The unusual demise of Vera May Spark

At 10.40 am on Tuesday 4 January 1916, Plain Clothes Constable Bartolo Mafferzoni’s deskwork was interrupted by the sudden entrance into Fitzroy Police Station of a man screaming, ‘Get the ambulance, get the ambulance!’

The man was Raymond Victor Dawson and he was no stranger to Mafferzoni, who knew every crook in Melbourne’s Fitzroy, and some of them better than they knew themselves. But this was not the brash, confident Dawson he’d come to know – the travelling showman, snake charmer, thief, pimp and sly grog–shop proprietor. This was a frantic, panicked creature, dishevelled, dressed in only trousers and singlet, and close to tears. ‘What’s happened?’ asked Mafferzoni. ‘I’ve shot a woman accidentally,’ Dawson blurted in reply.

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