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Eugenia Falleni - convicted murderer

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Eugenia Falleni's arrest for murder and the subsequent trial a few months later caused a sensation in Sydney in 1920. Falleni, also know as Harry Crawford, dressed as a man and had married two women. The first of his wives, Annie Birkett, may have been killed after she discovered the fraud.

Gaol photo of Eugenia Falleni taken in 1928.Not much is known about Falleni's early life. She came to Australia from Italy, via New Zealand by 1898. She soon had a daughter Josephine, who may have been the girl born to an unmarried Lena Falleni in Woollahra in 1898. Falleni does not appear to have looked after the child. Instead she became Harry Leo Crawford (sometimes known as Jack Crawford) and worked in a series of low skilled jobs, such as a hotel useful, around Sydney.

In February 1913 Harry married the widow Annie Birkett and they opened a confectionery shop in Balmain. Annie disappeared after going on a picnic with Harry on 28 September 1917.

Below is a selection of records that follow Falleni from 1917 to her death in 1938.

Click a thumbnail to view a larger version or browse all images with descriptions

  • Police Gazette, 1920. View larger version
  • Police Gazette, 1920. View larger version
  • Post mortem register
  • The two main records of the Falleni trial. View larger version
  • Chief Justice Cullen's notebook. View larger version
  • Court transcript - verdict. View larger version
  • Justice Cullen's notebook - verdict. View larger version
  • Register of Criminal Appeals. View larger version
  • Court of Criminal Appeal Letter Book. View larger version
  • Gaol photograph for Falleni. View larger version
  • Another gaol photo for Falleni. View larger version
  • Long Bay Description Card. View larger version
  • Register of Coroner's Inquests. View larger version

State archives consulted

The table below is a list of records that have been consulted in the creation of this webpage.  Copies of some of the records can be found in the images above but many of the references can be used for future research.

Series Item list Page Reel Title Contents
NRS 10958 [1/3252] p.496 Reel 3599 Police Gazette NSW 1917 Body of unknown woman found, later idenitified as Annie Birkett
NRS 10958 [1/3255] p.371 Reel 3600 Police Gazette NSW 1920 Missing notice for Annie Birkett
NRS 10958 [1/3255] p.474 Reel 3600 Police Gazette NSW 1920 Arrest of Falleni
NRS 10958 [1/3255] p.619 Reel 3600 Police Gazette NSW 1920 Mentioned in Return of prisoners tried
NRS 343 [X2091] #1237 Reel 2765 Register of Coroners' inquests Annie Birkett listed under Woman, name unknown
NRS 1789 [3/2209] #202, p. 336 Not copied Sydney City Coroner, Post mortem registers Annie Birkett's autopsy carried out on 3/10/1917
NRS 885 [2/4805] #385 Not copied Index to depositions of Central Criminal Court and Circuit Court cases  -
NRS 880 [9/7250] - Not copied Papers and depositions, Supreme Court Sydney and on Circuit Only partial deposition has survived, including evidence given by Birkett's son
NRS 5808 [7/9318] pp.61-83 Not copied Judiciary, W.P. Cullen, C.J., Notebooks, Criminal Covers trial in October 1920
NRS 2713 [6/1077] - Not copied Court Reporting Office, Transcripts of evidence of the various Courts See index at front of volume
NRS 2491 [5/2263] #827, 1012 Not copied State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, Entrance books Entries for August and October 1920
NRS 2493 [11/3128] - Not copied State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, Description cards Alphabetical order
NRS 2496 [3/6006] Photo #499 Not copied State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, Photo description books First photo
NRS 2496 [3/6007] Photo #741 Not copied State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay, Photo description books Second photo
NRS 2457 [5/2023] - Not copied State Penitentiary, Long Bay, Register of letters received Entry 24 May 1922 (letter has not survived)
NRS 2052 [5/2249] - Not copied Record of cases treated in Gaol hospital, 1909-26 Various entries
NRS 1847 [2/2134] Folio 55 Not copied Corrective Services, Cuttings book - press and other printed matter Falleni mentioned in cutting
NRS 2698 [3/4819] Various references throughout volume Not copied Court of Criminal Appeal, Letter books Very hard to read in places
NRS 2699 [4/7950] #32 of 1920, p.107 Not copied Court of Criminal Appeal, Registers of criminal appeals
NRS 2498 [5/2223] #32 Not copied State Reformatory for Women, Long Bay Discharge books Discharged on 18 February 1931
NRS 343 [3/960] #1122 Reel 2768 Register of Coroners' inquests Listed as Falleni/Jean Ford, no papers survived
NRS 13340 [20/2403] #126394 Not copied Stamp Duties Office, Deceased estate files Listed as Falleni/Ford
NRS 13660 - #233624 Not copied Probate packets Listed as Falleni/Ford

Further reading

For more details on Eugenia Falleni see: