Safe as Houses: 29 Macquarie Street, Tamworth
A son’s claim of self-defence in the murder of his father doesn’t quite stand up.
- WARNING: The following article contains descriptions of violent crimes that some may find disturbing.
The “silent witness” to the events in the house that once stood at 29 Macquarie Street, Tamworth, was George Hall’s face. So proclaimed Truth, Sydney’s foremost prurient tabloid in the first half of the 20th century.
Thanks to the tabloid’s love of going into gory detail about every crime it covered, we know much more about George Hall’s death than we do about his life. The 67-year-old’s murder in February of 1954 was described with macabre glee, but Truth gave few details on just what kind of person George Hall was. Reading between the lines, however, it seems safe to answer: difficult.
Hall was a longtime boarder at the house that used to stand at 29 Macquarie Street. He faced a number of physical ailments, and a stroke had left him confined to a wheelchair. If the events that unfolded on February 24 of 1954 are any indication, though, his ailments certainly hadn’t relieved him of his rancour toward his 38-year-old son, Reginald.
Again, Truth tells us little about Reginald John Hall, other than to say he was an itinerant farm worker. The tabloid briefly describes the younger Hall as a sort of a nomad. He seems to have stopped his wandering for a moment on February 24, though, to pay a visit to his infirm father. Judging by the details Truth did delight in describing, it did not go well.
Macquarie Street, Tamworth. Source: Google Maps 2015.
When Truth crowed in its banner headline about George Hall’s face serving as a silent witness, it meant his face’s grisly condition after Reginald had finished with him. The paper shares a vivid description of an old man beaten savagely until he was almost unrecognisable. The fury George Hall’s son unleashed on him must have been immense, but according to the paper it was the elder Hall who struck the first blow.
Reginald would later testify that his father began abusing and berating him the moment he entered the door at 29 Macquarie Street. George went so far as to hurl boiling water at his son’s face, before bashing him over the head with a jug and splitting his scalp.
Once again, we are left to guess at the dynamic of the two men’s relationship. Judging by Reginald’s reaction, though, the enmity must have been building for some time. Crown Prosecutor L.C. Furnell said Reginald “unleashed a flood of unbridled anger and a torrent of violence quite out of keeping with the physical opposition offered by the father”.
For his part, Reginald seemed to know he had lost his head. He was resigned to his fate when questioned by a detective at the scene.
“Yes, I did it. It is my fault. He is an old man and a cripple. I hit him first. I should not have done it. I will take what is coming to me.”
This didn’t stop Reginald’s defence team from arguing he had acted in self-defence. But, as Truth gleefully pointed out, it was George Hall’s face that bore testimony against this. Reginald was found guilty of manslaughter, and sentenced to 10 years.
The house that saw the enmity between George and Reginald Hall come to a head has been razed, and a new one stands in its place, built in 1994. CoreLogic is scant on detail, and has no estimate for the house’s median price, though it lists the median price in Tamworth at $245,000.
Each week, Safe as Houses looks at some of Australia's most notorious murders and the effect those killings have had on real estate values.