27 May 2014

sixty-seven years ago today - part 11 - Inquest into Reg Brown's death in Boggo Road Gaol

Our grandfather's body was found in a Boggo Road Gaol cell just 9 days into his life sentence. Five weeks later - exactly 67 years ago today - an inquest was held in Brisbane. On that Tuesday, City Coroner Thomas Elite, heard brief evidence from Dr Tonge - State Pathologist, a police constable, four prison officers  and Reg Brown's 20 year-old son. 

Reg's son, Ian, told the inquiry that only four days before his father's death, he had visited with him in Boggo Road Gaol. Although Reg warned his son not to 'get off side with the police, you will never win' and described the prison as 'worse than you could ever imagine', there were no good-byes, nothing to indicate his father was considering suicide. In this crusty courtroom environment Ian was shown, for the first time, his father's last words; a final and concise statement of innocence written and signed in pencil on a piece of gaol issued toilet paper.

 Each prison warden, one of whom we actually met, gave their testimony regarding the prisoner's final days; each concluded with the identical words, 'He never said or done anything which might suggest to me that he was going to take his own life.'

Although our grandfather was unwell and had been prescribed Phenobarbital by the prison doctor, this doctor did not appear at the inquest. After a reported one hour and forty minutes, the coroner ruled no suspicious circumstances. But as we show in Lingering Doubts, there are several reasons for suspicion. Unanswered questions remains to this day. Was our grandfather in an observation cell when he died? We have been told there was some contention about this matter amongst prison staff. Was Reg Brown assessed by the medical officer after receiving a life sentence? That same evening he was distressed, still professing his innocence and  subsequently suffered a severe  asthma attack. Even so he wrote a letter to his equally distraught wife and family.

At the time a half-hearted inquiry into gaol administration was taking place, following  the 1946 escape of three prisoners. But despite QPP leader Bruce Pie's demand asking for a full inquiry into Queensland's gaol administration and the suicide of Reg Brown, this did not occur. In 1949 in a heated accusation about another matter Bruce Pie said the Government 'would come at anything' to prevent the appointment of a Royal Commission.

This was a heart-breaking time also for the Armstrong family. Their daughter Bronia should have turned 20 years-old yesterday, 26 May - 67 years ago.
Deb and Jan

23 May 2014

Lingering Doubts recommended by Matt Condon

Fantastic that Matt referred to Reg Brown's 1947 arrest and conviction for murder when he spoke about Jacks and Jokers at the Kenmore Library last night. Thanks Matt please keep spreading the word about the unbelievably unjust treatment our grandfather received under Queensland's legal system.
Deb and Jan

21 May 2014

Lingering Doubts - Black Cat Books & Cafe

We are very pleased to announce that copies of Lingering Doubts can now be purchased from Paddington's Black Cat books - the delightfully charming book store situated on Latrobe Terrace.
Deb and Jan

19 May 2014

Lingering Doubts - 4BC

CORRECTION! Deb will now be discussing our grandfather's story and Lingering Doubts with Patrick Condren 4BC at 11.00 am Tuesday 20 May instead of 9.30 am. This decision was made to allow for more time as the station considers this story to be one of great interest.
Deb and Jan

17 May 2014

Lingering Doubts - Radio 4BC

It's been a busy but wonderfully productive week. We've discussed Lingering Doubts with many interesting people, spoken with Bep on radio 4EB, delivered copies of our book to the Black Cat bookshop in Paddington and conducted our first official book signing at The Book Bank in Toowong.  We have since received another excellent opportunity to share our grandfather's story, this time on radio 4BC. Jan will be unavailable for the upcoming interview as she is returning home to western Queensland but Deb can be heard on Tuesday at approximately 9.30 am speaking to 4BC's Patrick Condren. 

14 May 2014

Lingering Doubts - Westside News

Thank you to Westside News for the article published in today's edition of the newspaper. The sad and disturbing stories of accountant Reg Brown and his typist, Bronia Armstrong, have, after 67 years, returned to Brisbane's western suburbs where they both once lived. Reg, our grandfather, was from Ryan's Road, St Lucia and 19 year-old Bronia Armstrong was from, what was then called, South Toowong.

