BACK STORY 1940

The Courier-Mail - QWeekend - - TI ME OUT - Myles Sin­na­mon

It is dif­fi­cult to fathom that the in­nocu­ous­look­ing Dar­ling­ton Reddie ( pic­tured) was a se­rial lothario. Reddie met his water­loo when he mar­ried Bris­bane teacher Florence Robin­son in Oc­to­ber 1940 un­der the name War­ren Malcolm McLau­ren, af­ter plac­ing the fol­low­ing news­pa­per ad­ver­tise­ment in Au­gust: “Gen­tle­man, 38, com­fort­able cir­cum­stances, go­ing [on] ex­ten­sive tour, car, boat, busi­ness, plea­sure, wishes meet pre­sentable lady to 34 as com­pan­ion; [view to] mat­ri­mony”.

Reddie must have cut a con­vinc­ing fig­ure, spin­ning yarns about his vast wealth, own­ing var­i­ous mines in Aus­tralia and over­seas. The cou­ple de­cided to marry and planned an ex­ten­sive hon­ey­moon. On the day be­fore the wed­ding, Reddie asked his in­tended for a loan of £50 as ex­pected monies had not ma­te­ri­alised. Eleven days af­ter the wed­ding, Reddie left Florence in Bris­bane while he feigned a busi­ness trip to Syd­ney; at which point he aban­doned his un­sus­pect­ing new wife. When he failed to reap­pear, Florence con­tacted the po­lice, re­port­ing her hus­band as miss­ing.

When po­lice be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing Reddie’s move­ments, his bigamy came to light. It was re­vealed he al­ready had a wife in Toowoomba, Lil­ian, whom he mar­ried in 1938, and it was to Toowoomba, and not Syd­ney, he had gone. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion also re­vealed he had been mar­ried four times: first wid­owed, then di­vorced, be­fore his le­gal mar­riage to Lil­ian, and big­a­mous mar­riage to Florence. Reddie was ar­rested and pleaded guilty to bigamy and theft. He was con­victed and sen­tenced to six months’ im­pris­on­ment. The fol­low­ing year, Reddie’s le­gal wife, Lil­ian, suc­cess­fully filed for di­vorce.

Reddie reap­peared in 1952, once again in court for bigamy, this time un­der the name Ral­ston. It turned out he had re­mar­ried 20 days be­fore his di­vorce to Lil­ian had been fi­nalised.

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