18 January, 2014

January 18 Murders at Dunolly

1939 
REPRIEVE NOT LIKELY Dunolly Murders
It is most Improbable that the State Ministry will reverse its recommendation to the Governor In Council that sentence of death passed on Thomas William Johnson, aged 40 years, for the murder of two men at a delicensed hotel at Dunolly on October 3 should be carried out. Unless a reprieve is granted, Johnson will be hanged at Pentridge at 8 a.m. on Monday.
The Chief Secretary and Attorney General (Mr. Bailey) told a deputation yesterday that he could hold out little hope that the sentence of the Court would not be executed. It was impossible to call a special meeting of Cabinet, but he would discuss the representations with the Premier and other Ministers who were In Melbourne.
The deputation, which was introduced by the leader of the State Labour Parliamentary party (Mr. Cain), comprised representatives of the Federal and State Labour parties, the Trades Hall Council, and the secretary of the social service department of the Churches of Christ (the Rev. W. H. Clay).
Members of the deputation urged that hanging was not a deterrent to murder, and was repugnant to the Australian people.
"This is not a matter for the Government or the Governor in Council," Mr. Bailey said. "It is a matter for Parliament. The death penalty is prescribed by law, and it is for the people to say whether the law should be altered. The only responsibility of the Governor in Council is to decide whether the law shall take its course. The Cabinet went very thoroughly into the case, and it was only after mature consideration that it recommended to the Governor in Council that the law should take its course."

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