“ A Well Developed Bump”
John Joseph Challoner, not a name well known for criminal acts in Adelaide in current circles, but back in the late 1800's through to circa 1913, a name well known to Police and Prison guards all to well in Adelaide.
Mr Challoner was a serial law breaker, spending more than 40 years in prison for crimes ranging from larceny, unlawful possession of goods, false pretences, forgery and one charge of “An unnatural act”.
Challoner was described in The Advertiser in 1913 as a “A tall man with pointed features and a small beard who has spent more than half his 76 years behind prison walls”
Challoner began his life of imprisonment in 1867 when he was first sentenced and gaoled by a magistrate for six months. He was caught again, trialled and convicted for indecent assault in 1870, for which he received two years gaol.
Challoner was next convicted in 1874 for larceny and received another two years imprisonment. This was followed in 1876 with another six months imprisonment, which then led into another visit to the magistrate in 1876 for stealing from a person.
Challoners law breaking and imprisonments continued into his old age, when in 1913 aged 76 years old he was charged with stealing a silver plated tea pot from Maria Attridge.
Maria lived on Halifax Street in the city, she left for work as per usual on May 28th at 10am, and returned at 4pm, to find her house had been broken into and her precious teapot gone. She dutifully reported the theft to the Police.
Yetta Akolsen, a general dealer in Adelaide, reported to Police that Challoner had come into her shop and pulled a silver plated teapot from under his coat, he stated the teapot belonged to him and his wife, and Yetta knowing no differently, until after she had read about the theft in a newspaper later that day, paid Challoner a small amount of money for it.
|Inside Adelaide Gaol - Photo by Allen Tiller|
An Inspector noticed Challoner walking down an Adelaide street and went and questioned him about some of the possessions he had on his person. The Inspector arrested Challoner and took him to the station where he was charged with theft, and then house breaking.
The court proceedings became a bit of comedy session, when the defence for Challoner, upon questioning from the prosecution stated that Mr Challoner had a bad fall and cannot remember anything – proceedings reportedly went something like this:
Mr. Muirhead - “Don't you know the accused had a fall?"
The Witness “No”
Mr. Muirhead “But hasn't he got a bump on she back of his head?"
Witness- “Yes, and it is pretty well developed, too.” (Laughter.)
Mr. Muirhead “The accused pleads guilty, but that he does not remember anything about it. The other day he hurt his head, and he does not recollect what had occurred since."
Sub-Inspector Edwards - “He is suffering from sticky fingers." (Laughter.) .
Challoner was ordered another 3 months to his already lengthy prison record
Challener was then charged with having stolen an overcoat, an accordion, a shirt and a coat, valued at £2 10/, belonging to Henry J. Gardiner. For this crime Challoner was sentenced to a further 6 months.
At this time, Challoner, for some reason only known to him, stated to the court that he had in his possession a floor rug that he had stolen "From an old woman’s place”, the judge sentenced him to a further 2 months imprisonment, to run concurrently, with an urge for him to be treated for Kleptomania...
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