Executions at Campbell Street Gaol 1857 - 1946
From notes by Ian Brand
ALEXANDER CULLEN - 18th August 1857
About 9.30 p.m. on 13th June, 1857, Elizabeth Ross was walking down an alleyway towards Liverpool Street, Hobart Town, followed by Alexander Cullen, with whom she had been living for two or three months. She was very tipsy and fell down. Cullen, thinking she had been tripped by a passer-by, argued with him.
At 11 p.m. on the same evening, Cullen kicked at a neighbour's door. He had his naked child in his arms and begged the neighbour to take care of her for “you’ll never see me more”. The neighbour, Hickman took the child in then went to Cullen’s house where Ross was lying dead. She had cuts to the front and back of her head, apparently inflicted by a tomahawk which was lying nearby. The police were called. About that time the engineer of the City of Hobart heard a splashing near the stern of the ship. He and two others pulled Cullen from the water. Cullen’s language was most “extraordinary and disgusting, and he appeared to be perfectly raving”. When taken to the watch-house and examined he was found to have blood on his hands and constantly exclaimed “Betsy, Betsy, I’ve done this for you”.
On his way to the Police Court the following Tuesday, Cullen admitted the crime. He appeared in the Supreme Court on 29th July, 1857. The doctor testified that Cullen had been drunk when arrested, after having tried to drown himself. After being found guilty, Cullen was sentenced to death and the Executive Council endorsed the sentence which was carried out on 18th August, 1857. He was “exceedingly penitent”. His body was dissected at the hospital.
JAMES and TIMOTHY KELLY - 28th November 1857
Timothy and James Kelly appeared in the Supreme Court on 27th October, 1857 accused of the murder of Coleman O’Loughlin at Avoca. The Kelly's were dressed in grey prison garb.
Coleman O’Loughlin had left Roderick O’Connor’s at 3p.m on 3rd July and his horse and cart were found later on the road. The Kelly’s had left O’Connor’s service about a week earlier. Daniel Webb had seen two men coming from the bush towards the road where the cart was later found. He recognized Timothy Kelly who was carrying a gun. O’Loughlin’s body was found by Rev. Mr. Richardson on 10th July. The hearing was adjourned until 29th October. The Kelly’s claimed that they were at Cleveland on the day of the murder and had bought the revolver, found on them when arrested, from O’Loughlin. George Milner, who was accused with them, was found not guilty and was discharged. The Kelly’s were convicted and remanded until 7th November for sentencing, when they were condemned to hang and their bodies to be dissected. They were executed on the 28th November 1857, along with William Maher [q.v.] they declared their innocence to the end. All three men were hung simultaneously. The bodies of the Kelly’s were taken to the General Hospital and dissected.
WILLIAM MAHER - 28th November 1857
On 21st September 1857, a coroner’s inquest was held on the body of Catherine Maher. She and her husband, William, had been at the Brunswick, Brown’s River, three days before. Some time later Maher arrived at David Gordon’s lodging house at Kingston and said his wife had met with a serious accident when she slipped off Firth’s bridge. Gordon and his servant went with Maher and brought Catherine back.
She was unconscious and died a few hours later. Chief District Constable Beresford inspected the accident site, but could find no evidence of Catherine having slipped. On his return he arrested Maher. A doctor who examined Catherine’s body found finger marks on her throat and her injuries were consistent with blows from a heavy object used with considerable force.
Maher appeared in the Supreme Court on 1st November charged with wilful murder of his wife. He was found guilty. Sentenced to death, and executed on 29th November in company with Timothy and James Kelly [q.v.]. His body was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital for dissection.
THOMAS CALLINAN - 20th April 1858
Thomas Callinan appeared in the Supreme Court charged with the murder of Amelia Dorcas Murray, on 7th December, 1857. Amelia had visited Harriet Dorman on 6th December and collected beef, sugar and tea, leaving about 10 a.m. for her mother’s house. Amelia was 14 years old and Callinan “had paid his addresses to her” which she had received agreeably at first but would have nothing to do with him when she found he had a bad temper.
