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The Murder of Henry Trevascus at No.1 Glebe Point Road

The note pinned to the door of Henry Trevascus’ office at No.1 Glebe Point Road was written in shaky letters on a plain white business envelope. It read “Back on Friday Gone to Goulburn leave all letters at shop.” The note has been stuck to the door since Tuesday 31st of October, 1911, and when the various visitors saw it they all left without putting too much thought into it.

However, Henry’s daughter became suspicious on Saturday afternoon when she found the note was still up. She knew her father was not a man who spent many days away from his business. So, she and a boarder who lived in a room above Henry’s office acquired a spare key and opened the door. On entering the room, Alice Trevascus found her father lying face down in a pool of blood on the floor with his legs under his desk and head near the chair. The back of Henry’s head had been smashed open, and someone had cut his throat. The blood was everywhere. Henry Trevascus had been brutally murdered.

Detectives searched the room for clues and found a faint bloody fingerprint on the note pinned to the door. Furthermore, on Henry’s desk was the coulter of a plough, a large sharpened piece of steel about 2ft long and 4in wide. Typically, this item is used to turn soil though, in this circumstance, it was used as a weapon to strike the skull of Henry Trevascus, who was sleeping in his desk chair at the time. A Bengal razor was found on the desk, smeared with blood.

The motive appeared to be burglary; detectives came to this conclusion after Alice told them she had been with her father the night before the note appeared. He showed her £50 of banknotes that he had withdrawn from the bank to purchase some gold and platinum from a dentist based in Emu Plains who was meeting him at the office the following day. Henry Trevascus was a metallurgist who traded in gold and precious metals. The £50 was missing. Detectives then came across a letter on Henry’s desk that was from the Emu Plains dentist. He went by the name L. R. Fisher. He wrote that he had 8 ounces of gold to sell and would arrive at 8pm on Monday. The press reported extensively on the murder of Henry Trevascus. Sensational stories were published with various theories as to whodunit. Police asked L. R. Fisher to come for questioning. However, it soon became apparent that the dentist did not exist and was just a red herring.

By now, police sought a new suspect: a young man who, on occasion, would visit Henry. He came on Tuesday morning and asked the ground floor shop keeper if he could walk through the shop to access the stairs to Henry’s office. She agreed to let him through. Soon after, she heard a loud thud as though something heavy landed on the floor of Henry’s office above her. The young man rushed downstairs in an excited state, his body shaking. He said he fell down the stairs and hurt himself. He asked for a piece of brown paper which she gave him, and he took it back upstairs. He left soon after, not to be seen again that day.

The young man was soon identified as a nineteen-year-old dental assistant, Campbell Nairn Moir. He was arrested in Melbourne and extradited to New South Wales, where he was met with a crowd of hundreds of people at Central Station who came to see the suspect. According to police, Moir was interviewed after the arrest and confessed to having known Henry Trevascus since 1910, even admitting to writing the letter from the fictitious Emu Plains dentist. His fingerprints were taken by detectives to be compared with those found on the note pinned to Henry’s door. Incredibly, it was revealed that Moir was the nephew of a New South Wales government minister, A. C. Carmichael. The public and press were concerned that Carmichael may intervene on his nephew's behalf and interfere with the course of justice. However, on the 24th of November, Carmichael tendered his resignation as a member of the Labor Government.

Campbell Moir was confirmed to be the young man who entered Henry’s office on the morning of the murder. At the coronial inquest, the downstairs shopkeeper pointed him out in court. Next, the fingerprint lab declared the bloody finger mark from the crime scene matched with Moir’s. By now it was clear that Moir was in serious trouble. On the second day of the inquest, he confessed to making plans to steal from Henry Trevascus but denied being responsible for the murder. Instead, he accused a Russian man of being his accomplice. He claimed that he sent the letter to Henry to trick him into withdrawing £50 which he could steal. After he was let into the terrace on the Tuesday morning, his Russian accomplice followed him in and was introduced to Henry as a friend of Moir. However, when Henry turned around, the Russian struck him on the head, killing him instantly. Moir says he left and waited across the road in the University Hotel for the Russian to appear with the £50. They took £25 each. It was at this moment that the Russian told Moir he also cut Henry’s throat.

The story of the Russian was not taken seriously, especially as a search for the man revealed no one and a Russian translator claimed the name given was not even of Russian origin. Moir stood trial in January 1912, with his defence arguing he was not mentally sound. However, state medical practitioners reviewed him and said they found nothing wrong with him. Ultimately, the jury found him guilty of murder and the judge passed down a sentence of death by hanging. However, luckily for Moir his sentence was commuted to life in prison beginning in Darlinghurst gaol until it was closed in 1914 and he was relocated to Long Bay.

The terrace of 1 Glebe Point Road was demolished decades ago and rebuilt as a multi-story complex that houses restaurants and an Anytime Fitness Gym. Another amazing chapter in Glebe history.


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