Certain Admissions by Gideon Haigh

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Certain Admissions by well-known Australian cricket journalist and writer Gideon Haigh is one of my favourite true crime reads of recent times.

The book was released in 2015 but I finally got around to reading it last week (too many books, too little time!).

This book is about John Bryan Kerr, who was subject to one of the most high profile murder cases in Melbourne. At the end of 1949, at age 24, sometime radio announcer and dapper young man Kerr was arrested for the murder of young typist, Beth Williams, 20.

A passer-by had stumbled upon Beth’s body at the beach at Albert Park. Her clothes were torn and it appeared as if she’d been strangled.

Controversially, an unsigned confession by Kerr was entered into evidence and he stood before three trials because then, capital crimes (murder) needed unanimous decisions from the jury. Kerr was sentenced to death and went to Pentridge Prison where he seemed to adapt to life behind bars as a debater, actor and avid basketballer.

However Kerr’s death sentence was commuted and he was released in the mid 1960s.

This is where the story, well to me at least, gets really intriguing. On his release Kerr finds it difficult to adjust to life and changes his name to Wallace. Haigh is able to recount, through interviews and research, what life is life for Kerr/Wallace as he tries to hide his past.

The description by Haigh of his research process for this book is also intriguing and the Public Records office of Victoria plays a large part in this story because the author was gained unprecedented access to files to dig into the story of Kerr/Wallace, who always maintained his innocence.  But the reader will also wonder whether Kerr could have committed the murder…

Certain Admissions is top class true crime.

Here’s something I wrote about the book last year when I interviewed Gideon Haigh.

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