From the Headlines… Leonard Cohen

Do you believe in the Bogey Man?

In the summer of 1933 ,  The residents of New Farm, Brisbane certainly did!  It was in fact… just a man.

Leonard Cohen – International Crook, housebreaker and gaolbird!

This week’s article tells the story of the remarkably bad housebreaker, Leonard Cohen.   The young man from Carlton, Victoria who served a short stint in Boggo Road Gaol!

Leonard  Cohen

Crime :  Housebreaker
Time Served : 13 months
1933 -1934

Admission Photograph – Leonard Cohen – Boggo Road Gaol 1933

Leonard  Cohen

Known Aliases:

Leonard Alexander Cohen, Robert Graham, Leonard Myers, Isadore Alexander Cohen.

Age:   28 Years

Native of:   Carlton, Victoria

Born:    1905

Arrival in State:    1932  Overland

From:    NSW

Trade:    Accountant

Religion:   Jewish

Education:   Read and Write

Height:   5 feet 9 1/2 inches (176cm)

Weight:   10 stone (63.5kg)

Hair:   Brown

Eyes:   Grey

Complexion:   Fair

Build:   Slight

Features:   Birthmark right lower forearm.


For forty- six days in the summer of 1933 New Farm was haunted by the Bogey Man.  Someone or something… was breaking into the homes of the good residents of New Farm and stealing all kinds of possessions.

The intruder completed his task quickly, quietly, while they were sleeping almost like a ghost. The residents were frightened and the police were hot on the trail of “The New Farm Marauder”.  His escapes were not so flawless. He left behind clues to his identity.

It was until the 18th of February when in the middle of the night Albert Klinger of Moray Street in New Farm heard a noise in his living room.   Calling the police, Constable Knitter arrived on the scene and found the cowering Leonard Cohen under the billiard table, clutching two of Albert’s  shirts!

Appearing before the police magistrate it wasn’t long before Leonard admitted to the three incidents in New Farm over the preceding month or so.

The prosecution was not done with him yet; the full career of Leonard Cohen was put on display.  You see… this wasn’t Leonard’s first time in trouble with the law!

Leonard was somewhat of an expert international crook and housebreaker.   Expert in the housebreaking… not so much in alluding capture by the law.


Leonard had a very troubled youth; his parents had a particularly violent marriage.  His mother left when he was just nine years old after an incident left her in the hospital.   A few years later she returned, but again the violence escalated and she left for good. In 1920, they were divorced.

Shortly afterwards, in the end of 1920, Leonard and his father left Australia to go to California… the land of dreams.  Or was it?   It seemed so, certainly at the start. A highly intelligent man, Leonard earned himself a good education and a trade as an accountant.  Perhaps it was the fresh start that they needed.

Four short years later, while living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Leonard found himself in trouble with the law.  He had burgled a home.  The judge wasting no time on the matter sentenced him to 4 years in the local penitentiary.   Three years zoom by, Uncle Sam, Not particularly fond of the young Aussie declares he should be deported at the conclusion of his sentence.  And so it was when released on the 20th of December 1928, after serving just shy of three and a half years he was sent back to Australia.

Admission Photograph -Leonard A. Cohen – Pentridge Gaol June 1929

A few short weeks after arriving home to Victoria,  He again found himself in trouble with the law.  It seems Leonard couldn’t keep his sticky fingers to himself!  Blaming the crimes on his “poor circumstances”  too seems to be a habit for poor Leonard!  Over the next couple months Leonard finds himself sentenced to a total of thirty-three months in Pentridge Gaol!

Again he was released in 1931, Travelling overland via New South Wales, again this time in Singleton, Leonard was in trouble.  This time under another alias Robert Graham!  I am not sure who he thought he was fooling.  His record was displayed before the judge and he received another eighteen more months to think about it.

You would think by now… he might have learned a lesson…  Not quite!

As we know, eventually Leonard found himself in hot water in Brisbane…  Hiding under a billiard table!

And so it was, When the magistrate saw the full list of convictions against him… he frowned… The decision was made. 15 months! With hard labour!  at Boggo Road Gaol!

Perhaps what is most strange about Leonard, Is not his crimes or the fact that he couldn’t seem to keep himself out of trouble!  It was after his release in 1934.  Leonard disappears, completely without a trace.  Perhaps he assumed a new name, or used one of his many aliases.  One thing is for sure. He didn’t grace the courts in Queensland again!  He disappeared… just like the ghost he tried to be while committing his crimes!


So…was Leonard a bad egg?  Or was he a victim of circumstance? That is a question for the ages!  You decide!


Want to know more about what life was like in Boggo Road ?

Well unfortunately we can’t ask Leonard…
he seems to have wandered off somewhere!



But! you are in luck! former prisoner Larry Campbell is on hand this SUNDAY to tell you all about life inside Boggo Road Gaol!

Larry too, was a Break and Enter man!   You can read more about Larry here 

To book tickets for this Sunday’s  Prisoner Tour click here 

Want to take a private group tour with Larry?  You can do that!  Click here for more information.


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


Boggo Road Gaol
Boggo Road Gaol