Sarah Louisa BLYTH – Historical Adelaide Tour Profiles

Sarah Louisa BLYTH, 36 years old, home duties was residing at 213 Wattle Street, Malvern.  On Monday 30 September 1929, she was killed at her residence in the passage of the house near the front door.  She had been shot twice in the torso. 

She was killed by her husband, Thomas Blyth.  They had been married for 17 years and had two daughters, aged 16 and 11.

Thomas Blyth had been in the Railways Department, being stationed at Jamestown and Quorn. He was transferred to Adelaide, and during wheat seasons he was sent to sidings in the country. His wife always insisted on accompanying him notwithstanding the lack of comforts.

About two and a half years ago an old friend of the accused, Horace Warren, who was known as “Mick” Warren, had the misfortune to lose his wife.  Blight, to the kindness of his heart told Warren to come around anytime he felt lonely.  Warren visited the accused and his wife frequently.

Thomas Blyth then discovered Warren was visiting his wife when he was not at the house.  Thomas Blyth spoke to his wife, who said she would not continue to see Warren alone.  However, Blyth on one occasion met Warren and his wife alone in the street, and when he remonstrated Warren assaulted him.  On another occasion, Thomas Blyth saw his wife with Warren at a picnic at Belair and again Warren assaulted him. 

Rupert George JEWELL, storeman residing at 8 Olive Road, Stepney (St Peters in 1929) states:

On 1 October 1929, I identified the body of my late sister, Sarah Louisa BLYTH at the city morgue.  She was 36 years old, and she was the wife of Thomas Blyth.  She was residing at 213 Wattle Street, Malvern.  I last saw her alive about 4 months ago.  I knew that she had been living apart from her husband on and off for several months.

 Charlotte Ann FLAVEL, widow residing at 222 Wattle Street, Malvern states:

I know Thomas Blyth and his deceased wife.  I have known them for a number of years.  Mrs. Blyth was living opposite me.

On Monday 30 September 1929, somewhere about 4.00 p.m., I was walking along Wattle Street from my home to Unley Road, when I saw Thomas Blyth on the opposite footpath.  He was walking towards where his wife was living.  I did not speak to him.  he was dressed in a tramway uniform.  I went to Unley Road, and I did not see him again.  He was walking quite normally.

Isobell COCK, wife of William Nicholas Cock, residing at 213 Wattle Street, Malvern states:

I knew the deceased Mrs. Blyth.  She had rooms from me for about two months past.  Her younger daughter Jean was with her.  She occupied three rooms from me.  She used the front room as a sewing room, and the next room as a bedroom and a little kitchen at the back.

On Monday 30 September 1929, between 4.00 p.m. and 4.30 p.m., I was in my children’s bedroom at the rear of the house, when I heard a knock at the front door of my house.  I listened as I was expecting a visitor.  I then heard the sound of the front door opening.  I did not hear any voices, and I then heard an explosion and a thud, and then I heard another explosion following.  I then ran out of my house into the backyard and screamed, and then I collapsed.

I did not see the deceased after I heard the explosions.  The last time I saw the deceased was at about 11.00 a.m. in the morning.  I heard her go out after that, and she returned home sometime later.  I do not know the deceased’s husband, and I never saw him that day.

John Allison TIDSWELL, hotel manager residing at the Cremorne Hotel, Unley Road, Unley states:

At about 4.30 p.m. on 30 September 1929, I was in the front bar of the Cremorne hotel.  Mr. Maggs was also present with me.  I saw Blyth come into the back bar of the hotel.  He was by himself.  I then went out of the bar for a few minutes, and on returning, Blyth was still in the bar.

Mr. Maggs said to me, “I have got this revolver, what will I do with it?”  I said, “Give it to me.”  Maggs then handed me the revolver which was loaded with four live cartridges.  I dismantled the revolver, and later in the evening too it to the Unley Police station and handed it over to the police.

Dora May BLYTH, single residing at 73 Kenilworth Road, Parkside states:

The deceased, Sarah Louisa Blyth was my mother and Thomas Blyth is my father.  During the past eighteen months my father and mother did not live happily together.

