Library & Computing News: Special Collections Fossickings 23: True Crime 2. The Carpentaria Downs mystery

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17 October 1908, Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1885 - 1954), page 3

…Fanny, while a devoted mother to her children and stepchildren, was afraid of her bullying husband. Sharing her fear was the Aboriginal station-hand, Billy, who had been under Henry’s rigid control since childhood. The shadowy figure of Alwynne Wilson, the diffident and emotionally-damaged son of Henry’s first marriage, completes the cast of main characters. Of these it was the two most vulnerable, Fanny Wilson and station-hand Billy, who were charged with Nell’s murder. The Townsville Court House (photographed in 1906) where Fanny Wilson and Billy were sent for trial in 1908. J. Mathews Album, NQ Photographic Collection ID 21849  The trials took place in November in Townsville’s Supreme Court. In Billy’s trial the case was adjourned after the jury failed to agree on a verdict. When Fanny appeared the Crown prosecutor announced he would enter a record of “nolle prosequi”, literally meaning “unwilling to pursue”. Although not an acquittal, this meant the charge against Fanny was dropped.  At Billy’s second trial, in June 1909, he was acquitted. Nonetheless, the crime left in its wake a trail of several other deaths and a legacy of grief, injustice, shame and family break-up, affecting settlers and Aborigines alike. Stephanie Bennett makes a convincing case…