Murder In Fig Street

Frederick Giblett, a former bank clerk, had fallen on bad times.  In August 1899 he was boarding in Jones Street.  He had been courting Eliza Absalom, a cousin of his ex-wife, who with her sisters made a living on Fig Street as dressmakers. Giblett’s marriage proposal was refused, but he persisted.

One evening, when he was refused entry,

he took a cab, drove to the city, and purchased a revolver… and a box of 50 cartridges…He appeared quite calm, and had some conversation with Mr. Davis, who sold him the revolver.

When he knocked again, Eliza slammed the door and Giblett opened fire. Neighbours arrived to find a family friend, Ernest Williams, dying, Emily seemingly sharing his fate, Lilly bleeding and Eliza traumatised. Giblett confessed his crime to his landlord and handed over the revolver before Constable Clark arrived to arrest him.

On trial, Giblett had the good fortune to be defended by Sir George Reid, former Premier and future Prime Minister. Reid persuaded the jury and the judge that Giblett had been deceived by Eliza and mistreated by Williams, so manslaughter was a sufficient penalty.

The judge advised that if a person so provoked lost control and fired a shot without intending to kill, the crime was manslaughter. The jury accepted this surprising advice.

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