On Friday May 16 we will happily discuss our findings and our incredible journey of discovery with visitors to The Book Bank, Top Floor, Toowong Village. We will be available to sign copies of Lingering Doubts between 11 am and 2 pm. Many thanks to Julie and The Book Bank.

To read the article in Westside News please click here

Deb and Jan

11 May 2014

Lingering Doubts - Radio 4EB FM 98.1

We have been invited to speak about Lingering Doubts - Going inside Brisbane's Arcade Murder with broadcaster, Bep Torkington, on Radio 4EB FM 98.1. Our interview, centred around Reg Brown's arrest and conviction for murder in Brisbane in 1947, will take place at approximately 12.30 pm on Thursday 15 May. As always we are grateful for this opportunity which will help us re-present our grandfather's case to the public, especially to the people of Brisbane.
Deb and Jan
ps Happy Mother's Day to all mothers (and fellow grandmothers)

8 May 2014

Lingering Doubts - Meet us at The Book Bank, Toowong

We will be meeting people and signing copies of our book on Friday 16 May 11 am - 2 pm at The Book Bank, a gorgeous book shop situated on the Top Floor, Toowong Village, Sherwood Road. The Book Bank has been operating from this location for over 20 years.
We will, in fact, be returning to our roots. Before our grandmother, Eva Brown (nee Cocks) married Reg Brown, our grandfather, she lived virtually next door to today's high rise shopping centre known as Toowong Village. Her family ran the iconic Cocks and Sons grocery emporium situated at No. 31 Sherwood Road. Their home was right next door to the store.
 'The storekeepers, their shop and the manner in which an assortment of products were sold, packaged and delivered by horse and cart to the homes of their customers are still clearly remembered today. The stock at Cocks and Sons included foodstuff, garden implements, grain, and even day old chicks. Household items such as china and cutlery were also on sale.' The Cocks Family Tree, compiled by Deb Drummond for the Toowong and District Historical Society Inc. Booklet available from the Society and Toowong Library)
The grocery store operated on Sherwood Road from approximately 1910 until 1965. Our great-grandfather, Richard Cocks, kept his trotters in the paddock at the back of the store.
Richard's wife,  Mary Ann (Annie) Cocks (nee Winterford), our great-grandmother, is best remembered for the raintree she planted in her front garden in the early 1900s; this tree became part of local folklore and was fondly referred to as 'Mrs Cocks' Tree'. The Bird Spire sculpture seen today, is positioned in front of where the old raintree stood until its removal in 2010. A stunning side table made from the wood salvaged from the tree trunk can be seen in the Brisbane City Council Archives.
As the Brown families lived in neighbouring Taringa and St Lucia and the Armstrong family was from Toowong we are hoping to meet people who may remember the families or who are able to offer any information at all, no matter how irrelevant it may seem.
We look forward to sharing the 'real' story about our grandfather's arrest and conviction with residents from his former neighbourhood.
Deb and Jan

3 May 2014

Lingering Doubts available from Avid Reader

We are pleased to advise that as of next week Lingering Doubts will be available from the popular Avid Reader Bookstore, Boundary Street, West End.
Deb and Jan

1 May 2014

Lingering Doubts - Going inside Brisbane's Arcade Murder on Facebook

Our recently activated Facebook account is titled Lingering Doubts - Going inside Brisbane's Arcade Murder. We  ask everyone who believes in truth and justice, to  add a 'like' or 'share' to our Facebook page. This will assist us re-present to the public, not only our grandfather's story, but a disturbing chapter of Brisbane's criminal history.
If only Reg Brown could witness the ever increasing network of people who now support his innocence - 67 years after his murder conviction. For an accountant who tallied long columns of figures in his head, today's technology,  growing this network at such speed, would be simply too much to comprehend.

Many, many thanks to all.
Deb and Jan