wild old days
horrible tragedy was enacted at Flemington on Saturday afternoon
when a defaulting bookmaker was pursued by an infuriated mob on
the flat and eventually beaten and kicked to death.
The man's name was Donald John McLeod a big muscular fellow, 23
years of age, and weighing about 15 stone. He lived in Cardigan
On Saturday he and a man named Frank Ritchie drove to the course
and McLeod took up his stand on a box from which he loudly called
the odds on the Grand National Steeplechase.
He went out with the intention of betting only on that race but
there was a strong run on Lady Doris for the limit race and McLeod,
probably thinking she wouldn't win, was unable to resist the offers
of the crowd to bet with him. He made over 20 bets about Lady Doris
and stood to lose £4/15/0 ($9.50) if she won.
He did not bet on any other horse and when Lady Doris won he was
unable to pay and had to return the money with the usual promise
to settle on Monday.
On the second race too he laid £4/10/ to £1/10/ ($9
to $3) about the favourite, mostly in shillings (10 cents) Again
the favourite won, and again McLeod 'scaled ' his clients.
By this time he must have been rather a marked man and had, no doubt,
made not a few bitter enemies among the crowd. Still he boldly went
on betting on the Steeplechase.
Altogether he made 34 bets and received 47 shillings ($4.70) Seven
bets were made on Deportation for which he would have had to pay
out £8/10/ ($9) and he had only £2/7/in his bag. Deportation
won and the seven people who had backed him presented their tickets
in response to McLeod's cry of "I'll pay the winner".
He did not pay however but simply handed back the amounts of the
seven bet 10/ ($1) in all with a promise to settle up on "Saturday
night or Monday" in "front of Wren's"
The seven who had been scaled complained loudly. Previous victims
of McLeod’s methods of payment joined them and in a few minutes
McLeod was being hustled and hunted by a crowd ever growing noisier
and more violent. He was struck several times, and then becoming
terrified he ran towards the (booths?).
The crowd streamed after him like a wedge, the fastest runners in
front. McLeod's white hat and face could be seen darting across
the flat. Then the point of the wedge reached him, and as he went
down, the rest of the crowd surged round him and he was lost sight
of in a mass of whirling fists and kicking feet.
Some of his friends and a few men with ideas of fair play forced
the crowd off and McLeod again got away, only to be caught again
by the crowd and literally beaten to death.
By this time two mounted constables put in an appearance and rode
the crowd away from the dead man. His body was carried to the casualty
room on a stretcher, and Dr Mollison, after a brief examination,
pronounced life extinct.
There were a number of well-known welchers on the flat on Saturday.
Just before McLeod was beaten to death, Detective Tognini, who was
standing near the gate leading from the flat to the outer carriage
paddock, saw a big crowd following and abusing four men whom he
knew to be welshers.
He spoke to one of the welshers, and then, on pushing through the
crowd, he saw McLeod lying on the ground, with two troopers keeping
a circle clear.
Just then another crowd came along in chase of another welsher.
This man escaped from his pursuers, but not till most of his clothing
had been torn off him.
"There was a very thick and furious crowd following the welchers"
said Detective Tognini "but I saw blows struck. There was a
rough and tumble, as is always the case, on such occasions."
Three men, Robert Allsop, John James Carrig and Frederick Fauvel,
all residents of Windsor, were attacked by a party of welshers.
The men evidently supposed that Allsop was one of those who had
attacked McLeod, for they called out, 'Here he is', 'Come on Friday',
' Come on Joe' and rushed at Allsop.
He was struck in the face with a fist and then received a heavy
blow from behind with a short length of chain. This cut his head
badly and necessitated his removal to the Melbourne Hospital.
(This article from The Argus, July 16, 1906)