Capital Punishment

 
Hangman's noose, Fremantle Prison Gallows, 1991.
Courtesy of West Australian Newspaper.

During the early days of settlement in Western Australia between 1829 and 1855, legal executions of convicted criminals appear to have taken place in various localities including York, Perth, Fremantle, and Canning River. In some cases, prisoners condemned to hang were executed at the spot where they had committed the crime.

Perth Gaol opened in 1856, and until 1888 it was the major focus for legal executions by hanging in the State.

In 1867 the Imperial Convict Establishment at Fremantle was renamed Fremantle Prison, and in 1886 it was handed over to the colonial government as a major high security prison. One of the first things the government did was to build a gallows there in 1888. This became the only place of legal execution in Western Australia between 1888 and 1984. During that time 43 men and 1 woman were hanged there.

The last person to be hanged at the gallows in Fremantle Prison was Eric Edgar Cooke, in 1964. Cooke was a serial killer, and although charged with, and tried for, only one murder, evidence plus his own voluntary confessions, indicate that he killed a number of others during his three or four year reign of terror in the suburbs of Perth.

Most hangings at Fremantle Prison were carried out on a Monday morning at 8.00am.

Prior to this time, the hangman was responsible for seeing that a number of things were in order. These included: testing the trapdoor mechanism functioned properly; eliminating any potential for the rope to stretch; and determining the length of rope needed to properly execute a condemned person, using calculations accounting for their height, and their weight.

On the day of the execution, the condemned person was woken around 5.30 am. He showered, and was given breakfast. He was then transferred from death row, located in the New Division cell block, to a cell in the Solitary Confinement block, where he was kept under constant surveillance. He was allowed the services of a priest or an equivalent, and offered the option of a glass of whiskey.

At the allotted time the prisoner was escorted to the gallows with his hands and feet secured in leather shackles and his head covered by a cloth hood.

The formalities of the ritual were strictly observed. Once everything was in place the event happened very quickly. The time from leaving the condemned cell in Solitary Confinement to the actual hanging was around 60 seconds.

Executions listed by date

 

NAME

 

CRIME

 

PLACE EXECUTED

 

DATE OF EXECUTION

 

Long, Jimmy

Murder

Fremantle Prison

02/03/1889

Pres, Arle

Murder

Fremantle Prison

08/11/1889

Ah Chi           

Murder

Fremantle Prison

16/04/1891

Chew Fang

Murder

Fremantle Prison

29/04/1892

Lyee Nyee

Murder

Fremantle Prison

29/04/1892

Sin Cho Chi

Murder

Fremantle Prison

29/04/1892

Young Quong

Murder

Fremantle Prison

29/04/1892

Mahomet Goulam

Murder

Fremantle Prison

02/05/1896

Jumna Khan

Murder

Fremantle Prison

31/03/1897

De La Cruz, Pedro

Murder

Fremantle Prison

19/07/1900

Perez, Peter

Murder

Fremantle Prison

19/07/1900

Peters, Samuel

Murder

Fremantle Prison

09/07/1902

Psichitsas, Stelios

Murder

Fremantle Prison

15/04/1903

Mailliat, Fredrick

Murder

Fremantle Prison

21/04/1903

Rocca (Rokka), Sebaro

Murder

Fremantle Prison

07/07/1903

Ah Hook

Murder

Fremantle Prison

11/01/1904

Mianoor, Mohomet

Murder

Fremantle Prison

04/05/1904

Espada, Simeon

Murder

Fremantle Prison

14/12/1905

Hagan, Charles

Murder

Fremantle Prison

14/12/1905

Marquez, Pablo

Murder

Fremantle Prison

14/12/1905

Sala, Antonio

Murder

Fremantle Prison

19/11/1906

De Kitchilan, Augustin

Murder

Fremantle Prison

23/10/1907

Smith, Harry G.

Murder

Fremantle Prison

23/03/1908

Oki, Iwakichi

Murder

Fremantle Prison

22/10/1908

Rendell, Martha

Murder

Fremantle Prison

06/10/1909

Robustelli, Peter

Murder

Fremantle Prison

09/02/1910

Smart, Alexander

Murder

Fremantle Prison

07/03/1911

Smithson, David H.

Murder

Fremantle Prison

25/07/1911

Spargo, Charles

Murder

Fremantle Prison

01/07/1913

Odgers, Charles H.

Murder

Fremantle Prison

14/01/1914

Sacheri, Andrea

Murder

Fremantle Prison

12/04/1915

Rosland, Frank

Murder

Fremantle Prison

12/03/1923

Rennie, Royston

Murder

Fremantle Prison

02/08/1926

Coulter, William

Murder

Fremantle Prison

25/10/1926

Trefene, Phillip J.

Murder

Fremantle Prison

25/10/1926

Milner, John Sumpter

Murder

Fremantle Prison

21/05/1928

Hulme, Clifford

Murder

Fremantle Prison

03/09/1928

Fanto, Antonio

Murder

Fremantle Prison

18/05/1931

Smith, John T.

Murder

Fremantle Prison

13/06/1932

Tapci, Karol

Murder

Fremantle Prison

23/06/1952

Thomas, Robert J.

Murder

Fremantle Prison

18/06/1960

Fallows, Mervyn

Murder

Fremantle Prison

06/06/1961

Robinson, Brian

Murder

Fremantle Prison

20/01/1964

Cooke, Eric Edgar

Murder

Fremantle Prison

26/10/1964

 INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT - FOR AND AGAINST

Western Australia’s State Parliament passed legislation abolishing capital punishment in 1984. The short title of that Act is Acts Amendment (Abolition of Capital Punishment) Act 1984.

If you are studying this subject and need information about the arguments for and against, we suggest that you visit either your school library or your local library. Here are some suggestions about searching for texts on the subject-

For information on the topic generally look in your library collection under the Dewey Decimal subject classification number 364.66. Also you may look up the following subjects in the library catalogue to see what books and other materials on the topic are held in the collection:

·         Capital punishment

·         Death penalty

Look up the subjects in your library’s encyclopedias, usually kept in the Reference section & not for loan.

Ask at your school or local library if they have any of the books listed below. Your local public library will probably have the listed encyclopedias in its reference collection. If not, try other encyclopedias on their reference shelves.

Most of the books listed below are available through your local public library. You may have to ask the librarian to obtain a title for you on inter-library loan. In some cases it could take a number of weeks before the book becomes available for you to use, so do not leave your assignment until the day before it is due for handing in. Plan ahead so you have resources in plenty of time for you to make use of them.

Suggested reading

The Australian Encyclopedia (1988) (check in the Reference section)

Capital Punishment: the Death Penalty Debate (1997) by Ted Gottfried

The Death Penalty: Opposing Viewpoints (1986) edited by Bonnie Szumski (and others)

End of the line: capital punishment in Australia (1994) by Michael Victory (this has an excellent chapter on the arguments for & against)

For and against: an anthology of public issues in Australia (1989) edited by R. Giles

The New Encyclopaedia Britannica Micropaedia Vol. 2 p831 (check in the Reference section)

On Capital Punishment (1985) by William H. Baker

Punishment and the Death Penalty: the Current Debate edited by Robert M. Baird & Stuart E. Resenbaum

When the State Kills: the Death Penalty v. Human Rights (1989) Amnesty International

The World Book Encyclopedia Vol. 3 p114 (check in the Reference section)