The Court Case: The Murder of Hilda Jones.
Bruce Stapleton Neal, 19, was brought to trial for the gruesome murder of his girlfriend, Hilda Beryl Jones 16, on the 17th of March 1924 at her place of employment.
The Coroner included in his report that Ms Jones, affectionately known as “Bob” or “Bobby”, had a small gunshot entry hole at the base of skull. Her forehead was mostly missing, and her blood, bone and brain matter was scattered across the walls, ceiling and floor of the office.
The defense issued a statement that Mr Neal was an epileptic, and that when the gun fired, he was in the middle of an epileptic state and unable to control himself.
When asked by the court to enter a plea, “Not Guilty” came the statement from the defendant.
Defense attorney Mr Smith stated “If you remember the dangerous position of the Injury to his head. If you remember his fits and the circumstances surrounding them. If you remember the circumstances attending the murder of Bobby and his condition afterwards, it Is very-easy to take a backward view over his past life, and to say that these fits are epileptic fits.”
Mr Smith exhorted, “Our only defense is a plea of insanity!”
The jury retired, and after an hour returned with their verdict. “Not guilty on the grounds of insanity”.
Justice Parsons, residing over the case, stated that, “In order with the Criminal Consolidation Act, he would order Neal to be kept in strict custody in the criminal ward of the Parkside Mental Hospital during the Governors pleasure.”
Mrs Neal, who had been in the court room, and who had earlier given evidence in the case, fainted at the reading of her son’s sentence.
Hilda Beryl Jones is buried in the Glen Osmond, “Saint Saviour” Anglican Churchyard.
Researched and written by Allen Tiller.
© 2018 Allen Tiller
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1924 'ADELAIDE MURDER.', Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 - 1954), 24 March, p. 2. , viewed 13 Sep 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article102232120
1924 'CURRIE STREET TRAGEDY.', The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), 29 May, p. 9. , viewed 01 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57389675
1924 'MISS HILDA BERYL JONES.', Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), 22 March, p. 37. , viewed 13 Sep 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article170493300
1924 'MURDER CHARGE.', Recorder (Port Pirie, SA : 1919 - 1954), 29 May, p. 2. , viewed 13 Sep 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article96099690
1924 'MURDER TRIALS.', The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), 27 May, p. 6. , viewed 13 Sep 2016, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article57389043
1929 'Obituary.', Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954), 11 July, p. 44. , viewed 01 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article90051284
1924 'Hugged, Kissed, and Shot', Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 - 1954), 15 June, p. 5. , viewed 01 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198669988
Photo: 1924 'MISS HILDA BERYL JONES.', Observer (Adelaide, SA : 1905 - 1931), 22 March, p. 37. , viewed 01 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article170493300