Griggs' Second Trial.
Lottie Condon Called.
Evidence for the defence was concluded to- I day in the case in which Ronald Geeves Griggs, agcd 28 years, is chnrged with hav- ing murdered his wife, Ethel Constance Griggs, at Omeo on or about January 3 last. Griggs was in the witness-box for the greater part of the day.
His statement on oath that his wife never took milk in her tea led to the Crown calling some evidence in rebuttal.
Mr. Justice Macfarlan, intimated, when the Court resumed after luncheon, that the jury had asked if the woman Lottie Condon would be called with a view to having her evidence regarding a certain telephone conver- sation in which she was alleged to have taken part. Neither the Crown nor the de- fence wished to call Miss Condon, and Mr Justice Macfarlan said that he would do so on his own responsibility.
Ronald Geeves Griggs said that just before his arrest he was the Methodist minister at Omeo. He was never fully ordained. He married Ethel Constance Griggs on April 7, 1926 and shortly afterwards went to Omeo. After the first three months he had some dis- agreements with his wife. She was moody, and witness did not know what was the matter with her. They seemed to drift apart. He became acquainted with Lottie Condon, but about five or six months elapsed before he became friendly with her.
Mr. Cullity (for Griggs): Prior to your wife's going to Tasmania did any- thing occur in refcrence to her projected trip?-Yes. We were staying at the Con- dons', and Mrs. Griggs and I were in a room alone. She said, "Do you think it right to go outside when you knew that Lottie was out
side also?" I said, "I did not go outside to see Lottie, and I did not see her." She said, "I do not believe it. Mrs. Condon noticed it, and was much upset about it." She added that Mrs. Condon had said of me that after- noon that owing to the way in which I was carrying on, I was not fit to be a minister at all. She then said that Mrs. Condon wished that I should not go to the place so often."
Up to that time had there been any arrnnge- ment that your wife should leave for Tas-
mania?-Not up to that time. On the second day we came home to our own place. Mrs. Griggs said to me, "Ron, what are you going to do about this? We cannot go on as we are going. Will you let me get a divorce?" I said, "On what ground would you get a divorce?" and she replied, "On the grounds of misconduct." I asked how she could prove misconduct, and she said. "Easily enough." I said, "This is a very serious step to take. Will you go home for six months, and in that time we shall both think things over". Stay with your mother and my mother, and during that time we will consider it." She said that she would do this. She added that she would never live with me again, and said, "If I come back it will only be for my things." She said that she would return to Tasmania and go teaching again. At the end of three yenrs she considered that we could get a divorce. I said that that might be the best way out.
RELATIONS WITH MISS CONDON.
In November, 1927, did you have some con- versation wah Miss Condon about marriage"
Did you spaeak to Miss Condon about marry- ing?-Yes. Miss Condon said to mc that when Mrs. Griggs came back she would go away, as she could not bear to see myself and Mrs. Griggs going about again. I said to her, "Lottie, when Mrs. Griggs comes back she is not going to stay, she is only coming back
to get her clothes."
Griggs went on to give evidence concerning his wife's arrival at Omeo, and the events which led up to her death, similar to that given at the first trial.
Mr Cullity: Subsequently to your wife's death, you had a telephone conversation from the Hilltop Hotel with Lottie Condon?-Yes.
You had arranged with your mother to visit the Condons?-Yes, and when I rang up, Miss Condon answered me. She asked me if I was coming down on Wednesday. I said that I would, and she said that her grandfather and her grandmother were coming down, and she thought that I might like to come and see them when they had a day to themselves. She asked: "What about the Thursday?" and I said that Thursday would do. I said: "I have a secret for you, Lot." I added that my father and my mother would be returning on the following Tuesday, and that they were not staying long. She said: "What about your mother?" And I said: "Everything is all right."
Mr. Book (for the Crown): You say that you bought strychnine and prussic acid at the
You bought them to get rid of some rats and
You know that arsenic was used about the district orchards?-I did not.
During the period of your wife's absence, you were very fond of Miss Condon?-Yes.
Infatuated with her?-Yes.
And had lost all affection for your wife? Not all affection. I had her as a wife, but not as a friend.
You made up your mind that you were not going to live with her again?-Yes.
And you wished to marry the other one?
And the sooner the bettor?-No.
But you did not like your position as a minister of religion, who was carrying on these relationships?-I did not.
And the sooner they were ended the better? -Yes, the better I would be pleased.
You wanted your relationship to continue, did you not?-No.
Why did you not wish it to continue?-I suppose because I was ashamed.
But not sufficiently ashamed to give it up?
If there had been no obstacle in the way, were you willing to marry Lottie Condon?
QUESTION OF MARRIAGE.
Were you anxious to marry her?-In my
own heart, yes.
Mr. Justice Macfarlan: If you had been free at that time, would you have married
Griggs: I have never thought of that aspect,
and would not say.
Mr. Book: When you took up the Church, you intended to stick to the Church?-Yes.
And when this position arose, you were anxious to keep to the Church?-No, I knew that I would have to leave the Church.
Why? Your wife was going to leave you for three years and get a divorce. - I could not have done my work with my wife away.
Well, you had done it for six months with- out her. It was probable that at that time you might be removed from Omeo?-Yes.
And you did not wish to be separated from
You ncvor at any time told your wife thnt you misconducted yourself »vlth Lottlo Con-
You and your wife never took milk in your
What did you give the baby?-It was fed on patent foods and condensed milk.
But you had a cow at Omeo. When did you cease to keep her?-When I got sense.
Did you intend to tell those interrogating you the truth?-Yes.
But you did not tell them the whole truth? Only on one aspect-that of my relationship
with Lottie Condon.
Mr. Justice Macfarlan: You know that there were rumours about you in regard to your conduct?
Also that there were rumours regarding your wife's death being brought about in some unnatural way?-Yes.
Did you not realise then that these two questions would be mixed up?-To some ex- tent my relationship with Lottie Condoin never entered my head.
MISS CONDON'S EVIDENCE.
Lottie Elizabeth Condon, in answer to Mr. Justice Macfarlan, said: "I remember a tele- phone conversation on January 10 with Mr. Griggs. I asked him if he was coming down on Wednesday, and he said that he was. I told him that we had friends coming on that Wednesday, and it was agreed that he should come on the Thursday afternoon."
Mr. Maxwell: You remember him saying anything about his mother and father going
Miss Condon: Yes, he said that they were going away, and that they had not stayed long. He said to me: "Things are going all
What did you understand him to mean by that?-That his mother was going away with- out any feeling against me.
Mr. Gurner asked permission to call evi- dence in rebuttal.
Mrs. White, mother of Mrs. Griggs, entered
Mr. Book: Did your daughter take milk
in her tea?
Mrs. White: I have never known her to drink it without milk.
Mr. Maxwell: You do not know what her habits were at Omeo?-No.
Mrs. Mitchell, wife of an Omeo storekeeper, was also recalled. She said that Mrs. Griggs had been in her houseant different times. She had always taken milk in her tea. The baby was given Nestles milk.
Lynce Flemming, stewardess on board the Nairana, said that when Mrs. Griggs travelled from Tasmania in December she was given a cup of tea with milk in it.
This closed the evidence. Addresses of counsel were begun. Mr. Justice Macfarlan will sum up the evidence to-morrow.