Legal executions in Western Australia ended with the hanging of Eric Edgar Cook (Cooke?) on October 26th 1964. Executions started on July 10th 1840 with the hanging of two Aborigines, Bunaboy and Doodjep. The first European to be executed was John Gavin on April 6th 1844.


In total 154 legal executions were carried out mostly in Perth or Fremantle.


Aborigines make up almost 40% of all those executed with Europeans making up 45% and Asians making up the remainder. As the Aboriginal population is around 4% the figures show that the numbers executed are out of all proportion to their population.

At least one execution was badly bungled when the head of the executed man separated from his body.

"In 1914 Charles Henry Odgers was executed for the wilful murder of Mrs. Edith Molynoux, a former lover. After shooting Mrs. Molynoux dead, Odgers trekked into the bush and attempted suicide by placing an exploding detonator in his mouth. The attempt failed and he was left without a lower jaw.

On the day of execution adjustments were made to the length of the rope to account for Odgers' injury. Unfortunately the adjustment resulted in the only record of decapitation as part of an execution in Fremantle Prison's history."
- Fremantle Prison Facebook page.


The first woman to be executed to Western Australia was Bridget Hurford on October 15th 1855. (We believe that a total of three women were executed in Western Australia.) The last woman executed was Martha Rendell in 1909.


Crimes that have led to execution include murder, rape, burglary, carnal knowledge, robbery and wounding. In addition to the 154 people executed 442 others were sentenced to death but had their sentences commuted.


The death penalty was removed from the statute books in 1984.





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