, and with New-man lighted a fire in the bush to dry her clothes. His Honour read the statement which was made by Duffy whilst in gaol.

 It was quite clear from the prisoner’s statement  that he did criminally assault the girl, and it was equally  clear that the girl was not, as he attempted to make out, a consenting party.

He was identified by a number of the Crown witnesses as one who was present and took part in the outrage. His Honour then referred to the evidence called by Duffy in de-fence, and read the evidence given by the witness, Matthew Doran, which was to the effect that at one time he had been on terms of intimacy with the complainant, while on the other hand the complainant denied the allegations made, and had stated that she had never seen Doran in her life before.

The girl was nothing more than a wreck at the present time, in consequence of the treat-ment she had received, and no sane person could believe that she consented to what had taken place. His Honour then passed on to the case of Newman, reading portions of the evidence, including the prisoner’s statement when arrested, and also the evidence given in defence. With regard to the evidence called to prove an alibi on behalf of Donnellan, the jury would have to decide whether the alibi was not supported by witnesses of such question-able character that they could not be believed. The question was, did their evidence outweigh the evidence given on behalf of tho Crown.

The next prisoner was Martin, who, when arrested, said that on the day of the outrage he was out at Botany all day fishing by himself. He was identified by Mary Jane Hicks as one of the four who were present at the time she threw herself into the drain. One of the witnesses who had identified Martin said he had known him for four years. There had been no attempt to prove an alibi in this case, and the prisoner had been sworn to in a positive manner.

That being so could there be any doubt as to Martin having been present when the outrage was committed? Was there anything whatever to upset the positive testimony which had been given against him? His Honour then dealt with the case of the prisoner Boyce. The evidence of the witnesses Smith and Brown went to show that the prisoner Boyce was present; and also, that he assaulted the complainant.

The evidence of Constable Bell showed that the prisoners Read and Boyce were arrested whilst travelling  beyond the Queensland border under assumed names, and in reply to the charge both refused to state where they were on the day of the outrage. The complainant had identified Boyce as one of the first four men who had assaulted her. The prisoner was also identified byother witnesses for the Crown, including Kane, Smith, and Stanley, who had sworn positively to having seen him taking part in the outrage.

His Honour having read the evidence given on behalf of Boyce, proceeded  to deal with the case against the prisoner Read. He stated that Read had been identified by the complainant, and also by Smith. In reviewing the evidence given, his Honour pointed out that Read up to the date of the outrage had borne an excellent character.

He referred to the fact that read when arrested was several hundred miles from Sydney, and travelling with the prisoner Boyce under a false name. How could his action in this respect be accounted for? The matter was one which would have to be considered by the jury. His Honour then read the greater portion of the evidence which had been taken and concluded by reminding  to establish the case that they should be satisfied in what order the prisoners assaulted the girl, so long as they found that some had outraged her whilst some were present aiding and abetting. They were all equally guilty whether they outraged her or not, and that explanation might relieve them of some difficulty. The young woman might have been almost in a state of oblivion when she was being outraged, but there were other intelligent witnesses who told clearly what took place.

It was for the jury to look at the whole case, and to say how far  they considered the Crown had made out its case, and it  was for them, divesting themselves of all other considerations, to consider the matter solely in the light of the evidence they had heard, and to carefully weigh the whole of the evidence in this case remembering the heavy  responsibility that rested upon them, but at the  same time not shrinking from the conscientious discharge of their duty. They could only be expected to act upon the evidence to the best of human judgment and human capacity.

The prisoners had been defended with very great ability, and speeches had been made which were a credit to the court; but he reminded them that they were not to be determined in a decision by speeches, however valuable they might have been, but by the evidence itself. If in the case of one, or any, or all of the prisoners they felt an honest reasonable doubt, they must give the prisoners the benefit of that doubt.

The responsibility of the verdict was theirs, not his. He had endeavoured to place the    matter plainly before them, and it was for them, after weighing the evidence, to say where the truth lay. He would leave the case entirely in their hands, and with them must rest the responsibility of saying whether the prisoners were guilty or not.

They had a difficult task to perform, but he was sure they would do it fearlessly and faithfully. He said to them in conclusion, with all earnestness and sincerity, and with a due knowledge of the terrible responsibility which rested upon them, that it was they and not him upon whom the responsibility of the verdict rested.

 He again and again would say to them that if they felt any reasonable possible doubt in favour of one, of any, or all of the prisoners it was their duty to give them, the benefit of such doubt.

But if, on the contrary, they deemed the evidence to have been sufficiently strong against one, or any, or all of the prisoners it rested with them to do their duty fearlessly and impartially, no matter what the consequences might be to one, or any, or all of them. He then asked them to consider their verdict.    

The address of his Honour was concluded at 20 minutes past 8 o’clock, and the jury retired at 21 minutes past 8 to consider their verdict.  

