From the Headlines…From Boggo Road to Marry
From the Headlines …From Boggo Road to Marry
“From Boggo Road to Marry & Back to 10 Year Sentence” A story from the Headlines of the Truth Newspaper on the 10thof December 1939, tells the remarkable story of prisoner John Daniel Robertson who was given the extraordinary permission to marry while under sentence of ten years at HM Prison Men Brisbane (later known as Boggo Road Gaol)
“From Boggo Road to Marry & Back to 10 Year Sentence” A story from the headlines of the Truth newspaper on the 10thof December 1939, tells the remarkable story of prisoner John Daniel Robertson who was given extraordinary permission to marry while under sentence of ten years at HM Prison Men Brisbane (later known as Boggo Road Gaol)
John Daniel Robertson was found guilty of the rape and indecent assault with violence of a young woman in Mackay in August of 1938. He had followed her from her work and dragged her into a laneway and viciously assaulted her.
The victim was able to make an escape and found a nearby policeman; he followed her to the scene and arrested Robertson. A short time later she formally identified him in an interview. Robertson was held for trial before the police magistrate.
In the March 1939 trial, Robertson and his team failed to impress upon the jury and Mr. Justice Douglas of his innocence of the four charges against him. He was found guilty and sentenced to Fourteen years imprisonment with hard labour.
Almost as soon as the cell door had slammed shut on Robertson, His friends and workmates had begun to rally behind him raising the funds for him to be able to appeal his case. He wished to have a new trial, this was denied. However with the review of the case his sentence was changed to ten years with hard labour.
Permission to Marry
In days gone by, it was traditional to ask the bride’s father for permission to marry… In this case permission to marry had to be sought from the minister for home affairs Mr. E.M. Hanlon. It was very uncommon for a long term prisoner to seek permission to marry simply because they were held behind bars for a long period of time. The case was given very close inspection by the minister before giving his permission. The location of the wedding was also a problem. It was out of the question for the wedding to be held inside the gaol. So an alternative location had to be sought.
Romance descended on Boggo Road Gaol that Saturday October afternoon. A prison officer in his civilian clothing entered one of the cells and escorted Robertson to the superintendent’s office. A word of congratulations and wishes for good luck from the Superintendent and Robertson (still under control of the officer) left the gaol precincts for the Holy Trinity Church at Woolloongabba. The wedding was held with great secrecy so as to prevent the public finding out, with the risk that it would turn into some sort of circus with a large number of curious spectators flocking to the site. Under this veil of secrecy only the immediate family of the couple was permitted to attend. A few short minutes after the service was completed Robertson was bundled off back to his cell in Boggo Road with his bride left to entertain the family.
Robertson no sooner had married that he had sent a request to the parole board for release. He wished to be released into his wife’s custody, with other requirements to be met under the parole agreement.
At the date of this article no decision had been made on his parole.
NOT TO GO FREE was the headline. And is perhaps all the reader needs to know.
The article goes on to state:
Robertson is at liberty to lodge a further petition at a further date but the board will not consider his release until he has served a longer portion of his ten year sentence.
Robertson was very certain he would secure his parole. He considered that he had been granted permission to marry; his freedom then on parole should be almost automatic. Reports to the truth from inside the gaol show that Robertson was a very disappointed man when the decision was communicated to him.
So it was, Robertson was locked up in Boggo Road Gaol serving his ten years… waiting for his opportunity to apply for parole again.
This story has so much more to tell… so many unusual twists and turns to be revealed… Perhaps the most unusual that was yet to be revealed to the public we will tell you right now.
The woman he married with such extraordinary secrecy was the same woman that put him in gaol in the first place.
This Sunday, you can hear more stories from a prisoner’s perspective. Larry Campbell, a former prisoner at Boggo Road, will guide you through some of the most turbulent years of the Gaol’s history. To book tickets for our fascinating prisoner tour click here.
Did you know that unlike John Daniel Robertson… you can have your wedding in gaol? For more information visit here
This article was contributed by Research Coordinator Sue Olsen as part of the ongoing research program for Boggo Road Gaol Pty Ltd. The aim of the program is to bring to light and share articles relating to Boggo Road for the purposes of review and study. Do you have a story to share or something you would like us to know about? You can contact the research team here