Communications Officer Tara Oldfield

Author: Tara Oldfield

Communications Officer

Every year on the 1st of January, hundreds of state archives are made public as part of Public Record Office Victoria’s annual Section 9 openings. Under Section 9 of the Public Records Act 1973 files of a personal or private nature are closed to prevent the violation of personal privacy. 

A broad guide to time periods for closure under Section 9 is as follows:
•    Records primarily concerning adults may be closed for 75 years from the year in which the records were created.
•    Records concerning children as the primary subject may be closed for 99 years.
•    Records such as staff records where the individuals concerned may still be in the workforce may be closed for a lesser period such as 30, 40, or 50 years as appropriate.

Please note the proceeding text describes records related to crime and murder and may be upsetting for some readers. 

Some of the stories you will find amongst this year’s records include:
 

The 1945 criminal trial brief and capital sentence file of Kevin Joiner 

In 1945 Kevin Joiner was convicted of killing his robbery accomplice, Thomas Charles Clarke, in Mt Martha. 

“The circumstances of this murder are as follows:- About 4pm on the 17th April 1945, Joiner, Clarke and a 14 year old youth… met at the Strand Café, Bourke Street, Melbourne where at the suggestion of Joiner they agreed to go to ‘Maryport’ Guest House, Mt Martha for the purpose of robbing it. Joiner told them that he had previously been employed there and knew Mr and Mrs Dowdle and family. Following this discussion, Joiner returned to his room at 3 McCormac Place and obtained his .45 calibre revolver, loaded in 6 chambers, which he had purchased several months previously, and a tin containing 19 bullets of a .45 calibre. At about 6.10pm that day Joiner, Clarke and (the youth) caught a train to Frankston, then a bus to Mt Martha. They then went to the rear of ‘Maryport’ Guest House, where Joiner opened the kitchen door and went into the house. At the time he had the loaded revolver in his right hand. He came out and told his two companions to come in, they followed him into the house, there was a light in one of the rooms alongside one of the bedrooms they were ransacking. They could hear people speaking in the lighted room. They stole a considerable quantity of jewellery, clothing, cases etc. from the house and whilst there Joiner retained the loaded revolver in his right hand ready for use. He gave the reason for having the revolver in his hand whilst committing the robbery, as that if the Dowdles had seen him, he would have had to shoot them as they knew him. According to Joiner he observed that Clarke was nervous whilst in the house and he decided to shoot him as he thought he may tell the police. 

Within a few moments of them leaving the house Joiner invited Clarke down a hill from the house to see if a bus was coming, but when they arrived near some scrub Joiner who still had the revolver in his hand, shot Clarke in the left side point blank range. Clarke ran and Joiner then fired another shot at him and Clarke collapsed in some scrub where he had run for protection. Joiner followed him into the scrub and placed the revolver at the back of his neck and shot him.”

Joiner was only 19 when his death sentence for the murder was commuted to life in Pentridge prison. He is most famous for attempting an escape a few years later with Maxwell Carl Skinner in 1952. Joiner was shot by a warder and died, never making it free of the Pentridge prison walls.
 

The Capital Sentence File and Criminal Trial Brief related to Kevin Joiner. VPRS1100 P2 Unit17 and VPRS30 P26 Unit6.

 

Capital Sentence File, VPRS1100 P2 Unit17.

 

The victim and crime scene photos within the Criminal Trial Brief, VPRS30 P26 Unit6.

 


The 1945 criminal trial brief of what is considered to be Victoria’s first mafia murder

On the afternoon of 7 October 1945, four Italians were drinking beer and playing cards in the dining room of Antonio Cardamona’s home at 15 King William Street Fitzroy. Only three came out alive. 

Widely considered to be the first ever mafia murder in Victoria, “Fat Joe” Versace was found killed with 91 stab wounds. The criminal trial brief includes the inquest, police statements and testimony at the murder trial. 