The jury returned into court at five minutes to 11 o’clock with a verdict of guilty against the prisoners William Hill, Hugh Miller, George Keegan, George Duffy, William Newman, Michael Donnellan, Joseph Martin, William Boyce, and George Read. The accused persons Michael Mangan and Thomas Oscroft were found not guilty, and were discharged.  

The jury recommended the prisoners to mercy on account of their youth.

In reply to the usual question,

The prisoner William Hill said : “Although the jury  have found me guilty of a crime for which I am to suffer death, I am perfectly innocent, and that girl and the witnesses for the Crown have sworn my life away. I saw the girl that day, and I acted the man to her. My friends and relations outside know I am innocent,   can go to the scaffold as an innocent man.”

The prisoner George Duffy said he had nothing to say. The prisoner Michael Donnellan said: “Gentlemen of the jury, you have found me guilty, but I am innocent of the charge. Although the gentlemen defending me did their best, Dr. Marsden’s evidence condemned me straight. I have nothing more to say. I am not afraid to face death in twelve hours. I am innocent of the charge.”

The prisoner Joseph Martin said : “What I did to that  girl was with her consent. That is as true as God’s in  Heaven.”    

The prisoner William Boyce said: “Although I am found guilty of this charge I am innocent of it.”

The prisoner Hugh Miller said: “I am quite innocent of    the serious charge made against me. The first time I saw that girl was on the night of the 9th September, and the witnesses in this case have been prompted by the police to swear my life away. I am innocent.”

The prisoner George Read said: “Although I am found  guilty of this terrible crime I am innocent. I hope God above will forgive those who have sworn my soul and my life away. I have no more to say.”

The prisoner George Keegan said: “I wish to say I am    not guilty of this dastardly outrage. If the death sentences not executed upon me, and I hope it won’t be, I will have the honour to bring before you my innocence in the future.”


His HONOR said: Prisoners, you have been convicted of a most atrocious crime, a crime so horrible that every lover of his country must feel that it is a disgrace to our civilisation. I am glad to find that this case has been tried by a jury that has had the intelligence to see through the perjury  upon perjury that has been committed on your behalf, and the courage to declare the truth as they see it. It is terrible to think that we should have amongst us in this city a class worse than savages, lower in their instincts than the brutes below us.

No language could express the abhorrence of right-thinking men of a scene such as that described by witness after witness in this case, as this poor defenceless girl, friendless and alone, is, like some wild animal, hunted down by a set of savages, who spring upon her and outrage her until she lies a lifeless thing before them, and then, when returning consciousness brings with it the terror of further outrage, she, in frenzy, seeks in such opportunity of death as seems to present itself a refuge from the horrors of her life. I warn you to prepare for death. No hope of mercy can I extend to you.

Be sure no weakness of the Executive, no maudlin feeling of pity, will save you from the death you so richly deserve.

 Those who are charged with the administration of our affairs, to whose keeping is confided the safety of the public, will remember there are things more precious to society than life itself the honour of our women and the safety of our families, compared with which the wretched lives of criminals such as  you are of no account.

It is true that you are young, but the remembrance of that fact is coupled with the recollection that not twice nor thrice only has public feeling been horrified by the perpetration of similar crimes by young men like yourselves. The present outrage is, I believe, the outcome of the past, and I solemnly express my belief that this culminating atrocity has been brought about by the immunity from the death penalty which your class has so long enjoyed upon the ground of your youth. I hold in my hand a list of crimes similar to these which have been perpetrated during the last few years.

The first is an outrage that was committed by a number of young men upon a girl in the neighbourhood, of Parramatta-street, but by some mischance a gross miscarriage of justice, as l believe, took place in the acquittal of the men. The difficulty of proving such cases is often great, and false evidence is always ready, too ready, at hand to throw its protecting  shield around criminals of your class.

This out-rage was followed by an outrage upon a young woman at North Shore, and the perpetrators escaped the death penalty on account of their youth. After this an outrage took place upon an old woman in the neighbourhood of Ultimo, and I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that a miscarriage of justice took place there in the acquittal of the prisoners, young men like yourselves—an acquittal which amazed me, as the evidence was of the clearest kind. This was followed by another, where the wretched woman was done to death somewhere in the neighbourhood of the locality now made infamous by this crime; and again, as I believe, a miscarriage of justice took place in the entire acquittal of all concerned.

This was followed up by another frightful outrage in Woolloomooloo, where the wretched creature was found lying dead, like a dog, naked in the street, under circumstances of outrage too  horrible to mention. Only one of the ruffians who outraged her was brought to justice, but escaped with his life.  Again, last year I tried eight men for a concerted outrage of this kind upon an old woman under circumstances too disgusting to refer to.

