The Remitance Man Part One: The Silver Tongued Psychopath
After he was disowned by his family, Cyril Gidley abandoned his first fiancé, stole her engagement ring, joined the crew of the SS Newquay as the fourth engineer, and left for Australia. He was a ‘remittance man’. Remittance men were young men from upper middle class families who had been turned out by their parents to make good in Australia. Australians — many of whom would have been second and third generation descendants of convicts — despised these ‘rejects of England’.
Shortly after the Newquay docked in Bunbury, Gidley was involved in a violent altercation with a Greek crew member over a water boiler. After a verbal altercation turned physical, the man became so enraged with Gidley that he hit him in the stomach with a sledge hammer. The assault left Gidley with internal bleeding and a severe case of gastritis.
While recovering in the hospital, he met Ethel Buckley who started visiting nearly every day to check up on him, and to wait by his bed. After he was discharged from hospital, Cyril presented Ethel with two engagement rings to choose from. Ethel Buckley gladly accepted the sapphire ring, and the two were engaged. Due to the sledge hammer attack, however, Gidley had to find work on another ship and took the position of fourth engineer on the HMAS Kangaroo. This meant that he was stationed in Fremantle, but he would spend his weekends going to and from Bunbury, where he was seeking treatment for his wounds. Shortly after he began working out of Fremantle, Gidley had started to spend some time with an acquaintance he had met while the SS Newquay was docked in Fremantle Harbour, Audrey Jacobs — a nineteen year-old art student who frequented the ships while her fiancé was away at sea. Cyril had found his new conquest, and quickly became bored of his own fiancé. Cyril tricked Ethel into giving him back the engagement ring, telling her he would get it resized, and left Bunbury for good.
Audrey Jacob was a nineteen year old art student from Fremantle. She was raised Jewish, but attended a Catholic girl’s school — an interesting tit bit that would later save her life. She was the oldest of eight children and her father, Edward Jacobs, was assistant to the clerk at the Fremantle Court House. She was considered to be of a good, but modest, upbringing and she was engaged to the Third Officer of the SS Bendigo, Claude Arundel, who spent most of his time at sea. On one of his visits home, Claude gave Audrey her most prized possession, an automatic revolver — should she ever need it — and enough ammunition to fill the chamber three times.
But Claude’s affection, and good taste in firearms, did not satisfy Audrey’s curiosity and fascination with sailors. She was known to frequent the ships at Fremantle Harbour, and on one occasion was found with a ‘French Letter’ (a condom) in her purse. This caused an uproar, and Audrey was banned from certain ships in the harbour. Her parents disapproved of her moonlighting so much that her mother wrote a letter to the chief policewoman of Fremantle asking her to forbid Audrey from boarding any ships after nightfall, but even the police could not stop her. On board the HMAS Kangaroo, she began to spend time with Cyril Gidley.
Cyril presented himself as a real life action hero. His, still healing, sledge hammer wound, his adventurous nature, his good position on the Kangaroo, his striking good looks and his parent’s wealth were enough to spark Audrey’s interest. The two began spending a lot of time together, and Cyril encouraged her with her art. He praised her talent and told her she would be famous — he even went as far as to purchase multiple pieces of her work — and he told her that by the time she turned twenty-one, he would have enough furniture and crockery to furnish a house.
He also began to speak ill of Audrey’s fiancé. Cyril told her all sorts of tales about what officers of the merchant navy get up to when they are at sea, about how they cannot be trusted, and that Claude Arundel would never provide for her in the way she deserved. Audrey did not believe him at first, but she soon came around and began to resent the man who gave her the revolver. After some time, as he had done before, Cyril presented Audrey with his growing collection of engagement rings. When Audrey asked him why he owned three engagement rings, he explained to her how his last fiancée had demanded a choice, how the cruel girl had cut him off from their engagement in Bunbury and left him broken hearted, and how he had managed to secure the ring through negotiations with the girl’s father.
Audrey Jacob asked that she could have some time to think about his proposal. When Cyril finally convinced her that he was serious about his intentions, she accepted. She sent a letter to Arundel to inform him that the engagement was off and thought no more of it. Audrey and Cyril were joined at the hip and a happy, young, modern couple — Cyril the handsome young engineer and Audrey, the pretty young art student were a perfect match. Cyril Gidley very quickly became close to Jessie Jacob, Audrey’s mother. He would visit the house to collect Audrey and talk with her over tea as he waited for her daughter. After some time in Fremantle, Gidley began to voice his suspicions of Audrey’s father. Cyril began enquiring about why Edward Jacob was always too busy during the day to see his wife, yet he could find time to come from the Kangaroo? Why was he never present at their Fremantle house during Cyril’s lunch visits? Was Edward avoiding him? Gidley told Jessie Jacob that he’d heard rumours about a certain ‘Mr Jacob’ on board the Kangaroo.
At first, Jessie Jacob dismissed the rumours, but Gidley was persistent. He presented her with ‘evidence’ and spun a sophisticated web of lies which made a case so strong that Jessie threw her husband out of their house — forcing him to move into Mrs Spencer’s boarding house.
