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1921: Chrissie Clare Venn

Discussion in 'Historical Cold Cases - Pre 1950' started by Lily, Jul 25, 2015.

  1. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Chrissie Clare Venn (25 July 1907 – c. 20 February 1921) was a 13-year-old Australian girl whose unsolved murder outside the village of North Motton (or Mutton) near Ulverstone, Tasmania, Australia was a sensation of the day.[2]

    The murder
    Venn was the daughter of George Arthur and Eva May (née Chilcott) Venn. At approximately 5 p.m. on 20 February 1921, Venn left the family home on Allison Road to run some errands in the village of North Motton—a distance of approximately three miles—and never returned home. A search was mounted but it was not until the morning of 1 March that Venn's mutilated body was found in a hollow tree stump located close to the road where Venn would have travelled as she walked to North Motton.[3]

    Another source gives differing details: The murder purportedly occurred on 26 February 1921. The body was not mutilated and Venn had been either been suffocated or strangled. George William King was tried for the crime in a trial that commenced 2 August 1921. The trial had been moved from the North West Coast of Tasmania to Hobart, the first change of venue ever requested and approved for a trial in Tasmania. George William King was defended by Albert Ogilvie, who went on to become Premier of Tasmania. King was acquitted of the murder. [4]

    George William King
    King had been a member of the search party. He became a suspect in Venn's murder due to marks on his hands that he ascribed to an accident during the search for Venn.[5] King, a 35 year old former miner and policeman, was arrested on 8 March and charged with her murder.[6] King's trial started in Hobart during June and on 11 August he was acquitted.[7]

    Kimster likes this.
  2. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    North Motton Tragedy.


    Intense interest was in evidence at the Ulverstone Courthouse on Tuesday morning when the adjourned inquest into the cause of death of the young girl, Chrissie Venn, 13 years of age, whose dead body was found concealed in the stump of a tree near North Mot- ton, on Tuesday, March 1, was resumed.

    On the day the inquest was first opened evidence of identification of the deceased was given by Arthur Chilcott, an uncle, who resides at Riana. He said she was between 13 and 14 years of age, residing with her mother on the Allison road, about three miles beyond North Motton, and about seven miles inland from Ulverstone.


    At the outset Mr. Hall asked for permission to appear for the accused, as he had no standing to appear without permission. The permission was given. Chief Detective Oakes said the enquiry would be a tedious one, and would last for two or three days. It would be essential for the jury and the coroner to visit the locality. There would be cross-roads, waterfalls, and other features of local interest to view. The Coroner said he was of opinion it would be desirable to visit the locality.


    Chief Detective Oakes said that on February 26 Chrissie Venn was murdered. On that day King was working within half a mile of the crime. He lived on that road, and would know of her passing. He was in the habit of speaking to the girl, who had stated she did not like King. The movements of everyone else in the district bad been satisfactorily traced.

    Her mother's evidence would show that she left home for North Motton at 5 p.m. Charles Purton saw her after 5 p.m. He was ploughing some distance away with his brother. Purton saw the girl passing along the road, near the spot.

    J. Hearps heard a scream and so did his brother, but as the scream was not repeated they did not go to the scene. It was impossible for Hearps' brothers to have left the field. Hearps' father would prove that his sons mentioned the scream to him.

    Miss Purton and Kennedy passed the spot about 20 minutes after that time. Charles Purton had passed Hearps' road, close to where the body was found. Miss Pur- ton passed Kennedy at the waterfall, passing King's house some 300 yards ahead of Kennedy. No other persons than Miss Purton and Kennedy had passed along the road about this time.

    King stated he was in the vicinity of the murder on the afternoon in question. There was thick scrub about, and there was no doubt the person committing the crime would be concealed in the scrub at the time, in the vicinity of the stump where the body was found. When King was asked to give an account of his where-abouts he said he came home at 4 o'clock on the Saturday afternoon, and saw Charles Purton pass. Then he went out and saw Kennedy drive up, followed by Miss Purton, and Kennedy was speaking to her at intervals. But Kennedy and Miss Purton would say that they were not talking, and were some hundreds of yards apart, and evidence to support this could be given by Charles Purton. Further, that the pig owned by King was at the water trough after 5 p.m., though King said he had brought the pig home at 4 p.m.

    After being interviewed by the police King approached Kennedy and suggested to him that he (King) was in his potato patch. Kennedy replied he did not see him, to which King replied: ''I wish to God you had seen me." He was trying to prove an alibi. King first explained that scratches on his face were caused by his wife, who was skylarking with him when they were trying to see who would get the first kiss from their little girl. There was a cut on the back of the hand which he said was caused when searching for the body; but evidence would be given that the hand was cut on the Sunday. There were other explanations given later, some of which were positively contradicted. John Hearps would say that the scratches which King said were caused on Tuesday were seen previously by him (Hearps) on the Sunday. The medical evidence would go to prove the scratches were caused by human fingers. King had explained to the police that his desire to prove an alibi was due to his desire not to be drawn into the trouble. These were outlines of the evidence which they were going to establish. King was the only man about whose actions were not accounted for at time time of the crime.


