Gatton Murders - Sub Inspector Herbert Durham

Gatton Murders

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1st Class Sub Inspector Herbert Rowland Pasley Durham





Cadet, 1884 (QPG, Vol 21: 117)


2nd Class Sub Inspector, 1885 (COL/E67/85/189 & QGG, Vol 36: 1906)


1st Class Sub Inspector, 1894 (COL/E171/94/430 & QGG, Vol 42: 1013)


2nd Class Inspector, 1904 (A/38785)


1st Class Sub Inspector, 1906 (A/38785 & QGG, Vol 87: 273)


Suicide at Hughenden, 1906 (A/38785 and JUS/N365/06/503)

Staff file

AF/502 (A/38785)


Married Mary Ann Morse, 1887; at Thargomindah, 1894; appointed Transport Officer for Fourth Contingent to Boer War, 1900 (QGG, Vol 73: 1379); appointment cancelled, 1901 (QGG, Vol 76: 540); served at Boer War 1900-01 (NAA) and awarded Queen’s Medal with clasp.

1st Class Sub Inspector Herbert Rowland Pasley Durham The many paths to senior rank in the Native Police suggest that it was not regarded by the government as a force unto itself, as either an irregular force or an elite force. It seems from this angle to have been just another branch of the law and order apparatus.

Of the twenty-one Inspectors, nineteen staff files have survived. They provide good insights into their careers and backgrounds. Only two came from military backgrounds. Aulaire Morisset was the second son of Colonel James Morisset, and Fredrick Urquhart was the son of a British army officer. Urquhart, who had been promised ‘the first vacancy’ in the force by General Fielding, eventually reached the rank of Police Commissioner in 1917, by which time the Native Police had ceased to exist.

Only one Inspector, David Graham, had previous police experience in the Irish Constabulary.

Of the twenty-one officers in the higher ranks, fourteen retired. Four died while still serving. These were Inspectors John Ahern, Thomas Clohesy, Thomas  Judge and Herbert Durham. The causes of Ahern and Judge’s deaths are unknown.

Clohesy died after a brief illness, and Durham took his own life after a young Constable laid a charge of sexual misconduct.


The police engaged in searching for the Gatton murderers are being added to almost hourly.

By the goods train that arrived early this morning from Brisbane four fresh mounted men arrived.

All the men are being well armed both with revolvers and carbines, as it is expected that when the culprits are brought to bay they will make a fight for it.

Chief Inspector Stuart and Sub-inspector Durham have also arrived.

The black trackers returned late last evening, and are still in the town.

When questioned, Paddy Perkins stated that, so far as he could tell, the murderers left the paddock by the sliprails, and proceeded along the main road.


The police force here has been reinforced by Sub-inspectors White and Durham, but whether their stay will be extended beyond a day or two I am not aware.

It is evident that the police do not regard the time for collecting evidence at the scene of the murder as quite over.

To-day a contingent, principally native police, was engaged in sifting the sand at the scene of the tragedy. If any discovery was made it has not been divulged.


Inspector Durham went out early to-day, and Constable Edwards, with trackers, following. The police are following up matters which they hope may lead to some solution of the difficulty, but present appearances are not particularly hopeful. I have investigated the cause of Murray's arrest, and am in a position to state that it was entirely apart from any suspicion of connection with the tragedy.

Sub-inspector Durham visited Laidley to-day, presumably to make inquiries. Several persons have been examined to-day, but there are no fresh developments.


Mr. Parry-Okeden and Inspector Urquhart, with trackers, have visited the waterholes near the scene of the murder, and were engaged in making careful examinations all the morning, but without success.
Sub-inspectors Durham and White and several of the police are out making inquiries.
The scene of the murder is still being visited by a large number of people; some driving long distances to view it.


News has been received here that the man Burgess has been charged at Dalby with being concerned in the Gatton tragedy.
The information published in the "Courier" this morning concerning the arrest at the Bunya Mountains was received by the Commissioner of Police last night, and Sub-Inspector Durham left for Dalby to-day to take charge of the case.


The police authorities have formed subdistricts here, Sub-inspector Galbraith taking Tent Hill, and Inspector White Laidley.

Inspector Durham, when he returns, will go to Helidon.

Each has been supplied with squads of police and trackers for working in a systematic way.

Sergeant Tom King takes a constable and tracker, with a roving commission.

Sub-inspector Durham is back from Dalby, and has gone to Helidon.

It is stated that Burgess was seen about here at Christmas-time.

Nothing further has transpired in connection with the arrest of Burgess.

The only grounds the police have for suspicion is the peculiar conduct of the prisoner previous to his arrest.

The selectors around the Bunya Mountain district were much alarmed, and were pleased to see him in the hands of the police.

The first question Burgess asked at the houses visited was for latest news of the murder.

Inspector Durham arrived to-day in connection with the arrest, but it has not transpired what was the result of his investigations.


Prisoner Burgess was brought up yesterday before the local bench.

Inspector Durham, who took charge of the case, formally withdrew the charge. The prisoner was escorted to Toowoomba last night, and was rearrested on a charge of stealing a saddle. The police here still think there is a possibility of the accused being connected with the Gatton crime. It is affirmed that he was within twenty miles of the scene of the murder on the following day. 27th December. Dr. Fullerton, at the request of Inspector Durham, examined the prisoner's body, but found no scratches or bruises which would lead to the supposition that the accused had taken part in the Gatton outrage.

