Tuesday, 23 July 2019

The Demise of John Hassett – Geelong Gaol

The Demise of John Hassett – Geelong Gaol

John Hassett, c. 1890.
PROV, VPRS 515/P0 Central Register of Male Prisoners, Unit 42, Folio 490

 Early in the morning on 25 August 1889 it was alleged that Frances De Veilles and John Hassett attacked Constable Albert Earnest Vizard, with intent to murder him at Lygon Street, Carlton. They beat the policeman with a leather belt which had a large heavy belt buckle attached to it. When the officer fell to the ground, they kicked him relentlessly.
The attack was witnessed by Patrick Bailey, who grabbed a large stick and beat the assailants away from the police officer. Vizard, who had only been with the police force for a year, was so badly wounded from the assault that he had to retire from the workforce.

 Francis De Veilles was arrested a few days later at Kilmore. He was charged and sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. Hassett was arrested a couple of weeks later, and also sentenced to death, and then commuted to life imprison – except, Hassett may not have been De Veilles accomplice, but an innocent man found guilty on circumstantial evidence.

 During their court case, it was never inferred in one instance that the two men knew each other, nor did either man state they knew each other. Hassett had wounds on his head, that the prosecution alleged were from the beating given by Bailey, but the chemist who was bought in as a witness to identify Vizard's assailant, stated in court, that he was not sure that Hassett was the correct person as the gentleman he had treated had a much thicker and heavier moustache and beard.

  Whether Hassett was guilty or not, he was sentenced to gaol. He appealed four times to the powers that be to be released, but all his efforts failed. Hassett had been a model prisoner and was soon appointed Assistant to the Dispenser, which gave him extra privileges. He had come to Geelong Gaol from Pentridge Gaol in August 1898, suffering from heart disease. (Geelong Gaol at this time was used to house sick or injured inmates from other gaols in Victoria).

  On the 6th of December 1901, Hassett ran into the Geelong Gaol barber shop which sat across the hall from the Gaol Dispensary. He was crying and asked fellow prisoner, and barber, John Corrigan, to say goodbye to his mother for him. Hassett then ran into the Dispensary and smashed open a large medicine chest.
 Corrigan shouted to a guard named Barnes and both men followed Hassett into the Dispensary. Hassett was drinking from a large bottle. When he saw the two men, he pulled from under his sock a large lance and threatened “rip up” anyone who tried to approach him.

 The effects of the medicines he had swallowed soon consumed Hassett, and he fell to the ground. A stomach pump was applied, but he died just a few hours later. It was later revealed during an inquest that the poison Hassett had consumed contained tinctures of belladonna, opium, digitalis, aconite, and liquid strychnine.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2019


'THE GEELONG GAOL.', The Murchison Times and Day Dawn Gazette, (10 December 1901), p. 2.
'THE SUICIDE IN GEELONG GAOL.', The Age, (9 December 1901), p. 6.
'IN GEELONG GAOL.', The Herald, (7 December 1901), p. 4.
'GEELONG GAOL SUICIDE.', Geelong Advertiser, (10 December 1901), p. 4.
1901 'GEELONG GAOL SUICIDE.', The Argus, 9 December, p. 5
'CAPTURE OF AN ARMED CRIMINAL', The Argus, (28 August 1889), p. 8.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

The Demise of Thomas Pengilley – Old Geelong Gaol

The Demise of Thomas Pengilley – Old Geelong Gaol

Main Street Birregurra 1907 - Royal Mail Hotel
 Thomas Pengilley had been a successful prospector in Victoria. In 1855 he established the firm of Pengilley and Childs, general storekeepers in Mercer Street, Geelong. He later had business’ at Morrison and Stieglitz gold diggings, before buying a hotel at Sebastopol near Ballarat
In 1880, Thomas Pengilley was the publican at the Royal Mail Hotel, Birregurra, in which he lived with his wife and young family. The 47-year-old publican had become unhinged, and over a four-year period had begun to attack his wife making her feel unsafe in her own home.
 Mrs Pengilley, afraid for her children contacted the local police and had Thomas detained. He was sent to the Kew Lunatic Asylum. Pengilley spent time in and out of Kew over a span of a few years. His erratic and unpredictable behaviour caused problems for the hotel’s income. Often Pengilley would become unfriendly and hostile toward patrons, causing his wife to shut the doors.
 Eventually Mrs Pengilley had enough and being abused by her husband and had him arrested. He was taken to the Birregurra Police Court where he was charged to keep the peace with his wife for six months. Pengilley could not meet the requirements of the securities of his sentence and was instead sent to Geelong Gaol to serve a short term.