Mrs Hamilton, Amelia’s mother, had heard a scream in the distance on the 7th. On 27th January, 1858, William Miller and a man named Banks found a buried area of ground near a lagoon with a skull and some bones. Nearby a bag, cloth and sugar. The remains were identified from the teeth as those of Amelia Murray. When Amelia went missing her mother thought she had gone to Hobart. Callinan was arrested, and tried on 8th April, 1858, sentenced to death with his body to be dissected.
The execution took place on 20th April, Callinan protesting his innocence to the end. His body was dissected at St. Mary’s Hospital.
THOMAS GAULT - 21st December 1858
In the evening of 7th September, 1858, Mr. John Duffy, superintendent of the Mount Nelson signal station was at home with his wife, when the door was forced open and three men rushed in. The first, Thomas Gault placed a pistol at the head of Archibald Stacy, Duffy’s assistant and Anthony Lovell levelled a double-barreled gun at Duffy’s chest. The third man, Joseph Johnson went into another room. A scuffle ensued between Lovell and Duffy who was struck behind the ear by Lovell’s gun.
The men then ransacked the house, and Gault searched Isabella Brown, Duffy’s niece. The men took a watch, portmanteau with £4 and all the books in the house.
Duffy reported the robbery to the police and said he could identify the thieves. The three were arrested and appeared at the Supreme Court on 2nd December, 1858 charged with having feloniously assaulted John Garth and robbing him of £40 and, on the same day, assaulting Duffy, Stacey and Isabella Brown, putting them in bodily fear, and robbing them of a number of articles. Gault was also charged with having feloniously assaulted Thomas Parlor on 29th August and robbing him a watch and £5.
The three men were tried only on the second charge relating to the robbery at the signal station, which was a capital charge. The jury returned a verdict of guilty against Gault and Lovell, but discharged Johnson. Both Gault and Lovell were sentenced to death. Gault was an ex-convict who had served 4 years at Norfolk Island.
A petition from Duffy and Stacy to spare Lovell and Gault was considered by the Executive Council, but they confirmed the sentence on Gault and as the jury also petitioned the Council regarding Lovell, his sentence was commuted.
Gault was executed on 21st December, 1858 expressing much contrition for his past crimes. Lovell was allowed to remain with Gault in the condemned cell until the time for execution, at Gault’s request.
JOHN KING - 16th February 1859
John King had lived with Rebecca Hall in Goulburn Street, Hobart Town for 24 years. On Christmas Day, 1858 they went to the Bull’s Head in Goulburn Street. King knocked Rebecca down in the bar, she was drunk but he was not. The Barman, after remonstration with King went back into the other room, where a few minutes later he heard a shot and ran back to find King standing over Hall with a pistol in his hand.
She had been shot through the head. King waited quietly until the police arrived then handed them the pistol. When arrested King asked the constable, “Do you think I shall see Solomon Blay?”
On 25th January 1859, King was tried in the Supreme Court for the wilful murder of Rebecca Hall, found guilty, sentenced to death with his body to be dissected. He was executed at 8 a.m. on 16th February 1859 along with John King, Daniel Stewart, William Ferns and Peter Haley. Because there were five standing on the trap, their legs were also pinioned. Apparently King took some time to die. His body was taken to St. Mary’s Hospital for dissection.
WILLIAM DAVIS - 16th February 1859
Sarah Robinson and William Davis lived together beside the Black River. Davis came home about 6 p.m. on Christmas Day, drunk. Andre’ Cassavant a 40 year old man who spoke English imperfectly was in the house when Davis arrived. Sarah went to bed and saw Davis go into the room where Cassavant was asleep on the sofa then she heard a heavy blow and Cassavant cried out very loudly. Sarah asked Davis if he was killing the man, then got out of bed and saw Davis standing over Cassavant. He then went towards her with a gun in his hand, and admitted he’d killed Cassavant. The doctor who examined the body found two wounds either of which would have caused death. A blood-stained axe was nearby, when arrested, Davis had blood stains on his clothing.
Davis was arraigned at the Supreme Court on 27th January, 1859 charged with wilful murder of Cassavant on 25th December, 1858. Sarah Robinson was also charged. Davis was found guilty and Robinson was found guilty as an accessory. Davis was sentenced to death on 31st December and executed on 16th February, 1859, along with John King, Daniel Stewart, William Ferns and Peter Haley. Because all five had to crowd onto the trap, their legs were also bound with leather straps “to prevent mishaps” Davis’ body was dissected at the hospital that afternoon, the remains being interred later.