Mounted-constable Gillies, of Dalby, who arrested Burgees, proceeded to Gatton yesterday with horses to assist the police in the search.


BURGESS AT TOOWOOMBA. (By Telegraph from Our Correspondent)
At the police court, at half-past 9 o'clock this morning, Richard Burgess, on remand, appeared before Messrs. F. W. Galloway and A. Munro, justices of the peace, charged with the larceny of a saddle. The prisoner was brought up half-an-hour earlier than the usual court time, so as to have the proceedings as quiet as possible. The only other persons present were the officers of the court, the Press representatives, and Mr. J. V. Herbert, solicitor.

Immediately the case was called Mr. Herbert rose and said he appeared for the prisoner, and made application to be permitted to converse with him for a few minutes. Mr. Galloway asked by whose authority Mr. Herbert appeared, and who instructed him, which questions Mr. Herbert strongly resented, characterising them as savouring of impertinence.

Sub Inspector Durham, who conducted the prosecution, interpolated an application for a further remand of eight days. Mr. Herbert, after further argument with the bench, was allowed to talk to the prisoner, and a few sentences were exchanged between them.

Mr. Herbert then demanded that the information and previous proceedings be read, including the evidence already taken. He was then informed that no evidence had been taken yet, whereupon he contended that at the very least the evidence of arrest should have been tendered, and he strongly opposed the application for a remand. The information was then read, which was to the effect that Burgees was charged with unlawfully stealing one riding-saddle, in Toowoomba, on 22nd December, the property of one Patrick M'Namara.

The bench inquired of Inspector Durham whether Burgess would be brought up under the eight days if possible, and he replied that the authorities would do their best.

Mr. Herbert still contended that the evidence of arrest should be tendered, but the bench replied that Burgess had been arrested by warrant, on a sworn declaration, which, in their opinion, was sufficient. They further remanded the prisoner for eight days.

Inspector Durham then ordered Burgess to be removed from the dock and taken back to the cell. At this juncture Burgess said, "I ask you one favour, your worships. “I ask for a remand to Brisbane”

Mr. Galloway: “We cannot do that, as the offence is alleged to have been committed at Toowoomba.”

Burgess seemed surprised at this information, when, in fact, so was every one in court outside the authorities, as it had previously been understood that the saddle was supposed to have been stolen in Brisbane, and that Burgess was not anywhere about Toowoomba on that date. Burgess was then removed, passing out of the court with a smile upon his countenance.

He was attired in canvas trousers and blue striped shirt, open at the neck, giving the appearance of a typical bushman.

Sub-inspector Durham came in to-night from Helidon, and returned by the goods train.


Inspector Durham left Helidon last night for Dalby, taking men and horses with him. The object of his trip is to make special inquiries into the movements of Burgess in that district.

FURTHER POLICE INVESTIGATION. (By Telegraph from Our Correspondent.)
There was some activity among the police here to-day.

Inspector Durham, Constable Wilson, of Toowoomba, and a black tracker, Norman, arrived in town last night, and have gone out to-day in the direction of the Bunya Mountains, evidently with the intention of going over Burgess’s tracks to gain information from residents, and endeavour to gather incriminating evidence.

The police here have already tracked Burgess almost as far back as Crow’s Nest, and evidently think to do it more thoroughly with the assistance of an experienced tracker.

There is a rumour that another suspicious character had been seen in the vicinity the Bunya Ranges, but the police say there it nothing in it.

Mr. Parry-Okeden, Chief Commissioner of police, has been here for some days. Detective - Inspector Urquhart, of the Criminal Investigation Department, has charge of operations, and working in conjunction with him are Sub inspectors Durham, White, Galbraith, Detective Toomey, and Sergeant King, the famous tracker.

The Commissioner (Mr. Parry-Okeden), Sub-Inspector White, and Mr. Morris left for Brisbane this morning, and Sub-inspector Galbraith for Tent Hill and Inspector Durham for Helidon last night. The police, on being questioned, give no information as to the course to be followed to-morrow if the saddle-stealing charge is disposed of, but there are two alternatives on his discharge-a charge of a more serious offence, or an endeavour to secure a further remand. The excitement here is abating again. The police continue to work locally, endeavouring to find traces of the perpetrator of the crimes

TOOWOOMBA, January 26.
A large number of people attended the police court to-day, in anticipation of the appearance of Richard Burgess on a charge of stealing a saddle.

Shortly before 10.
Burgess had an interview of six minutes with his solicitor (Mr. Herbert) at the court. Sub-inspector Durham announced that the police intended to abandon the charge of larceny, substituting the charge of having no lawful means of support. Mr. Herbert asked for the discharge of Burgess, on the ground that nothing criminal had been proved against him. Defendant was merely travelling the country, looking for work. Burgess deposed that he was looking for work when he was arrested. Mr. Herbert again demanded his discharge, saying that the prosecution was absurd. They did not know what object the police had in making it. The police opposed the dismissal on the ground of the extraordinary circumstances connected with Burgess. Burgess was sentenced to two months' imprisonment in Brisbane gaol.

It has transpired that the man with the impediment in his speech, at whose house Burgess called on the night of the 25th December, is Mr. W. H. Siebenhauser. It is said that he identifies the photograph of Burgess as that of the man to whom he gave a drink of water on Christmas night. No information has been obtained from Sub-Inspector Durham yet. The police consider it possible that Siebenhauser made a mistake in his man or the date, but if he is correct they hold that it does not clear Burgess of being here on Boxing Night.