Pengilley was placed in a cell away from other inmates. He arranged to have his meals provided from an outside source.
 On the night of his death, a warder brought him a glass of water around 6pm. The Warder noticed that Pengilley was morose and slightly unhinged. He left him be and returned at 9pm. The warder pushed the cell door open and discovered Pengilley had hung himself by tying a valise strap around his neck and attaching it to a gas bracket above the door, hanging himself.
 It is believed that Pengilley became addicted to hard liquor, which eventually led to him physically and mentally abusing his wife and family. That alcoholism also led to his insanity and eventual suicide.
Yarra Ben Asylum - Victoria

 The tragedy of the Pengilley’s does not end there. Thomas oldest son, Thomas junior was accused in 1889 of not paying maintenance of a child he had had out of wedlock. In the same year, Thomas, like his father before him, found himself admitted to Kew Lunatic Asylum.
 In 1890, Thomas Jnr. Was formally charged with deserting his child. The child’s mother, Phillis Labatt stated in court that Pengilley had fled to Broken Hill, she also stated that he was a frequent resident of the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum. Pengilley died at the age of 38 in 1899.

Victoria Police Gazette - May 21 1890

Researched and written by Allen Tiller ©2019


'BIRREGURRA NEWS.', Geelong Advertiser, (2 September 1889), p. 3.

'BIRREGURRA.',The Colac Herald, (11 July 1882), p. 3.

'Family Notices', The Argus, (9 October 1899), p. 1.

'Family Notices', Geelong Advertiser, (6 February 1880), p. 2.

'GEELONG.', The Age, (5 February 1880), p. 3.

'POLICE COURT.', Geelong Advertiser, (9 November 1889), p. 4.

'SUICIDE IN THE GEELONG GAOL.', The Ballarat Courier, (6 February 1880), p. 3.

'TOWN TALK.', Geelong Advertiser, (23 May 1890), p. 2.

Victoria, Australia, Police Gazettes, 1855, 1864-1924 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2016.
Original data: Victoria Police Gazette Indexes. CD-ROM. Ridgehaven, South Australia: Gould Genealogy and History, 2009

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Old Geelong Gaol (part 7): Thomas Menard – Murderer.

Old Geelong Gaol (part 7): Thomas Menard – Murderer.

Two Warrnambool quarrymen, under the employ of Mr JH Evans, got into an argument over the American Civil War.  It was 1865, and the American civil war between the North and the South had just ended in May. The two workers, James Sweeney, and US-born Thomas Menard, known locally as 'Yankee Tom', argued incessantly, almost coming to blows, until the fight was broken up.

 After their shift, the men returned to their lodgings. Menard was heard telling his bunkmates that the day's argument wasn’t over, and there would be worse to come. That night, as all the men lay in their beds in the shared bunkhouse, Menard arose and unloaded a six-shot revolver into Sweeney’s bunk.[1]

 Menard hastily escaped as the men panicked. He was later arrested near Beechworth.[2]
Sweeney languished in pain, remained alive after the shooting. He had a flesh wound on his upper abdomen on the left-hand side, another wound between his naval and his ribs on the same side, and one a little higher up where the bullet had gone between his ribs and lodge in his armpit.[3] Sweeney also had a bullet lodged in his arm. He lingered on for two more days in the hospital but eventually died due to a bullet lodged in his liver, dying on June 12 from his wounds.

Thomas Menard was also known by his other alias’ as ‘Yankee Tom’ and ‘Thomas Barrett’. He was brought up on remand from Beechworth, via Melbourne for the murder of James Sweeney on June 10th, 1865. Menard was put on trial, with witnesses John Haw stating he had seen the whole event. When questioned, Menard showed no contrition and stated he would do the same again. He was duly convicted for murder and sentenced to death.[4]
Thomas Menard was born in Louisiana, USA, emigrating to Australia in 1855. He was described as 28 years of age, five feet five inches tall, brown hair, grey eyes and medium build.

