‘Atrocious’ historical murder
From the archives
Republished May 29, 2019
A GRISLY murder from Scottsdale’s past resurfaced last week in an online forum, where an article about the sentencing George ‘Ghosty’ Downes was posted.
Mr Downes pleaded guilty killing his wife Ruby Maud Downes and destroying her remains.
On August 15, 1924 The North-Eastern Advertiser reported that a further nine years had been added to Mr Downes’ initial five-year sentence for manslaughter.
He reportedly took his wife’s remains “smashed them up, burned them” and attempted to secretly bury them, in an attempt to destroy the evidence.
The judge said Mr Downes had potentially secured a more favourable treatment on the original trial than he should have when he was charged for manslaughter:
“The jury in that case dealt with you as one who had struck a deadly blow on the spur of the moment and under provocation, having heard all the evidence, as you know, I was the trial judge there, I believe the verdict to be a good one,” the article said.
“I respected it and sentenced you accordingly then warned you that you would still have to answer for your actions subsequent to the crime on which you were charged.
“I now know judicially for the first time […] the details of your actions subsequent to the original crime; you proceeded to commit an atrocious crime.
“There is something to be said for the man who under great provocation strikes blindly, failing in his passion to realise what he doing, but what can be said for a man who then proceeds to deliberately destroy the body by mutilation and concealing the body?”