A century ago, in the Sydney slum of Surry Hills, a Chinese gunman shot more than a dozen people, triggering a dramatic police siege that was only ended by the violent intervention of a lone American vigilante. But who was this self-styled cowboy with the six-shooter? For Part Two, click HERE

“Arizona” Ryan became an instant celebrity, but no-one looked too closely at his background.

One of the last times this story was recounted was back in 1949 — but this article,
like all others, didn’t bother to question the background of the American hero.

During the battle, thousands of people poured into Surry Hills, staying all night for what The Sun newspaper called “the fun”. Some even brought their own guns to take potshots at Lee Hin.

Lee Hin’s little wooden cottage, besieged by onlookers after he’d been carried out dead. Many of the siege spectators were children, with some boys using pea shooters to get in on the action.

In 1891 Henry Lawson published a poem called “The Ghost at the Second Bridge”, which told of encountering a terrifying spectre on lonely Mount Victoria Pass in the Blue Mountains. While a fright of fancy, Lawson’s poem was based on a tragic true story. Gather round for the haunting tale of a handful of murders, a couple of hangings, chaotic court cases, drunken witnesses, shock acquittals, and, of course, sightings of the restless spirit known as “The Woman in Black”.

She dropped a headless torso into the Yarra River and shot her ex-husband full of holes — and these were just two of the horrific crimes alleged against Nurse Hannah Mitchell in the 1920s. The full story of “Melbourne’s Most Notorious Woman” is told for the first time in a special three-part episode.

Bertha Coughlan went missing in November 1922. She was found three months later, having been dumped in the Yarra River.

Nurse Hannah Mitchell, tried in 1923 for the
murder of Bertha Coughlan.
Mugshot of Hanna Mitchell’s husband when he was arrested for running an illegal casino.
Senior Detective Frederick Piggott, known as “Melbourne’s Sherlock Holmes”, led the investigation into the murder of Bertha Coughlan.
From left to right: Frank Bonfiglio, star witness for the prosecution; Margaret Milward, Mitchell’s sister, who testified against her; and Thomas Cook, Bertha’s “friend”.

Mitchell and her daughter “Queenie”, who was charged with being an accessory after the fact, leave the City Coroner’s Court in 1923.

Mitchell was represented by Percy Ridgeway, who was rumoured to be her lover and who defended numerous Melbourne underworld figures in the 1920s.
The case was reported all over Australia.