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 - 69 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
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.
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 during his first night in the lifers' block.
Armstrong, the young woman Reg Brown was accused of murdering should have turned 20 years old on 26 May, the day
before the inquest. If things had been different, yesterday in 2016
Bronia might have celebrated her 89th birthday, perhaps surrounded by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
In a strange twist of fate my (Deb's) only granddaughter was born on 26 May. Yesterday she turned 2 years old.
Deb and Jan
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