Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Who was Lucy Collins?

Lucy Collins was a well-known member of the Albury community in the 1940s and 1950s, but unfortunately for the wrong reasons, living a life of destitution and alcoholism. Lucy gained a short-lived national profile for her claim that she had witnessed the Pyjama Girl murder—which she later denied.

Lucy was married to an orchardist and had five children. After leaving her husband, she camped at Lavington and Monument Hill. She also lived at a shack owned by the Quin family. It was while she was living at this shack that she accused the Quin family of murdering the pyjama girl—but more about that in a moment.

Lucy was a triple-certificate nurse and worked for a Doctor Patton. She was diagnosed as iron deficient and was suggested to drink red wine. She became severely alcoholic, yet was still known to deliver babies for other people living on the fringes in the shanty towns of Albury. She was imprisoned at least twice, once for vagrancy and once because ‘her mind had gone’.  

Lucy’s moment of infamy came when she met Dr Benbow, a medical man from Sydney and self-styled forensic detective who had developed a theory about the murder of the Pyjama Girl.

Lucy told him a story about a girl who had visited from out of town—and then related a story about having seen a man she called Quin attack the girl. There was some question about who she was referring to, whether Tom Quin, or a man nicknamed ‘Ginger Quin’, who was in fact named John Overend, but was very close to the Quin family, but both men were later found to have had alibis.

Quin's shack

In court Lucy retracted her statement, saying that she had been influenced by Dr Benbow. Lucy said the first time he visited her, he had brought a gift of chocolates to her, and the second time, a bottle of beer. (A lady who knew Lucy said that Lucy was a confirmed red wine drinker, and was never known to drink beer, but we can surmise that poor Lucy was happy to take what she could get). Lucy couldn’t remember the conversation in which she supposedly described the murder. 

The grand-daughter of the Quin family, Kath, has also been able to shed some light on the motivation for Lucy’s accusation. It turns out, Lucy hadn’t been paying her rent, and Mr Quin told her she would have to move out of the shack. In retaliation, it seems, she connected them unjustly to the murder.

Lucy died in 1955. She was remembered as a ‘colourful local character’.

No comments:

Post a Comment