A row between the hangman and the Australian law administration authorities broke out when two men involved in the murder of a cop were sentenced to death. It was customary to pay the hangman £5 5s. for a hanging “in view of the very disagreeable nature of the duty involved,” but in the case of Roland Kennedy and Frank Franz the hangman wanted £5. 5s. per noose.

The attorney-general’s department refused the request, arguing, “When two or more criminals are hanged on the same day they stand on the platform together and fall at the same time.”

The hangman appealed to the public service board, who upheld his view. They countered on his behalf that if one corpse was worth five guineas, two should be worth ten. The attorney-general’s under-secretary riposted that it was “an extravagant waste of money” to pay double for a double execution. The minister of justice agreed, and the hangman had to be content with two for the price of one.

Franz and Kennedy were labourers and members of the Tottenham, NSW, branch of a society known as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). On October 4th, 1916, they, together with Kennedy’s brother Michael, were jointly charged with the murder of Constable George Duncan, who was shot dead in September that year after the arrest of IWW members.

Franz turned king’s evidence and claimed that Roland Kennedy and his brother Michael Kennedy forced him to become involved. Although he was present when the constable was shot through the window of Tottenham police station, he shot his gun at the window sash and not at the officer. The trial court was told that Franz’s gun could not have fired the fatal bullet.

Franz must have considered himself very unfortunate. He had turned king’s evidence to help the prosecution, there was no scientific link between him and the killing, and normally criminals who elect to be prosecution witnesses are not executed. But for all that he was sentenced to death, along with Roland Kennedy. They were hanged on Wednesday, December 20th, 1916, at Bathurst Prison, Sydney. Michael Kennedy was acquitted for lack of evidence. Worldwide Hangings from True Crime Library.

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