DANIEL STEWART, WILLIAM FERNS and PETER HALEY - 16th February 1859
When Thomas Smith was travelling on the Tunbridge side of Ross on 16th March 1858, four men jumped out and ordered he and his wife to stand. Three of the men were identified as Daniel (Wingy) Stewart, William Ferns alias Flowers and Peter Haley know as Black Peter. All the hold-up men were armed. The two prisoners were taken into the bush, guarded by Stewart while the other three held up a dog-cart containing Chief District Constable Richard Propsting, his wife, 2 children and a friend. Propsting chose to make a run for it and two of the bushrangers fired at him and the third man shot at, but did not kill the horse. Propsting gave the alarm at Tunbridge. The four bushrangers had been at large for some time but had eluded pursuit.
Two days later the bushrangers were terrorising the Hamilton district. On 1st May, three of the men raided John Brown’s house at Cluny, near Bothwell. They tied up Brown and ransacked the house. It was some time before the bushrangers were captured and it was not until 23rd November 1858 before they appeared in the Hobart Town Police Court charged with feloniously shooting at Richard Propsting with intent to kill. Stewart had to be brought to the court in a cab as he had been wounded in the fight to capture the men.
They were committed for trial at the Supreme Court on a variety of charges.
The case was adjourned and they came up again on 26th January 1859 on the same charges. They were found not guilty on 3 counts, but guilty of shooting at Propsting with intent to do grievous bodily harm. Stewart had been transported in 1842 for 7 years for horse stealing. He was free in 1848 but was convicted for sheep stealing in 1851 receiving a life sentence, which he was to serve at Norfolk Island. He returned to Van Diemen’s Land in 1854 and received a probation pass in 1855. Ferns had been transported for stealing bread, but had 18 previous convictions. He arrived in 1850 and obtained a conditional pardon in 1854 but later was convicted of robbery and wounding for which he received 4 years hard labour. Haley was transported from the Cape of Good Hope for horse-stealing in 1851. The following year he received a life sentence for horse stealing, becoming a pass holder in 1855, but like the others, absconded and took to the bush. They were executed on 17th February, 1859 along with John King and William Davis. All had their legs bound as there were so many on the trap. Stewart refused the usual handshake with the chaplain before ascending the scaffold. On the trap Ferns bid everybody “goodbye” and asked Haley for his hand.
ROBERT BROWN - 4th May 1859
Robert Brown was charged in the Supreme Court on 12 April, 1859 for the rape of Mary Jane Dunford a 3½ year old girl at Triabunna on 28th March, 1859.
He was sentenced to death although he protested his innocence. Brown was hanged on 4th May, 1859 and he again stated his innocence on the scaffold.
BERNARD DONAHOO - 12th July 1859
On Tuesday, 31st May, 1859 Bernard Donahoo or Donahue was arraigned in the Supreme Court, charged with the wilful murder of James Burton at Brown’s River. When asked to plead, he said, “I think I’m guilty Your Honour. I’m guilty of striking him.” When the Chief Justice asked him if he understood the nature of the charge, Donahoo answered in the affirmative and his plea was recorded. He was then remanded for sentence. On appearing in court again two days later, for sentencing, Donahoo said he had not killed Burton, but the Chief Justice told him he had already pleaded guilty.
Burton had employed Donahoo to thresh for him. On the evening of the offence Donahoo asked Burton for lodgings as he had sold his bed. As Burton left to milk his cow, Donahoo hit him with a large frying pan and then hit him with a spade as he lay unconscious. Burton recovered and crawled out of the hut but Donahoo followed him hitting him with a stick. Burton later crawled to a neighbor’s house.
At the Executive Council hearing, the Vicar General’s letter proposing an examination of Donahoo’s mental state was read. A three man medical committee found Donahoo was of sound mind. Under the circumstances the Council confirmed the death sentence.
Donahoo’s execution took place on 12th July, 1859. The “Hobart Town Advertiser” described him as appearing “to be deplorably ignorant”.
