Special Sub-Topic: Australia's Sordid Past: 3
|Jean Lee was a attractive woman who was convicted by the Courts on 25 March, 1950 for her crimes. What was her claim to fame that was to add her name to the history books?|
She was the last woman in Australia to be executed by hanging.. Lee started out her criminal career as a prostitute in Sydney during World War II.
Years later she hooked up with Robert David Clayton and they started a nice little scam. Lee would be in a hotel room with their intended male victim and Clayton would burst into the room furious that he had caught his "wife" with another man. The unsuspecting victim and the angry "husband" would then reach a compromise, bordering on blackmail, where cash would be handed over to resolve the situation.
The scam continued for six years before the duo moved to Melbourne, Victoria and met up with Norman Andrews.
The threesome continued using the same scam until they met William Kent, 73 years, on 7 November, 1949. The ageing Kent was known to have a lot of cash hidden away and he became the trio's next mark.
The plan did not go too well. Kent was tied up, repeatedly bashed and tortured for information regarding the whereabouts of the cash.
In the end he was stabbed a number of times and then strangled.
The killers were caught by police within 12 hours. All three were hanged - Lee being the last female to be executed in Australia.
|John Balaban was an immigrant from Rumania who lived in Adelaide, South Australia. On 5 December, 1952 he committed a murder in the suburb of Torrensville by brutally killing Zora Kusic.
What did she do for employment, and what reason did Balaban give for killing her?|
Prostitute; because he saw how dirty and common she was.. Zora Kusic was a prostitute who met John Balaban and took him back to her address at North Parade, Torrensville. Balaban would be her last client, he cut her throat and slashed her chest open. She was found the next day.
Years later at his trial, Balaban stated, "I then looked at her and saw how dirty and common she was. I then took a knife ... and cut her throat - I did not feel sorry for killing Kusic".
|John Balaban was arrested by detectives for the murder of Zora Kusic and was to stand trial for the murder on 6 January 1953.
What happened next?|
After a 5 day trial he was found not guilty, released and went on to kill his family 4 months later.. The trial lasted five days and after being found not guilty of the murder of Zora Kusic, he was released back into the world.
On 12 April, 1953 the lives of his family was shattered. Balaban killed his wife, mother-in-law and stepson.
His wife, Thelma, was located in a bed upstairs with her head bashed by a claw hammer.
The mother-in-law, Susan Ackland, and Balaban's stepson (6 years old) both died in hospital from the beatings they received.
Balaban was arrested and charged not only with the murders of his family but also that of Zora Kusic.
In a weird twist to the story Balaban made admissions to killing a woman in Paris, France after meeting her on a train. He told police that he made love to her and then strangled her. Until then, the murder of the French woman, Riva Kwas, had remained unsolved.
|How many women were executed in South Australia for their crimes?|
1. Elizabeth Woolcock was the ONLY female to die at the gallows in South Australia. She met her maker on 30 December 1873 at the Adelaide Gaol.
She was convicted of the murder of her husband.
45 people were executed at the Adelaide Gaol.
The last execution to take place at the Adelaide Gaol was on 24 November, 1964. Glen Sabre Valance died that day after being convicted of murdering his employer and raping the employer's wife.
Capital punishment was abolished in South Australia in 1976.
|What State/Territory was the first to abolish the death penalty in Australia?|
Queensland.. Here is a list of the dates that the death penalty was abolished in each State/Territory:
Queensland - 1922
New South Wales - 1955
Tasmania - 1968
Australian Capital Territory (ACT) - 1973
Northern Territory -1973
Victoria - 1975
South Australia - 1976
Western Australia - 1984
|Between 8 March, 1956 and 30 April, 1959 David Joseph Scanlon caused fear to reign in and around ten suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales.
What crimes did he commit to cause such fear?|
Slashing the chests of his sleeping victims.. David Joseph Scanlon would sneak into the bedrooms of his sleeping victims and slash them about the chest with a razor blade.