    Ena May Dawes, mother of the murdered girl, who appeared much distressed, said her daughter was 14 years on July 25 last. On the Saturday her daughter disappeared she sent her to a store at North Motton to get groceries, meat, and go to the Post Office. Her daughter was a strong girl— big for her age. When her daughter did not return at 7 p.m. she went down the road several times to try and see her. She did not go very far. It was about 5 when the child left, and the trip generally occupied 1 3-4 hours. She had a basket, cloth, and 9/7 in change on her when she left home.


    Trooper Albert Jackson, stationed at Forth, produced a plan prepared of all the places likely to be referred to at the enquiry, giving a list of various pla- ces likely to be referred to during the trial. It was drawn to scale and prepared by Inspector Doyle. Witness had cut a hole in the stump where the body was found. The stump was 9 ft. 6 in. on the top side. It was situate near Hearps' road and Allison road. From the hole cut in the stump rotten wood was removed. There was no money found. The stump was 33 feet round and 20ft. round at the top. The hole in the stump was 16 inches in diameter. At this stage the coroner and jury were taken by motor to view the scene of the crime. Mr. Hall thought the visit was not necessary. There should be no communication with the jury, and in any case King should be also present. In his own interests, King should go up and see what the jury were being shown. Nothing more, but nothing less.

    Chief Detective Oakes — It is your duty to go, Mr. Hall?
    Mr. Hall— It is not my duty. I know my duty, sir.

    The Coroner said it was more essential for counsel than for accused to go as the latter knew the locality well, having lived there for some years. There would be a seat for Mr. Hall.

    Mr. Hall— Oh, Mr. Hall is not going, sir!

    At 10.55 the Court adjourned until 2.30.



    Upon the Court resuming after the visit paid by the jury to the scene of the tragedy, the first witness was a youth, 17 years of age, named Robert McKay, who said he resided at Allison road. He left his home at 3.30 p.m. on Saturday, February 26. He lived beyond the home of Chrissie Venn. Returning home he saw Chrissie Venn standing at her doorway, about 5 o'clock. She called out, "Hello, Robert." She was dressed either in cream or white. He met Mr. Bert Purton about half a mile on the North Motton side of the house where deceased lived. He spoke to Trevor Badcock on the top of the hill near King's residence. He met Charles Purton on the road about half a mile after he (witness) had passed Chrissie Venn's house on the further side. Witness proceeded on his way home, while C. Purton, who was riding, was going in tbe direction of North Motton. He saw no one about the scene of the tragedy. He had a conversation with Charles Purton. He first heard of the girl being missing on tbe following Monday night. It was after 5 o'clock when he got home on the Saturday afternoon.


    Detective Frederick T. Harmon, stationed at Devonport, deposed that he knew the accused, George William King, present in custroy. On March 2, in company with Sergeant Tomkinson, he proceeded to the scene of the murder of Chrissie Venn at North Motton, about 6½ miles from Ulver- stone. He interviewed King in company with the sergeant on the following day.

    King said he knew Chrissie Venn, and remembered Saturday, February 26, and stated be was hoeing potatoes in Hearps' paddock, just below where J. Hearps, jun., and Thomas Hearps were ploughing, and near the scene of the tragedy. He admitted he was in sight of Allison road, between Mrs. Dawes' house and Hearps' road. He said he knocked off work at 8.30, and crossed Hearps' paddock just above tbe gate, where the crime was committed. He went across a pea paddock and straight home, about a quarter of a mile distant. On the way home he saw his wife's sow on the road, near the waterfall. He drove the pig home, and she was never out again that day, as he penned her up. He said he got the scratch on the face by the unintentional action of his wife, while they were larking to see who would kiss their little girl first on the Sunday morning. He was asked about the scratches on bis right hand, and said he did that when he was out searching for Chrissie Venn on the Tuesday following her disappearance.


    Detective Harmon proceeded that King was asked to account for his movements on the Saturday. He stated he saw Charles Purton and a boy pass by bis house, going in the direction of North Motton, at about 5.30 p.m. Charles Purton was on a horse and the boy was on a bicycle. Young Kennedy also passed by. He said he had never carried anything along the road for Chrissie Venn. He admitted meeting her one day on the road when she was carrying a big load. He told her she had a big load, and it was a wonder her mother did not send someone with her. He had never known the deceased to get off the road out of the way when he waa passing. He admitted being at the house of Mrs. Dawes (Chrissie's mother) and staying there till midnight. He had never stayed there all night. Witness again interviewed King on March 4. He stated that on the Saturday night he was taking the milk across the road to Badcock's to sepa- rate it when he saw his sow on the road again. He was sure he left his work at 3.30 on the Saturday, and that he did not see anyone about the bush, as he passed through the pea paddock on his way home.


