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Robert Turner

Failing the Breadwinner ideal

Robert Turner was a butcher by trade and lived in Forbury Crescent, St. Kilda. On 31 August 1912 he shot and killed the eldest of his seven children, twenty-five year old Percy. It soon emerged that Robert was alienated from his large family, living in a stable beside their home. For 30 years he had been a heavy drinker and for 11 years he had seldom worked. This failure to provide had forced his wife to 'go out washing' and the children to start work at an early age. During drunken sprees he was prone to wandering about with loaded pistols. The previous year he had been committed to the Seacliff Mental Hospital for threatening his family in this way. The morning of his death Percy Turner had argued with his father about his fecklessness and thrown him out of the house. Mrs Turner tried to keep the peace, getting Robert out of the way before her son came home for lunch. But at lunchtime Percy confronted his father again, this time in the stable. Robert shot his son, claiming later that he was afraid of him. He then went to the Ocean View Hotel and had a pint of beer before turning himself in to the police. Robert was subsequently acquitted of murder on the grounds of insanity

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