 Menard was given ample opportunity to confess his guilt in gaol. At first, he refused counsel from gaol appointed priests, but the day before his execution changed his mind. [5]  Up until that point though, Menard had repeated that his actions were justified, and that Sweeney got what he deserved and that he, would do the same again knowing his own outcome.

 The day before his execution, Menard’s views changed, and he admitted his guilt and sorrow for what he had committed, stating that he knew he deserved what was coming for him. Menard began to pray with the priests.

 A rosebud was given to Menard, of which he requested that it be placed in his coffin and buried with him.
 The hangman entered Menards cell at before 10am on 28 October 1865. Menard appeared emotionless and allowed the hangman to go about his business pinioning Menards arms. At 10am, led by the Governor of the Gaol, Menard was led to the gallows. He was paraded in front of the Gaol Governor, Chaplains, Surgeons and Officers, and around 40 members of the public.[6]

  Menard stood on the trap door, over his head a small white cap was placed that partially covered his face. In his hand, he held a prayer he had written. The noose was placed over his head, and Rev Strickland read out a burial service. Menard made no sounds or movements. At the conclusion of Rev. Strickland’s sermon, the hangman lowered the cloth other Menards face shook his hand and said a few words to him. Menard did not speak but nodded recognition. The order was given, and the hangman released the lever. Menard dropped to his death, his handwritten note dropping from his hand. He was allowed to hang for 15 minutes before a doctor checked for signs of life.

The letter Menard was holding when he was executed stated (in his spelling):

“I stand this Day of Our Lord before his grace. I knew a man the name of Sweeny.
The first or second day he insulted me on the work. I never spoke. A day or two after I had sivel  word with King, which we settled. Was good friends after. The next morning Sweeny asked me where was I rered, what makes you let the Shelbag say any thing, why don't you strike him. I don't like quarrelling. This time anything Swny told me to do I dun it, and gave him anything he wanted as a neighbor. He commenced growling, I then went to another place; the foreman called me down to help him. I dun so. Swny came over and turned back sayd Yankee, I will kick your— I do not allow Irish to kick. Do it. He got in vilant rage, going to strike. I stoped him. I looked at him, sayd I will give you a cause. I will have, them arms of yours when I go home. If you do you will never harm no more. This saild his death. Have I dan wright or evil. God forgive me. Was he (illegible) Duck Yafrican he wd never be shot. That he was Irish he cryd for mercy. I could give no quarters knowing his wrongs. His mate grond fearfull. Could give no assistance with his life lost. I can't say I am sorry. God forgive me. With you all I lave the old world its troubles blesd. I go along to the new one. Farewell, I do not wish to say any more. The secrets of my heart go to the grave with me."

Thomas Menard was interred in the Geelong Gaol grounds with the letter, he had written and the rosebud he had been given inside his coffin.
A death mask was made of Thomas Menard which is on display in the gaol.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2019

[1] 'INCIDENTS OF THE MONTH.', Geelong Advertiser, (25 October 1865), p. 2.
[2] 'INCIDENTS OF THE MONTH.', Geelong Advertiser, (25 October 1865), p. 2.
[3] 'THE LATE MURDER IN THE WESTERN DISTRICT.', The Australasian, (12 August 1865), p. 7.
[4] 'VICTORIA.', Launceston Examiner, (19 October 1865), p. 3.
[5] 'EXECUTION OF MENARD AT THE GEELONG GAOL.', Border Watch, (11 November 1865), p. 1.
[6] 'EXECUTION OF THOMAS MENARD, ALIAS YANKEE TOM.', The Australian News for Home Readers, (25 November 1865), p. 6.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Old Geelong Gaol (part 6): James Murphy – Murderer

Old Geelong Gaol (part 6): James Murphy – Murderer

Former Warrnambool Police station, cells and courthouse complex

James Murphy pleaded Not Guilty to the charge of murdering Daniel O'Boyle, a police constable, at Warrnambool, on August 4, 1863. Murphy was accused of lighting a fire in the Warrnambool Courthouse in an effort to escape prison. Murphy struck Police Constable, Daniel O’Boyle in the back of the head with a hammer, killing him.