    Witness then warned accused that anything he said might be used in evidence against him. On March 6, in consequence of a communication that King wished to see him, be proceeded to his house at North Motton, in company with Chief Detective Oakes. King said he had received an anonymous letter, accusing him of the murder. He said in reply to Mr. Oakes that he knew deceased well ; that she used to often pass his residence on the way to North Motton; that she used to pass two or three times a week; that he used to pass her on the road time after time; that he once saw her in company with a soldier on the road. But he added that he had never heard anything against the girl's character, or to her discredit. He knew Maggie Hearps, who was two or three years older than Chrissie, but Chrissie was the taller of the two; he understood Cbrissie weighed over 8 stone, and that she was a girl with the development of a woman. He also said that Chrissie had visited his house two months previously on business; that he had passed her on tbe road between his place and Hearps'; that she was a stand-off kind of a girl; and so when he saw her heavily laden he had not offered to assist her. He told the girl that her mother should send little Dawn, her sister, to help her with her loads.

    He said he had seen the deceased last on Saturday, February 19 last. On Sunday, February 27, his children had told him that Chrissie was missing. He did not tell anyone what his children had said as he did not place much reliance on it. J. Hearps, sen., called on him on the night of February 27, asking him why be was not out. Accused's reply was, "What for? Do you mean Chrissie?" Accused then asked if there was any truth in the rumor. Hearps' reply was, "Too right, there is. There is foul play somewhere ; the girl was heard to scream. Young Kennedy has gone to ring up the police."

    King added that a search had been made on the Sunday afternoon. King also added that he was a member of the search party on the Monday, and was in close touch with Mr. Smith all day, also with Mr Bob Jones on Tuesday, searching for the body. Mr C. Fogg had made arrangements of the search party. King related that he kept on the lower side of the Allison road while searching. He heard someone call out from the other side that the body had been found. Just previously he had heard a coo-ee.


    Detective Harmon added that King was then asked what he thought about the affair. The reply was that he thought someone was waiting at the roadside for the first person that came along, and committed the offence, returned early the next day, and put the body in the stump. He added that he did not go down to look et tbe body when it was removed from the stump. He stood some distance away from the others, but noticed a chain bangle on deceased's wrist. King said he noticed the Hearps' boys ploughing above where he was digging potatoes. When leaving the potato paddock, King said, he took a direct line home across the country. Accused said he drove the sow home and made her secure. When he got home his wife made a cup of tea for him, and he never left the premises again until he went across to Badcock's to separate the milk, about 8 p.m. He got home about 4 p.m. and after this had the cup of tea. After coming back from Badcock's he remained home all the evening.

    King said he asked John Hearps. jun., why he did not go to the child that screamed, and Hearps' reply was that he did not know for certain why he had not gone. He asked Hearps, "Why did you remark to your father about the murder, and why did you not go when you heard the scream?" Hearps' reply, according to King, was that if he heard another scream he would have gone to see what the matter was. Hearps also said the man who did it might have waited in the bush and cracked anybody who came on the scene. King was asked when this conversation with Hearps took place, and his reply was, "A day or so after the body was found." King said Charles Purton passed his house on horseback between 5 and 6 p.m. King was inside at the time. He was standing in his potato patch near his house, between 4 and 6 p.m., when he saw Mr. C Kennedy and Miss Purton passing his house, Kennedy being in the lead. About 4.30 p.m, a motor bicycle and side car passed; also he saw McKay on the road an hour before he saw Charles Purton. It was about half-an-hour after seeing C. Purton that he (King) saw Kennedy and Miss Purton.


    On March 7 King was again interviewed by the Chief Detective and witness, when he was again carefully warned, and informed that there was considerable comment about the scratches on the back of his right hand. He was told that in fairness to himself, to the police, and all concerned, his hand should be photographed; that the scratches might disappear in the course of a few days, and that it would then be impossible to accurately describe them.

    King consented, and the photo. was taken by Mr G. P. Taylor, in the presence of witness, the Chief Detective, and Dr. Ferris. The doctor also examined the scratch on the back of the hand. King was asked where he was on the afternoon of Saturday, February 26, when Mr Fogg, the grocer, called, and replied, that he was at the rear of his house. Asked if any person saw the marks on the back of his hands, he replied that he bad called Mr Robert Jones' attention to the marks when he was near the stump, waiting for the body to be removed, on the Tuesday. He said his hand was bleeding at the time, and he called Mr Jones' attention to it. He told Jones the scratches were caused during the search, and that his wife said to him, "You have been cutting your hand again." His reply was, "Yes, I did it in the search."

    King was then asked where be was on the Sunday afternoon. His reply was, "Out to Saltmarsh's place.' North Motton;" also that he had came back with Jack Hearps, jun., and Billy Purton. They had given him a ride in a cart. King was informed that his wife had said he did not show her the scratches on the back of bis hand, and that she intended to examine them. He was also told his wife said he was not home when Fogg, the grocer, called, and that a conversation had taken place between his wife and himself, in which she informed him later in the evening of the Saturday that Fogg, the grocer, had nearly caught her with no boots and stockings on. King said: "Probably I was not there when Fogg called," and added; "It looks bad for me, a tall man could put the body up in that stump." King was told that a girl could be murdered and put up in that stump in 20 minutes.


