4 May 1892
The Murderer Sentenced to Death on the Gallows
He Makes a Plea in His Own Behalf - Guarded Closely to Prevent Self Murder
GIVEN THE FULL PENALTY
Melbourne, May 4.
Before the death sentence was pronounced on Deeming Monday, he addressed the court. It was not the law, he said, but the press, that was trying him. If he could bring himself to believe that he committed murder he would plead guilty rather than submit to the gaze of the people in the court - the ugliest race he had ever seen. Some of the witnesses against him had deliberately lied. Whatever he could say would be disbelieved. His witnesses had been kept out of the way. People had sworn to seeing him whom he had never seen in his life. No time had been allowed him to communicate with his witnesses in England and India. It was not pleasant to confess to disease, mental or other, but he had determined to do so in justice to himself and the community. For weeks together he had suffered lapses of memory. In his own mind he was not guilty. As long as Emily Mather had been his wife he had dealt with her as gently and as affectionately as it was possible for any man to do. The prisoner, continuing his remarks, said:
"I remember no incident which would lead to this awful crime with which I am charged. I know that the people of Melbourne are so infuriated against me that they would lynch me if they had a chance. That, however, would not settle the question of my guilt or innocence. The statement that the body found in this city was that of Emily Mather is a lie. The newspapers have ruined my life forever. If I were free tonight I would drown myself. I have fought the blacks on the Zambesi and have encountered lions single handed. I do not fear death. I do not expect justice from the judge, the jury or the public. Instead of the trial being postponed so as to enable my counsel to collect evidence showing my innocence of the horrible crime for which I am being tried for my life, it was fixed to occur when the public was enraged against me."
Deeming minutely criticised the evidence and declared that a verdict of guilty would be the greatest relief to him. He said that his use of assumed names was a fad with him.
After the verdict was announced Deeming asked the judge to refrain form the usual exhortation. The judge complied with the prisoner's wish, and simply announced the sentence of death. Deeming composedly replied: "Thank you."
When the sentence of death had been pronounced Deeming said that after his death the public would soon known of his real history. It was better that the law should destroy him than he should destroy himself. He would only like to know that Miss Rousenville (sic) believed him innocent. In a strong voice he continued to ramble in a similar strain for a long time. Reaching the rails for support he concluded by swearing that he was innocent. He spoke altogether an hour, giving no sign of hesitation or nervousness. The judge's summing up was strongly against the prisoner.
Outside of the courthouse a large crowd assembled, and they were clamorously impatient for the verdict. They finally became so demonstrative and noisy that the police were forced to clear the streets. The announcement of the verdict was greeted with expressions of general satisfaction, for no one believes there is a particle of doubt as to Deeming's guilt, not only of the murder here, but of those committed at Rainhill, near Liverpool.
After Deeming was returned to the jail his clothing was taken from him and he was compelled to don the attire worn by convicts in the prison. He was then placed in the condemned cell and heavy irons were locked upon his wrists to prevent him from committing suicide. There is scarcely a doubt that he would kill himself if the opportunity offered, and a close watch will be kept upon him in order that he may not cheat the gallows.
The evidence which has come to light since the discovery of the murder of Deeming's last wife for which he has just been sentenced to death, proves him to be the most cold blooded monster of modern times. The murder, which took place in a small house in Windsor, one of the suburbs of Melbourne, was discovered through an effort to let the house to another tenant. It had been vacant for about two months and on entering the kitchen the landlord and the lady to whom he was showing the house noticed a terrible stench. Further examination led to the calling in of the police and the removal of the hearthstone. There the body was found under a freshly laid cement floor in front of the kitchen fireplace. The skull was fractured, the face was beaten in, the head nearly severed from the body, and the body was doubled up and pressed down, so as to make it fit in the small place.
Deeming was arrested in western Australia, and soon after it developed that within a few days of the murder he had proposed marriage to a young girl whom he had met on the coasting steamer which runs from the chief ports of the eastern colonies to King George's sound and Freemantle on the western coast. The evidence of this girl, the letter from the murderer and the presents he offered her proved important links in the chain of evidence against him and showed that long immunity had made him reckless.
The discovery of the murder at Windsor was cabled to England and investigation led to further startling discoveries. From Mrs. Mather, mother of the murdered woman, facts were unearthed which enabled the police to unearth a long series of most atrocious crimes. One day last July a man who gave his name as A.O. Williams arrived at Rainhill, a village about 9 miles from Liverpool, and put up at a local hostelry, the Commercial Hotel, describing himself as an inspector. He rented Dinham Villa from a Mrs. Mather who kept a stationer's shop in the village and who acted as agent for the owner.
.... on their way to Australia. Letters were regularly received by Mrs. Mather describing their journey and saying that they were very happy. Soon the letters ceased and then came a cablegram announcing the discovery of Mrs. William's body in Melbourne.
The peculiar atrocity of these murders suggested to many the theory that Deeming was Jack the Ripper, and he soon backed it up by a "confession." From the first, however, the Scotland Yard authorities scouted the idea. The theory was founded on plausible statements about alleged mysterious disappearances from Rainhill on dates corresponding to the Ripper murders, on Deeming's personal appearance and on the supposed resemblance of his handwriting to that on the postal cards signed Jack the Ripper and received in Scotland Yard. Subjected, however, to the severer test of comparison with Deeming's known movements, his presence in English jails and in South Africa at certain dates, the theory fell to pieces. Deeming and his counsel encouraged the idea that he was the Whitechapel fiend in order to sustain the theory of uncontrollable homicidal mania.