They escaped the death penalty, too, and the outcome of all this mistaken leniency, and failure to convict, is this culminating horror. You cannot expect that those who are charged with the execution of the law will hesitate under all these circumstances in handing you over to the death which you    most righteously deserve. Outrages such as this  are not committed upon the children of the rich, the surroundings of whose life give their children protection, but upon the daughters of the people, who in the pursuit of their honest avocations are compelled to go about alone, exposed to the attacks of such gangs of ruffians as choose to assault them.

Under all these circumstances be sure no  pity will be extended to you; our pity must be reserved for the homes that are desolated and the victims who are wrecked for life by outrages such as these.

I warn you not to waste your time in idle protestations of your innocence. I advise you to prepare to meet your Maker; and if you are capable of understanding the position in which you stand, remember that your time is short.

The recommendation to mercy which the jury have  made in your favour it will be my duty to convey to the Executive. Your fate rests with them, not with me; but I can hold out no hope that this recommendation  will be acted upon after all that has taken place of late years in this country. The time has come when a terrible example must be made of those who seem to be restrained by no pity for their victims, no sense of shame, no dread of the loathing of their fellows. Crimes such as yours it  is too clear can only be restrained by the fear of death, the fate which awaits you, I have now but one duty to discharge, and that is to pass upon you the last dread sentence of the law.

Silence having been called, His Honour, naming each of the prisoners, said: The  sentence of the Court is that you be taken hence to the place from whence you came, and thence, on a day hereafter to be named by the Governor in Council, to the place of execution and that there you be severally hanged by the neck until your bodies be dead. God help you to repent of this crime.      

The prisoners, who appeared unmoved by the sentence,    were then conducted from the Court to Darlinghurst gaol, and the Court was adjourned until 10 o’clock this (Monday) morning.        


The Hanging

Sydney Morning Herald




The sentence of death passed on George Duffy, George Martin, William Boyce, and Robert George Read, in connection with the Mount Ronnie outrage was carried into effect yesterday morning within the walls of Darlinghurst Gaol, and in the presence of an unusually large number of spectators, the execution, in fact, being more of a public than a private nature a fact which could not but be regarded as most undesirable.

The simultaneous execution of so many criminals concerned in the one crime has happily but few parallels in this colony. The first instance of which we have record dates as far back as 1834, when six assigned servants were executed for taking part in an insurrection on an upcountry station.

The men it is stated acknowledged their offence, but stated that it was owing to the tyranny of the treatment they had received. They, however, did not escape the gallows, though a commission was appointed to inquire into the matter, with the result that the owner of the station, a justice of the peace, was struck off the role.

darlo gaol aerial

On March the 18th, 1841, seven members of a band of bushrangers common known as the “Jew Boys Gang,” who held a greater portion of the Hunter district in a state of terrorism by outrage and murder were executed in Sydney.

Since the passing of sentence of death upon the culprits they were zealously attended and instructed by the ministers of their, respective denominations. On the  night previous to the execution several hours were spent in prayer and exhortation, and at 6 o’clock  in the morning Mass was celebrated in one of the cells and the Roman Catholic prisoners received those consolations of religion reserved for such as are in extremus.

From an early hour in the morning the Presbyterian chaplain and the Rev. T. J. Curtis attended upon the prisoner Read, who, the latter states “bore himself consistently throughout as an innocent man.”Breakfast was served to the condemned men at an early hour, but they only took a little tea.

There are at present on a rough computation about 700 prisoners in gaol and these were permitted to leave their cells at about 6 o’clock, when they washed and had breakfast. At 7 o’clock sharp they re-entered the cells and were kept under lock and key until after the execution. They were, on the whole, very well behaved, only one or two cries being heard.  From about 7 o’clock in the morning, a crowd commenced to assemble at the great gates of the gaol.

It was composed of all classes but chiefly of young men, some of unmistakable larrikin stamp; and there were also a number of women included in it. On the outskirts of the crowd, which must have numbered two thousand persons or more, a number of carts and drays were drawn up. The crowd was at its largest at 9 o’clock, but scores loitered about the gaol for hours after the execution had been carried out.

These having cards of admission met in the principal court, where an unseemly scramble occurred    among the large crowd with regard to signing the visitor’s book a duty required for each present. Communication between  the court and the gaol yard is by means of an underground passage, and through this those present filed, the general, visitors being sent first, and the members of the medical and other professions, the representatives of the press and officials headed by the Sheriff (Mr. C. Cowper) and the governor of the gaol (Mr. J.C. Read) following. On ascending the steps leading from the underground passage the visitors found themselves in a well kept garden, and winding their way along the path turned the corner of a stone building and reached the lawn near the Governors’ private residence.

Here a halt was called, and the press representatives, separating from the main body, went on to the wing where the gallows had been erected, and took up a position in the first gallery, the one above being occupied by the general spectators, and the members of the medical profession being upon the ground floor, where they had the best opportunity of viewing the bodies. It was just upon the stroke of 9 o’clock at the time, when those entitled to be present were finally gathered within the section of the wing when the execution took place. It may serve to convey some idea of the spot where the scaffold was erected, to be described as a central space from which long corridors lined with cells radiate.

