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The Gatton Tragedy Exposed At Last. An Examination Of The Secrets And Lies.
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Constable Robert Geo. Christie
The Investigations of the Police Commission into the action of the police in connection with the Gatton tragedy were continued yesterday.
The bent of his evidence was that on 24th April he drew out a report concerning a man mentioned in connection with the tragedy, but before he submitted it he heard Inspector Urquhart ridiculing any connection between this man and the murder, and threatening Sergeant Arrell that he would throw him out of the force.
Urquhart came up to witness in the street afterwards and swore at him, and threatened him also if he talked about the man.
The report also suggested that the man mentioned would be likely to be the one who passed Wilson at Oxley on 10th December. Witness consequently did not submit the report.
His idea was that the detectives had made a blunder, and tried to cover it up, and consequently endeavoured to prevent any inquiries being made.
He thought that the man when he passed Oxley was handed the revolver by Wilson.
The object of the man's murder at Gatton he thought would be lust. He allowed the girl Lowe to go without molestation because there were two men who had just passed, and he would be discovered.
The man probably decoyed the Murphy’s into the paddock with a yarn about a man being injured while opossum-shooting.
Witness did not go to the Commissioner with the information, because he thought that Urquhart would recommend his dismissal, and the request would be complied with.
The position of the Commissioner and Urquhart was talked about by members of the force by Sergeant Arrell, Constable Colville, and others.
Witness and some of the others thought it was not safe to go to the Commissioner under the circumstances. He showed the report to Sergeant Arrell.
He did not ask the latter to send the report to the Commissioner, because he knew that officer was more frightened than himself.
Arrell said once, "I have a good mind to throw my uniform over the fence, owing to the way he (meaning Urquhart) has treated me."
Wm. Fred. S. Keys, correspondence clerk in the Police Department, was asked if he had heard a conversation between Arrell and Urquhart, in which the latter had told Arrell to drop all matters and references in connection with Day. But he could not remember any conversation of the kind.
He pointed out that he had been at Gatton since the commencement, and he could not be expected to remember any particular conversation.
Sergeant Arrell was called in connection with the same matter. He said what Christie had stated about Urquhart telling him not to do anything further about Day was, as far as he (witness) could recollect, correct.
Witness would not say it was his impression, as Christie had stated, that whatever Urquhart said the Commissioner would be ruled by. He advised Christie not to send in the report. As Christie had said, witness had a strong feeling that one particular man mentioned had a hand in the murders.
He could not point to any defect in the action of the police in connection with this man except that he might have been detained.
Mr. Dickson: Is it not a fact that you were as frightened of Mr. Urquhart as Christie? -Well, I am not frightened of Mr. Urquhart now.
Did you say "I have a good mind to throw my uniform over the fence”? -I was angry; and I believed I used the words.
Did you say you would not say any more about this man? -I made up my mind not to say any more about him.
Inspector Urquhart: You were serving under my orders at Gatton for about seven months? -Yes.
Had you anything to complain of about my treatment of yourself and the other men? No, except that once.
Inspector Urquhart said he had never sworn at a man in the force in his life, as Christie alleged he had done to him. And he had always treated that officer most liberally.
The commission then adjourned till Thursday morning.
Acting Sergeant Toomey then said: There is a matter I believe that was referred to here on the day before yesterday, when Constable Christie gave evidence that has reflected upon my ability in regard to certain inquiries I made.
Mr. Sadleir: I don't think you need trouble.
Acting Sergeant Toomey; the matter has gone forth in the Press, and I think a man of my standing should say something to make the people at least think something.
Mr. Dickson: Well, I should like to hear it.
Acting Sergeant Toomey: Well, any one who comes in contact with Christie must form the opinion that he is an eccentric, excited man, and he suspected almost every man in Gatton of this murder.
Constable Christie: That is not right.
The Chairman: We cannot have any dispute here.
Acting Sergeant Toomey: He suspected one man one day and another the next.
Constable Christie: I did not. I will bring a man to prove differently.
The Chairman: We cannot have any discussion here.
The commission then adjourned till next day.
The proceedings of the commission inquiring into the working of the Police Department were continued yesterday.
Mr. Unmack: There is one little matter I wish to bring before you, Mr. Chairman, a little matter that affects this commission and the department.
I merely mention to you what I have heard in justice to the department and ourselves.
It is rumoured that Constable Christie, who has given very valuable and good evidence, I consider, has been transferred to an inferior position from Gatton, and reduced from a mounted constable to a foot constable.
And it is further stated that Christie has since tendered his resignation, and he has been asked to take leave for seven days in order to reconsider his decision.
What I want you to find out, Mr. Chairman, is the correctness or otherwise of this statement.
We have a right to protect a witness who comes before the commission.
The Chairman: We can ask Mr. Parry-Okeden when he comes before us.
The Police Commission took further evidence yesterday.
The Commissioner of Police (Mr. W. E. Parry-Okeden) was then called.
The Commissioner said Inspector Urquhart wrote saying he had no further requirements for Christie at Gatton. He was then transferred to the depot at Brisbane. He (the Commissioner) had always associated the depot with mounted men, and he was surprised to find that Christie, during a press of work, had been put on street duty for two days. He had not been transferred from one place to the other. The removal from Gatton was in the
interests of the service, and was not as a punishment. Christie had disclosed his work in his evidence, and there was consequently no further use for him on special duty as a plain-clothes man. His (the Commissioner's) action was one he would have taken on his own initiative, after the evidence given. He always looked upon Christie as a good man.
The commission then adjourned till. 10 o'clock the next day.