JOHN NASH - 4th May 1860
John Nash had been sentenced to death at the Supreme Court on 25th January.1860 for the murder of John Dowling near Richmond on 27th November, 1859. After sentencing, evidence came to light that Nash had not purchased the knife with the special blade, with which the deceased’s injuries had been created, until after the date of the murder.
The Chief Justice, therefore, stated that the death sentence should not be carried out. It was commuted to a life sentence.
On 16th April, 1860 Nash again appeared before the Supreme Court, in its location in Brisbane Street, charged, on this occasion, of shooting at Mr. William Iles near Cleveland with intent to kill. On 1st December, 1859 Iles had been walking towards Cleveland when he met Nash who bailed him up and ordered him into the bush where he was robbed.
Nash then shot him with a pistol, the ball striking him in the back, then shot him again in the side of the face. At the time Nash was being pursued as the suspect in the Dowling murder. Two days later Nash was arrested at Longford.
He was found guilty of shooting at Mr. Iles and sentenced to hang. Nash was executed on 4th May. 1860, dying “without a struggle”.
His written statement claimed “that he had not intended to kill Iles and that he was completely innocent of Dowling’s murder. He was the first person convicted in the new Criminal Courts to be executed although he was followed a few days later by Julius Baker who had also been condemned at the same sittings.
JULIUS BAKER - 10th May 1860
Four men at Port Arthur, Julius Baker a constable, Nicholas Dingle another constable and two convicts James Stretton and John Donohue plotted to arrange the escape of Stretton and Donohue for the sum of £20 payable to a fisherman who would take them off the Peninsula. Stretton had money for his share, but Donohue, who was a servant to Rev. Mr. Maguire, stole money from him to pay his share. On 22nd December, 1859 Stretton and Donohue followed Baker, who was carrying a gun, out along the Wedge Bay road. Cutting across Wedge Bay marsh, Baker asked the others to walk ahead. Suddenly Donohue was hit by a ball in the shoulder, smashing the bone. Stretton was also hit in the back. Donohue and Stretton staggered off in different directions before Donohue fell unconscious, then Stretton fell. Baker left both men dying but they managed to stagger independently into Port Arthur. Baker was arrested and tried at the Supreme Court, 25th January, 1860. The case was adjourned till the next sessions to be held in the new Criminal Court on 17th April, 1860. His was the first case to be heard in the No.1 Court before Chief Justice Valentine Fleming. He was found guilty of feloniously shooting at John Stretton with intent to kill and sentenced to death.
Baker was executed on 10th May, 1860.
MARTIN LYDON – 25th September 1860
Martin Lydon was transported to Van Diemen’s Land for 14 years for striking his superior officer in the army. He was sent to Norfolk Island where he was continually in trouble. In 1858 he obtained his ticket of leave in Van Diemen’s Land. Ann Nora Hanby, aged 9, lived with her parents at Port Cygnet and Lydon worked not far from the Hanby house. On 21st July, 1860 William Hanby, Ann’s father and his son were at work some distance from the house and her mother had gone into Port Cygnet leaving Ann to look after her 6 year old sister. Lydon came to the house, locked the door behind him and sexually assaulted Ann. The younger sister escaped before the door was locked and ran to a neighbour’s house. The man there ran back and found the Hanby's door locked. He heard Lydon say, “If you shout I will murder you”, so he hurried off for help. As the men burst into the house, Lydon was getting off the bed with his clothing disarranged.
Lydon appeared in the Supreme Court on 6th September 1860, for sentencing having been already found guilty in the sessions, ‘of an unnatural offence upon Ann Nora Hanby a child of tender years’. Chief Justice Sir Valentine Fleming sentenced him to death. Lydon was executed on the 25th September 1860. He left two written statements, one of which outlined his life and how he took to drink. His sentence at Norfolk Island ‘turned me into an animal’.
MARGARET COGHLIN - 18th February 1862
At 10.15 p.m. on Sunday, 5th January 1862, Margaret Coghlin as seen outside the gate of her house, having been shut out by her husband. Constable Waller of the City Police persuaded John Coghlin to let her back in. She had been drinking. An hour later John Coghlin was seen drunk.
