Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Agostini, Linda (1905–1934)

by Bruce Pennay

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

This is a shared entry with Antonio Agostini

Antonio Agostini (1903-1969), waiter, and Linda Agostini (1905-1934), hairdresser, were husband and wife. Antonio was born on 20 May 1903 at Altivole, Treviso, Italy, son of Mario Agostini and his wife Madalena, née Bernardi. He migrated to Australia in 1927 and leased the cloakroom at Romano's. In 1928 he met Linda Platt, a cinema usherette. Born on 12 September 1905 at Forest Hill, London, Linda had migrated to New Zealand in 1926 and to Australia next year. They were married at the registrar general's office, Sydney, on 22 April 1930.

Tony and Linda were a popular couple. He was 5 ft 7 ins (170 cm) tall, trim and dark haired; she was only five feet (153 cm) tall, attractive and well liked. Yet, according to Tony, their relationship was not an easy one. Linda sometimes left him for long periods and drank too much which shamed him within the Italian community. In 1933 the couple moved to Carlton, Melbourne, where he worked on the newspaper, Il Giornale Italiano, and she took a job at Ferrari's hairdressing salon in the Manchester Unity Building. Agostini later claimed that there were frequent altercations. During one quarrel in bed, Linda was fatally shot with a pistol which Tony alleged she had held. To avoid a police investigation, he carried her body by car across the New South Wales border to the Howlong road, five miles (8 km) west of Albury, where he hid it in a culvert and attempted to set fire to it.

The charred remains of the body, clad in Oriental-style pyjamas, and wrapped in a sack and towel, were found on 1 September 1934. Police were unable to establish the identity of 'the Pyjama Girl'. The crime became a cause célèbre. Agostini was questioned, but claimed that his wife had left him. In 1936 he moved to Perth and in January 1938 to Sydney. Interned as an alien in June 1940, he was released in February 1944 and returned to Romano's as a waiter.

Linda's body had been preserved in formalin in a zinc-lined bath at the University of Sydney and shown to hundreds of people, including Agostini. In 1938 a coroner's inquest failed to establish identity. Although several witnesses had declared the corpse to be that of Linda, police were misled by an inaccurate dental record. Errors made in plotting the dental work were discovered in February 1944 and new charts were matched to those of Linda Agostoni, on whom police had a file as a missing person. Several of her acquaintances confirmed the body's identity. As corroboration, freckles on an upper arm were found to match those in earlier photographs of her.

On 4 March 1944 Agostini was interviewed by the police commissioner William John MacKay, a regular patron at Romano's, who had known him in the 1930s. Tony confessed his involvement in Linda's death. Taken to Melbourne, he was arrested on 6 March and committed in April to stand trial for murder. In June the jury returned a verdict of manslaughter. The judge (Sir) Charles Lowe sentenced Agostini to six years imprisonment with hard labour.

Released from Pentridge gaol under a general amnesty, Agostini was deported to Italy on 21 August 1948. He married a widow Giuseppina Gasoni in December 1952 at Cagliari, Sardinia; he died there in 1969 and was buried in San Michele cemetery. Linda had been given a funeral at state expense and was buried in Preston cemetery on 13 July 1944.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Coleman, The Pyjama Girl (Melb, 1978)
  • Border Morning Mail (Albury, NSW), Sept 1934, Jan 1938, Apr 1939, 13 Jan, 7-10 Nov 1941, 10 Dec 1942, Apr 1943, Apr-June 1944
  • Argus (Melbourne), 3 Sept 1934, 7, 28, 29 Mar, 1, 14 July 1944, 23 Aug 1948
  • transcripts of evidence of coroner's inquest, Melbourne, Mar 1944, and trial of A. Agostini, Melbourne, June 1944 (Justice and Police Museum, Sydney).

Citation details

Bruce Pennay, 'Agostini, Linda (1905–1934)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/agostini-linda-9966/text16353, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 26 June 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2017

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Platt, Linda
Birth

12 September 1905
London, Middlesex, England

Death

1934
Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Cultural Heritage
Occupation