The Coronial Hearing.

                                   19th May 1943 – 4th June 1943.

The Coroner appointed to hear the matter was former Police Magistrate Mr J J Leahy SM.


Born in Toowoomba Queensland, Leahy passed the Civil Service Entrance exam in 1899 and entered the Queensland Department of Justice as a clerk.


In 1908 he was appointed assistant clerk to the Petty Sessions South Brisbane, and then clerk of the Petty Sessions at Warwick then to Toowoomba and then to the Petty Sessions in Brisbane.












He spent some time as the private secretary to the then Attorney General Sir A Rutledge, then in a similar capacity to the Chief Justice.


In 1931 he was Acting Police Magistrate and Acting Magistrate to the Children’s Court Brisbane.  


He served at the Valuations Appeals Court for the Brisbane City Council. He was the Police Magistrate for Toowoomba before being appointed the Police Magistrate and Coroner for Brisbane.  


Prior to becoming the Brisbane City Coroner in 1933 Mr. J. J. Leahy was Clerk of Petty Sessions and Acting Police Magistrate at Brisbane, and was chosen to fill the position of Police Magistrate and City Coroner in succession to Mr. W. Harris, P.M.


The position combined the duties of Magistrate of Children's Courts. Mr. Leahy was seen as popular officer, possessed of a sound knowledge of the law. He was said to have a patient, tolerant disposition.


On several occasions Mr Leahy was Magistrate of the Valuations Appeal Court for the Brisbane City Council and also dealt with the re-assessment of licenses in Brisbane and the country districts.


He was highly regarded and had extensive experience in criminal and coronial hearings and was no stranger to hearings related to deaths relating to abortion cases.


His tolerance was tested to the full when during the Norval hearing evidence was given by Frank ‘Bombshell Barnes’ Independent Member of Parliament for Bundaberg who was initially fined ten pounds for contempt, and after an application by the Crown Prosecutor reluctantly sent Barnes to imprisonment in the Police cells under the Coroner’s Act for refusing to answer questions at the hearing.


He retired on 30th June 1946.


The Crown Prosecutor Mr J A Sheehy appeared to assist the Coroner, and presented the case history and lead he witnesses, assisted by Police Sub-Inspector Harold.




















Mr Sheehy (standing). Sub Inspector Harold to his left (seated)


Mr Sheehy, was born at Gympie Queensland in 1900. He entered the Public Service as a clerk in the Justice Department in 1916. He was called to the Bar in 1921 and was appointed legal assistant to the Crown Prosecutor in 1923.


He resigned from the Public Service in June, 1928, and in October of the same year he was appointed Crown Prosecutor. He served as a Crown Prosecutor for 19 years before being appointed as Judge of the Supreme Court Queensland in 1947.  


There was no legal representation on behalf of the interests of the Norval family.                          




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Copyright R Burton 2015



court J A Sheehy Crown Prosecutor J J Leahy SM norval front cover book