One who could not forgive and forget!

Birth Name: Graham Paul Fraser

Adopted name: Glen Sabre Valance after sadistic fictional outlaw Liberty Valance, who was hung for his crimes.

Date of birth: 11 February 1943.

Last person to be hung in South Australia, and second last after Ronald Ryan on Feb 3, 1967 at Pentridge Prison.

Execution: 8am November 24, 1964 aged 21 years.

Mother recorded as Mrs E B Clarke of Taperoo was a psychopath who abused and neglected him. An aunt became his principal carer.

Crime: The murder of Bordertown farmer Richard Strang aged 37 with a rifle and rape of his wife Suzanne, on June 16, 1964.

Step-sister Lillian Calver of Victor Harbor, was 10 when her brother was hung. In 2011, she wrote a book entitled “A Tormented Soul” recording her memories of him as a loving brother who suffered at the hands of their mother.

His grievances:

  • His employer ridiculed him by reading selected contents of his diary aloud to other workers. He was sweet on the farmer’s daughter at the time.
  • He was dismissed without pay, or recompense.
  • When he and an associate stole equipment in lieu for wages, the police were called in.
  • His employer notified police that his car bought under hire purchase had been taken interstate to Victoria (then illegal), and it was repossessed.

My consultation with him

He was the first patient I saw on a locum tenens for Dr Miller of Burra, in early 1964.

The burden of his visit was how to cope with his grievances, and associated “dark thoughts”. He was fearful of what he might do, but was not specific.

I was anxious to be of whatever assistance I could, but his only request was for referral to an Adelaide psychiatrist.

The specialist diagnosed him as a psychopath, for which he could not be certified.

Not being employed or insured, he could not afford private hospital care, and so failed to receive treatment.

Prompt justice

Whether his visit to me that day was to establish some basis for insanity prior to the event I don’t know.

I did feel great sympathy for him, having heard him relate a little of his troubled childhood, and I did try unsuccessfully to visit him after his imprisonment.

His plea of insanity was dismissed, and he was sentenced to death on September 17 1964 by the SA Chief Justice. An appeal to the Supreme Court of South Australia was dismissed October 9 and to the High Court on November 9.

With 2800 others I signed a petition for clemency against capital punishment to no avail.

The plight of mental illness

This story from 50 years ago still makes me feel sad. I am grateful that his half-sister has written an account of her brother from a sympathetic and loving perspective. I found him like-able and another human being with tragically unmet needs.

Psychopaths are the criminally insane, and are a danger to society. But it is not just the psychopaths that pose a threat. Others with delusional schizophrenia, and some with bipolar disorders may do too.

My sympathy extends to all those with such problems, their victims, their long-suffering families, and those charged with their care. I have also deep respect for the police who when called in to assist, face great personal danger.

I am concerned that there are many who like Valance fall into gaps in our health delivery, and do not receive adequate assistance when needed.


About Kenneth Robson

I studied at Adelaide Boys' High School, and the University of Adelaide, Medical School. graduating in 1961. My field of specialisation was Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Prior to establishing my practice in Adelaide, I spent 5 years working in India, and Papua-New Guinea, in the field of reconstructive surgery for leprosy. In retirement I joined the Australian Technical Analyst Association and passed the two examinations for a Diploma inTechnical Analysis, and the designation Certified Financial Technician (CFTe) by the International Federation of Technical Analysts.
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