29 May 2015

Lingering Doubts - Going inside Brisbane's Arcade Murder - Where to buy?

Available at the following outlets:
  • Annie's Books on Peregian, Peregian Beach
  • Avid Reader, West End
  • Books of Buderim, 82 Burnett Street, Buderim
  • Caboolture Park News, King Street, Caboolture
  • Little Gnome, Florence Street, Wynnum
  • Mary Ryan's, Park Road, Milton
  • Nook and Cranny, Goondiwindi                                                               
  • Paddington Antique Centre, Stall 12
  • Pulp Fiction Books, 144 Adelaide Street, Brisbane
  • Riverbend Books, Bulimba
  • St. George Newsagency, St George
  • State Library Bookshop, SLQ, South Bank
  • The River Read, Noosaville
Or to buy now click 'Buy the Book' to the top right of the screen 
Lingering Doubts 
Deb and Jan

27 May 2015

Lingering Doubts - 68 years ago - Coronial Inquest - Part 10

27 May, 1947

Our grandfather's body was found in a Boggo Road Gaol cell just 9 days into his life sentence. Five weeks later -  68 years ago today - an inquest was held in Brisbane. City Coroner, Thomas Elite, heard evidence from Dr John Tonge - State Pathologist, one police constable, four prison officers and Reg Brown's 20 year-old son, Ian.

Ian told the inquiry that only four days before his father's death, he had visited 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', Ian said there were no good-byes, nothing to indicate his father was considering suicide. In the 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 during our research, gave their testimony regarding the prisoner's final days; each concluded with, '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, the doctor did not appear at the inquest. At the end of one hour and forty minutes the coroner ruled no suspicious circumstances. But as we show in Lingering Doubts, there are  some reasons for suspicion. Unanswered questions remain e.g. was our grandfather in an observation cell? We were told there was some contention over this matter amongst prison staff. Also was Reg assessed by the medical officer after receiving a life sentence? He was distressed, still professing his innocence and subsequently suffered a severe asthma attack. Even so, he wrote a heartfelt letter to his equally distraught wife and family.

Adding to the heartbreak, Bronia Armstrong should have celebrated her 20th birthday on 26 May - the day before the inquest. If things had been different, yesterday in 2015 Bronia might have celebrated her 88th birthday, perhaps surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

In a strange twist of fate my (Deb's) gorgeous granddaughter turned 1 year old yesterday - 26 May.

Deb and Jan

12 May 2015

Lingering Doubts - Crown witness found!

Some wonderful news!  
We have finally found Rhonda Tasker, long-ago friend of Bronia Armstrong and Crown Witness at our grandfather’s trial. 

For many years we have searched unsuccessfully for Rhonda, the 17 year old girl who, in 1947, worked on the stocking counter at Finney’s, a department store in Queen Street, Brisbane. 

On the Saturday Bronia’s body was discovered at the Wallace Bishop Arcade, the girls were due to leave for a weekend together at bayside Margate. Much anticipated plans that, sadly, were not to be. 

So how did we finally locate Rhonda? We certainly didn’t do it alone. Unexpected help came from Kelyn, recent reader of Lingering Doubts and daughter of Ken Blanch (see post below). Kelyn kindly blessed us with her incredible genealogy tracing skills! Many thanks to you Kelyn – not only for your generous assistance but for your interest in our grandfather’s story.

Thankfully, 68 years after the death of Bronia Armstrong, and our grandfather’s arrest for her murder, a now elderly Rhonda has indicated her willingness to help us if she is able. We are also indebted to Rhonda’s son for his understanding and assistance. 

A special thank you to a family member from Melbourne who alerted us to Ken Blanch's recent publication - which ultimately led us to Rhonda 

Deb and Jan

3 May 2015

Lingering Doubts - wise words from Ken Blanch - true crime author and former crime reporter

For Lingering Doubts website from Ken Blanch

Lingering Doubts, going inside Brisbane's Arcade murder provides compelling evidence for the modus operandi of unscrupulous police in mid-20th century Queensland.

What they did in those days was identify a suspect through circumstances and then try to fit the evidence to their suspicions.  This led to false conclusions and to the obfuscation of the real facts.

In the old Queensland police force, advancement was very much as a result of success and those seeking it very often were not concerned with how their achievements came about.

Not only did police actively seek evidence that would damage the suspect, they also actively ignored anything that might be in the suspect's favour.  This sometimes led to vigorous protection of wrongdoers in the interests of the police and/or politicians.

 I have demonstrated this in my recent bookette, Marjorie Norval: the girl a railway station swallowed, about the disappearance of Marjorie Norval in 1938, nine years earlier than Reg Brown's case. 

Frank Bischof was involved in investigating that case too. He often boasted to me privately, when I was chief crime reporter for the old Brisbane Telegraph and he headed the CIB during the 1950s, of how he resorted to trickery to disadvantage suspects and even obtain questionably incriminating admissions from them  (now known more popularly among police as verballing).

Deb Drummond and Janice Teunis' analysis of likely alternatives for the assumptions police made according to circumstance in their investigation of Bronia Armstrong's death has been thorough and enlightening, and well and truly justifies the title. Congratulations.

(Marjorie Norval: The girl a railway station swallowed is available from Seagle Crime Stories at www.seaglecrimestories.com)

Thank you Ken, we value your opinion and truly appreciate your words. 
What a fantastic service you are performing by continuing to put pen to paper, your professionalism and first hand knowledge of how things were in old Brisbane, make your books an invaluable resource.

Deb and Jan