There are three stories of corridors, and it was from the corridor on the second floor, that the condemned men passed on to the scaffold. The customary formula by the Sheriff of demanding the bodies of the prisoners was gone through, and they were brought from the cells to have their irons removed and be pinioned. The hangman and his assistant performed    the latter operation speedily, and as mercifully as possible, and the procession then moved along the corridor, and ascending the three steps, the prisoners reached the platform of the scaffold.

The space opposite to the massive and ungainly structure was in the shape of a crescent, against the wall being two galleries. These were lined with spectators the greater portion of the ground space being also occupied by so that a ghastly thought of the theatre was suggested. Altogether, including doctors, reporters, and general visitors there must have been quite 120 present. In addition to those were officials of various grades, warders, and policeman.  

Upon first entering the wing there had been a buzz of conversation, and the Sheriff demanded silence, the governor of the gaol reminding those present of the solemn occasion upon which they were present. There was no need for a second admonition, for with entrance of the prisoners, absolute silence fell upon all. After the gaol officials followed the first of the condemned youths two were 19 and two of 17years of age Martin. He was followed by Boyce and Duffy, and then Read. They were placed upon the trap in the following order: Boyce to the extreme left, then Martin,    Duffy and Read. Boyce was attended by the Rev. Father Coonan, Martin by the Rev. Father Dr. Murphy.

Each of these prisoners had a crucifix hung round his neck. Read was attended by the Rev. T. J. Curtis—who throughout has been unremitting in his attention to the prisoner—by the    acting-chaplain, the Rev. J. F. Henderson, and by the Rev. Jas. McNeil. For a few seconds the prisoners stood beneath the beam. Boyce was exceedingly pale and throughout kept his eyes firmly turned upward, Martin was   less pale and somewhat more stolid looking, Duffy was flushed and his lips moving incessantly, repeated words of prayer, whilst Read stood with his eyes closed and face turned skyward.

In the midst of most painful suspense and solemn silence the Rev. Mr. Curtis in a broken voice said “On behalf of Robert Read, I desire to say that he has made a long written statement, which he has placed in my hands, to be held sacred until after his execution. In this statement he declares his innocence and says that he will enter into the presence of God trusting only in the Lord Jesus Christ his Saviour, with a clear conscience, knowing that he is innocent in this matter—[Here Read turned his head and spoke to the rev. gentleman]. Robert Read wishes me also to say

that so far as his small knowledge of the affair extends, and from all he has gathered from the other condemned men, he believes that those who have been reprieved—save Donnellan— that is to say, Hill, Miller, Keegan and Newman are innocent.

The executioner and his assistant then produced the white caps.

Mr. Curtis kissed Read, and, burying his face in his hands, stepped aside. The halters were quickly adjusted, and in a second the bolt was drawn. A scene too painful to describe followed. It was evident that the weight of the prisoners and the drop had not been properly calculated. One, struggled for about six minutes, the others for a less time, and when at 25 minutes to 10 o’clock Drs. O’Connor and Brownless felt the bodies, it was quite plain to them that death had not at all been instantaneous.

Of the four, only one—Duffy—had his spinal column fractured. The others were strangled to death. It was stated by a medical man present, that in the case of Martin, respiration did not cease till the expiration of 10 minutes. By a mischance, the rope got partly caught by one of his pinioned arms and this no doubt checked his fall. So far as those present could judge, the knots of the nooses did not in at least two cases, appear to have been drawn sufficently tight. After hanging for some time, after the medical examinations had been made, the bodies were lowered and subsequently the City Coroner (Mr.Shiel) presided at an inquest, where formal evidence was given, the statement of Dr. O’Connor, medical officer of the gaol, being that in the case of Duffy death had been caused by dislocation of the vertebrae of the spinal column, and in the cases of Read, Martin and Boyce by strangulation.

In accordance with a provision contained in the Criminal Law Consolidation Act passed a few sessions ago, it is imperitave that “the body of the person executed shall not be buried, or be removed from the gaol, within eight hours next after such execution, nor until an inquest has been held.”It is found that the provision with regard to the eight hours is a source of very considerable inconvenience to the gaol  authorities. Under the old law, which in its principle was adopted into the legislation of the mother country, the body could be at once handed over to relatives or friends of the prisoner and could be buried that day. As the law now stands the authorities cannot, even if an order of removal be granted    to the friends, permit the body to leave the gaol precincts till the hours have elapsed. It is then too late in the day to inter the corpse, and it has to be detained till the following morning.

A meeting of the Executive Council was held at Government House yesterday morning to consider an application from the    friends of the executed prisoners praying that the bodies should be handed over to them for interment. It was determined to grant the request but with the condition attached that arrangements should be made for the burial under the    supervision of a gaol official. In connection with this sad matter it is desirable to mention that all the clergymen in attendance on the prisoners, speak in terms of warm gratitude of the  courtesy shown to them by the Governor of the gaol and the facilities he placed in their way for carrying out the duties of their sacred office.