Murphy, an old soldier who had served in the Afghan wars, had been placed in the gaol cells at Warrnambool, which was a small complex that also housed a courthouse. He was awaiting trial for stealing horses in the district. It was the job of the prisoners to aid police in cleaning the courthouse and other sections of the complex. On this day, Constable O’Boyle escorted Murphy to the courthouse where they were going to clean the room of the Clerk of Petty Sessions. As Constable O’Boyle leaned down to light a fire, Murphy took the opportunity to strike him in the back of the head with a hammer. Murphy had stolen the hammer from a local stonemason who was repairing a wall in the courtyard. 

Murphy made his escape, casually walking back through the courtyard towards the gaols. With no-one on duty, he was able to walk out the front door. O’Boyle’s body was only discovered sometime later when a worker went into the searching for a ladder.
 27-year-old O’Boyle died 22 hours after the attack.
A search party of police, volunteers and townsfolk scoured the town for Murphy, but he was not to be found. In the next few days telegraph dispatched were sent to towns around Victoria, with a description of Murphy.
 Murphy was arrested in Melbourne and sent to Geelong Gaol for holding until his trial.

It took a jury just 15 minutes on October 21, 1863, to find Murphy guilty of murder. Murphy was asked if he had anything to say about being found guilty, he replied: “I throw myself, gentlemen, on your mercy. I have a wife and five children, and I have been a long time in the colony. There was a row, your Honour, between myself and the constable, and he struck me in two places on my head.”

 The Judge replied that his objections had been raised by his counsel, but that as he was detained, and struck O’Boyle when he was not looking, it could not be considered manslaughter, but murder. Despite more pleas from Murphy that the murder was an accident, the Judge ruled with the jury and sentenced Murphy to death by hanging.

James Murphy was executed inside the Geelong Gaol on the newly constructed gallows. He was the first man hung inside the gaol. The Mayor of Geelong, the Sherriff, Dr Reid, Dr Pincott and Dr Macking, as well as 30 other people were present for the execution. 100 people had gathered outside the gaol, hoping for a glimpse of the execution.

 Murphy was given last rites by Catholic Priest, Rev Clampet. Clampet had spent the night previous with Murphy offering prayer and solace to the convicted murderer.
 An executioner was sent to Geelong from Melbourne, who recognised Murphy as a former friend from their time in Tasmania. The two men greeted each other, with the executioner driven to tears. He soon composed himself and got to the job at hand.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2019,

Other Sources:
'THE EXECUTION OF JAMES MURPHY.', Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, 12 November 1863, p. 3.

'BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH.', Hamilton Spectator and Grange District Advertiser, (23 October 1863), p. 2.

'MURDER AT THE WARRNAMBOOL COURT HOUSE; ESCAPE OF THE MURDERER.', Geelong Advertiser, (11 August 1863), p. 3.

'Table Talk.', Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser, (20 August 1863), p. 3.

 'ACCIDENTS AND OFFENCES.', Leader, (8 August 1863), p. 3.

'MURPHY THE MURDERER.', The Herald, (14 August 1863), p. 3.

'THE WARRNAMBOOL MURDER.', Leader, (24 October 1863), p. 4.

'MISCELLANEOUS.', Geelong Advertiser, (25 November 1863), p. 3.

'THE EXECUTION OF JAMES MURPHY', Geelong Advertiser, (7 November 1863), p. 3.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Old Geelong Gaol (part 5): Owen McQueeney – Murderer

Old Geelong Gaol (part 5): Owen McQueeney – Murderer

In 1858 Owen McQueeney (sometimes spelled McQueeny or Queeny) was accused of killing Elizabeth Lowe at “Green Tent” near Ballarat. Green Tent, where ‘Green Tent Road’ near Meredith in Victoria gets its name, was a small structure that served as a shop and tavern to local gold fields.
  The Green Tent was owned by Mrs Elizabeth Lowe (nee Matheson), who with her husband had established a travelling shop. Her husband had left one day to buy a horse and cart and never returned. Mrs Lowe decided to stay where she was and set up the Green Tent as her shop. She made a lot of money very quickly and was able to purchase a pair of jade earrings that she wore daily that proclaimed her success in business.

