“I then saw stains under a tree which resembled blood stains.  I then saw bushes piled up five or six feet from the tree... I pushed these bushes aside and with a stick I was carrying I dug a hole about two inches into the ground and I saw three human fingers.”

William Cyril Moxley was hanged at Sydney’s Long Bay Gaol in 1932 – the first execution in NSW  for eight years. His crime was the brutal rape and murder of young nursemaid Dorothy Ruth Denzel and the vicious beating and killing of her boyfriend Frank Barnby Wilkinson.


How did this WW1 army deserter, small-time thief, conman and police informer come to be the infamous murderer ‘Mad Dog’ Moxley? Was it simply a robbery gone wrong? Did his blackouts and migraines stem from a head injury as he claimed or was he the monstrous sociopath described by the Prosecution and the tabloids? Why did he leave such an obvious trail that he was easily apprehended after a week-long police hunt during which he crossed large tracts of Sydney by bicycle and on foot? Would he be found Guilty today?


Peter Corris brings a novelist’s imagination to a historical case to reconstruct Moxley’s life, crimes and death. Mad Dog draws on crime-scene photos, witness testimony, trial transcripts and newspaper articles to recreate the dark history and disturbed mind of a murderer against the bleak and troubled background of depression-era Sydney.