The principal visiting clergy were the Rev. Mr. Rich, Father Byrne, the Rev T.J.Curtis and the Rev. Mr. Henderson. Other persons also including several Sisters of Mercy were frequent visitors to the condemned men. We have been requested to state that a rumour having been spread about the city that the prisoner Hill was in some way connected with an old and respected family of that name in Sydney, there is no foundation in fact for such a statement. He is in no way related to the family referred to.

parra gaol gates 1

The Aftermath

Sydney Morning  Herald

27 /11/1896



The last chapter in the history of the remarkable Mount Rennie case, which has not ceased to occupy the attention of a large number of the people since the day upon which the crime was committed, was  brought to a close by the release of the imprisoned men yesterday-the tenth anniversary of the day upon which the death sentence was passed by Judge Windeyer on nine lads who had been adjudged guilty of participation in the crime The facts in connection with the crime  are doubtless still fresh in the minds of many of our readers On the 9th of September, 1886, the victim, a girl named Mary Jane Hicks, was driven from the city to the scene of the crime by a cabman named Charles Sweetman, who, it was alleged, had offered to drive her to a registry office, in order that she might  obtain employment.

Upon arrival on the scene, according to the statement made by the girl, her screams attracted a number of young men Acting under the impression that they were protecting her from the designs of the cabman, she consented to accompany them into the bush, and the woman was ultimately left in a semi-conscious condition. Among those who assembled upon hearing the girl’s screams were two men named Stanley and Smith, who after unsuccessfully attempting to rescue the woman gave information to the police, and subsequently became, with the victim, the principal witnesses for the Crown.

There were eleven arrests effected in connection with the affair, and the preliminary trial was heard at the Water Police Court.      

The names of the accused who were charged with a capital offence all of whom were committed for trial, were Joseph Martin, 17, a labourer, arrested 21st September, 1886, Thomas Oscroft, 17, a labourer, arrested 24th September William Newman, 18, no occupation, arrested 15th September, Michael Mangan, 19, a labourer, arrested 13th September, William Hill, 22, arrested 11th September, George Duffy, 17, woolwasher, Michael Donnellan, 18, no occupation, arrested 11th September, Hugh Miller, 18, cleaner, arrested 10th September George Keegan, 19, a labourer, arrested  10th September, Robert George Read, 20, a labourer, arrested 24th September and William Boyce, 24, a labourer. The last two named were arrested a fortnight after the deed beyond Bourke. The trial at the Central Criminal Court commenced on the 22nd November, and lasted for five days. The jury acquitted Oscroft and Mangan, and the other nine prisoners, who were found guilty, were sentenced to death.

The excitement, which had been intense through-out the trial, increased, and for many weeks the verdict of the jury was the principal topic of conversation. Public opinion as to the part played by  some of the prisoner, in connection with the crime was then, as it remains to-day, divided. Apart altogether from that section of the community which generally sympathises with criminals, serious doubts as to the guilt of several of the youths were entertained by many, and, consequently, agitation ensued.

Many even of those who were satisfied with the verdict recorded by the jury were of opinion that there were circumstances connected with the case which would justify the reprieve of the prisoners. Whilst the agitation was going on throughout the city and country the Cabinet met frequency to consider the matter. Public meetings were held and petitions were presented imploring an extension    of mercy, whilst counter meetings and petitions asked that the death penalty might be carried out.

The Cabinet during its series of meetings reprieved, Dounellan, Miller, and Keegan, but held out no hope for the remaining six, and fixed the 7th January, 1887, as the day of execution.

All effort to induce the Government of the day to reconsider the matter having failed, the then Governor, Lord Carrington, was several times approached by deputations, including many prominent men, among whom may be mentioned-the late Mr. Henry Parkes, the late Hon. W. B. Dalley, the then Primate of Australia(Bishop Barry) and Cardinal Moran. Even these interviews had not the effect desired, and the authorities experienced a most anxious time.

On the day preceding the day of execution, however, one of the prisoners confided certain information to the Mother Superior of St Vincent’s, which partly exonerated two of the accused She immediately made known these new facts to Lord Carrington, and a Cabinet meeting was hastily called, the outcome of which was that Hill and Newman were reprieved. On the following morning four of those said to have participated in the outrage paid the penalty of death-George Duffy,18, Robert George Read, 20 , William Boyce, 24 ,and Joseph Martin, 21

The sentences on the remaining five prisoners re-leased yesterday were commuted to penal servitude for life. Almost from the moment of their incarceration attempts were made to obtain the release of some of them. Each successive Government from that day up to the present has been waited upon and petitioned for remission of the sentences, but refusals have been consistently given.