McQueeney was an Irish man, with an imposing disposition and a cataract in one eye, giving him a fearsome look. McQueeney had spent two years in prison for stealing horses and claimed he had come to the gold fields to find some missing bullocks. He leered at the shop owner, Mrs Lowe as he explained his fake story of seeking lost bullocks. The following day he returned and spent the entire day at Green Tent drinking. McQueeney began to visit the Green Tent daily, with locals noting Mrs Lowe’s fear of the man.

 One day, local Revenue Officer, Joseph Smith arrived at the tent, and noticed swirling smoke from the chimney, went inside expecting to be greeted by staff or other visitors, only to find no one inside. Smith decided to wait for Mrs Lowe, thinking she had gone running an errand. He became suspicious when a strange smell came from the chimneys. He went to check and found Mrs Lowe sprawled across the floor, her hair lying in the fire. Smith noticed a gunshot wound, where a bullet had penetrated her eye, and instantly called for help. He rolled Mrs Lowe over and found underneath her body her 2-month-old son, uninjured. He ordered a man nearby to get to the telegraph station and report to the Geelong and Ballarat police that a murder had occurred.

 A local aboriginal tracker came to Smith and showed him tracks leaving the hut. McQueeney had very large feet, which made him easily tracked. A witness spotted him near Meredith, carrying a very large swag. McQueeney was next reported by a local salesperson named Gallagher, near Geelong who he had sold all his tea too. Gallagher stated that McQueeney had sold him the teas because his mother had; “sickened him of it when he was a youngster in England”. This fact would eventually be his undoing.

  Trooper McIntyre visited Mrs Adams boarding house in Geelong. He asked Mrs Adams; “Have you in your establishment a man with one eye that does not like tea?”
 Mrs Adams, suspicious of the policeman asked why he needed to know, of which he replied “ murder!”.
 Mrs Adams, taken aback by the claim stated: “There’s a cove at my place with a shield over on eye, and only this morning Nellie remarked that he never drank tea.”
  Trooper McIntyre arrested McQueeney, earning himself a promotion.

  The police, despite all the evidence they had collected against McQueeney, seemed non-plussed about prosecuting him, putting him in gaol while waiting for more evidence to be procured. McQueeney himself provided the last bit of evidence needed to place him squarely as the murderer.
 While in gaol, McQueeney confided in another prisoner who was soon to be released and offered him a pair of jade earrings, telling him to sell them for tobacco, and to get it into the gaol. Instead of following McQueeney’s orders, the prisoner reported the earrings to the Gaoler.

During the trial inquest, Mrs Lowe’s body was exhumed from her grave at Meredith, where it was shown her well-known earrings had been torn from her ears. During his trial on the October 9 1858, McQueeney was called to the stand, where he verbally abused all the witness’, the judge and everyone else in earshot and asked ridiculous questions in what appeared to be a plight to be declared insane.
Sentencing Judge, Mr Justice Williams led proceedings. After all the evidence was submitted, it took the jury just ten minutes to reach their guilty verdict. McQueeney was sentenced to death by hanging.

At 7:30 am on 20 October 1858, McQueeney was taken from his cell by the Governor and hangman. His shackles were removed, and his arms pinioned. Catholic Priest, Father O’Brien read McQueeney his last rites. At 8am, the Sherriff demanded the body of McQueeney then led the procession to the gallows. McQueeney proclaimed his innocence with every step. Once at the gallows, he claimed he was been manhandled excessively, and ironically, claimed the noose was too tight.
 At 8:05am, the pin was pulled, and McQueeney was hung at Gallow’s Flat.[1]

There are claimed that after the death of McQueeney, that an unusual request was received by the Sherriff. About an hour or so after the execution, a crippled woman sought permission to have her hands “streaked over” by the hands of the dead murderer in the hope of curing her diseases!

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2019


'GEELONG.', The Argus, (21 October 1858), p. 5.

'GEELONG.', Bendigo Advertiser, (26 July 1858), p. 3.

1858: Owen McQueeney, Green Tent Murderer, ExecutedToday.com (2014), http://www.executedtoday.com/2014/10/20/1858-owen-mcqueeney-green-tent-murderer/

'The Case of the Man Who was Hanged by an Eye', The World's News, (13 October 1937), p. 10.

1858 'THE GREEN TENT MURDER.', The Age, (7 August 1858), p. 5.

'SOCIAL.', The Age, (16 October 1858), p. 5.

