Safe As Houses: 66 Llewelyn Street, Kangaroo Point
Was a Brisbane murder the work of a mystery attacker or a lover’s crime of passion?
- WARNING: The following article contains descriptions of violent crimes that some may find disturbing.
“I cannot and will not think him capable of such a dreadful crime!” Dixon Hudson’s wife told the tabloid newspaper Truth following the 51-year-old’s murder trial.
“His only lapses were weaknesses for the company of other women.”
What a weakness it turned out to be.
Dixon Hudson was a Brisbane carpenter whose “weakness” for the company of other women led him away from his wife and four children in Townsville and into the arms of 37-year-old Agnes Lennon in Brisbane. Agnes had bought a house at 66 Llewelyn Street in Kangaroo Point. She shared the residence with her father and, oftentimes, with Dixon Hudson.
“He was not a man who drank to excess, smoked or displayed violence of temper,” Hudson’s wife told Truth. At least one of those things was a lie.
On the afternoon of 21 February 1940, Dixon bought a couple bottles of rum and took them over to Agnes’s house at 66 Llewelyn Street, where the pair downed a bottle apiece. Agnes’s father, who conceded that his daughter sometimes “drunk more than was good for her”, left the two to visit one of his other daughters in Ashgrove. When he returned the following morning, it would be to a terrifying scene.
Agnes’s battered body was in the hallway of her house, her head caved in with an iron boot last. Lying with his head on Agnes’s arm was Dixon, his throat cut with a straight razor. Amazingly, he was still alive and was rushed to hospital.
The scene led police to the conclusion that Dixon had either battered Agnes with the boot last or pushed her onto it so that she fatally struck her head. They alleged that he then went under the house, cut his own throat with a straight razor and wandered around a bit before returning to Agnes’s side.
Police would learn that Dixon had asked Agnes to marry him days before. She had refused, perhaps due to the noteworthy impediment that Dixon was already married. While the two had quarrelled, things seem to have smoothed out, and no witnesses at the trial could help the prosecution paint a picture of anything but a stable, loving relationship.
When confronted with Agnes’s murder, Dixon was appalled.
“Oh Christ, I did not kill that woman! I loved her!”
He added incredulously that he also would not have cut his own throat.
According to Dixon’s version of events, Agnes had frightened off a would-be burglar the previous night. She kept a large sum of money hidden in the floor of her house, Dixon said. That night, as he lay beside her in bed, a man had come from behind and slashed his throat before battering Agnes and making off with her cash.
Sure enough, beneath the floor police found an empty wallet. Moreover, a boarder renting a room at Agnes’s house testified to having heard Agnes argue with a man over the telephone and said he was certain the man wasn’t Dixon.
While Dixon’s story seemed plausible enough, there were some troubling details. First, Dixon refused to give blood samples to police, though he was told doing so might exonerate him and help police catch his mysterious attacker.
Then there was his puzzling diary entry. In a journal kept by Dixon, police found an entry just before Agnes’s death.
“Nessie says she is full up on life. Like to die together.”
In spite of these disturbing details, witness after witness seemed to reinforce the utter lack of a motive for Dixon Hudson to have murdered Agnes Lennon. As the jury retired, Dixon was utterly confident he and his wife in Townsville would soon have a happy reunion.
Less than half an hour later, the jury returned with a guilty verdict and Dixon was sentenced to a life of hard labour.
Houses in Kangaroo Point now fetch a median price of $829,000. Today, at what would have been 66 Llewelyn Street, there sits a Church of Latter Day Saints temple. But the ground it consecrates once saw a man forsake his family for a romance that was doomed to end in blood.
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.