 Before Lord Carrington finally left the colony he was in receipt of petitions from several of the prisoners but he declined to take any further action. Lord Carrington, it will be remembered, had an anxious time, and regarded the Mount Rennie case as the most painful he had in connection with his administration here.

The present Government has been approached on numerous occasions, and owing, it is said, principally to the exertions of Mr Anderson, M. L. A. , the whole case was again thoroughly investigated.

Some six months ago, after repeated inquiries, the announcement was made that the Government had decided to release the men upon the completion of 10 years of their life sentences, and this decision was fulfilled yesterday Keegan and Miller were liberated from the Parramatta Gaol, Newman and Donnellan from Darlinghurst, and Hill from Trial Bay.

trial bay gate

All the men have learned trades whilst under-going their terms of imprisonment, and their education has not been neglected. From what can be ascertained they have determined to endeavour to live down the stigma attaching to their names, and all of them will probably remain in Sydney. Two of the released prisoners have inherited a considerable amount of property, and one of them will be the proprietor of a hotel.

It should I be mentioned that the cabman Sweetman was convicted as an accessory to the crime, and was sentenced to 11 years’ penal servitude. He was, however, at the conclusion of nine years of his sentence, liberated on the 28th of November, 1895, and is still in Sydney.

Shortly after the conclusion of the memorable trial funds were raised on behalf of the victim, audit is understood that the Government of the day granted a sufficient sum to convey her to New Zealand. Since her arrival in that colony nothing so  far as can be ascertained has been heard of her.

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The Execution of Thomas Barrett 1788


The Execution of Thomas Barrett


When 26-year-old Thomas Barrett appeared at The Old Bailey, London having  stolen amongst other items a silver watch, metal chain and two shirts in  Devon, 1782, Little did he know he would become the first man hanged in the newly established colony of New South Wales.

He was found guilty and sentenced to death, this sentence was commuted to King’s Pardon on condition of transportation. The prisons in England were brimming full, and due to the American War of Independence of 1776 the British Government had nowhere to send its wayward citizens.

A solution to this problem had to be found to these overcrowded prisons. That solution was to establish a penal colony in Australia.

Thomas Barrett the following year having escaped from gaol, appeared  at the Old Bailey on a charge of being criminally at large. This time he was held successfully on a prison hulk before being sent to Australia in the first batch of convicts on board the HMAS Charlotte as a part of the First Fleet.

Barrett an accomplished engraver had an eventful journey out to Australia. When the fleet stopped to re-stock at Rio De Janeiro he was involved in passing some forged quarter dollars at Rio de Janeiro, ingeniously made from some pewter spoons and old buttons and buckles belonging to marines.

Dr White the surgeon on board the Charlotte asked Barrett to make a memento of the trip out and Barrett fashioned a medal out of a silver kidney dish. That medal still exists and was sold at auction to the National Maritime Museum in Australia in 2008,  for a million dollars and is known as the Charlotte medal.


There would not be many incidences in the British Empire where the place of execution predates the first lock up, but in Sydney this was the case.

On the 27th February 1788, Barrett  and three associates  Ryan, Lavell and Hall were accused of plotting to rob the Government Stores of food.

Governor Arthur Phillip quickly gathered six Officers to form a court and to hear the charges. They soon found all of the accused guilty and condemned them to death. The execution was to be enacted before sunset that day.


Late in the afternoon, ‘the unhappy wretches’ were conducted wt. a party of Marines walking before them …with a large party of Marines drawn up opposite the Gallows …in case an insurrection should take place …& all the Convicts were summoned to see the deserved end of their Companions’. 

There had been no provision for the position of Hangman on the First Fleet.  Governor Arthur Phillip had not taken into account the complete and total distain for the office of Public Executioner the Marines stationed at Sydney had and such was the case, that not one of them would put their hand up to do the job.

Lieut. George Johnson Aide De Campe to Phillip and go between to the Naval Officers and the Marines, wholly supported his men in their in their in action. The execution was looking like it was going to be called off for that day until a solution to the impasse could be sought.

There was pressure put upon, Ryan, the youngest of the felons to turned Kings evidence against the others and his irons were removed, he was bullied into the role of hangman by the marines who threatened to shoot him, so the Governor could save face.

And so now there were three… yet to be hung.

At the peak of the hillside in what was to later become the  corner of Essex and Harrington Streets, was the first place of Execution. On this location was a conveniently placed large gum tree, the boughs of which were selected for the purpose of gallows.

When the condemned men arrived there, it was learned that a 24 hour reprieve had been granted for Hall and Lavell.

And so now there was one, Thomas Barrett.

Barrett having already seen the others been let off lightly was under the impression that this whole day had been a show put on by Governor Arthur Phillip to keep all the prisoners in line. At 8.30 pm Barrett was told to mount the Ladder, he had not shown the signs of fear till he was up the ladder, then he turned pale and seemed shocked by the realization of the seriousness of his situation. The body of Thomas Barrett stayed suspended for an hour and was buried in a grave very near to the gallows tree.


