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1923, John Nugent - Unfit For Publication
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Evening News, Mon 17 Sep 1923 1

BY TABLECLOTH
————
PRISONER HANGED
————
SUICIDE IN CELL
————

Goulburn, Monday.

    John Nugent, 54, who was awaiting trial on a serious charge, was found dead in his cell at Goulburn Gaol yesterday. He was hanging by a tablecloth from an electric light bracket.

    A warder made the discovery, and cut down the body. A doctor stated that Nugent had been dead some hours.

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The Advertiser, Tue 18 Sep 1923 2

A PRISONER COMMITS
SUICIDE.
————

Sydney, September 17.

    A warder at the Goulburn Gaol made a gruesome discovery yesterday morning on entering a cell occupied by John Nugent, who was awaiting trial on a serious charge, [assaulting Robert Richard McGuire, with intent to commit sodomy]. He found the prisoner hanging dead from an electric light bracket. Nugent’s shirt was tied to a blanket, and a tablecloth was wound tightly round his neck and attached to his shirt.

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The Brisbane Courier, Tue 18 Sep 1923 3

PIONEER HANGS HIMSELF.
————

Sydney, September 17.

    John Nugent (aged 54 years), who was in the Goulburn Gaol awaiting trial on a serious charge, committed suicide by hanging himself with strips of tablecloth, tied to an electric light bracket. He had been dead some time when his body was discovered by the warder.

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The Mercury, Tue 18 Sep 1923 4

PRISONER’S SUICIDE.
———◦———
HANGS HMSELF WHILE WAITING
TRIAL.
——

Sydney, September 17.

    John Nugent, aged 54 years, who was in the Goulburn Gaol awaiting trial on a serious charge, committed suicide to-day by hanging himself with strips of a tablecloth tied to an electric light bracket. He had been dead some time when his body was discovered by a warder.

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The West Australian, Tue 18 Sep 1923 5

A PRISONER’S SUICIDE.

Sydney, Sept 17.

    John Nugent, aged 54 years, who was in Goulburn Gaol awaiting trial on a serious charge, committed suicide by hanging himself with strips of tablecloth tied to an electric light bracket. He had been dead some time when his body was discovered by a warder.

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Goulburn Evening Penny Post, Thu 20 Sep 1923 6

GOULBURN GAOL TRAGEDY.
————
The Inquest
————

Aerial view of Goulburn Gaol, c. 1930s. Image: NSW State Library collection. Reproduction: Peter de Waal
Aerial view of Goulburn Gaol, c. 1930s. Image: NSW State
Library collection. Reproduction: Peter de Waal

    The Coroner (Mr GR Williams, PM) conducted an inquest at the Goulburn Courthouse to-day (Thursday) concerning the death of John Nugent, 54, who was a confinee in Goulburn Gaol awaiting trial.

    Dr Gillespie, visiting medical officer at the gaol, deposed that on proceeding to the gaol he found the body of deceased lying on the floor of cell No 34. Around Nugent’s neck there was a piece of unbleached calico tied in a slip-knot. Witness was told that the calico was the customary tablecloth given to prisoners in their cells. The body had been cut down. The end of the tablecloth was attached by a shirt to the electric light bracket in the cell. It was evident that the prisoner had been dead eight or nine hours. Both deceased’s arms were bent at the elbows, and the hands were close to his neck, as though he had been clutching at the noose to release himself.

    Arthur [John] Giddins, warder at the gaol, said that John Nugent was prisoner No 294. He was admitted to the gaol under committal for trial at Hay Quarter Sessions on a serious charge. At about 4.30 pm on Saturday deceased had his tea, and seemed to be all right. He did not appear despondent. Witness opened the door of cell 34 next morning at half-past six, and found Nugent’s body hanging from the electric light bracket, which extended from the wall. Witness informed the Governor, and deceased’s body was cut down. It appeared that deceased got from a stool on to a table in his cell and jumped off. While he was hanging to the bracket his feet were only about two inches from the floor of the cell.

    James Whitlow, Governor of the Goulburn Gaol, gave evidence that Nugent was admitted to the gaol on 25th August. An application by deceased for legla [sic] aid was refused. Deceased had 32 previous convictions. He was a native of Victoria.

    Mr Williams entered a verdict of suicide.

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Western Mail, Thu 20 Sep 1923 7

COMMONWEALTH AND NEW
ZEALAND NEWS.

    A slight earthquake occurred in Wellington. Telegraph messages show that the shock was more severe at Foxton, Palmerston North, and Masterton, but no damage is reported.

    John Nugent, aged 54 years, who was in Goulburn Gaol awaiting trial on a serious charge, committed suicide by hanging himself with strips of tablecloth tied to an electric light bracket. He had been dead some time when his body was discovered by a warder.

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Southern Morning Herald, Fri 21 Sep 1923 8

THE GAOL TRAGEDY
————
WARDER’S DISCOVERY
———
Prisoner Hangs Himself
———

    At the Goulburn Court House yesterday, the City Coroner, Mr Geo R Williams, held an inquest on the body of John Nugent, 54, a prisoner awaiting trial at the Goulburn Gaol, who committed suicide on Sunday night by hanging himself in his cell.

