Murder most foul committed over choice of radio shows

Trevor Francis McKenzie was an habitual thief who had a rap sheet longer than a monkey's arm. A Great War veteran and a tailor by trade, his habit of stealing and the stigma that created, eventually caused him to do the unthinkable.


Born in 1900, Trevor signed up for the Great War in 1916 and fought over in France. After a number of incidences, including a visit to hospital for acute gonorrhea, he headed back home and trained as a tailor's presser.


Trevor Francis McKenzie. Courtesy Findagrave


After a short marriage his sticky fingers got him into more and more trouble, including the theft of a suit valued at nine pounds, from Basil Morphett of Brunswick in Victoria. Trevor had pawned the clothes and when caught was sentenced to six months imprisonment.


A year later, Trevor received another imprisonment of one month for stealing and pawning a trombone, he stole from the St Kilda City Band. He pleaded guilty and admitted to nine prior convictions.


Some time after these convictions Trevor met Phillip Elmore Johnson, a retired labourer who was also a war veteran. In the mid-1940s Phillip had been camped out in a hut on his farm, trapping rabbits and foxes to earn a living. In June of 1946 Trevor moved in with Phillip and would cut wood for him. The arrangement seemed to work for a few weeks, but the men soon came to clashes over personal tastes and opinions.


It was mid-July when the relationship between the two men came to a head. One of their disagreements had been Phillip's interest in horror radio shows, which he liked to listen to on a regular basis. Trevor preferred more pleasant shows. There was also not enough food between the pair causing further ructions in their friendship.


The final straw may have come when Phillip constantly aired his grievances over people who were felons. He believed 'they should be hung' or 'they should be flogged'. This must have grated on Trevor, knowing his own history. On the morning of July 12, they had argued again and when Phillip went to collect some eggs and returned, Trevor met him with a double-barrelled shotgun and an axe.


Trevor Francis McKenzie Courtesy Public Records Office of Victoria.


Phillip's body was found 5 days later under some tin on the property they shared and Trevor, after confessing to a local detective to the murder, was found guilty and sentenced to death. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He died in 1970 and is buried in Springvale Botanical Cemetery in Victoria.


This story was suggested by Daniel Jones. If you have a lead on an interesting Tale from the Grave, please feel free to send me details to my inbox and I will search it out.



References

  • 'Prisoners sentence', The Argus, Friday 16 July, 1937, Page 7

  • 'Stole host's clothing', The Herald, Monday 9 March, 1936, Page 10

  • 'Pawned Band's Trombone', Friday, 16 July, 1937, Page 19

  • 'Man charged with killing hunter for trial', The Herald, Monday 12 August, 1946, Page 6

  • 'Coroner told crime talk got man down', The Daily Telegraph, Tuesday 13 August, 1946, Page 11

  • 'Trevor Francis McKenzie', Findagrave Australia, accessed 13th June, 2022, Trevor Francis McKenzie (1900-1970) - Find a Grave Memorial


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