Two days later the new courts and the law of the land was busy at it again. By lunchtime the following day the Another four convicts, Williams, Gordon, Shearman, and James Freeman had also been found guilty of the theft of stores and had likewise been condemned to die later that day.

Early in the afternoon  Shearman, Freeman, Gordon and  Williams in chains were marched to the hanging tree and the rituals of executions was begun.

Governor Arthur Phillip being a practical fellow, decided to reprieve one of the convicts and give him lashes instead, the next convict was given a conditional pardon on the proviso that he became the Official hangman of the colony (James Freeman).

This is the account of, John White Chief medical officer of the First Fleet

 “But while under the ladder, with the rope about his neck, he [Freeman] was offered a free pardon as condition of performing the duty of the common executioner as long as he remained in this country, which after some little pause, he reluctantly accepted.” 

Once he had agreed to the odious task at hand, David Collins the Judge Advocate, ordered the reprieve of the other three prisoners. This gave Freeman a chance to get used to the idea and learn a little about his new role. Thus the Colony now had its first official hangman.

Freeman did not have to perform his official duty until 2nd May 1788 with the execution of John Bennett aged 20.

James Freeman, born 1758 was convicted of Highway robbery in 1884 and was transported to Australia on the First Fleet Ship HMAS Alexander. From 1788 to 1792 there are 22 recorded hangings and it is assumed that James Freeman did the job. He hung Convicts, Marines, Civilians and Women.

He is recorded as being the father of two daughters to Mary Edwards, but she went off with another. Later in life he worked in the Richmond /Windsor area as a farm labourer. His name appears in the 1806 Muster records and the 1828 Census and died in the area January 1830 and is buried in one of the far corners of St Matthews Church Windsor NSW.

The following link is to a the original copy of James Freeman’s Pardon, the first pardon issued in the country..



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The Execution of Georgey 1861

Who Georgie was has been lost with time, we don’t know his family name, age, where he was from, anything of that nature. The press even spells his name differently within their reportage of the case. We  do know he is of Australian indigenous descent.

This is an era when Rape is a Capital Offence, whereas Attempted rape is not. Georgie has been accused of Raping Mrs.Bridget Ryan. It is also an era where even the attempted rape of a white woman by an indigenous man meant you would be condemned by a all male white jury.

(Spelling as per the era it was written.)

courier mast head


The Courier Mail (Brisbane)

19 /11 /1961





Georgie, an aboriginal, was charged with ravishing one Bridget Ryan, on 11th October last, at Little Ipswich.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL prosecuted, and Mr. BLAKENEY was assigned for the defence.

Bridget Ryan, on being sworn, stated that she lived at Little Ipswich, and that on the evening of the 11th of October last she went out to look for some calves. She crossed over the One Mile bridge, and turning off the road to the left, she saw the calves in a hollow. She went towards them, and on her way found that a black-fellow was running after her, with his hands open, as if to catch her. She was frightened, and screamed, and when the black fellow attempted to seize her, she gave him a push, which caused him to fall down.

He got up again, and after a violent struggle, succeeded in committing the offence with which he stood charged. (The witness here entered into the details of prisoner’s con-duct, which displayed the most disgusting barbarity.) He beat her about the head and face with a boot and a spur. The prisoner in the dock was the man who committed the offence.

The black fellow had a lump upon his body by which, amongst other causes, she could identify the prisoner as being the man. The man was with her about two hours. When he left her, she crawled on her hands and knees until she came to the One Mile Bridge; it was then moonlight. She was almost blinded by the blood which streamed from the wounds on her head and face.

When she reached the bridge she called to two men who were passing, and subsequently her husband and some neighbours came and bore her home. Dr.Challinor then saw her. She was unable to stir without assistance for three weeks after.-In answer to the cross-examination of Mr. BLAKENEY, witness said that there was a considerable amount of traffic on the road near the scene of the offence.

When she attempted to scream the man choked her, and beat her with the boot and spur. She could not tell whether he was in liquor, for he had not been with her long before he gave her blood to drink instead of liquor. She threw up nearly two quarts of blood when she got home.

Dr. Challinor was examined, and described the nature of the bruises and cuts on the head, face, and breast of the woman when he went to visit her on the evening of October the eleventh. He believed the wounds might have been inflicted with a heavy boot.

The woman was in a state of extreme collapse, almost pulse less. He did not examine her person to ascertain whether the offence with which the prisoner stood charged had been committed.

His HONOR remarked that in future in such cases Dr. Challinor should, as soon as practicable, institute such an examination.

Dr. Challinor explained that he did not examine the woman on the evening in question, because she was in such a state of exhaustion that he thought she might die before morning, and being a magistrate he felt that he would be liable to blame if he did not ascertain from her a full statement of what had occurred.