            About six months ago my father was on a heavy drinking bout for about a week, during that week he was in a violent temper.  On numerous occasions during that week, I saw him strike my mother with his closed fists.  And during that week he smashed the window and doors of the house where we were living.  During the most part of that week, my mother, and sister Jean and myself had to keep ourselves locked in one of the rooms.

On the Saturday evening of that week, my mother Jean and myself were locked in one of the rooms.  My father kept knocking on the door and calling out, “I’ll give you sleep.”  He was also using filthy language.  My mother then got out the window, and went for the police, shortly after she returned with two police officers.  The police officers stayed at the front gate.  My father kept on using filthy language and after some time, the police arrested him and took him away.

The following morning, at about 8.30 a.m., my father returned home.  He went straight into mother’s bedroom.  I followed him.  Mother was in bed.  Father made a rush at mother on the bed, and caught her by the throat and said, “I’ll learn you to send for the police.  I will do for you.”

The following Tuesday, mother, Jean and I left home and went and stayed with grandmother.  Shortly afterwards my mother started separation proceedings against my father in the Adelaide Police Court.  The case was on all one day in the court and was then adjourned.

The day after the case was adjourned, my father came to where we were living.  My mother and father were talking in the dining room.  I was in the bedroom.  My father called me, and I went into the dining room.  He said, “Would you like me to come back, and will you forgive me?”  I made no reply.  He also said, “Will you try and get your mother to come back and live with me?”  I said, “Yes.  I will.”  I had a conversation with my mother, and a week later my father came back and lived with us for about two months.

            During those two months, on numerous occasions he used to be in a violent temper.  On different occasions, I saw him strike my mother with his closed hands.  On one occasion he struck my mother with a pair of scissors which cut her wrist.  He also used to call her filthy names. 

About two months ago, at about 12.30 a.m. one night, my father had been in a violent temper during the evening.  My mother, sister and I were sleeping in the dinging room, with the door locked.  My father kept knocking on the door and using filthy language, after some time, he burst open the door and came into the room.  He called mother filthy names.  Mother got out of bed and said to him, “Get out of the room.”  He ran at mother and pushed her over on the floor.  I picked up a stick and hit my father with it. 

My sister Jean unlocked the front door and mother ran out to the front of the house.  Jean and I followed her.  My father followed us out and kept using filthy language.   My sister Jean picked up a pot plant and threw it at my father.  When mother was standing on the lawn in front of the house, my father punched her and knocked her down on the lawn.  He also chased me across the street and struck me several blows.  I went to the people who were living opposite and called them.  My father then went back inside the house.

My mother, sister and I slept at a neighbour’s place that night.  After that night, we did not return home again to live with my father.  Shortly after that night, my mother took proceedings against my father for a separation.  About a fortnight ago, my mother was granted separation from my father by the Adelaide Police Court.  I was present in court when the order was made.

Since my mother has not been living with my father, she has been residing at 213 Wattle Street, Malvern.  I have not lived home permanently since then, as I have been employed elsewhere.  I used to go home and see my mother several times during the week.

I heard my father say to my mother one occasion, “If you get a separation order from me, I will shoot you.”  I last saw my mother alive on Sunday 29 September 1929, and she was then in good health and spirits.

Albert Blyth, labourer residing at 8 William Street, Goodwood states:

Thomas Blyth is my brother.  For the past nine weeks, he has been residing with me at my home.  At about 9.00 p.m. on Sunday 29 September 1929, I was talking to my brother in the dining room, at that time he was in good spirits.  Shortly after nine p.m. he went to bed.

 I did not see him again until 5.00 p.m. on Monday 30 September 1929.  At that time, he returned home.  He was under the influence of liquor and went straight into his room.  He did not speak to anyone in the house.

Penrhyn Kent MAGGS, barman employed at the Cremorne Hotel, Unley Road states:

At about 4.25 p.m. on Monday 30 September 1929, I got off a tram car in front of the Cremorne Hotel.  As I was walking into the hotel, I saw Ton Blyth walking down Unley Road.  When in front of the hotel, I had the following conversation with him

I said,             “How is it Tom?”

He said,         “Not to bloody good, I have shot the wife.”

