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The case of Alfred Bye

Mug shot of Alfred Bye

Alfred Bye, Central Register of Male Prisoners

Under Section 9 of the Public Records Act 1973, files of a personal or private nature are closed from between 75 to 99 years to prevent the violation of personal privacy. On the 1st of January 2017, another year of files was opened to the public for the first time. The following record is included in this year’s openings:

A capital case  

Alfred Bye’s capital case file is one of three 1941 capital files now open, he was executed on the 22nd of December 1941 for stabbing his love rival to death.

Lost love

In 1930, returned WW1 soldier Alfred Bye became engaged to a woman named Amelia Ogier. The marriage never eventuated with Amelia growing tired of Alfred’s gambling habit, she broke off their engagement after three years together.

The pair didn’t speak for some years and Amelia became involved with another soldier, Thomas Walker. Upon learning of their involvement, Alfred begged Amelia to give him another chance and marry him. 

According to the Medical Officer Report within the case file:

“Bye admits that he was extremely jealous of Walker whom he believed to be preventing Miss Ogier from marrying him. Bye states that soon after his first meeting with Walker on the 23rd August 1941 Walker told him that he would fight Bye for Miss Ogier. Bye informs me that it was as a result of this incident that he purchased the knife with the intention of using it on Walker when the occasion arose. He delayed doing so for a month because he still had hopes for gaining the affections of Miss Ogier.”

According to testimony within the case file, Bye met with Miss Ogier a number of times begging her to marry him. She refused each time. 

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The murder

Report relative to Prisoner Alfred Bye:

“On the 27th September 1941 she (Miss Ogier) was walking along Swanston St, Melbourne, with Walker and her two nieces, when Bye approached and drew her to one side. He told her that he had made an allotment of his military pay to her. Walker came up and after some conversation between the two men, Bye made an attempt to strike Walker, but Miss Ogier influenced the men not to fight. The party then continued to the Princess Theatre, Spring St, Melbourne, leaving Bye standing in the street. Five minutes after they had entered the theatre, Walker left saying that he was going out for a smoke. Apparently Bye had followed them as outside the theatre the two men met. They proceeded to the Treasury Gardens and after a heated argument, they commenced to fight. During the struggle, Bye stabbed Walker a number of times with a knife inflicting injuries which resulted in his death. After throwing the knife away, Bye went to the Spencer St Railway Station and later returned to Bacchus Marsh on the 11-25 pm train.”   

The case, and execution, made headline news at the time.

Bye was captured and stood trial. The Inspector General Penal and Gaols Department report has some interesting things to say about Bye, referring to him as ‘low grade’ and ‘subnormal’:

“My observations of him are based entirely upon my interviews with him.

Intelligence and Schooling.
He is definitely subnormal. I judge him to be a low grade moron and like most such persons his is possessed of much low cunning. He lies readily but it is comparatively easy to circumvent him and cause him to contradict himself. His conversation is halting and his vocabulary very limited. His memory is poor and disjointed. He admits that he did not do well at school finding it very difficult to learn lessons. He has never read a book and, in any case, he can read only very simple words.

Temperament.
He is emotional, inclined to hysteria and given to self pity. He does a good deal of weeping and moaning. He appears to be very irritable, stubborn and at times jealous. He did not realise the full significance of his plight until his solicitors advised him not to appeal but to be prepared for the worst. Then he broke down, but I have reason to believe that much of his distress and most of his complaints were simulated.

His Crime.
He says “I did not mean to kill him. We went to have a fight. I took the knife with me. He was bigger than me. Walker had a bottle of beer and we shared it before the fight. He was too strong for me. He grabbed me by the throat. So I took my knife and used it.” One can understand this futile, weak, irritable, obstinate, jealous, low grade man striking and striking until his insane fury is satiated. The description I have given of him does not mean that he is a certifiable mental deficient. In a limited environment he could earn his living and with proper teaching in – early youth he could have managed his affairs prudently. But he is far below the standard of a desirable citizen.”

Death sentence and execution

Alfred Bye was sentenced to death for the murder of Thomas Walker. He was executed on the 22nd of December 1941 at Pentridge.

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