At 1 a.m. Constable Waller saw Margaret outside the house again and she said she was waiting for her “old man”. When Waller said he thought John was inside drunk, she said the house was empty. At 3 a.m. Margaret was still standing outside. Later still Waller saw Margaret open her window shutters then say “Oh Lord! Bless me, he’s come home and cut his throat”. Waller entered the house and found John Coghlin dead on the bed with his throat cut and a razor in his left hand. Dr. Cairns examined the body and found bloody finger prints on the razor which he claimed, were not made by John Coghlin. There were wounds to Coghlin’s head. The throat wound had not caused death, but had been inflicted after the head wounds. All blows had been inflicted while Coghlin lay in the bed and could not have been self-inflicted. An iron bar found nearby caused the head wounds which were the cause of death.
After the inquest, Margaret was taken to the Female Factory. At the inquest she had admitted to murder, but when she appeared in the Supreme Court on 25th January 1862, she pleaded “Not Guilty”. After a ten minute absence the jury found her guilty and she was sentenced to death with her body going for dissection.
Margaret Coghlin was the last woman executed in Tasmania, being executed on 18th February, 1862. She had been held in the Female House of Correction and was brought to the condemned cell at the Gaol a few days before the execution date. She went to the gallows “in deep mourning” and with her eyes bandaged before she left the cell. She was trembling so much that she had to be supported. She prayed all the way and while she was on the scaffold. She left a confession, blaming “strong drink” for her crime.
CHARLES FLANDERS - 24th June 1862
On the 25th April, 1862, Charles Flanders entered New’s public house at Bagdad. He asked Thomas Riley to join him in a fencing job and Riley agreed. After drinking for a time, they left for Riley’s hut.
About 100 m from the hut, Riley’s two children met them. Riley was very drunk and fell several times, not getting home until between 10 and 11 p.m. Flanders had gone on with the 10 year old Mary Ann when Riley had first collapsed. When Riley reached home neither Mary Ann nor Flanders were there, so he went out looking for Mary Ann. He searched until 8 a.m. the following day then went into Green ponds to report her missing. Four days later Mary Ann’s body was found in a gully among ferns. Dr. Oldmeadow, who examined the body found that she had been strangled and sexually molested. Flanders was arrested on 7th May in Hamilton.
Flanders appeared in the Supreme Court on 4th June, 1862. He was dressed in Grey prison clothing as his own clothes were tattered and torn. The case ran for 2 days, the jury being accommodated overnight in Mr. Allen’s Royal Exchange Hotel in Campbell Street.
Flanders was condemned to death and his body to be dissected. He had come to Van Diemen’s Land in 1846 from Norfolk Island after having been convicted in Sydney. He had originally been transported in 1827 and was sent to New South Wales.
He had been sentenced in 1855 for robbery and had been sent to Port Arthur.
Flanders was executed on 24th June, 1862. He was converted to Roman Catholicism in prison and died very penitent. His body was dissected at the General Hospital.
WILLIAM MULLIGAN – 18th November 1862
William and Johanna Harbach were Germans who lived on Capt. Chalmer’s farm at Bagdad. Mr Harbach was away from home on business when William Mulligan called at the Harbach’s house. He was armed with a pistol and a stone wrapped in a handkerchief ‘in such a manner as to constitute a most formidable weapon’. He raped Mrs Harbach and then stole money and other items.
Mulligan appeared in the Supreme Court on 30th October 1862 charged with rape, with a second charge of feloniously and violent assault of Johanna Harbach. He was sentenced to death.
Mulligan was a former penal settlement convict who had spent half his life in prison.
He was executed on 18th November, 1862. He left a statement in which he admitted his guilt. His body was buried in the Campbell Street burial ground.
HENDRICK WITNALDER - 20th February 1863
Hendrick Witnalder was a Kaffir native from Graham Town, South Africa who had served in the Cape Rifles, but had been involved in a mutiny and had been transported to New South Wales. There he committed rape and was transported to Van Diemen's Land for life. He was tried at the Supreme Court on 28th January, 1863 charged with an unnatural offence (sodomy) against a 14 year old boy who was also charged with the same offence. The boy was found not guilty, but Witnalder was guilty and remanded for sentence. The following day he was sentenced to death.
Witnalder asked to be called at 3 a.m. on the day of execution, 20th February, 1863 and from then until 8 a.m. spent the time in prayer with Rev. Mr. Hunter. He was a small man so the executioner attached weights to his feet “with a view of preventing or shortening as far as possible the death struggle which it was apprehended from the comparative lightness of Witnalder might be otherwise prove severe and protracted.”