I said,             “What; are you kidding?”

He said,         “No.”

He then walked into the bar.   He said, “Give me a handle.”  Someone in the bar bought him a handle of beer and gave it to him.  Someone in the bar bought him a handle of beer and gave it to him.  He drank it and said, “Give me another.”  I don’t know if he had the second drink or not.  Blyth then sat on the floor.  I said to him, “Get up Tom.”  After a little while he got up.

I said,             “Have you got the gun on you Tom?”

He said,         “Yes.”

I said,             “Give it to me.”

He then handed me the revolver.  Shortly after, Blyth left the hotel and went down Opie Avenue.  When Blyth handed me the revolver, I examined it and found that it was loaded.  I later handed the revolver to Jack Tidswell junior, the son of the Licensee of the Cremorne Hotel.  At the time Blyth was at the hotel, he was under the influence of liquor.

Maurice GOLDSMITH, licensed second hand dealer of 57 Hindley Street, Adelaide states:

At about 3.00 p.m. on Monday 30 September 1929, a man named Thomas Blyth came into my shop.  He said to me, “I want a revolver and some bullets to kill some cats.”  I showed him a revolver and he said, “That one will do.  How much do you want for those one and twenty-five bullets.”  He paid me, and I gave him the revolver and bullets and left the shop.  I knew Blyth previous to this day.

 Michael Joseph McMAHON, detective sergeant stationed at Adelaide states:

At about 7.15 p.m. on Monday 30 September 1929, when in company with Detective Ferguson, I saw Thomas Blyth in a cell at the Unley Police Station.  At the time he was under the influence of drink.

Later the same evening with Detective Ferguson, I brought Blyth to the City Watch House and detained him.  At about 8.30 a.m. the following morning, the 1 October 1929, with Detective Ferguson, I saw Blyth at the City Watch House.

I said,             “You know that we are police officers?”

He said,         “Yes.”

I said,             “We want to question you concerning the death of your wife which took place at Wattle Street, Unley yesterday afternoon.  You need not answer any of the questions that I am going to put to you unless you like and anything you say may be used in evidence.” 

Confession of Blyth

He said,         “I don’t care, I have got nothing to live for.  I will tell you the truth.  For some time, past, my life has been hell all through a man named Warren who has been on with my wife.  Yesterday I decided to buy a gun and settle both of them.  When I knocked off at 2.00 p.m., I went to the Hyde Park Hotel and had a few drinks, and I went to Mrs. Cock’s where my wife was living.  I knocked at the door, and when my wife came to the door, she said, I don’t want anything to do with you.  I took the gun from my pocket and fired two shots at her.  She fell on the floor, and I left the house.  I then went to the Cremorne Hotel to shoot Warren.  When I got to the hotel, I had a few more drinks, but I could not see Warren.  I wanted to shoot the bastard because he broke up my home.  I took him into my home when he lost his wife, because he was a pal of mine and that is what I got for it.  I am sorry I did not get the bastard.  I bought the revolver at Goldsmiths in Hindley Street yesterday.  I can’t say anything else.  That is all I know.

Thomas Blyth pleaded not guilty in court for the murder of his wife.  At the end of the court case, the jury found Thomas Blyth guilty of the murder of his wife.

Thomas Blyth was sentenced to death by Mr. Justice Piper, sitting in the Criminal Court.  Jurors added a recommendation to mercy to their verdict.  His Honour said that he was entirely in accord with the verdict of the jurors. He would forward the recommendation to Executive Council.  It is provided by law that the death penalty shall be carried into effect 28 days from the date of passing of the sentence. If the law takes its course, the execution will take place. at Adelaide Gaol on the morning of Thursday, January 9, 1930.

The Executive Council did not consider the recommendation of mercy by the jury. 

It has been shown over time, the labour party was more likely to commute the death sentence to life imprisonment, whereas the Liberal Party were less likely to do this.

The Premier, Richard Butler was the leader of the Liberal party when the death penalty was carried out.  On 9 January 1930, Thomas Blyth was hanged at Adelaide Gaol where he was buried.  He calmy met his death. 

Sarah Louisa Blyth was buried at West Terrace Cemetery.

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