    King was then asked if he ever took fits, or did things of what he had afterwards no recollection, and he replied, "No!" He also said he "'would not do a tragedy like this." King was told he could not be cut out of it in their enquiries, and the further they went the blacker it looked for him. King was asked if he desired to ask any questions, or what the chief detective thought about the matter, and King said he would like to know what the detectives thought about the affair, and he was told that witness and the chief detective were in a position to prove that his statements were incorrect, that in his statements he had not made allowances for certain things that happened.

    King was told the police were not going to hurry things up, as it was a serious matter indeed, but that it would be cleared up within the next 24 hours. King replied; "I expect you will arrest me. I will not run away, as I would like to dig the potatoes for my wife; if every person told the truth I would not be afraid." He added that if wrong evidence were given he would "do his block." King was told the photographs of his hand would prevent any wrong impression being formed.


    On the following day King was again interviewed by the chief detective and witness, and his attention was again called to the fact of his being previously warned. He was asked who split the posts and rails near Hearps' road. He replied; "I did so some time ago." He was informed that people said that Chrissie Venn was afraid of him, and would go into the bush to avoid meeting him. King said he had no knowledge about this. He had seen her at a distance, and never saw her leave the road. King was pressed closely regarding the time he saw Miss Purton, Kennedy, and Charles Purton. The time between the passing of C. Purton and that when Miss Purton and Kennedy passed was not more than two minutes. He said Kennedy's vehicle was leading Miss Purton's and they were close together talking. King was asked why he put it to Kennedy-- "Did you see me on Saturday?" when he said Kennedy had seen him. King's reply was whereabouts at this particular time, as he did not wish to be dragged into the affair, and to make sure people saw him at home, about the time the murder was committed.

    He was then asked if he knew what time the murder was committed, and he said it was supposed the girl left home about 5 p.m. He was then asked for the reply Kennedy made to him to his question. The answer of King was that Kennedy replied: "Good heavens, if I had seen you, I would not have remembered it." King was asked what further reply he (King) made, and he said he remarked, "I wish to God you had caught sight of me there."

    King was asked where he was when McKay passed by, going towards Heanps' road. King said he was inside, as it was about 4 p.m. It was about 15 minutes after he had reached home, and his wife asked him in to have a cup of tea. King said definitely the scratch was put on his hand on Sunday, February 27. He said he did not interest himself in the newspaper reports of the case. The chief detective said it was strange he did not read the newspapers when he was trying to find out whether persons had seen him about his own place on Saturday. He admitted asking the Hearps boys whether they had seen him from their farm.


    On the following day King was again visited and asked if he wished to correct any of his previous statements, and King said, "No." Referring to the vehicles that passed, he said he took it from a glance that Cyril Kennedy was on one side and Miss Purton in the other. He was not too sure of their identity. The per- son in the leading vehicle was talk- ing to the occupant of the other. He could not say who was in the lead. King was then arrested on a charge of the wilful murder of Chrissie Venn.


    Detective Harmon added that on March 3 he found some hair (produced), a safety pin, and a small pin, and a piece of wire from a hay truss, one end showing a recent fracture. The hair was similar in color to that of deceased. He examined the wire on Hearps' gate, near the spot where the articles produced were found, and it corresponded. He also found the stick (produced) where the hair and pins were found alongside the log; it carried what was supposed to be a bloodstain. On March 4 he visited the same spot again in company with police and relatives of deceased, and found some more hair, the same color as that of deceased.

    During the course of their investigations they examined the pig and found it in the condition described by King.

    To Mr Hall--There were some variations in the information given by accused to the police. King had a very rigid examination at the hands of the chief detective and witness for five days. He gave witness a letter and envelopes which appeared to have come through the post.
    Mr Hall— Where are they?
    Witness — With the Commissioner of Police.
    Mr Hall--They ought to be here.
    Detective Oakes--They will be here before the enquiry closes.

    Witness offered the opinion that the murder could have been committed and the body disposed of in 20 minutes. He made this statement on his own authority. The police had interviewed accused twice when he spoke to Kennedy.

    Mr Hall--And when you had done this, don't you think it was time for him to look for evidence as to his whereabouts?
    Witness--Accused never fixed the time of his movements to the minute, but put it "about that time."
    To the Jury--Accused told me he took the pig home through Badcock's.

    The letter referred to in examination is anonymous, and will be produced at a later stage.


    The evidence of Detective Harmon was concluded about 7 p.m., and the Court adjourned until 10 a.m. to-day. Detective Harmon had been in the box for nearly four hours and gave voluminous evidence covering several interviews with the accused. He gave his testimony in a clear, concise, well-ordered, and altogether able manner, rarely being at fault with the details, and revealing a masterly grip of the case and a remarkably retentive memory, which was a surprise to all in the Court.


    The Coroner announced that the medical evidence would be taken today, and said that its nature would be brought up in detail. He saw a number of women in the crowded court that day, and expressed the hope that they would stay away when the medical evidence was being taken. If they persisted in attending he would be compelled to express the opinion that they would not be able to call themselves ladies.


