Frank Jones’ downfall came when he accidentally set alight to a shed at Concord Quarry and was badly injured. While he was being rescued police found two revolvers nearby. These had been used in several holdups and they led to his identification. Two years before the quarry explosion, Jones had been sentenced for holding up a station master at Ringwood.
For some time Jones’ life and his eyesight were despaired of, but eventually, he was committed to stand trial in Burwood Criminal Court on 25 September where he faced eight separate charges.
The trial commenced on 3 December at the Central Criminal Court. The Senior Crown Prosecutor (Mr. L.J. McKean, K.C.) was instructed by the Deputy Clerk of the Peace (Mr. Gordon Champion) for the crown and Mr. J. Thom appeared for Jones.
Mr. L. J. McKean, detailed the evidence he would present. He explained that at about 11.25 on the night of 27 July last, Horace Walter Jay, night officer, was on duty at the North Strathfield Railway Station. He heard footsteps and then saw a man with a pillow slip or a flour bag over his head, who demanded he hand over the cash and keys.
Mr McKean said that Horace Jay refused to comply with the order, and the bandit then put his hands in front of him, showing he had a revolver in each.
He said the bandit then repeated his demand, adding the words “or I’ll shoot”. “Shoot and be damned”, was Jay’s reply to the man, who wasted no further time and fired a shot from one of his pistols, which narrowly missed Jay.
At that time Allan Clarke, a young man employed as a chainman in the railway service, was on the overhead railway bridge with a man named Sharman. They heard a loud noise and immediately hastened to the stationmaster’s office. There they saw the hooded bandit who, without a word, fired a shot and wounded Clarke in the abdomen.
Mr. Thom (for the defence), referring to the statement made by Jones while in hospital just after the explosion, stressed the likelihood of loss of memory as a result of the accident. He asked the jury to believe that his client might well have said anything under the circumstances at that time.
Walter Jay recapitulated the events of 27 July and supported the opening of the prosecutor, as did Allan Clarke and Sharman.
In a statement from the dock, Jones said: “I am not guilty. On the night of the North Strathfield holdup I was not there. I was at Newtown with two young fellows. I have caused a search to be made for them, but I did not know them very well and they could not be found.
Death Sentence passed on “Hooded Bandit”
When the jury returned a finding of guilty, Mr. Justice Halse Rogers said that the punishment provided in the statutes for such a crime was death. Under the circumstances, he could only record the sentence of death, but not pronounce or pass it.
The penalty for Jones’ crime will now be fixed by the Executive Council.
Allan Clarke, the railway official whom Jones shot at North Strathfield, is stated to have recovered his health and to have received a promotion for the part he played in endeavouring to combat the holdup.
After the sentencing, Allan Clark was heard to say he didn’t want to see Jones hanged for shooting him. He stated he would be quite satisfied if he had it out with Jones man-to-man. “We would put up our fists and settle it between us.”
On Sunday, 8 December the Sydney newspaper, Truth, reported:
Sentence of Death – Gunman Faces Court
A man stood quietly in the dock at the Central Criminal Court last week – on his forehead the scar of a dreadful injury. His voice was low when he addressed the jury, but at no time was a tremor noticeable, though he faced the court on a charge which might mean his death.
Frank Howard John Carpenter Jones, a desperate two-gun man, for sixteen days this year terrorised the Burwood and Strathfield Districts, and was known as the “Hooded Bandit”. At gunpoint, and wearing a large white hood with eyeholes, he held up shopkeepers.
On the night of June 29 Jones daringly held up the night officer at the North Strathfield railway station and shot Allan Joseph James Clarke, a young railway employee.
A frenzied search by detectives had no success until July 27 when, in sensational circumstances, the much-sought bandit blew himself up at the Concord Council quarry.
Falling forty feet from the edge of a cliff, in flames, the man sustained dreadful scalp injuries and was found still conscious at the bottom of the pit.
Last week Jones faced Mr. Justice Halse Rogers and a jury on a charge of wounding with intent to murder and after the jury had found him guilty, the sentence of death was recorded.
Decision that “Hooded Bandit” should hang – difference of opinion.
On 23 April the Executive Council decided that the death sentence in the cases of Frank Jones (20), labourer, and Edwin Hickey (17), labourer, who were both tried on the same day, should be carried out. This decision caused a sharp difference of opinion.
Jones wounded several men while he was robbing the railway station at North Strathfield and, according to the Minister for Justice (Mr. L.O. Martin), he had set himself out armed on a career of crime ready to take life at the slightest provocation.
Hickey callously murdered the Conciliation Commissioner (Mr. M. Henwood) while travelling in a train, smashing his head in with a water bottle and then throwing the body out of the carriage. When on trial he put up a filthy, diabolical defence to try and excuse himself, attempting to throw a slur on the name of the man he sent to his doom.
Many people believe there is a dividing line between actual murder and wounding with intent to murder, which should be more marked in a country generally opposed to hanging.
At present, there are thirteen other young men in New South Wales who are under sentence of death for capital offences.
Their fate will not be decided by the Executive Council until appeals made by several prisoners to the Court of Criminal Appeal have been decided.
Two Young Men to Hang.
On 24 April the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. J.T. Lang) brought the matter up in Parliament and asked the Government not to hang the young men. One of his colleagues, Mr. M.A. Davidson, said there had been no dispensation given by God to any member of the Government to decide that these men should be hanged. “One murder did not justify another”, he added. Capital punishment is the law of the land in New South Wales and ministers had the difficult task of trying to find whether there was anything to justify them in saying that the law should not take its course.
Speaking with deep emotion, the Minister for Justice (Mr. Martin) said the decision had been arrived at only after the most earnest consideration, and the Government refused to flinch from a most distasteful task.
Submitting that the execution of murderers is no deterrent to crime, the Howard Prison Reform League (New South Wales) plans, at a committee meeting tonight, to arrange public meetings of protest against hanging recently approved by the Government.
Recorded Sentence – Not to be Carried Out
An appeal was made to the Executive Council to reconsider its decision that Jones should hang
Having made the amazing discovery that the death sentence had not been passed on Jones, but merely “recorded”, the Executive Council decided to reconsider the matter.
The opinion of three eminent King’s Counsel was sought. One of them expressed the view that the execution could legally be carried out but said that there was no precedent, either in Australia or in England, for hanging a man against whom the death sentence had only been recorded. The other two King’s Counsel were of the opinion that Jones should not be hanged in view of the fact he had not been sentenced to death.
On receipt of these opinions, the ministers decided to alter their previous decision. They announced that Jones’ execution, fixed for 7 May, should not be carried out. The sentence was commuted to imprisonment for the term of his natural life.
The Minister of Justice stated later that he had no announcement to make with regard to Hickey, whose execution had been set down for the following week.
(Note: Hickey was hanged at Long Bay gaol on 14 May 1936. No further information could be found on Jones following his imprisonment.)