ROBERT McKAVOR - 16th February 1864
Edward Conningsby, a butcher, was driving sheep on the other side of the Half-Way House towards Oatlands on 30 November, 1863 when he was joined by Robert McKavor and together they walked to the hotel where they had dinner for which Conningsby paid. Then they left together. When they reached water Conningsby stopped the herd and lay down for a sleep. He was wakened by two blows to his head. It was McKavor who had hit him, then grabbed his throat and then hit him with a stick then ran off. Conningsby reported the assault when he reached St. Peters’s Pass. Some days later he saw McKavor in Oatlands and McKavor was arrested in Jerusalem on 2nd December.
McKavor was indicted at the Supreme Court on 27 January, 1864 charged with feloniously assaulting and the robbing Conningsby. He was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was executed on 16th February, 1864.
WILLIAM GRIFFITHS – 2nd December 1865
On 12th September, 1865 Mrs Emily Johnson left her hut at Tolosa, Glenorchy to go into the bush with her 12 year old daughter, Mary Ellen, leaving her two younger children at the hut. They were working about 160 m from the hut, but she quickly returned having found the door broken open and a clock gone. Emily called for the children but got no reply so began a search. One child was found about 70 m away and was dead. The little boy was nearby and still alive although he died shortly afterwards.
William Griffiths was arrested at the King’s Arms in Hobart Town on the following day. Griffiths’ boots fitted footprints near the Johnson’s hut. He appeared in the Supreme Court on 24th October, 1865 charged with having “feloniously and with malice aforethought killed and murdered Sarah and George Johnson”. The Judge decided that Griffiths was out of money and so had stolen the clock then the children saw him he followed them and killed them.
He was executed on 2nd December, 1865 and left a statement that he was innocent. He asked to have a handkerchief his wife had given him placed in his pocket and buried with him. He was buried in the Campbell Street burial ground. It was his 27th birthday.
JOB SMITH - 31st May 1875
Job Smith was a prisoner at Port Arthur, who had served most of his sentence by 1875 and had conducted himself well while there.
Margaret Ayres was a housemaid and in the service of Rev. Mr. Hayward the Church of England clergyman there. Shortly before 5 p.m. on 27th February, 1875, she went into the bush to search for Hayward’s cow.
On the way she met Smith and asked him if he had seen the cow and he pointed out the direction in which it had gone. She noticed that Smith was following her so she began to go back telling him she was afraid of snakes. She then claimed Smith made improper advances to her and when she fell trying to get away, he raped her.
Smith was charged with rape in the Supreme Court on 12th May, 1875.
The defence claimed there was no evidence of rape, that any of six prisoners were free to commit the offence and that Ayres had not noticed her assailant had lost the use of one arm as Smith had.
The jury rejected these claims and found Smith guilty and he was sentenced to death.
Smith went to the gallows on 31st May, 1875 declaring his innocence, but this contradicted a written statement he left with Father Beechinor.
A letter in the “Mercury” the following day questioned whether rape should be a capital offence or whether Tasmania should not follow England’s example and find another punishment for that crime. Smith was the last person to hang for rape in Tasmania.
RICHARD COPPING - 20th October 1878
Robert Stacey, who lived at Bream Creek was at home on Sunday 12th May 1878 when Richard Copping called about 2p.m. Copping was courting Susannah Stacey aged 18. Stacey left them together while he attended to some things on the farm. On his return his daughter Mary Jane met him saying “Richard Copping is murdering Susannah with an axe”. Copping ran out as Stacey approached. He found Susannah on her face in the child’s cot, and he gave chase to Copping and caught him. Copping walked way and Stacey went for help. Copping appeared in the Supreme Court on 24th September charged with Susannah’s murder. The defence claimed that he was “suffering from softening of the brain”, a Dr. Benjafield testified that he had a diseased brain, but Dr. Turnley of the Gaol thought Copping was perfectly sane.
Copping was found guilty and sentenced to death. The Executive Council considered a petition from 16 people, but refused to vary the sentence.