    The central figure of interest in the count was the accused man, George William King, who occupied the dock. At an early stage Chief-Detective Oakes asked the Coroner to give permission for accused to take a seat, explaining that the case would occupy the best part of three days, and it would be unfair to keep him standing. King thereupon was provided with a chair. The accused is a farm worker. He is a tall, thinly-built man of powerful frame, measuring 6ft 4in in height. He was well dressed yesterday, his hair was neatly brushed, and his face closely shaven. He is 36 years of age, and of a bright and intelligent appearance. He evidently maintained a close interest in the case, and frequently leaned across the dock to speak to his solicitor.

  3. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member


    LAUNCESTON, Friday. -

    From the hollow tree in which the body of the murdered young girl Crissie Venn was found, the police discovered evidences of a violent struggle. A quantity of hair similar to that of the murdered girl, was picked up, also a safety-pin and pieces of torn underclothing.

    It was shown at the preliminary inquiry today that the body was terribly mutilated, bearing out the worse fear. The police have the suspect under notice. Rumors point to further sensational developments shortly.

    I think "the worst fear" is a quaint term for 'rape'. I was reading a case report that said there was mention of Chrissie being previously molested, something about the medical examination to do with that, and that she may have been sexually active at the time. BUT these are unverified, not facts til I find the source. I think this may have come from a rare, out of print booklet about the crime. Will see if I can dig up a copy anywhere.

    Poor kid.
  4. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    While a number of the search party were awaiting at the intersection of the roads for others, one of them looked into a stump at the roadside. The action seemingly prompted another to investigate a second stump. This proved to be solid, and, while looking round from the sapling upon which he had mounted, he saw, higher up on the hill, another and larger stump. He proceeded to it, and noticed that the 'charcoal on the burnt shoe hole had been crushed, as if by a boot.

    As he investigated further he saw similar conditions with regard to a "spike" or projecting piece of burnt wood on the side of the stump. As he climbed he heard what he considered to be the buzzing of a blow-fly, and when finally he pulled himself to the top and looked into the hollow, he saw the body of the missing girl within.

    The accused man King was with another search party that morning, but was present at the stump when the body was removed.

    Other evidence on Thursday was designed to show that King was not speaking the truth when he told the police that he had, at the stump that morning, showed his injured hand to one of the searchers named Robert Jones, and to indicate also the improbability of the truth of King's statement that the marks on his hand were caused by a fall from a log whilst engaged in the search.

  5. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

  6. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    On Saturday the 26th February 1921, Chrissie Clare Venn was cruelly and brutally murdered at the once quiet and peaceful hamlet of North Motton.

    The body was found on Allison Road, by the farm of John Hearps Sr. The appearance of the body showed unmistakable signs that a violent murder had been committed. The bodice of her white muslin dress had been ripped and shoved into her throat. Dr Ferris, who made the post-mortem, gave evidence that Chrissie suffocated from the gag in her mouth, placed there by her attacker, when she had uttered the piercing scream which was heard by the two young Hearps boys while ploughing in the farm some distance away. The scream not being repeated, no aid came to the unfortunate girl, who met with dishonour and then death after which the body was hauled into a gigantic hollowed out stump in the lonely and secluded site of the crime.

    No one has ever been found guilty of the crime.

    Hostility surrounds this murder and for over 80 years since the trial, nobody has spoken “on the record” of her murder.

    Mr King, a pig farmer who had originally been convicted of the murder, was acquitted, but was said to have committed suicide some years later.

  7. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    An extraordinary position has arisen at North Motton, Tasmania, at the enquiry into the death of Chrissie Venn, 13, who was murdered on February 26.

    The jury brought in a verdict "That Chrissie Venn was wilfully murdered at North Motton by some person or persons unknown, but we are of the opinion that the weight if evidence is sufficiently strong against the accused, George William King, to warrant his committal for trial."

    Mr. Nicholls, the coroner, described this as a "yes-no" verdict. and said that it placed him in a quandary.

    Mr. Hall, counsel for King, claimed that the jury should be dismissed. The question of committal or non-commited was not one for the jury, but for the coroner. Clearly there was a doubt in the minds of the jury. and its verdict should be accepted. leaving it for the authorities to decide whether they would prosecute further.

    The coroner adjourned the enquiry for the purpose of obtaining advice from the town law officers.

  8. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

  9. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    20 August, 1921

    The trial of George William King for the murder of Chrissie Venn at North Mottn {Tas.) on February 26 was concluded after lasting seven days. The jury, after six hours deliberation, returned a verdict of not guilty.


    ----- Seems Chrissie's case led to criminal law reform. I find myself 100% agreeing with this gutsy group of women from days gone by.. Pity the laws have relaxed so much since then.

    27 August 1921



    HOBART, Friday- The fact that the murderer of Chrissie Venn, the victim of the North Motton tragedy, was still at large, and the necessity of pro- viding more protection for women and children, were two of the subjects brought under the notice of the At- torney General (Hon. W. B. Propsting) to-day by a deputation of women from the Association of Criminal Law Reform. The deputation furnished a list of societies connected with their association, and stated that it was the biggest organised body of women in Tasmania, with the possible exception of the Red Cross Society.

