Monday 30 January 2012

Greener Pastures: Rex Pilbeam 5

Jean Jennings being led into court.
In the Supreme Court case of Rex v Jennings ('Rex' signifying the Crown, not Pilbeam) it was not disputed that Jean had shot the Mayor, puncturing a lung and leaving a bullet lodged in his spine. Jean pleaded 'not guilty' despite the accepted facts and, rather than defend her, Mr Bradford, for the defence, prosecuted Pilbeam.

The court heard evidence that there had been an affair and Rex, an enthusiastic party to it... until elected Mayor.

Jean claimed they had planned to run off to Western Australia and marry. They were to initially move to Brisbane and had both given notice to the Show Society in late 1949 in preparation, but Rex had withdrawn his resignation and Jean had gone alone, with an understanding he would follow later.

Her defence showed Rex had subscribed to a Perth newspaper and sent it on to Jean in Brisbane so she could apply for jobs in the west.

Jean swore under oath that Rex had visited her in Brisbane a number of times and had bought her a gold wedding ring and chain which she had worn discreetly round her neck.

Her defence showed Rex had been in Brisbane at the times she claimed and had bought the ring and chain from Mackay's Jewellers.

In a final knock out blow Mr Bradford pushed Rex to an admission that he and Jean had holidayed together under false names as a married couple in Maroochydore.

Rex gave in and admittted all. "I did not want my private affairs made public and I was sure no single girl would want her association with a married man made public."

Pilbeam denied he had taken advantage of a young vulnerable employee and insisted the affair was entirely mutual, but he was finished. The fight was over. Jean was a 26 year old woman when she pulled that trigger, but the defence successfully portrayed her as an innocent young girl, and Rex, in his early 40's, as a dirty old man.  Whatever now happened to the actual accused, the defence strategy had triumphed and the victim was forever guilty.

But the defence was not satisfied. Addressing the disgraced Mayor, Mr Bradford delivered a final kick to the head. He ensured the jury heard what was probably inadmissable evidence and the judge did not stop him. Before Pilbeam had left Warwick for the job in Rockhampton he had been sued by a young woman for maintenance of two children. Rex had defended the action and the woman had eventually withdrawn the suit, but there was something Mr Bradford was determined the jury should hear, and from Rex's lips. The woman had worked for him as office assistant at the Warwick Show Society, the same position Jean held in Rockhampton.

Jean was given a suspended sentence for the attempted murder and walked from the court a free woman. Unable to accept the end of a consensual affair she had tried to kill her lover... and she walked free.

The Show Society fired Rex and he resigned as Mayor.

Page 1: Perceptions
Page 2: Bull At A Gate
Page 3: Bull By The Horns
Page 4: Wounded Bull
Page 5: Greener Pastures


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