Gatton Murders - Daniel Murphy Junior Evidence

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Daniel Murphy Junior Evidence

11/03/1899

Daniel Murphy, a brother of the deceased, and formerly a police constable stationed in Brisbane.

Was a brother and on December 27 he received at the police station at Roma-street Brisbane, the following urgent telegram:

"Come at once; Michael, Norah, and Ellen murdered last night. Brought Pat from college. (Signed) Michael Connolly.Ē

The witness disbelieved the telegram, but ascertained the truth from the Post and Telegraph Office at Brisbane.

The wire was received at 12.30, and he was too late to catch the 1 o'clock train.

He remembered travelling from Brisbane to Gatton on the 27th December on the 5:00pm train.

He got leave of absence, and on reaching Gatton the first person he spoke to was Connolly, who told him that the deceased had been taken into Moran's paddock, their hands tied behind their backs, and the girls ravished and killed.

Connolly said the girls had their hands tied behind their back, they had been ravished and killed, and that Michael also had been killed. Witness asked, "Who did it? " and Connolly replied, "I Do not know, but MíNeill found the bodies."

He ascertained that the Criminal Investigation Branch had no information, but afterwards had a wire, which confirmed his news.

Witness went to the Goldman's house where his father and mother were.

The latter said, "They have murdered my children in the bush.'' He asked her who she meant, but she said she did not know. He stayed up in Gatton all night, and talked to many people, but did not hear of any person being suspected.

Witness went to Gilbert's Hotel, where he saw the bodies.

He stayed up in Gatton all night, and talked to many people, but did not hear of any person being suspected.

The following day he made arrangements for the burial of the bodies.

He saw M'Neill for the first time the same day in Gilbert's yard, but had no conversation with him relative to the murder until after the funeral.

M'Neill afterwards attended the funeral. He (witness) subsequently asked MíNeill how he found the bodies and he replied, "I picked up the cart track on the road where it went into the rails. I could see it was my own cart by the track. I thought they went in there to some house."

Witness asked, "How did you know it was your cart?" MíNeill replied, "Because the wheel wobbled. I cantered across the paddock but saw no house, so I came back to the rails again, examined the track and followed it to the spot where the bodies lay." He further said he went up close to them and could see that all three were dead. He then galloped straight into Gatton to the police. A sergeant came out with him.

Witness asked MíNeill if he saw any other tracks than those of the trap, and he replied, "I did not look." However M'Neill told him he did not see any wheel tracks, other than those of the trap.

The witness suspected no one.

M'Neill did not say he saw tracks near the scene of the murder, but he did say he saw no signs of a struggle.

He also said he did not take time to look when he first went out.

M'Neill paid all the expenses of the burial, but witness and Pat squared up with him afterwards.

This course was followed on M'Neill's initiative.

M'Neill must have had the accounts, as he had cheques written out when the conversation on the matter took place.

Inspector Urquhart: Did you ask him if he had any suspicion? - He said he did not know who did it. Continuing, witness said M'Neill did not say what was being done in the way of search for the murderers.

Witness had not visited the scene of the murder till yesterday (9th instant), but he was in the paddock two days after the murder.

On that occasion M'Neill was with him.

They only went in about 100 yards, for M'Neill to show which way the trap had gone.

This was done at witness's request, but after they had proceeded a little distance witness refused to go further.

He had had a conversation with M'Neill about the murder. M'Neill thought it was some stranger who did it, and witness thought so, too. Other members of the family agreed in that.

He had not heard Pat say he suspected any local person. He (Pat) thought it was Burgess, and so did all the family at first.

When his three days' leave was up he successfully applied for a month, and subsequently applied and got another month.

At the end of that time, as the murderers had not been found, and as his parents wished him to remain at home, he resigned from the Police Force.

Inspector Urquhart: While you were at home on leave did you do anything towards unravelling the mystery? -All the information I could get I gave to the police.

What information did you give? -About local people.

Although you did not think any local people did it? -They used to ask me, and I used to give it.

When you arrived here there were not many police, were there? -No.

M'Neill went about a good deal during the first week, did he not? -Yes.

What was he trying to do? -Trying to see what he could do in reference to the murder.

My brother Jerry went with him sometimes, and I went once.

Continuing, witness said he did not know of Michael having had a row about a girl, or of any one having animosity against any member of the family.

His mother had a quarrel with a man a long time ago. Witness could imagine or assign no reason that would lead to the attack upon the victims.

He had expressed the opinion at Roma-street that whoever had committed the murders must have been out of their minds. His actual words were, "Someone at home has gone out of their mind."

He did not know then anything about it.

He did not remember expressing an opinion after leaving.

He might have said at the Roma-street station that it must be one of the family who did it.

He did not say so anywhere else.

He did not say, "we shall be the talk of Blackfellows' Creek, and looked down on by every one."

None of the family had ever shown a tendency to insanity.

To the Bench: He said that to the best of his belief the life of none of the murdered ones was insured.

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