    The speakers all emphasised the necessity of affording a greater degree of protection by law to women and children, and also that men guilty of sexual offences should be regarded by law as abnormal and dangerous to society, and should be detained under indefinite sentences. The deputationists also asked that efforts to discover the murderer of Chrissie Venn be not relaxed, as in their opinion the murderer was a sexual maniac.

    The Attorney-General, in reply, said that under the Prevention of Cruelty to and the Protection of Children's Acts, provision was made for what appeared to be, both in regard to fine or the period of imprisonment by judge or magistrate, adequate penalties; but the actual amount of the fine, or the extent of the imprisonment; after all, was in the discretion of the judge or magistrate, whoever happened to be trying the particular case. So far as indeterminate sentences were concerned a Bill was being prepared which would repeal the Habitual Criminals and Offenders Act of 1907, and provide, that where any person is convicted, the judge might, if he thought fit, having regard to the antecedent character, associates and mental condition of the person convicted, the nature of the offence and any special circumstances of the case, direct as part of his sentence that prisoner, on the expiration of his term of imprisonment thus imposed, be detained during the Governor's plea- sure in a reformatory prison.

    Proceeding, Mr. Propsting said that the subject matter of their other resolutions and the petition had, in March last, been submitted by him to the Director of Public Health, and Dr. Morris, during the course of his memorandum on the subject, stated, regarding the treatment of sexual perverts, that if the first punishment did not act as a deterrent, the person concerned was either definitely mentally deficient, or sexually defective, such as constituted him a menace to society, so he should not be allowed an opportunity, to commit future offences. Each case should, in his opinion, be thoroughly examined during his sentence by an expert board of inquiry, which would act as a certain safeguard against allowing dangerous mental defectives unrestricted liberty.


    13 September, 1921



    Just prior to the conclusion of the Devonport Council meeting yesterday afternoon the Warden (Cr. H. H. McFie) made reference to the failure of the police to trace the murderer of Chrissie Venn. Cr. Vertigan had referred to the matter, and he was in accord with his remarks.

    Cr. Vertigan said they could best realise the full seriousness of the matter by thinking of their own families. It made him shudder to think of the young girl being done to death in the open country in such a horrible manner. The police authorities should leave no stone unturned to run the murderer to earth. He did not altogether blame the police, but he thought representations should be made to the Commissioner of Police urging the department not to rest until the guilty party was brought to book.

    Cr. Leary considered it a disgrace to the country to have such a crime unpunished.

    The Warden said Mr. D. D. Griffin had suggested to him that a couple of black-trackers should be retained for such cases. Had there been black-trackers on the case the culprit would probably have been caught long since.

    A councillor: A big reward should be offered.

    A motion was carried urging the Commissioner of Police to give the matter further attention.

    Last edited: Jul 25, 2015
  10. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

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  11. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    .. just collecting details.

    Search parties were out all day Sunday and Monday, and about 11 30 this morning a number of search ers had assembled on the end of Hearps Lane, when one man noticed what looked like new marks in a chip hole. He at once, with some difficulty, scaled the stump, which was a large 0ne standing about 12ft. high, and found, to his horror, the body of the unfortunate child, which had been thrown head first into its hollow. In the interior her basket and handkerchief were found under the body, but of the few shillings she was known to be carrying no trace 'was found.

    Tho body was head downwards in the stump, and parts of the body were bare. On raising the body to the top he identified it as that of Chrissie Clare Venn. He noticed at thc time that there was a piece of hay band wire twisted tightly round the neck of deceased. There were two twists in the wire, which made it secure, and one end was longer than the other. Dr. Ferris removed the wire which was produced, and measures about a foot in length.

    He noticed at the bottom of the stump a basket, a bottle, cap and underclothing. He also noticed something in the mouth of deceased pressed tightly. It proved at the postmortem to be the front of the dress and a gold brooch. These articles were removed from the mouth. ...Underclothing, bloodstained, was produced, also shoes and stockings.

    The post-mortem examination gave such results as to clearly disclose that the girl had been violated and most brutally maltreated; that she struggled desperately with her assailant, and that the cause of death was suffocation by portion of her clothing being forced into her mouth and throat.

    ...the spot where the foul deed had been committed, at a site about 12 yards from the stump in which the body was discovered. They found a quantity of human hair (similar in color to that of the murdered girl), a safety pin, pieces of cotton clothing and a piece of wire.
    As she left home with 9/7 in her possession, detective Harmon pointed out that there was no doubt that the girl had also been robbed.

    Detective Harmon... informed a 'Daily Telegraph'' representative that a blood stained stick had been found in the vicinity of where the tragedy occurred, and also a quantity of short hair.

    Detective Harmon ..found.. a piece of wire from a hay truss, one end showing a recent fracture. ....That wire was similar to the wire found with the hair and safety-pins alongside the log. He examined the wire on Hearps' gate, near the spot where the articles produced were found, and it corresponded.

    --- it was speculated the wire (there was some around her neck, also) was used to haul Chrissie's body up the 9 ft stump.