He accordingly asked her if the man who assaulted her had told her what his design was. She said” yes.” He (Dr. C.) then asked her if the man had succeeded in accomplishing his purpose. She said ” no;” that she had pre-vented it, and that she had been struggling with the man for two hours. There were several persons in the room when she made this statement, and witness believed that the woman’s husband was present. This occurred a few hours after the assault.

Bridget Ryan was again put into the box, and examined by the ATTORNEY-GENERAL :-I saw Dr. Challinor on the night of the occurrence. I recollect him speaking to me on that evening. I understood what he said. I told him something. What I told him was not true. I was ashamed to say the truth in my husband’s presence. To-day, I have been sworn to tell the truth, and I have told it.

Thos. Ryan deposed to going to the assistance of the previous witness, and helping to carry her home on the evening in question. He went next day to a place in the bush near the One Mile Bridge, and found a bag, a spur, and big boots there. The bag was the one produced. There was plenty of blood on the ground.

This witness was examined closely by his Honour as to any conversation which took place between his wife and Dr. Challinor on the evening of the occurrence, but could recollect hearing no such conversation as that deposed to by Dr. Challinor. He recollected, however, that his wife told the doctor, in answer to a question, what it was the black fellow tried to do to her.

Colin Peacock stated that he resided at Warrell Creek, about five miles from Ipswich, towards Normanby. Knew the prisoner. He was in the service of witness on the 11th of last month. Sent him on that day to the Three Mile Creek on a message.

 He was dressed in a pair of trousers. Those were the trousers produced. He had ankle boots on when he left the house ; took a bag with him, and the bag produced waste one. The bag belonged to witness. He had on one spur. That is the one produced.

Mr. BLAKENEY addressed the jury for the defence, and contended that although they would be justified in finding prisoner guilty of the attempt, yet after the statement of the woman to Dr. Challinor, they would scarcely be justified in finding him guilty of the more serious charge.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL replied, and His HONOR, in summing up, commented upon the statement made by the woman in the first instance to Dr. Challinor. It would be for the jury to decide, after seeing and hearing the woman give her evidence, and after viewing all the circumstances of the case, whether, in making that statement, she told an untruth, prompted, as she had alleged, by delicacy of feeling. If the jury were of opinion that such were the case, they would of course find prisoner guilty of the capital offence. If, on the other hand, they believed that statement to have been a truthful one, then they could find the prisoner guilty of the attempt only.

The jury, after retiring for a few minutes, returned a verdict of guilty, and his HONOR passed sentence of death upon the prisoner in the usual form.

ipswich street scape 


Sydney Morning Herald

12/12 1863


BY the Telegraph we have Brisbane papers to the 9th Instant. We quote the following from the Guardian of Saturday: –


On Thursday morning tho extreme penalty of the la if was carried out within the precincts of the gaol on the aboriginal Georgey, convicted of having committed a rape at Little Ipswich, on the person of Mrs. Ryan, on the 11th of last October.

 For some days previous to the execution Georgey had manifested great uneasiness, and complained of the long delay which occurred in carrying out the sentence, several times expressing his wish to ” see it over.”

On Wednesday night he slept soundly, and ate well on Thursday morning. On being asked by the gaoler, Mr. Sneyd, how he felt, he replied that “he was sure to go to heaven after what the Bishop said to him.” Considerable impression had evidently been made on his mind, and he was frequently found in the attitude of prayer. He several times expressed anxiety to know what difference there was between the punishment of a white and of a block man here-after.

 He freely confessed his guilt, and attributed his crime to the influence of liquor. On arrival in the gaol yard, at a quarter to nine, the process of pinioning was being performed by the hangman in the prisoner’s cell. Until nine o’clock he paced up and down his narrow chamber, weeping bitterly, his loud moaning being heard on the opposite side of the gaolyard.

On approaching the foot of the steps, the chaplain read prayers, kneeling for some moments with the prisoner, who still continued crying. He mounted the gallows with a steady step, without speaking, As the noose was being adjusted, he turned round suddenly and looked at the hangman, who immediately pulled the cap over his eyes, and at a signal given by the sheriff’ tho bolt was drawn and the wretched man was launched into eternity. He died without a struggle.

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The Execution of Jean Lee 1951

lee mug x2

The Execution of Jean Lee 1951

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

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

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

(Spelling as per the era it was written.)


Sydney Morning Herald  



Three Charged With Murder

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

Those charged were:—

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Sydney Morning Herald


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


21 Feb 1951 Sydney Morning herald

Men Say Farewell At Gallows

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

jean x3


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

Jean Lee

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

Aged             31 years

Height          5 foot 7 inches

Weight         7 stone 6 lbs.

Drop             8 foot

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

Autopsy Performed at 11 am

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

Cause of Death (Coroner’s finding)

Dislocation of the neck caused by hanging.


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