Copping, who was 19 years old, went to the gallows on 21st October, 1878. After his body had been cut down the brain was examined by three doctors, but “not the slightest trace of disease could be detected”. His body was privately buried.
JAMES OGDEN and JAMES SUTHERLAND - 4th June 1883
James Ogden and James Sutherland called at the Launceston watch house on 7th April, 1883 to report that Ogden had been robbed of 12 shillings in a brothel by a girl named Bourke. The following day they called at the Woolpack Inn, 11km from Launceston saying they were going to Campbell Town to look for dogs and a trap they had lost. They were next seen near a hut a Symond’s Plains, which had been robbed of a gun.
William Wilson, who lived with his wife, 4 children and a Mrs. Borham, near Cleveland was awakened by stones being thrown on his roof. He went outside, found nothing, so went back to bed. When another stone hit the roof he again went out. His wife heard a strange voice then a shot, so she too jumped out of bed and ran outside. Her husband staggered past her saying that he had been shot. He collapsed outside and she ran inside and locked the door. More stones hit the roof, then a voice outside said to set fire to the hut. Soon smoke and flames came into the hut and another shot was fired, forcing the family outside. Mrs Wilson saw a man she later identified as Southerland, with a gun in his hands. She also recognised Ogden. The two men dragged off one of Wilson’s girls but she later ran away.
William Wilson died of his wounds. Southerland and Ogden were arrested and taken to Campbell Town where they claimed that it was all only meant as a joke.
They appeared before the Supreme Court on 15th May 1883, and both were found guilty of murdering Wilson. They were executed on the 4th June 1883. The drop had been altered so that the bodies fell right out of sight.
A plaster cast of each man’s head was made by Mr. A.J. Taylor, the city librarian and a campaigner against capital punishment.
HENRY STOCK - 13th October 1884
Stock was arraigned in the Supreme Court on 23rd September, 1884.He had appeared at the previous sessions but the jury had failed to reach a verdict. Stock was sentenced to hang for the murder of Elizabeth Keats and was executed on 13th October, 1884. His apparent callous indifference since his trial shocked the newspapers. He had even done a dance in his cell and sung songs on the morning of his execution. He left a message scratched on his cell wall blaming women for his ruin. The hanging was botched and ‘Stock’s sufferings were apparently prolonged. He struggled violently at first, and his arms and hands twitched for nearly five minutes , and the medical officer’s showed that neither dislocation nor fracture of the vertebrae had taken place. Dr. Turnley certified death was from suffocation.”
TIMOTHY WALKER - 10th January 1887
Elizabeth Woods was living with her Aunt Harriett Hurley and Benjamin Hampton in Barracks Street, Deloraine in December 1886. Timothy Walker lived in Morgan’s Row, Deloraine. He and Woods had lived together until she had left him in late October after a quarrel. About 6.30 p.m. on 2nd December, Woods saw Walker in Barrack Street and he asked if they were still friends. When she said ‘No’ he lifted his double-barrelled gun and said he’d knock her brains out. Hampton came out of the house and asked Walker to leave quietly. Walker shot him in the left arm and fired the second barrel into his left side. Walker went to his son-in-law’s house gave the gun to his daughter and asked her to take care of his 6 year old son as he expected to be arrested.
He appeared in the Supreme Court on 15th December 1886 on a charge of having ‘feloniously, wilfully and of malice aforethought, killed Benjamin Hampton’’. Walker argued that the gun had gone off during a struggle, but witnesses agreed that there was no such struggle. Walker was sentenced to death. He had been transported to Van Diemen’s Land and had committed a number of offences there between 1833 and 1837. At the time of his trial he was 76 years of age. He was executed on 10th January, 1887. Death was instantaneous.
ARTHUR COOLEY - 17th August 1891
Mrs. Ogilvy, wife of Arthur John Ogilvy, J.P. had gone with her husband to the gate of their home to see him off to the Richmond Police Court on 14th May 1891. On the way back she went to gather mushrooms. When her husband came home a few hours later she had still not arrived home. He went out to search without result. Word was sent to Richmond and about 100 people arrived with lanterns, but no trace of Mrs. Ogilvy was found until daylight when her body was found in the Coal River. She had been shot in the head and dragged into the river. Suspicion fell on Arthur Cooley who was due to appear in the Supreme Court on a charge of indecent assault on a woman at Bridgewater some weeks earlier. Cooley was 26 years old, and had gone shooting rabbits on the morning of Mrs. Ogilvy’s death. He had a bad record, having been convicted two years earlier of indecent assault on young women for which he served two years imprisonment.