Cyril Gidley then took it upon himself to look after the family’s interests and moved into Mrs Spencer’s boarding house to ‘keep an eye’ on Edward Jacob. Edward had never met Cyril Gidley, who checked in under the name of Cyril Douglas and introduced himself. The two talked regularly, but Edward Jacob did not like the smarmy Englishman.
Cyril in uniform
During his stay at Mrs Spencer’s, Cyril became convinced that Audrey’s mother was mistreating her. He claimed that she was being kept under an unnecessary curfew, and that she was old enough, and independent enough, to work and to take care of herself — that all young women with education should work and enjoy independence from the yoke of their parent’s house. So, under his influence, she began fighting with her mother and eventually, the fighting between them became so bad that Audrey moved out into the city to look for work.
Shortly after Audrey moved out, Ethel Buckley showed up at Mrs Spencers looking for Cyril. She had not heard from Cyril since he had taken her engagement ring, but he refused to see her. She waited in the lobby until Gidley could not avoid her any longer.
“Where have you been Cyril? Why have you not been returning my correspondence?”
“I have nothing more to say to you, Ethel. I am sorry if you mistook my gifting you the ring with an engagement.”
Well, where do I fit into this?” she said.
“You do not. I have found the woman I am to marry, and it is not you.”
Cyril Gidley smirked at her as she stood before him.
Ethel Buckley burst into tears and ran out of Mrs Spencer’s boarding house. Un-phased, Gidley continued his reconnaissance on Edward Jacobs. He continued reporting his ‘findings’ to Jessie Jacobs, who would not see her husband or allow him to speak to her. Meanwhile, he claimed to have no knowledge about where Audrey was, or that she had moved out, and would call by the house when no one was home. At first, he would leave innocent notes for Jessie Jacobs, asking after Audrey. But, after a week, his notes became more and more sinister. On November 14, 1924, Cyril wrote,
It may and it may not interest you to know that I have at last found Audrey, and she told me the reason she left home. She left unknown to me, although I saw her the same day.
It is not my way to threaten, which I am not going to, but unless Audrey is treated with more respect before I sail again, I shall make it my duty to tell your brother, Mr Junner, in Perth all that I know about your husbands home coming, and I do not think that would be very nice.
I am sorry to write this, but my belief is that Audrey has not had a fair and decent go — and to half feeding the girl, well, that is not very mother like. I will give you till next Tuesday to think well over what I have said. If by then you still wish to treat your daughter so, I shall carry out my intentions. If I am standing in the way — meaning the friendship which exists between Audrey and myself— we will leave it to her to decide. I am confident there is a grievance somewhere. Audrey has been very good to you and this is what she gets in return. The reward is very shallow for what she did for you a few weeks back. Don’t forget that, please.
Well, trusting you will think well before being definite, I will not go into affairs any further.
In the city, Audrey could not find work and was struggling to make ends meet. During her first fortnight away from home, Cyril asked Audrey out to dinner, under the pretence that they were to meet up with a friend of Gidley’s. When she arrived, Gidley was alone at the residence. He had intercepted a letter from Claude Arundel. Arundel had replied to Audrey’s letter— which broke off the engagement — and asked her for more information. Gidley flew into a rage. He screamed at Audrey, calling her a liar and accusing her of still being engaged to Arundel. He threatened her with physical violence and told her that the engagement was off. He demanded his money back for the paintings he had bought, claiming they were worthless and paid for out of pity.
Audrey Jacob broke down into tears and apologised. She had spent the money Gidley had paid her, and she was incapable of defending herself. Once Gidley was satisfied that Audrey was thoroughly distressed, he changed his tone. He spoke to her sweetly and told her that he could forgive her treachery, and that she did not need her parents help because he would take care of her. He picked her up off the floor, still in tears, and carried her into the bedroom.
Audrey knew that something was not right. She tried to stand up to leave, but Cyril Gidley called her back and made her sit before making further advances. He toyed with her like a cat with a mouse, letting her get as far as the front door before dragging her back to the room. He was smiling as Audrey tried to get away, and he was wildly amused as she begged him to let her go. After realising that Gidley was toying with her, Audrey made it clear that she was leaving the house. She got up to leave one last time and Cyril Gidley grabbed her by the throat and slammed her against the wall. He slammed her again and again until she stopped fighting and dropped her arms by her side, too weak to resist him. He hissed in her ear “Say yes.”
Cyril Gidley severely beat Audrey in the bedroom, and then he raped her.
He buckled up his pants and told her if she did not tell anyone he would not do it again. Gidley then left her on the ground and went back to Mrs Spencer’s boarding house — where Edward Jacob was still residing.
Audrey did not return to her Perth apartment, she returned home to her mother’s house. Jessie Jacob asked Audrey why she had been crying. She saw the blood around her legs, and the bruising on her throat, but would not press the matter further. Jessie Jacob made contact with her husband, Edward, and informed him who Cyril Gidley was. Edward Jacob flew into a rage and confronted Gidley. He demanded Cyril tell him to what end driving their family a part had served. Gidley did not respond to the question, except to say that he would marry his daughter when he saw fit.
Edward responded, “Not while I have a shot in the locker.”
Cyril said, “I will do what I damn well like.”