    -- the location of the murder and body was about half a mile from Chrissie's home, in a deep ravine, A good description of it:
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  12. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    This is a very long article, but worth reading, as it contains some finer detail, particularly of the autopsy:

    The previous evening the Coroner plainly stated that he expected no woman who desired to consider herself a lady should attend, as thc medical evidence would be taken, and the details would probably be of an indelicate nature. Consequently none of the sex were present yesterday.

    The Doctor's Story:

    Dr. Frederick A. Ferris, Ulverstone, said that on March 1, at 1.15 p.m., in company with Sergt. Tomkinson and Mr. G. P. Taylor, he mótored to North Motton. Reaching the point on Allison road where Hearps' land branched off to the left, they went to a blackened stump some 40 or 50 yards off the lane. He climbed the stump and found it hollow. On looking into the cavity he saw the lower part of a human body, with the clothing disordered. The limbs wore exposed, as well as the lower part of the body. The legs were, however, covered with white stockings with black shoes on the feet, with tho soles upwards. The body was about 5 feet from the top of the slump. The body was raised with ropes by Sergt. Tomkinson, Constable Brown, and Arthur Jones.

    The body was that of a girl apparently from 11-15 years of age. The face was swollen, livid and bloodstained. There were maggots about the mouth and eyes. A piece of wire was tied tightly about the neck. The girl had been dead several days.

    The body was removed to the sample room of the Sea View Hotel, at Ulverstone, where witness made a post mortem examination at 3.45 on the same day, March 1. The body was dressed in white, white calico petticoats, white stockings, with black shoes. There was a piece of white tape in a green ribbon round the waist. There was a gold chain bangle on the right wrist, and a gold wedding ring on the ringfinger of the right hand. The dress was bloodstained about the neck on the right side; so was the right sleeve. The dress showed the marks of dirt; the right sleeve was torn; the dress was also torn in two places, on the back towards the right side. The petticoat was not torn, but much dirt-staincd. Under the left stocking, near the knee, there were two pieces of calico, showing blood stains, and adhering to the larger piece of calico were several long strands of brown hair and, attaching to the smaller piece, one or two strands and a tuft of brown hair. The hair was similar to that of deceased.

    There was a piece of hay band wire tightly around the neck and twisted at the back of the neck by two twists. One end of the wire was short, about a quarter of an inch, and had been freshly fractured. The other end was longer, about five inches, and was not recently fractured. The neck was much swollen, and, like the face, livid in color. The right eye-lid was especially swollen. Post mortem staining was very marked (?) on the right side of the head, neck, chest and abdomen; much less so on the left side of the body, though marked on both sides of the head, neck and shoulder. There was an abrasion on the bridge of the nose, and marks like scratches on the right breast, and over the ribs on the right side, extending down the right side of the abdomen; also the right knee, the left shoulder in front to the outer side, the left armpit, left breast, and left hip were bruised.

    Wedged tightly between the lips and teeth, and crowded back into the throat, was a piece of embroidery, eight inches by five (produced). There was pinned to it a gold bar brooch. The lower lip, tongue and lower jaw showed slight abrasions. Removing the wire a deep, dark brown, depressed mark was left around the neck, corresponding with the wire. The depression ran nearly circularly round the neck, though a little higher at the back than in front, where it crossed the neck at the lower level of the larynx. On incision there was no bruising of the tissues under the wire at any part.

    The tissues of the scalp were much congested, and contained dark fluid-blood. The brain was much congested, the windpipe congested, and there were a few small hemorrhages in the lining of the latter. The tricoid cartilage at the lower end of larynx was fractured. The muscles of the neck were very dark in color, and blood-stained. The stomach contained food, meat and vegetable matter, and the lining was plum color. The kidneys, liver and spleen were slightly congested. The heart contained dark fluid blood, especially on the right side. The veins of the neck were full of dark blood. The right lung was very congested with several hemorrhagic areas, thc left lung was congested to a lesser degree. The intestines were normal. There were some signs of putrefaction about the body. Ho examined some hair brought to him by Detective Harmon and Sgt. Tomkinson from the vicinity of tec struggle. Tho hair was ; similar to that of deceased. With one lot of hair there was a safety pin, a piece of wire, and a small piece of white material.

    On March 7, with Mr. O. P. Taylor, he went to North Motton and examined George King at his home. There was a small, almost heal ed, scratch on the upper lip, near the nosd, on the right side. On thc back of the right hand, near the base of thc middle finger, there was a small dried scab, nearly healed. There were several other scabs near thc basis of the ring and little fingers, and a larger mark on the back of the hand which had a scooped-out appearance. It was deepest nearest the fingers, where it was festering. He saw the hand being photographed. With thc exception of the first scratch, which was older, the scratches were in his opinion seven to ten days old. He examined them on March 7.

    Probable Cause of Death:

    Detective Oakes: Was the neck swollen much above normal size?
    -Yes, considerably - one to two inches.

    When you saw the wire on the neck, was it close to the neck?

    There was a fracture near the wind- pipe.
    Witness would say the fracture was caused by the wire. He could not say whether before or after death.

    Did you make an incision near the wire ?
    -Yes. I formed the opinion that the wire had been placed on the neck either just before or at some time after death. He could not say how long after. The marks on the body referred to at post-mortem occurred after death.

