2SM Radio News Reel: Trial of Stephen Bradley
News reports and commentary on Sydney radio station 2SM, from the trial of Stephen Leslie Bradley for the kidnap and murder of eight-year-old Graeme Thorne. The trial took place from 20 to 29 March 1961 at the Central Criminal Court in Darlinghurst after Bradley confessed to the murder but then recanted his confession, saying that he only confessed because he feared for the safety of his family if he didn't.
These four excerpts taken from 2SM radio on 29 March 1961, the final day of the trial, give a sense of the heightened public interest in this case. Public scrutiny was so intense that throughout the day, 2SM were throwing to reporter Des Mahon at the Darlinghurst court for detailed updates every half hour.
Mahon outlines how the the judge, Mr Justice Clancy, gives his summation and his instructions to the jury and then, in an unusual turn of events, the jury is recalled to hear the judge add to his summary. Announcer John Brennan conveys a sense of urgency as he promises listeners that they will return to Darlinghurst Court as soon as the verdict is known. Later, Mahon reports that the jury has a question regarding some of the medical evidence, and then finally at almost 8.00pm that evening, they return with a verdict.
Mahon, and fellow reporter at the scene Kevin O'Donohue, describe the mood within the courtroom, and outside among people gathered in the street, as being one of jubilation upon hearing the guilty verdict. The crowd reportedly cheered and clapped and some in the courtroom had to be restrained by police. Their retelling of the moment the verdict was announced is evidence of how shocking this case was and the extent to which it captured the public's attention.
This recording, a compilation of reports by Des Mahon and Kevin O'Donohue, is utterly compelling. Even after many years it is still effective in presenting events as they unfolded with excitement and anticipation. Mahon's voice is clear, if somewhat monotonous, at the start. But as it progresses you can hear both Mahon and O'Donohue have found it a difficult case to report on and they have obviously been moved by it. They describe the crime as 'shocking' and 'dastardly', adding that it was an 'extremely hard trial' for everyone. It's a great example of radio broadcast courtroom reporting from the era and effectively captures a significant moment in Australian history.
Bradley was sentenced to life in prison, the maximum penalty for murder in NSW. He died in prison from a heart attack in 1968.