“Fire!” yelled the timber mill workmen when they saw their rest hut going up in flames at Nangwarry in South Australia. They raced to the hut and dragged out two of their colleagues who were inside. The two rescued were Charles O’Leary, 34, and Edward Ballard – but then things turned out to be not quiet as they appeared.

Apart from being badly burned, Ballard had been horribly beaten and his face slashed with a broken bottle. And as the rescuers stripped off his burning clothes they had to restrain a snarling Leary, who was threatening to “finish him off” with an axe.

The police were called. O’Leary, it emerged, had already served a prison sentence for manslaughter. Police suspected he had robbed Ballard, and when Ballard died they charged him with murder.

O’Leary was sentenced to death in October, 1946, and hanged on Thursday, November 14th, at Adelaide Prison. “I’m glad I’m being executed because I don’t want to kill for a third time, which I would if they released me and I got to the bottle again,” he said.