    What about the tongue?
    --It was crowded back into the throat.

    About the blood on the dress (produced)?
    --It could have got there after death, but I could not say whether it was not there before death.

    You examined the hair?
    -Yes; it was tangled and matted.

    - Were there bruises?
    -There was a good deal of blood stain in the tissues on the right side, which might have been post-mortem.

    From your post-mortem, what was the cause of death?
    -I should say suffocation from tho material placed in the mouth.

    That is the brooch and embroidery?
    -Yes. Death would occur in such circumstances from 30 seconds up to three or four minutes. The jaws would hardly be rigid three or four minutes after death, though it was possible rigor mortis would set itn early in a case of this kind-down to 20 minutes cases were on record.

    Witness had found evidence of the girl having been outraged.

    The marks on the hand of King appeared to have been scooped out; they could have been caused by human finger nails.

    The deceased girl was particularly well developed; she would weigh about eight stone, and she would be about 5ft 4in. in height.

    The Girl's Death Struggle:

    The Coroner: Wouldn't you say there had been a struggle before death?
    -From the appearance of both the clothing and the body I would say there had been a violent struggle before death.

    You spoke of post-mortem stains. Do those become more pronounced when the injuries are inflicted just prior to death?

    Were there any signs of bruising before death?
    -None that I could discover.

    A Juryman: How long after death was the body probably deposited in the stump?
    -I would not form any estimate of time, but it was probably soon placed in the stump, as thc post-mortem staining was all towards the head which was downward. After a body was dead for about 30 hours it lost the rigor of death, and became lax again.

    What the Wire was Used For:

    In further answer to the jury, the doctor gave the opinion that the wire was placed around the neck to help in putting the body in tho stump.

    Tho Foreman: Could a person insert his fingers under the wire?
    -It was impossible when I saw the swollen body it was conceivable for a person to have done so when the body was fresh dead.

    The Foreman : Is it possible the wire was put on to ensure the death of the girl?
    -That is possible. I am not sure whether it was placed on the neck before or after death, though probably the latter.

    Detective Oakes: The body being head downwards would assist in causing the swelling of the head and neck?
    --Yes. The swelling towards the head would be the more pronounced if the body were left in the stump soon after death than if left lying out for a long interval, (illegible) that the body was left downwards in the stump.

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  13. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Chrissie's father George Venn was (as far as I can tell..) lost at sea (or took off?) around 1911, when she was only 5 or 6 years old. He'd married Chrissie's mother when he was 18 and she was 24, in 1906. In 1913, Eva May was married again to Francis Dawes, of which came Chrissie's younger sister, but this marriage didn't last long (he divorced her?). She was living with a man named Llewellyn Warden in 1921, whom she would eventually have two more children with, and marry.

    As a tragic aside to an already tragic case, it seems the wife of one of Chrissie's paternal relatives (also living in Motton) committed suicide at around the same time that Chrissie was found murdered.

    From a researcher I found on Rootsweb:

    Eva May VENN was living with James VENN according to the Electoral roll of 1914, in North Motton. (Lily: where was Francis Dawes though? They'd only been married a year..)
    I believe James is the brother to Morton George Arthur VENN - cousins to George Arthur VENN
    (Lily: Chrissie's dad)

    James married Edith Mary REVELL in 1913
    (Lily: same year that Eva married Dawes) and seems to have had a son Jack b 1913, died 1985- but Edith is with her REVELL family in 1914- using her
    maiden name of REVELL, in North Motton.
    (Lily: So they maybe had a serious separation? While Eva was living there...)

    Edith is with James in North Motton 1919
    (Lily .. they'd got back together?), then disappears- there is a funeral notice in the papers 1921 saying Mrs James VENN's death was one of the saddest ever in the district.... another article tells of Edith's suicide - and a note (Lily: suicide note?) to Mr HEARPS ( the property where Chrissie was found) saying to go to Jim as he is in trouble..

    So that's interesting! I wonder what that note was about.
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  14. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    Eunice Parkin, at present staying in the Grand Hotel: I was walking along the beach this morning in company with my cousin, Miss Elvie Right when, some distance beyond Button Creek, I found a hand bag containing a gold brooch and a letter addressed to Mr. J Hearps, North Motton. It stated:

    Do go to Jim. He's in trouble. Do what you can to comfort him. I must go.

    This note was also pinned inside the lining: "I made my will and left it with Mrs. Chilcott; also war bonds." There was also a bank book. I handed over the property to Sergt. Tomkinson.

    The Coroner recorded the following verdict: That the deceased, Mrs. E. M. Venn, was found drowned in the East Ulverstone Beach on February 24, the evidence produced went to show that deceased committed suicide while temporarily insane.

    Very sad, all round.
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  15. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

    just to answer myself, hehehe:

    Immediately after the marriage respondent went to reside with her parents at North Motton.
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  16. Lily

    Lily Bronze Member

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    Lily Bronze Member

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    Lily Bronze Member

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    Lily Bronze Member

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    spike Bronze Member

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