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Commonwealth Government Records about the Northern Territory

Jerry Koci and John Novotny

Jerry Koci and John Novotny were young Czechslovakian men who came to Australia as post-war immigrants from Europe. Novotny arrived in Australia 1949 and Koci in 1950.

On the evening of 17 April 1952 they murdered Darwin taxi driver George Grantham, stole his car and fled to Queensland. Following their capture, they were returned to Darwin, tried, convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging.

They were hanged at Fannie Bay gaol (Darwin) on the morning of 7 August 1952. Koci and Novotny were the first men executed in the Territory since 1913. There have been no executions since. They were buried in the gaol grounds.

Selected records relating to Jerry Koci and John Novotny
National Archives, Canberra
J Novotny and J Koci – conviction of murder Northern Territory – miscellaneous papers, 1952 A432, 1952/1490 part 1
John Novotny and Jerry Koci sentenced to death – Supreme Court, Darwin – on conviction of murder, 1952 A432, 1952/1490 part 2
Criminal – individual cases – John Novotny and Jerry Koci – execution, 1952 A462, 226/2/21
National Archives, Darwin
Koci and Novotny murder, 1952–82 E72, DL1868 parts 1 and 2
Regina versus John Novotny and Jerry Koci, 1952 F423, S7


Chapter 16
Territory Personalities