    John Arthur Giddins, a warder at Goulburn Gaol, stated that Nugent was confined in “C” wing of the gaol awaiting trial at the Hay Quarter Sessions on a serious offence. He was locked up at between 4.30 pm and 5 pm. Nugent was searched in the cell and put his boots, hat and braces outside the cell door. It was about 4.40 pm when witness last saw deceased. This was after the latter had had his tea. Witness handed over the keys of the wing to the night warder at 5 pm.

    He came on duty again at 6..30 the following day, and relieved a second night warder, who had taken over at 11 pm. About 6.30 witness unlocked the cell doors along the corridor on the bottom floor. Two other warders unlocked the cell doors on the second and upper floors, and witness went along to unlock the cells in which prisoners awaiting trial were confined.

FOUND HANGING

    Witness found deceased hanging by the neck to the electric light bracket in his cell. Nugent was quite dead.

    The tablecloth had been taken off the table and been formed into a noose, being tied to the bracket. In his opinion Nugent had placed his neck in the noose, stood on the table and jumped off.

    Dr Gillespie, visiting surgeon to the Goulburn Gaol, deposed that on Sunday last the Governor of the Gaol telephoned him a message to the effect that one of the prisoners had hanged himself.

    In company with the Governor, he visited No. 34 cell, where he saw the body of a man with a loop of unbleached calico around the neck. This, he was told, was part of a tablecloth used by prisoners in their cells.

    The man had been cut down and the other end of the improvised rope was attached to the electric light bracket by means of a shirt. The man had evidently been dead eight or nine hours.

TRIED TO RELEASE HIMSELF

both arms were bent at the elbows with the hands toward the neck as if he had been trying to release himself. Deceased was fully dressed in ordinary clothes.

    James Whitlow, Governor of Goulburn Gaol, stated that deceased was admitted to the Gaol on August 25. He was held on a warrant for an offence committed at Carrathool three days previously. He was awaiting trial at the Hay Sessions, which opened on November 16 next, but on 11th inst the venue was changed to Cootamundra Quarter Sessions, where, under ordinary circumstances, he would have appeared on Monday next to be tried.

    On September 4, deceased applied for legal aid and on the 12th inst witness informed Nugent that the Department had refused to accede to his request. Deceased had 32 previous convictions against him for minor offences.

THE GOVERNOR'S IMPRESSIONS

    Mr Whitlow’s impressions were that deceased, having a long list of crimes against him and having been refused legal aid, saw no chance of being acquitted at his trial, and committed suicide.

    The Coroner returned a verdict that Nugent met his death at his own hands.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 21 Sep 1923 9

PRISONER’S SUICIDE.

Goulburn, Thursday.

    The Goulburn City Coroner, (Mr Geo R Williams) held an inquest this morning on the body of John Nugent, aged 54 years, who was found hanging from an electric light bracket in his cell at Goulburn Gaol.

    The Coroner returned a verdict of suicide.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Queenslander, Sat 22 Sep 1923 10

INTERSTATE.
———•———

Thursday, September 13.

Tuesday, September 18.

    John Nugent (aged 54 years), who was in the Goulburn Gaol awaiting trial on a serious charge, committed suicide yesterday by hanging himself with strips of tablecloth, tied to an electric light bracket.

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Western Argus, Tue 25 Sep 1923 11

ACCUSED PERSON COMMITS
SUICIDE
———◦———

Sydney, Sept 17.

    John Nugent, aged 54 years, who was in the Goulburn Gaol awaiting trial on a serious charge, committed suicide by hanging himself with a strip of table cloth tied to an electric light bracket. He had been dead some time when the body was discovered by a warder.

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The Wyalong Advocate and Mining, Agricultural and Pastoral Gazette, Tue 25 Sep 1923 12

A CRIMINAL’S DESPAIR
———◦———

    Jack Nugent, who suicided in Goulburn gaol was held on a warrant for an offence committed at Carathool [sic] three days previously. He was awaiting trial at the Hay Sessions but the venue was changed to Cootamundra Quarter Sessions, where under ordinary circumstances he would have appeared on Monday next to be tried. On September 4, deceased applied for legal aid, and on 12th instant was informed that the Department had refused to accede to the request. Deceased had 32 minor convictions against him. The gaol Governor’s impressions were that deceased, having a long list of crimes against him, and having been refused legal aid, saw so [sic] chance of being acquitted at his trial, and committed suicide.

 


1     Evening News, (Sydney, NSW), Mon 17 Sep 1923, p. 6. Emphasis in original.

2     The Advertiser, Tue 18 Sep 1923, p. 14.

3     The Brisbane Courier, Tue 18 Sep 1923, p. 12.

4     The Mercury, Tue 18 Sep 1923, p. 8.

5     The West Australian, Tue 18 Sep 1923, p. 9.

6     Goulburn Evening Penny Post, Thu 20 Sep 1923, p. 2. Emphasis added.

7     Western Mail, Thu 20 Sep 1923, p. 27. Emphasis added.

8     Southern Morning Herald, (NSW), Fri 21 Sep 1923, p. 1. Emphasis added.

9     The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 21 Sep 1923, p. 12.

10   The Queenslander, Sat 22 Sep 1923, pp. 30, 31.

11   Western Argus, Tue 25 Sep 1923, p. 10..

12   The Wyalong Advocate and Mining, Agricultural and Pastoral Gazette, Tue 25 Sep 1923, p. 4.