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Thread: Oldest Vagrant to die in Pentridge Prison

  1. #1
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    Oldest Vagrant to die in Pentridge Prison

    I have been searching for a large article and photograph that appeared in or possibly on the front page of the Sun News Pictorial somewhere between 1963 and 1972, relating to the late Tommy Sullivan, b.c. 1897. Brother of a late uncle, he was known to have been an identity at the Mentone Race Course, Melbourne. He had suffered brain damage after a car accident and was unable to care for himself properly. Still wondering why modern society allowed him to end his days in Pentridge. The only cutting in the family was lost many years ago. Could anyone please advise if any repository holds these later issues of The Sun; any other newspaper it may have appeared in or if anyone has a copy of the article. I have explored all avenues I can think of. Thanks.

    Update.11 July, 2019: The Herald: Tom Sullivan, racing reporter, suffered critical head and eye injuries when involved in motorcycle accident, on 22 April, 1946 when returning from Healesville races.
    Last edited by walexandrar; 11-07-2019 at 03:58 AM.

  2. #2
    Trove user mogedon's Avatar
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    Going to be incredibly hard to find this article walexandrar. The Sun News Pictorial was a six-times weekly paper and your talking about not just the front page but maybe the entire edition. Over the nine-year scope you've outlined that's around 2,736 editions to browse. It looks as though the SLV and the NLA have microfilm (the SLV has paper copies so you can go there to get a sepia scan).

    Short of going through every edition yourself, I would suggest contacting an historical society local to the paper's geography. You may get lucky and someone could have compiled an index, or better, someone remembers the article.

  3. #3
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    Tommy Sullivan

    [QUOTE=mogedon;2570]Going to be incredibly hard to find this article walexandrar. The Sun News Pictorialend QUOTE)

    Thanks mogedon. I am in Melbourne and am familiar with The Sun newspaper. It is a longshot, I know but short of a page by page search I was hoping to flush out someone who remembers the article as you mused or someone who remembers Thommy himself. Next step NLV!!

  4. #4
    Sun news-pictorial (Melbourne, Vic.)
    State Library of Victoria holdings: No. 1 (Monday, Sept. 11, 1922)-Oct. 7, 1990 ; Card indexes: Jan. 1929-Nov. 12, 1970.

    I would:
    1. Find the exact date of death using Thomas as well as Tommy Sullivan on Vic BDM. Yes it's the worst BDM on earth, but done with thought, you could come up with some possibles without spending any money, or you could get a definite by paying.
    2. Check the SLV holdings in the months following his death, and at the first anniversary.

    About his incarceration in Pentridge, this may have been the cruel result of contravening the Vagrancy Act by being poor.
    Another possiblity is that people with particular head injuries, especially to the frontal lobes, can show impaired learning, short term memory loss and disinhibited behaviour. This includes sexual behaviour. They must be nursed in locked wards and can present problems for the community upon release from hospital. WA still incarcerates such men, those who are intellectually disabled or have an acquired brain injury and have committed an assault upon children are incarcerated "At the Governor's Pleasure".
    Tommy Sullivan deserves to be found again and brought back to the family if you can. Good luck.
    Last edited by wattlesong; 19-05-2013 at 09:01 PM.

  5. #5
    Adult Member KerryRaymond's Avatar
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    Was he Thomas James Sullivan, born 1896, son of Jeremiah Patrick Sullivan and Catherine Mary Brady?

    If so, the collective wisdom of Ancestry is that he died in 1968 at Coburg (where Pentridge Prison is). But one family tree has an attached letter from the Vic Registrar-General's office reporting that they could not find the death registration of such a man in the time frame 1962-1973.

    It might be worth asking the Victoria Public Records Office for their advice on what records to consult:

    http://www.prov.vic.gov.au

    given that he should appear in some kind of state government records if he was imprisoned.

  6. #6
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    Oldest Vagrant to die in Pentridge Prison

    Quote Originally Posted by KerryRaymond View Post
    Was he Thomas James Sullivan, born 1896, son of Jeremiah Patrick Sullivan and Catherine Mary Brady?

    If so, the collective wisdom of Ancestry is that he died in 1968 at Coburg (where Pentridge Prison is). But one family tree has an attached letter from the Vic Registrar-General's office reporting that they could not find the death registration of such a man in the time frame 1962-1973.

    It might be worth asking the Victoria Public Records Office for their advice on what records to consult:

    http://www.prov.vic.gov.au

    given that he should appear in some kind of state government records if he was imprisoned.

    Yes, he was the abovementioned Thomas. My extensive research covered the above and the results were all negative as indicated. He is still, to my mind a missing person and unless he met with a cruel end or lost his memory completely, feel there must be some record hidden away. I can't believe his surviving relatives have no knowledge of his life or fate. Public Records Office, Vic. were amazing and far exceeded my expectations with their help. Deaths of nameless people were also investigated but none were of the correct age. The fact that no death registration has been located in Australia is a complete mystery to me. I am just beginning a new phase of my research into Thomas James Sullivan. Thank you to everyone for your contributions.
    Last edited by walexandrar; 12-07-2019 at 04:33 AM.

  7. #7
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    The Department of Justice in Victoria should have maintained records for all prisoners who died in custody. Have you tried them? If they do not hold these records, they may be able to tell you where they are. (State Records Office?)

  8. #8

    Article in old book

    Hello we found an article in an old book - it describes Tom Sullivan being released from Pentridge... Is this of interest / use? Can I upload or email you a photo of it?

  9. #9
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    Thomas James Sullivan

    Quote Originally Posted by dennisf View Post
    Hello we found an article in an old book - it describes Tom Sullivan being released from Pentridge... Is this of interest / use? Can I upload or email you a photo of it?
    Hello dennisf,
    I renewed my search for Tommy Sullivan recently, still with negative results. I have just located your 2016 message - I was never notified of it - Wondering if you are still active on Trove and if you still have the material about him?

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