The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Brecht One Name Study

Murder of George Brett

George Brett was born George Henry Brecht in England in 1880. Some of his descendants obtained newspaper articles about his murder and I obtained some others:

Sydney Morning Herald Saturday 14 July 1951

Murder of Old Man

George Brett, 71, casual wharf labourer, was found battered to death in his attic bedroom at an Agar Steps residential, Miller's Pt. yesterday morning.

Police describe the killing as "a callous and cold blooded muder".

They said that Brett was struck at least 14 times on the head with a sharp instrument.

Police are searching for a solidly built man, aged between 20 and 30, who was seen hurrying from the residential about 11.15 p.m. on Thursday. He was wearing a grey overcoat and grey hat.

Brett's body, stretched across his blood-soaked bed, was found by Mrs Ada Cosgrove, who cleans his room.

She told other residents who called a doctor and the police.


Police could find no motive for the murder. Brett's room had not been ransacked and a few shillings in a jar stood on a table near the bed.

On Thursday night, Brett had dinner, as was his custom, with Mrs Margot Martin, who also lives at the residential.

Mrs Martin said Brett retired to his room about 8.15 p.m.and there is no evidence that he left it.

Mrs W. White, proprietress of the residential, said Brett had lived there for 10 years. He was quiet and orderly and seldom spoke to her.

Police said that Brett came from Mackay, Queensland, about 17 years ago. He had a son, who is a prize-fighter in Brisbane, and another son and a daughter, who are believed to be living in New South Wales.

Police engaged on the case are: Detective-Inspector J. Rogers, Detective-Sergeants D. Hughes, C. Tupper, and C. Evans and Detectives B. Brotherson and R. Lendrum.

Sydney Morning Herald 15 July 1951

Jealousy Clue in Murder of Man of 82

Police think jealousy was the motive for the murder of 82-year- old George Brett, in his attic room at a residential at Agar Steps, Millers Point on Thursday night.

The police are following definite lines of enquiry in this case...

No 1 - Women

Police said last night that Brett was 82, but in records he recently filled in, he gave his age as 72.

He was described as a wharf-labourer, but he did little work on the wharves.

Detectives were told that despite his age he had many women friends, though he frequently borrowed money to pay for his meals.

Some of his women friends were interviewed but they said they could throw no light on his murder.

Detectives believe a man who resented his attentions to a mutual woman friend may have attacked him after he went to bed on Thursday night. Brett had 14 wounds on his head and his skull was badly fractured.


Police have not found the weapon used by his attacker.

Detectives last night were searching for a man from 20 to 30, who was seen hurrying from the residential late on Thursday night. He was described as being of solid build and was wearing a grey overcoat and a grey hat.

On the case are: Detective-Inspector Rogers, Detective Sergeants Evans, Hughes, Tupper and Windsor, and Detectives Souter and Brotherson.

Also 15 July 1951 - The Truth, Sydney

Police Get Vital Clues to Murders

Sensational developments have occurred in the past 24 hours in investigations into the muders of casual waterside worker George Brett  (71), in Sydney, and crippled former boxer John ("Slack") Maher (41) in Newcastle.

.....Detectives investigating the Brett murder now believe the motive was jealously.

Brecht, despite his age, was known to be  "a ladies man".

Police last night said they believed the killer had fled to Queensland, and Queensland detectives are co-operating in the search.

Brett was found battered to death on his bed in the attic of a Miller's Point residential on Friday.

Police say Brett had a criminal record in Britain, N.S.W. and Queensland, had received 10 years' gaol for bodily harm and was an associate of criminals in Sydney......

Further Article - The Canberra Times Monday 16 July 1951

Police Believe Miller's Point Murder Planned

Sydney, Sunday

Police inquiries into the murder of 82 years old George Brett at Miller's Point, on Thursday night, were concentrated today in Sydney.

The possibilty of the murderer having left the State have been ruledout.

Brett, a wharf labourer was found battered to death in his room in a residential at Agar Steps, Miller's Point, on Friday morning.

The discovery was made by a woman cleaner when she entered his room.

Brett's body stretched across his bed wrapped in a blood-soaked sheet. His head had been battered 14 times with a sharp heavy instrument.

The murder weapon has not been found.

Police are seeking a man, aged between 20 and 30, who was seen to leave the residential in a hurry on Thursday night.

Ernest Jacket, a fellow lodger, told the police that the man collided with him on the stairs as he returned from work.

Detectives are continuing investigations into a theory that Brett was murdered because of his associations with women. The possibility of him being killed by a man jealous of Brett's attitude towards women, has not been ruled out.

Police have established that Brett died while he was sleeping and consequently that the murder was planned.

Further Article - Possibly The Truth, Sydney Sunday 23 September 1951

Murder in Attic

Two for trial

The City Coroner yesterday committed a woman and a young man for trial on a charge of having murdered an old man whose body was found in a Miller Point attic.

A detective said the young man told him he "belted" the victim and the woman "got stuck into him with a hammer". Thevictim was robbed.

The Coroner, Mr A.N. Brett gave a finding that George Henry Brett, 74, casual wharf labourer of Agar ?Supe, Miller's Point, died from a fractured skull and brain injuries, and that he was murdered by Mrs Doris Wilma Beaven, 35, of Goodlet Street, Surrey Hills and Raymond Leslie harvey, 27, bootmaker of Kent Road, ?mascot.

Yesterday was the fourth day of the inquest.

Final Article

From The Truth, Sydney Sunday 9 December 1951

Brett was Brisbane's Last Gangster Chief
- from their Brisbane Office

George Henry ("Tich") Brett (74), whose death was inquired into by a Sydney Crminal Court jury this week, was Brisbane's last real gangster chief.

Brett was killed in the same way that he had bashed another man almost to death many years ago when he was ruling Brisbane's underworld with an iron hand, according to Brisbane's police.

In the 1920s Brett was undisputed King of Brisbane's underworld, an unscrupulous stand-over man, merciless and ruthless.

He lived at Spring Hill, in rooms whose walls and pianola were bullet-riddled - pock-marked with shots fired from his own gun to "quieten the party when it got a bit rough".

Charmed Life

Brett had a charmed life so far as court charges are concerned.

Brett was twice acquitted of attempted murder charges. The first one concerned the shooting of a man nmaed William Murphy. First Brett absconded from bail and then Murphy failed to appear at the trial.

The second occasion concerned an attempt on the life of a man named "Skeeter" Hargreaves. Brett's paramour, who was an important witness, gave certain evidence in the morning and later in the day completely contradicted it.

He was not so lucky on another occasion.

8 Years' Goal

In 1926 he battered in the head of Gustav Reinholdt Langenfelt with a hammer. Fortunately for Brett, the man did not die: and Brett again stood in the dock on a charge of attempted murder.

What really took place after that no one knows, except that Brett attacked Langenfelt with a hammer.

The jury after a short retirement brought in a verdict of guilty and Brett was sentenced to 10 years in gaol.

After serving eight years Brett was released.

Shortly afterwards he left Brisbane for Sydney.

Colin Bower
10 January 2018

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