Mitchell, Jo, ‘Making tracks - all roads lead to the Green Tent’, Barwon Blog, (29 October 2015), http://barwonblogger.blogspot.com/2015/10/

'THE MURDER AT THE GREEN TENT.', The Argus, (27 July 1858), p. 6.

[1] 'GEELONG.', The Argus, (21 October 1858), p. 5.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Old Geelong Gaol (part 4): James Griffiths, alias ‘Ross’ – Murderer

Old Geelong Gaol (part 4): James Griffiths, alias ‘Ross’ – Murderer

 James Griffiths was born in 1825 and committed his first crimes as a young teenager. He broke into a church and stole church wine and 4 pounds cash. This led him to break into more chapels, as they were an easy target.
 After a long run of stealing from churches, Griffiths got a job as an apprentice on a ship of which he deserted. He soon found another apprentice position on another ship and deserted after stealing the Captain’s coat.

 In 1842, Griffiths enlisted in the 11th Regiment, a British military component assigned to defend Australia that sailed from North Devonshire. While on the ship, Griffiths’ got an argument with another soldier, where he threatened to run him through with his bayonet but was stopped his Sargent. He was subdued and thrown in the brig. In 1851, Griffith’s absconded while the ship was in Adelaide, then made his way inland, to Melbourne taking on the alias James Ross, so as not to draw attention to himself for being a known deserter.

 As James Ross, Griffiths took a job as Shepard at Mr Darlow’s Station. He worked hard and saved some money, but his guilt from robbing churches and deserting the army made him paranoid, so he soon moved on, and found himself in Geelong.

 At Geelong, he met a woman and married her. Not long after marrying, he began to treat his wife poorly: in his own words in a letter, he wrote before his execution he stated that he often bound his wife with ropes and beat and raped her, he beat her with sticks, poured water over her and beat her until she fell into fits. On at least one occasion, he admitted beating her so badly, that she miscarried.
 The last straw for Mrs Griffiths was being dropped naked in a water hole, where Griffiths placed his boot on her head, and almost drowned her. She left him that day and headed to the Darlow Station, but Griffiths grew jealous that she was now staying somewhere else and decided he would kill her and those she was staying with.

 On March 13, 1856, Griffiths went to the home of Mrs Sayers on the Darlow station to confront his wife and force her to come home.
 A Chinese shepherd witnessed Griffiths shoot Mrs Sayer, then pounced on her, and stabbed her in the neck. He then beat her with a shovel. The Chinese Shepard fled to his own hut, but Griffiths followed, threatening to kill him if he didn’t reveal where his wife was hiding. The Chinese Shepard said he didn’t know and escaped to raise the alarm with Mr Darlow.
Griffiths dragged Mrs Sayers dead body down to a nearby river and threw her in the water. Meanwhile back in Mrs Sayers hut, Griffiths 14-month-old son was lying in a pool of its own blood after being stabbed to death, and Mrs Griffiths was on the ground, beaten into an inch of her life. Griffiths fled into the scrub.

 Mr Darlow went to check Mrs Sayer’s hut, and found the dead child, but found Mrs Griffiths was still holding onto life. Police and doctors were sent for, and Mrs Griffiths was sent to Horsham for medical treatment.
James Griffith’s returned to the station, a couple of days later, admitted his crimes, and wishing to be turned in to police.

Griffiths stated he killed his child so it wouldn’t be raised an orphan and be abused by others.

In his closing remarks, Justice Williams concluded that the crimes were; “one of the most atrocious and premeditated murders that during my experience has ever been brought to the attention of a jury”.
James Griffiths alias; 'Ross', was hung on the portable gallows at Gallows, flat Geelong, on April 22 1856. Unlike previous hangings, Ross’ execution was not viewed by the public, but officials only.

Witnesses at the execution of James Ross:
  • ·         Robt. Rede, Deputy Sheriff.
  • ·         Charles Brodie, Gaoler.
  • ·         Michael Smith, Head Turnkey.
  • ·         Duncan D. Tatham, Turnkey.
  • ·         James Rowley, Head Turnkey.
  • ·         James Snifer, C. Serj. 40th Regiment
  • ·         J. C. S. Hant, Chaplain.
  • ·         Ronald Gunn, M.D.
  • ·         Alexander Fraser, Solicitor.
  • ·         Sidney Somerford Lynch, District Surgeon.[1]

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2019

Other Sources:

'EXECUTION OF JAMES ROSS, ALIAS GRIFFITHS.', Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, (23 April 1856), p. 2.