Age was no barrier for the creepy Scanlon, his victims ranged from between 7 years old and 72 years!
There was public outrage at the fact that the police could not catch him. One newspaper, the "Daily Mirror", wrote: "Why are there no police on the beat?" and "This is one man against 3,000".
|What was the nickname given to David Joseph Scanlon during his crime spree?|
The Kingsgrove Slasher.. The Kingsgrove Slasher, David Joseph Scanlon, was caught by police on 30 April, 1959. He was fleeing from a house after his intended victim woke up and disturbed him.
Religious and mild mannered, Scanlon was married and not even his wife suspected him. In fact, even his wife was terrified of falling victim to "the slasher". To ease her fears Scanlon had new locks installed to the doors and windows of their family home!
His criminal 'career' started out as a peeping tom and escalated from there.
He pleaded guilty to the 18 charges and ended up in gaol.
|Rupert Max Stuart was convicted of the brutal murder of 9 year old girl on a beach in South Australia in 1958.
What nationality was he and what did he do for work?|
An Aboriginal carnival worker.. Rupert Max Stuart was convicted of the murder of Mary Hattam in 1958. Mary went to the beach with her brother and a friend and disappeared.
Following a search, her raped, battered and mutilated body was located in a cave near the beach. Black trackers (Aboriginals with superb tracking skills) were called in and they followed the tracks back to an area where a carnival had been located at the time of the murder. Stuart ran a stall at that carnival.
Police soon caught up with Stuart and a signed confession followed (even though Stuart could not read or write English and only spoke a limited amount of English).
Stuart was convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. Stuart had a lot of supporters who did not believe he was guilty and they swung into action. One such supporter was a Roman Catholic Priest called Thomas Dixon. Dixon had been called to the gaol to hear any last confessions that Stuart may have had prior to the execution. After speaking to Stuart, Dixon became convinced that there was a serious miscarriage of justice happening.
Dixon started his own investigations and returned to Adelaide with signed statements from the carnival owners and workers that provided an alibi for Stuart's whereabouts at the time of the murder.
A few appeals were made but they were rejected. The Premier of South Australia ordered a Royal Commission to be conducted and the death penalty removed from the table. Stuart got a life sentence instead. He was released from prison in 1973. Debate still rages over Stuart's guilt and innocence.
|Where in South Australia did Rupert Max Stuart murder 9 year old Mary Hattam in 1958?|
Ceduna.. Maslin Beach is a suburb in the southern part of Adelaide. It has a nudist beach.
Glenelg Beach had its own famous mystery disappearance. More on that in future quizzes in this series.
Ceduna is about 750 km north west from Adelaide.
Kangaroo island is off the coast near Adelaide.
|Some criminals, regardless of their crimes, seem to gain support from the public.
In 1959 Kevin John Simmonds earned public support. What did he earn it for?|
After escaping from prison he was on the run for 36 days.. Kevin John Simmonds managed to escape from New South Wales prison with Leslie Allan Newcombe.
For some reason the public failed to remember that Simmonds was in prison for a reason! He had previously pleaded guilty to 60 charges and copped a 15 year sentence. He became front page news around Australia following his escape.
As soon as they had got out of the prison they dragged a woman from her car and stole it. A few days later they broke into Emu Plains Prison Farm to load up on supplies and killed the warder in the process by bashing him to death with a baseball bat. Now armed with the warders gun they were the targets of a massive manhunt. The manhunt was the biggest ever seen in NSW.
Simmonds and Newcombe decided to go their separate ways. It only took two weeks for police to net Newcombe.
Simmonds was a bit harder to catch. After a few close shaves, smashing his way through a road block and hiding out in the bushland, his luck finally dried up.
He was caught and was convicted of manslaughter (along with Newcombe). He was given a life sentence and committed suicide in jail.
While Simmonds was on the run a school girl started a fan club in his honour and letters of support flooded into the newspapers.
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