“According to the information ascertained about 5pm on the 7th of October 1945, the deceased, Mikle [sic] Scriva and two other men known as Domenic called at Cardamona’s home at 15 King William Street Fitzroy where shortly after arrival the deceased (“Fat Joe” Versace) picked an argument with Cardomone and struck him in the face, they patched the quarrel up and everything was quiet for some time and then the three men in the room commenced to fight with deceased, by this time Cardomone according to himself had left the room. Scriva and the two men whose Christian names are Dominic remained in the room and all were quarrelling with deceased. According to Cardamone he became alarmed on account of the noise he heard coming from the room and went into the backyard to get out of the way and when he came back in a few minutes later when the noise ceased, deceased was on the floor of the room with his stomach cut out and several large cuts about the face and head. Cardamone then went to the police at Fitzroy and notified them of the murder.” Detective Donnelly.

When police arrived at Scriva’s house they found freshly washed pants hanging on the line with a bloody shirt and knife still in his home. Despite the evidence, Scriva would not admit to stabbing Joe. Two men then turned themselves in at Russel Street detective office. Their names were Dominic Demarte and Domenico Pezzimenti. Pezzimenti said that his quarrel with Versace began over an insensitive remark Pezzimenti apparently made to two sisters. Being in a romantic relationship with one of the women, Versace took issue with Pezzimenti’s remark and threatened him over it:

“I have known Joe Versace for a few years and sometimes I have gone to his house in North Melbourne. I have gone out with Joe’s girl’s sister over to the gardens and when I went to Joe’s place in Peel Street, North Melbourne last Sunday before yesterday Joe told me that the girl said that I tell her that she stinks. I tell Joe that I didn’t say that she stink. Joe slapped me on the face two or three times and said that he would give me two black eyes every time he meets me on the street. On Sunday…I went to Tony Cardimona’s place in King William Street, Fitzroy. When I got there Joe Versace was there and I saw Domenic Demarte there, there was others there but I didn’t take any notice of them. I had a little bit to drink and Joe Versace said to me that he was going to hit me. He slapped me on the face with the back of his hand and then he stepped back and pulled a long knife out of his trousers. He said ‘I am going to stab you and kill you.’ I was very fright and Domenic Demarte grabbed hold of the knife and got sore hands. When he tried to hit me I pulled a pocket knife out of my coat pocket and I stabbed Joe Versace with the pocket knife a lot of times, I don’t know how many…I did not see anyone else stab Joe Versace.”

All three men, Scriva, Demarte and Pezzimenti, were believed to be in the room at the time of the killing. They all went to trial.
There were 91 wounds on Versace’s body including on the head, face, neck, chest, abdomen and back. The medical examiner said in court: 

“A very large number of them were caused at the point of death or within a few seconds of death. And some of them, the four or five on the front of the neck, were definitely caused after death.” 

In court Pezzimenti admitted to stabbing Versace only 8 or 9 times in the chest. According to the testimony, he, Demarte and Scriva had all run away so it’s unclear where all the other stab wounds came from. He said he stabbed him to protect himself as he thought Versace was going to kill him. In court Pezzimenti said Versace had a reputation: 

“My father told me he had been twice in gaol… he told me he had a fight, cut the face of one chap with a razor… and that he had been caught carrying a pistol too.” 

Cardamone discussed Versace’s reputation at the inquest too:

“I knew that this man Joe had caused trouble in North Melbourne. That was in my place. That was when I used to live in North Melbourne, about five or six years ago. He used to smack me all the time when I came near enough. As to whether I ever saw him with some weapons, I saw him one night with a gun. He pointed at one chap with a gun. That was in my place. I saw him with a knife at my place one night. He pointed the knife at some other people.”

Until he finally pointed the knife at the wrong person. Though Versace had the bigger knife and was considered the more violent man he apparently didn’t get any stabs in before Pezzimenti struck him down. Versace was also found to have a gun on him that night, yet never used it. At trial, the justice dismissed the cases of Demarte and Scriva due to lack of evidence while the jury went on to acquit Pezzimenti on account of self-defence. 
If you research the men involved in this case you will find some of them went onto become senior figures in the Victorian mafia. This case is often cited as being the first mafia murder in Victoria. 
 

Crime scene photo within the Criminal Trial Brief, VPRS30 P0 Unit3199.