His trial in the Supreme Court began on 28th July, 1891 ending the following day and he was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was executed on 17th August 1891. Solomon Blay prepared him on the scaffold, this being his last appearance before retirement but the actual execution was carried out by hangman, ‘with this face besmeared with raddle and burnt cork, seeking thus to hide his identity’’. The Mercury mocked that attempt to disguise the executioner and suggested that Tasmania adopted the American use of electric chair for the future.
Margaret Catherine Ledwell left her home at Chestnut, Deloraine on 24th October 1913 to visit a neighbour 3 km away. On the way Margaret picked a bunch of pansies. Just after she left home, her sister Eleanor saw Belbin leave his house.
Belbin and a man named Heyward had been rabbiting that day, Belbin carrying his gun. Belbin found Margaret lying on her back, her clothing disarranged and her hat on her face. She had been shot in the head. Neither Belbin nor Heyward touched the body and Belbin went for the police. The doctor said there was no sign of sexual assault.
Two days later Belbin, when questioned said that he had asked Margaret for a kiss and then tried to take one. His gun was then lying on the ground. Margaret kicked the gun, which went off and killed her. The police, however, had found shot in the ground near the body showing that the story was wrong. Belbin was arrested and stood trial in the Supreme Court on 13th February 1914. The Judge advised the jury that even if the gun had discharged accidentally while Belbin was trying to rape Ledwell the proper verdict would be manslaughter but if he had shot her to silence her it would be murder. He was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death.
He was executed on the 11th March 1914, the executioner being from New South Wales. He left a written confession admitting he had shot her when she was resisting rape. His body was interred at Cornelian Bay Cemetery, accompanied on the journey by his mother in a cab supplied by the Government.
George Carpenter - 27th December 1922
Edward Duncombe, known as “Old Deafy Duncombe”, lived about 6 kilometres from Swansea towards the Eastern Tiers. He ran a market garden and a small orchard. He was stone-deaf and very short-sighted and had only one leg. The locals believed that he had a substantial amount of money in his house. He was found shot dead on the 10th October, 1922 and his house had been ransacked. On the same day, Thomas Filbee Carpenter, a 37 year old labourer of Swansea, was also found shot along with his dog. The following morning, Trooper Frederick Henderson was guarding Dumcomb’s hut when the murderer appeared. When Henderson moved to arrest him, he too was shot and killed. George Carpenter, a 37 year old man was arrested and appeared in the Supreme Court on the 5th October, 1922 charged with killing his cousin, Thomas Filbee Carpenter by shooting. Footprints found near the body were made by the accused’s boots.
The trial took two days, the jury spending the night in the Imperial Hotel in Collins Street. The next day, they travelled to Swansea to view the site of the killings. The trial resumed in Hobart and Carpenter was found guilty and sentenced to death. He was executed on the 27th December, 1922 making a statement to the chaplain which was not released to the press. There was a short burial service over the body before it was taken to Cornelian Bay Cemetery for internment in the section set aside for the burial of deceased prisoners.
Frederick Thompson - 14th February 1946
Evelyn Maughan, an 8 year old girl, disappeared after leaving her home at 100 Goulburn Street, Hobart on the 8th July, 1945. On the 5th October, Edmund Mead of Goulburn, New South Wales, was visiting Queenborough Cemetery looking for his father’s grave when he found a child’s body in the lattice enclosure. It was identified as Maughan’s. Her hands were tied in front of her and, because of the decomposition, the doctor was unable to state the cause of death. The evidence, however, was consistent with suffocation.
Suspicion fell on Frederick Thompson, whom some witnesses claim to have seen carrying a heavy bath on his shoulder and later, wheeling a child’s pusher in Nelson Road near the Queenborough Cemetery. Thompson appeared in the Supreme Court on the 11th December, 1945, charged with Evelyn Maughan’s murder. He was sentenced to death and executed on the 14th February, 1946. Thompson’s body was buried in Cornelian Bay Cemetery. He was the last person to be executed in Tasmania.