On the 27th of August, 1925, a St John of God Ball was held at Perth’s Government House . The ball would become the talk of the town, for all the wrong reasons.
Audrey Jacobs Takes Aim
It was well past midnight and everything was going along just fine. People were all dressed up in their finest, live music was playing, couples were swaying on the dance floor, when suddenly everything changed. At around 1.30 am, twenty year old art student Audrey Jacob slipped into the crowded ballroom, looking for 25 year old ship engineer Cyril Gidley. After a brief altercation a shot rang out and Cyril dropped to the floor. Audrey stood over Cyril with pistol still in hand while the 200 or so party goers rushed to the exits, screaming and gasping. Needless to say the evening came to abrupt halt but not before the band played the national anthem. Protocol!
Events Leading Up To The Murder
Earlier in the evening Audrey was shocked to see Cyril at the ball. He had told her a few days earlier that his ship was heading out to sea and he wouldn’t be around. Audrey, who was supposedly secretly engaged to Cyril, was furious. She stormed over to confronted him, but in response he rudely dismissed her, pretending he didn’t know her.
A devastated Audrey left the ball sobbing. When she returned to her St George’s Terrace apartment she decided she would kill herself. Grabbing a revolver from a chest of drawers she walked down to the Swan River. However, she returned , deciding to go to the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception to make peace with god, before pulling the trigger. She knelt in front of the cathedral and recited the rosary.
Halfway through her prayers she decided she no longer wanted to kill herself . With this new found confidence she got back into her evening dress and returned to the ballroom.
Blood on The Dance Floor
Audrey, who was somewhat in a daze, looked around the ballroom until she spotted Cyril. There he was dancing with another woman. She went up to him and asked him to explain his earlier behaviour. Cyril’s response was “Pardon me, I am dancing at present”, before throwing some shade by fobbing her off with a sneer. Not a smart move.
As he turned around to continue dancing with the other woman Audrey raised the automatic pistol and fired it under his arm . The bullet went straight through his heart and he fell down dead.
When a constable finally went up to her, with pistol still clutched in her hand she said “It’s all right; I know what I have done.” She was unemotional during the entire event and waited calmly to be taken away to the lock up.
Audrey Jacobs On Trial
The public were enthralled with the trial of Audrey Jacobs. It was full of so many twists and turns.
The defence argued that Audrey Jacobs was innocent and that she didn’t intentionally kill Cyril Gidley but that the gun went off by accident. They said after the confrontation with Cyril, Audrey became dizzy. As she raised her hand to her head the gun, that was hidden in a handkerchief, went off.
Audrey told the court that Cyril had been seeing her for around 2 years and they were engaged before a quarrel ended it. They had recently made up and had become engaged once again. However, Cyril didn’t want anyone to know they were engaged in order “not to spoil his future.”
During cross-examination Audrey claimed that Cyril had a collection of engagement rings and had used them to trick other girls . Basically a cad.
Audrey also told the court that Cyril had once lured her into a house in Fremantle where he “committed an offence by overpowering her” (I assume that meant rape?) He told her he wouldn’t do it again if she kept quiet about it. Leopards!
Audrey’s mother then took to the stand claiming Cyril was not a nice man and he was responsible for the break down of her own marriage. She said Cyril had tried to get her to smuggle goods from Singapore to Perth. Which she refused. He then tried to steal the deeds of a property owned by Audrey’s father.
Journalist, Russell Sandiman, said he saw a girl in a blue dress cross the dance floor in a kind of daze. He claimed that when the girl approached the man he told her “I am engaged now; I’ll see you later.”
Maud Mitchell, the woman dancing with Cyril at the time, said that Audrey didn’t say a word before the shooting. She also said she barely knew him.
Witnesses who also took to the stand described Cyril as a domineering , cruel, harsh man.
Was there anyone who liked this man?
Someone did say that Cyril had left a note in his apartment claiming Audrey was crackers and threatened to kill him. I am assuming that fell on deaf ears.
On the day of the verdict a crowd gathered at the court, mainly women. It took the jury three hours to arrive at a verdict and you could hear a pin drop when it was read. Audrey sat in the dock visibly shaking.
When the judge said, NOT GUILTY, the packed courtroom fell into stunned silence before bursting into loud cheers . Despite the courts demand for order, shouts and cheers continued.
Audrey was overcome by emotion and fell into the arms of two policewomen. Her mother also rushed forward to give her a big embrace.
Whatever Happened to Audrey Jacobs?
After the trial Audrey left Western Australia for Victoria. As you would. A few years later Audrey met and married a wealthy American man and moved to South Africa.
FERTH’S SENSATION Audrey Jacob on Trial. Mother’s Startling Evidence.
Tweed Daily (Murwillumbah, NSW : 1914 – 1949) Saturday 5 September 1925 p 5 Article
AUDREY JACOB TRIAL FIXED FOR OCTOBER 8
Mirror (Perth, WA : 1921 – 1956) Saturday 26 September 1925 p 4 Article
THE BALLROOM MURDER. Audrey Jacob Committed. PERTH, Monday.
The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 – 1929) Tuesday 15 September 1925 p 9 Article
AUDREY JACOB MARRIED. NOW EN ROUTE FOR AMERICA.
The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950) Saturday 23 January 1926 p 16 Article
BALLROOM TRAGEDY WOMAN IN THE DOCK CHARGED WITH MURDER GOVERNMENT HOUSE SENSATION PERTH, Friday.
Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 – 1954) Saturday 10 October 1925 p 5 Article