 

Criminal Trial Brief, VPRS30 P0 Unit3199.


A 1920 extern case book 

While many of the files being opened are from 1945, there are a few exceptions. For the first time a file called an extern case book will also be opened. From the midwifery department of the Royal Women’s Hospital, the bound volume includes hand written diary entries of medical students attending home births across Melbourne in 1920-21. The pages reveal as much about the students and their routines as they do about the home births they attended. 

“Having got to sleep from a previous Intern call I was once again awakened by two bells at 6.15am and having found out where I had to go I returned and dressed. The car arrived as I was about to drink a cup of coffee very thoughtfully provided by the night sister Emily. After finishing my spot we set off and arrived at our destination at 6.50am only to find that the child had been born about half an hour ago. From two women present I ascertained that the child was a breach presentation and tho’ the infant first seemed as if she would die she exercised woman’s privilege of changing her mind and decided to live. 
Meanwhile nurse was rushing round getting things in order and having got some hot water for me I scrubbed up and put on my gloves and then went round to the mother’s fundus. At 7.5am the placenta came away and after cleaning mother up and nurse had bathed the baby and “tagyrolled (?)” the infant’s eyes we gave mother 3ii of Liq. Ext of Ergot(?) and having left two more drachins(?) of the same to be taken at 11.30 we made our departure. I reached the hospital at 8.15 and was therefore in time for breakfast for the first time.”   

A hand drawn sketch of a birth even adorns one entry.   
 

Extern Case Book, VPRS17389 P1 Unit1.

 

Other records include mental health records, medical journals, divorce cases, court registers and railways employee cards. View the full list below:

Series number

Consignment

Series title

Agency

Units

Date range

VPRS 30

P0000

Criminal Trial Briefs

Office of Public Prosecutions

units 3145-3203

1945

VPRS 30

P0026

Criminal Trial Briefs

Office of Public Prosecutions

unit 6

1945

VPRS 30

P0030

Criminal Trial Briefs

Office of Public Prosecutions

unit 14

1945

VPRS 266

P0001

Inward Registered Correspondence

Attorney-General's Department

units 89-101

1944-1945

VPRS 283

P0002

Divorce Case Files, Melbourne

Supreme Court of Victoria

units 435-474

1944-1945

VPRS 515

P0000

Central Register of Male Prisoners

Penal & Gaols Branch

unit 98

1944-1945

VPRS 526

P0000

Index To Register Of Prisoners Received

Pentridge Gaol

unit 10A

1942-1945

VPRS 552

P0001

Divorce Case Files

Ballarat Courts

unit 10

1945

VPRS 1100

P0002

Capital Sentence Files

Governor

unit 17

1945

VPRS 1752

P0000

Wages Records

Coutry Roads Board

units 58-70

1944-1945

VPRS 1759

P0000

Civil Construction Corps Wage Records

Coutry Roads Board

units 76-90

1944-1945

VPRS 1792

P0000

Children's Court Register

Richmond Courts

unit 12

4/4/1919-4/2/1921

VPRS 3524

P0000

Criminal Trial Brief Register II

Office of Public Prosecutions

unit 53

1945

VPRS 3524

P0001

Criminal Trial Brief Register II

Office of Public Prosecutions

unit 53

1945

VPRS 3588

P0000

Court of Petty Sessions Maintenance Registers

Ballarat East Courts

unit 2

July 1912- Sept 1921

VPRS 3848

P0000

Master Patient Index Cards

Alfred Hospital

units 134-138

1943-1945

VPRS 4459

P0000

Court of Petty Sessions Maintenance Register

Sebastopol Courts

unit 1

April-Dec 1921

VPRS 4527

P0001

Ward Registers

Chief Secretary's Department

units 7-8

Dec 1920-Aug 1921

VPRS 5334

P0001

Divorce Cause Books

Supreme Court of Victoria

units 14-15

Aug 1944-Oct 1945

VPRS 5335

P0004

Index to Divorce Cause Books

Supreme Court of Victoria

unit 5

1945

VPRS 7440

P0002

Head Attendant's Daily Report Books - Male Department

Kew Mental Hospital

unit 16

Feb 1944-March 1945

VPRS 7692

P0001

Head Nurse's Daily Report Book - Female Wards

Kew Mental Hospital

unit 25

Feb 1944-Feb 1945

VPRS 7856

P0001

Bound Circulated Photographs and Criminal Offences of Convicted Persons

South Australia Police Department

unit 50

August 1944-April 1945

VPRS 8252

P0001

Nursing Report Books - Female - Mental Hospital

Sunbury Asylum

unit 9

July 1944-Sept 1945

VPRS 8257

P0001

Medical Journals

Sunbury Mental Hospital

unit 12

Oct 1939-July 1945

VPRS 8261

P0001

Admission Warrants - Female Patients

Sunbury Mental Hospital

unit 22

May 1941-Mar 1943

VPRS 8758

P0001

Children's Court Registers

Brighton Courts

unit 3

Nov 1916-Feb 1921

VPRS 10008

P0001

Presentments

Supreme Court of Victoria

units 66-68

1944-1945

VPRS 12509

P0002

Children's Court Register, Criminal Division

Melbourne Children's Court

unit 2

1913-1921

VPRS 12556

P0001

Employee Record Cards, Stores Branch

Victorian Railways

units 1-5

?1945-?1965

VPRS 12739

P0001

Tramway Employees Record Cards

Melbourne And Metropolitian Tramways Board

units 98-104

1964-1965

VPRS 12551

P0001

Employee Record Cards, Way and Works Branch

Victorian Railways

units 1-28

1933-1965

VPRS 12593

P0001

Employee History Sheets, Electrical Engineering Branch

Victorian Railways

units 1-6

1921-1965

VPRS 13279

P0001

Correspondence with Australian Railway Union regarding industrial issues, Transportation Division

Victorian Railways

unit 11

1964-1965

VPRS 13531

P0001

Accident Compensation Claim Register, Claims Branch

Victorian Railways

unit 24

1964-1965

VPRS 14019

P0001

Examination Results

Swinburne Technical College

unit 13

1944-1945

VPRS 14351

P0001

Minutes

Country Roads Board

unit 69

1970

VPRS 14440

P0001

Register of Professional Officers

Education Department

unit 3

1942-1970

VPRS 16379

P0001

Executive Committee Minutes

Victorian Nursing Council

unit 4

Feb 1968-Dec 1970

VPRS 16503

P0002

Board Minutes and Papers

Dental Board of Victoria

unit 4

Oct 1968-May 1970

VPRS 16616

P0001

Children's Court Registers

Eaglehawk Courts

unit 3

Feb 1916-Feb 1921

VPRS 17020

P0003

Criminal Presentments and Final Orders, Melbourne

Court of General Sessions

units 24-28

Nov 1944-October 1945

VPRS 17389

P0001

Extern Case Book, Midwifery Department

The Royal Womens Hospital

unit 1

26/12/1920 - 28/10/1921

VPRS 17792

P0002

Admission and Discharge Register of Patients

Fairfield Infectious Diseases Hospital

1920-1935

July 1920-May 1921

VPRS 17867

P0001

Admission and Discharge Register of Patients: Military Patients

Bundoora Convalescent Farm

unit 2

May 1923-May 1945

VPRS 18101

P0002

Observation Ward Report Books:Male Patients

Beechworth Mental Hospital

unit 5

April 1944-May 1945

VPRS 18111

P0001

Staff Register

Ballarat Mental Hospital

unit 5

1965-June 1970

VPRS 18120

P0001

Staff Leave Registers

Ararat Mental Hospital

unit 2

1956-1970

VPRS 18140

P0002

Admission and Discharge Register of Patients

Ararat Mental Hospital

unit 6

July 1918-April 1945

VPRS 18365

P0001

Medical Journals

Beechworth Mental Hospital

unit 17

Oct 1939-June 1945


Due to ongoing digital archive work, these records are not yet available to order via our online catalogue. To order and view any of the records in the list in the Reading Room please fill in a contact form here.