The morning of Tuesday, December 3rd 1907, showed all the promise of another stunning Sydney day.
Summer had well and truly arrived, and with the mercury set to hit 89.8 F (32 degrees Celsius), 45-year-old Johanna Camp’s thoughts turned to a day of battling Christmas crowds in the city.
Over tea and toast in the tiny kitchen of her Parraween St home, Johanna ran through her shopping plans for the day, telling her husband she would meet up with a friend in the afternoon, before catching the Mosman ferry back from Circular Quay.
Johanna Camp, also known as Johanna Janitzky, lived on Parraween St.
At 11 am Johanna left home; almost the same time 18-year-old Walter Stevens was returning to his, less than a kilometre away on Ourimbah Rd.
A local dairy carter, Walter and his best mate Thomas Lang had wrapped up another early morning shift delivering milk to Mosman households. Both athletic and hardworking, the pair were well known in the community and looking forward to celebrating the festive season.
Mosman milko’s in the 1900s were known for their athleticism due to our local terrain.
Within hours worlds would collide, forever changing the paths of two testosterone-charged teenage boys, three of their mates – and an innocent married woman.
“This is one of the worst cases of its kind I think I have ever heard of,” Judge Francis Rogers would later say.
Mosman Bay had a tram stop in the early 1900s to take to Spit Junction.
It’s unknown whether the extreme heat on that day led Johanna Camp to drink, but when the tram taking her from Mosman Wharf to Military Rd stopped at Stansell’s Hotel in Spit Junction, she alighted.
It was still daylight.
Resident Martha Butler would later tell police she saw Mrs Camp surrounded by several youths on Military Rd around 9 pm. Another woman, Jane Hayes, described seeing a drunk woman with a group of boys at Spit Junction at the same time.
It was Walter Stevens and Thomas Lang, accompanied by friends Wilfrid Farran (19), Robert McKay (18) and Nathaniel Dedden (17).
Spit Junction in the early 1900s.
Both women told the teenagers to leave Johanna Camp alone.
“The boy’s Stevens and Lang were there,” Mrs Butler testified in Court, “and Stevens was one of the first to take hold of the woman, whom they eventually carried away down Cowles Rd.”
Walter Stevens, aged just 18.
Mrs Camp, confused and drunk, was taken to a vacant block of land next to St Luke’s Church, her terrified screams alerting Mosman police officers Senior Sergeant Gumley and Constable Martin, who were close by on Belmont Rd.
“Approaching the fence, I heard a woman say, “Where am I? Where have you brought me?” Constable Martin told the Court.
“A male voice replied, “You are in Parraween St. Don’t you see Waines Butchers over there?” The woman replied, “How dare you insult a lady?” A male voice said, “It’s alright, Mrs.”