'SUPREME COURT.', Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, (14 April 1856), p. 2.

Jaunay, B., British Regiments in the colonies, (2019), http://www.jaunay.com/garrisons.htm

'GEELONG CIRCUIT COURT.', The Argus, (14 April 1856), p. 5.

'CRIMINAL SESSIONS.', The Age, (15 April 1856), p. 3.

[1] 'EXECUTION OF JAMES ROSS, ALIAS GRIFFITHS.', Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, (23 April 1856), p. 2.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Old Geelong Gaol (part 3): George Roberts – Murderer

Old Geelong Gaol (part 3): George Roberts – Murderer

Geelong Gaol cell block - photo: Allen Tiller 2013
George Roberts was a 28-year-old man, who had arrived in Melbourne just six months prior to his conviction. He had found work at Native Creek on the cattle and stock station of Dr Hope.
 George Kelly was a shepherd who lived in a small hut on the Hope property about two miles from the homestead. Prior to living in the hut, he worked and lived alongside Robert’s doing different jobs around the homestead. Since the time that Roberts was employed, he had begun to notice objects go missing, clothing, a small box with some gold in it, and a bag.
 On the 4th of August, Kelly gave Roberts a cheque and asked him to buy some goods for him from town. Roberts left the goods outside the hut as Kelly was off working. When Kelly next saw Roberts, he asked him for the balance of the cheque, which Roberts said he had not received.
 On Sunday the 6th of August, Kelly left a half kettle of tea on his stove as he went out to church. When he returned, he found someone had been in his hut and thought it must’ve been Roberts who had agreed to bring him the balance of the cheque.
 Kelly noticed his half-full kettle had been emptied and refilled with clean water. He drank a gill of water (1 gill= ½ cup) from the kettle and immediately his throat began to burn. Kelly, throat burning, and now in incredible pain, looked inside the kettle where he could see some white powder resting in the bottom. He left the hut and ran towards the homestead but collapsed in agony about halfway there.
 A passing bullock-driver noticed Kelly laying on the ground and went to assist him. A doctor was called, and Kelly was taken to the homestead. On the way there, Roberts appeared and offered Kelly an emetic. Kelly asked what he had put in the kettle, of which Roberts replied “nothing”.  Roberts offered Kelly a glass of water, poured from the same kettle that he drank poison from, Kelly flatly refused to drink it. Roberts insisted he had washed the kettle out, but Kelly said he would never drink from it again.
An inquest was held which revealed evidence of arsenic being found in a box under Roberts bed. The box was one stolen from Kelly months before that contained his gold and a small bag. A nine-year witness was called to give evidence, in which he stated he had watched Roberts pour a white powder into Kelly’s kettle and stir it with a knife.
 It took a jury just ten minutes to decide Roberts was guilty of poisoning with intent to murder. George Roberts was sentenced to death by hanging.

George Roberts took sacraments in the morning of his execution. Of his affairs after his death, or contacting his family, he made no decisions.  Roberts walked firmly to the gallows. There he spoke to the hangman and the Gaol Governor, confessing his crimes.
 The bolt was pulled at 8am, and he fell to his death alongside John Gunn who had also been found guilty of murder and convicted to hang.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2019

Other Sources:
'CROWDED OUT.', Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, (10 November 1854), p. 4.
'DOMESTIC INTELLIGENCE.', The Argus, (28 August 1854), p. 5.
Executed – Victoria, Geni.com, (2019), https://www.geni.com/projects/Executed-Victoria/49212
'GEELONG CIRCUIT COURT.', Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, (30 October 1854), p. 7.
'GEELONG CIRCUIT COURT.', The Argus, (30 October 1854), p. 5.
'GEELONG CRIMINAL COURT.', The Sydney Morning Herald, (7 November 1854), p. 3.
'THE NEW CONVICT BILL.', Mount Alexander Mail, (3 November 1854), p. 3.
'GEELONG SUMMARY FOR ENGLAND.', The Argus, (23 November 1854), p. 6.