Bandit planned shootout with police at Turton’s Creek

Assault with intent to commit offense

On the 8th of May 1942, a trapper, Edward Charles Davis, saw a woman walking down Nerrena School Road, who was heading for a drink of water after helping her husband work a nearby farm.

Edward caught her from behind, she screamed, he muffled her screams by pressing his hand so hard over her mouth her lip was cut by her tooth. And dragged her to a nearby bush, forcing her forward onto her stomach. She continued struggling against him and screaming.

The sound of her husband’s footsteps gave her hope and he fled. She was very bruised from the attack as well as bleeding from the lip. Today, from the introduction in 1958 this charge would most likely be a threat to commit sexual assault. The charge of assault would also probably still stand today. There is no maximum penalty identified in the law.

The man-hunt

Davis vanished and led the police on a 5-week man-hunt. The best leads were over break-ins where weapons, tinned food, and ammunition were stolen.

First Constable George Bolton (Loch previously of Dandenong) and William Nicholas Yeomans (usually Stationed at Meeniyan) were camped at Dollar.  They’d received word about a break-in at Tarwin East it appeared to match Davis’ way. It helped them close in that 6.5 kilometres from that property was a Turton’s Creek and an abandoned property they believed was Davis’ hideout.

Break-in was redefined to a burglary in 1958

Breaking into a property and stealing or assaulting anyone whilst there was redefined to a burglary in 1958 in Victoria, which now carries a maximum term of 10 years imprisonment police descended silently on the hut. Bolton and Yeomans took the front door and back door. Entered together, knowing this man threatened to kill police. It was pure luck Davis was had just lit the fire reading it for making a meal. He was unable to reach his loaded weapon, or any of the other weapons before the police peacefully apprehended him. He was taken to Foster which was under the jurisdiction of the Leongatha Court which denied him bail on the 17th of June 1942 after a 5-week manhunt. Davis maintained he had grabbed the woman however he didn’t intend further harm to her.

He was charged with assault with intent to commit an offence, housebreaking and stealing charges. He was finally sentenced to 3 and a half years in prison. However, in 1946 he was being pursued a series of break-ins in the Mount Dandenong region.

Policeman honour with bravery:

The offence threat to kill’ was created in 1958*, which is why he was not charged with this, even though the police entered the property knowing he intended to kill them.

Which resulted in Bolton and Yeomans being awarded medals of valour in August 1942.

*A threat to kill is a level 5 penalty carrying a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.