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Document: Police Intelligence

A case of assault against a deaf woman comes up before the court in Fitzroy. The interpreter was almost certainly Fred Frewin, although the article spells his name “Frenin”. Fred Frewin was a hearing man with a deaf brother, Frank Frewin. Fred Frewin was the Missioner at the Adult Deaf and Dumb Society of Victoria from 1888 to 1892. We haven’t found any evidence that the woman involved ever married either of the men, although the “Italian” apparently would have been happy to do so – perhaps that is a mystery you can solve?



Fitzroy, -Monday.

(Before Mr Alley, P.M. and Messrs. Robb, Rowe, Couchman, Falconer and Cowls.)


A deaf and dumb young man, named Alexander Baptise Johnson, was charged with unlawfully assaulting a deaf and dumb young woman named Eugene Beregi. Mr. Frenin, missionary to the deaf and dumb, acted as interpreter, the evidence having to be given in mute signs.

The prosecutor stated that she was a tailoress and resided with Mrs. Dean, shopkeeper, Moor-street. The prisoner called at the shop and assaulted her. She ran to the rear and hid herself. Shortly afterwards Mrs. Dean came and told her that the prisoner had gone away. She (the prosecutor) returned into the shop, but had no sooner done so than the prisoner again rushed into the shop and tried to choke her. Mrs. Dean came to her assistance and the prisoner ran away. There had been an improper intimacy between her and the prisoner. He was the father of her first child. The prisoner asked her to marry him but she refused on account of his violent temper. And Italian was the father of her second child.

Mr. Trenin [sic] said he had known both parties for some time. The woman while in the Deaf and Dumb Asylum bore an excellent character, but on leaving that institution fell into bad company and was seduced by the prisoner, who was a stockman and earned a livelihood as a traveller and collector. Mr. Frenin further mentioned that the foreigner spoken of would willingly marry the prosecutor but was afraid the prisoner would do him some bodily injury if he did so.

When asked what he had to say in defence, the prisoner said that the called at Mrs. Dean’s place on the morning in question and wanted the prosecutrix to accept five shillings, but she would not. This made him very angry and he slapped her on the back.

The prisoner was then bound over to keep the peace for 12 months, in two sureties of £25 each.

POLICE INTELLIGENCE. (1889, May 24). Fitzroy City Press (Vic. : 1881 - 1920), p. 3. Retrieved January 18, 2024, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65677011
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