Cyril kept in contact with Audrey while Mr and Mrs Jacob worked out their differences. On learning that Edward Jacob was to leave Mrs Spencers, and come back to the family home, Cyril flew into another rage. He demanded that Audrey move back out of the house, as her father would come between them. He told her that Edward would not allow them to continue their engagement, and that if they were to be married, they must establish their own independence. He was so scared of retribution from Edward Jacob that he threatened to call off the engagement if she did not meet his demands.
Audrey continued to see Cyril Gidley in secret once her father had returned home. As Cyril predicted, he was forbidden to enter the house, so Audrey snuck out to meet him on board the Kangaroo. After some time, Mr and Mrs Jacob were sufficiently satisfied that their daughter had put the past behind her, and moved on from Cyril Gidley, and they gave Audrey their blessing to move out to the Surrey Apartment building on Hay Street to continue her painting classes. Shortly after Audrey had moved out, Cyril began to try and recover the engagement ring through various tricks. He became bent on collecting his memento from his third engagement. After making it clear that she would not give it back, Cyril appeared to give up.
The two continued to spend time together, spending their evenings at restaurants and bars and visiting cinemas — until one evening at Cottesloe Beach. Cyril, in a trademark fit of anger, grabbed Audrey’s hand, ripped the ring off her finger and threw it into the ocean. He began screaming at her and humiliating her in front of the other beach goers. He told her that if they were to continue to be engaged, then it must be in secret. He told Audrey that her ‘situation’ was ruining his good reputation. If he was to join the Freemasons and become an upstanding member of society, they would have to formally break off their engagement. He claimed that her parent’s broken marriage, her ‘reputation’ on board the Kangaroo, and the fact that she was living out of home before she was married, were damning character traits that could never satisfy the strict requirements of high society. He did, however, suggest that they continue to see each other in private.
Shortly after their trip to Cottesloe, Audrey came home one day and noticed the door slightly ajar. Her house had been ransacked, but only her diary containing all of her private thoughts, and her flat mates address book had been stolen. None of the money in her purse, or any of their jewellery had been touched.
Audrey Jacobs paid a spiteful visit to the Kangaroo one Friday evening. Gidley had told her that he would not be on board and not to come, but she visited him anyway. Once she had found him, Cyril told her to leave, that they had no business together, and that she should give up contacting him. Audrey told Cyril that if he did not honour his engagement she would kill him, and then kill herself. Cyril laughed in her face, grabbed her by the arm and threw her off the Kangaroo.
After some weeks had past, Cyril contacted Audrey before he was to set sail on the Kangaroo, to tell her that it was due to depart. Seemingly having a change of heart, Cyril told her it would be some months before he returned, but that once he had, he wished to resume their engagement. After one day at sea, Cyril returned home. His acute gastritis, a side effect from the sledge hammer attack in Bunbury, had forced him into hospital. He remained there for two days until, on August 26th, he was well enough to attend the St John of God’s Ball at Government House.
Cyril Gidley the night of the ball https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/7435400
Government House Ballroom https://wikivisually.com/wiki/Government_House,_Perth
When Cyril left Fremantle, Audrey Jacobs was depressed and despondent. But her housemate, Annie Humphries, encouraged her to attend the ball, and even paid for the fancy dress costumes of Pierrot and Pierrette. The two pantomime friends stood out as some of the only people in fancy dress at the ball. When they arrived at Government House, they began looking for dance partners. Annie Humphries took a liking to a young man and was dancing with him. Audrey was looking out over the dance floor when she noticed Cyril Gidley dancing in the centre of the room with a woman she had not seen before, Maude Mitchell, who was wearing Ethel Buckley’s sapphire engagement ring. Cyril and Audrey made eye contact, but Cyril did not acknowledge her presence. On three separate sweeps through the dancefloor, Gidley smirked at her as she approached before turning up his chin at her in a very deliberate snub. Audrey walked through the crowd and lightly tapped him on the shoulder. Cyril turned around and said coldly,
“Excuse me, I am dancing.”
He smirked at her over the young woman’s shoulder and continued dancing.
Audrey Jacob left the Government House Ballroom a sad clown, and went back to her hay street flat. She changed out of her Pierrette costume, and into a peacock blue ball dress. She hid her revolver in a handkerchief and returned to the ball room. When Audrey returned she could not see Gidley. After some time she spied him walking up the stairs, hand in hand in hand with his new date. She followed him up the stairs to give him one last chance to explain himself. Gidley looked her and laughed in her face.
“I am engaged now; I will see you later.”
And he walked away from her to finish the last dance of the evening, a foxtrot. Cyril Gidley danced gracefully with his date around the dancefloor of Government house. His suit was perfectly fitted, his date’s ball dress flowed, and their bodies stayed taught at perfect angles. They were dancing in perfect unison, and Audrey was standing alone on the edge of the dancefloor. Audrey waited until the dance was over, she walked in a daze through the crowd with her eyes fixed on the suave young engineer, with the perfectly fitted suit and the devil’s own mind. Audrey walked up to Cyril Gidley, tapped him on the shoulder and shot him through the heart.
Author: Gerard McArtney