Gatton Murders - Mary Murphy Evidence

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Mary Murphy Evidence

7/03/1899
Mary Murphy, wife of last witness, and mother of the victims, deposed that on Boxing Day she and her husband went to a farm some distance away. When she returned there were at the house Norah, Katie, and Mrs. M'Neill's two children.
Subsequently the other members of the family, including Mr. and Mrs. M'Neill, returned.

She did not hear there was to be a dance in Gatton and that the girls were going, until after tea, when Michael informed her he was going to drive the girls in. She replied, "Bother take the dance; stay at home to-night." Michael replied, "Oh, we'll go for a few hours as Norah was not out all day." He did not say anyone had asked him to take the girls to the dance, and the girls did not, to her knowledge, get a letter about a dance.

She did not know when they first heard of the dance.

Pat informed her that he knew they were going.

She did not know who went out to the trap with them. The first person she saw come in was M'Neill, this being only a few minutes after the victims left.

To the best of her belief her husband was then in the bedroom.

She did not notice any other members of the family; she noticed M'Neill because he took up one of the children. Witness nursed the other.

Her husband was in the bedroom saying his prayers, and he afterwards came out and smoked for half-an-hour or more. He then went into his bedroom. Witness remained for a quarter of an hour or so afterwards.

M'Neill went into his own room between 9 and half-past 9. She believed her husband was then smoking on the veranda.

M'Neill had previously taken his boots off.

She did not see Willie after tea.

She went to her room about a quarter of an hour before she heard the clock strike 10.

No one came out of any of the rooms.

When her husband came out of the bedroom after saying his prayers, M'Neill was in his room.

The Police Magistrate: You just said your husband was on the veranda smoking when M'Neill went into his room. You should take care about contradicting yourself.

Witness: I am telling the truth.

The Police, Magistrate: There may be no doubt about that, but you are contradicting yourself.

Witness, continuing, said she did not go to sleep till after 12 o'clock. She heard Mrs M'Neill ask the little girl to kiss her, but she said, "No; kiss dada," and Mr. M'Neill laughed.

Her husband came in about half past 6 in the morning, and informed her that Michael and the girls were not then home.

When she came out to the kitchen she said the cart might have broken down. M'Neill said, "It might not be too safe." After about an hour, MíNeill said, "If one of them had walked from Gatton they could be here by this time." Various surmises were made, and then M'Neill said it was time some one went to look for them.

She agreed, and M'Neill got a horse and rode away. The reason he went was that he was the only one not at work.

Inspector Urquhart. Are you sure you did not ask M'Neill to go? Did you ever say, "For God's sake, M'Neill, go and look for my children?"-No, I am sure I didn't say it.
Continuing, witness said M'Neill left about 8 o'clock, and returned a little after 10 o'clock.

She met him at the door, and asked him if he had seen the children, and if they were coming. He said no. She asked him why, and he said, "They were dead and murdered in a paddock up at Gatton, with their hands tied behind their backs, and their heads bashed in."

Mrs. Murphy's fortitude then gave way completely, and she cried bitterly. M'Neill went up to her chair and attempted to console her. She was taken into the open.

8/03/1899

EVIDENCE MARY MURPHY
Mrs. Murphy, who looked very unwell, continued her evidence. Questioned as to the disposition of the family in the house on Boxing Night, she said Johnny and Willie slept in the room adjoining MíNeillís.

Norah was unwell, and did not want to go out that night.

Witness did not know of Michael having had a sweet-heart.

She knew Kate, a daughter of ''stuttering Billy Ryan,"

She had been dead about two years, but she (witness) did not know what she died from. Both the boys and girls knew her.

Witness came to Gatton thirty years ago, and had lived at several places, including Spring Creek.

There she knew two girls named Julia and Minnie Gleeson, who had a brother then 15 years of age. The girls were school teachers.

There was some unpleasantness between witness and Julia, in consequence of which she reported the girl to the Education Department.

The girl was then removed. There were also some letters about the matter written to the Ipswich police.

Subsequently Julia went out of her mind, and was removed to an asylum.

The girl's brother's name was John. Witness never heard that he had threatened to have revenge upon her, but she did hear that Minnie had said so. Julia once came to her house in witness's absence and wanted to get Norah to sign some document. She was very bitter over the matter, and the quarrel was never made up.

Inspector Urquhart: Your husband said yesterday that he did not know of anyone who had any ill-feeling against you. Did he know of this matter? Witness: I think he must have, though he was always away at work.

Inspector Urquhart: Well, I will ask you the same question. Do you know of any one? Witness: I know of no one. Continuing, the witness said she only saw the brother of the Gleeson girls once. She heard Julia had got better and married.

She remembered her sons, Michael and William, taking a contract for fencing for John Moran, sen. There was some dispute about the payment, and it was never cleared up.

A man named O'Brien used to come to dances given at Murphy's. She did not think he was a sweetheart of Helen's.

He cleared out more than twelve months ago over some money matter, but was now back again.

Norah had gone out riding with men named Bill Connolly and Robert Rule, but she was not aware that she used to meet and go out riding with any one.

Inspector Urquhart: Up to the present you have only answered my questions. Can you now, on your own account, suggest anything? Witness: No.

Inspector Urquhart: Nothing whatever? Witness: If I had the least knowledge I would give it.

Inspector Urquhart: I didn't mean merely about the tragedy, but do you know any other circumstance that will help us? Witness: No.

Inspector Urquhart: Have you heard of any one being suspected by members of your own family? Witness: No one more than another. I believe they were killed because they were the first who came along.

Inspector Urquhart: Looking back over your past life, can you think of any enemy? Witness: None. The witness also said that the girls had got no written invitation to the dance in Gatton.

At the conclusion of Mrs. Murphy's examination the Police Magistrate said: "This has been a trying ordeal to you. I thank you for the manner in which you have given your evidence. I can assure you have my greatest sympathy."

25/03/1899

Mrs. Murphy was the next witness.

When entering the court she asked what she was wanted for, as she had already given evidence. The Bench: You have been subpoenaed to give further evidence. Witness was then sworn.

She repeated what transpired at her house on Boxing Night, and had to be cautioned not to fence with questions.

Mrs. Murphy deposed that after the party left home for the dance, M'Neill returned to the house, and went to his own room between 9 and half-past 9.

M'Neill had previously taken his boots off.

She went to her room about a quarter of an hour before she heard the clock strike 10.

No one came out of any of the rooms.

She did not go to sleep until after 12 o'clock.

She heard Mrs. M'Neill ask the little girl to kiss her, but she said, "No; kiss dada," and Mrs. M'Neill laughed.

During the course of her examination she said that her husband put out the light on Boxing Night, whereupon Inspector Urquhart asked why she had not told the Court that when previously examined. She replied that she had answered every question that they had asked her.

Inspector Urquhart: Did you kiss the book? Witness: Yes, what else would I do?

Inspector Urquhart: Did you? Witness: Yes. Witness said her elder daughter, who was murdered, had been to Brisbane eleven years ago for three weeks. She was employed by Mrs. Bannock. She left when Mrs. Bannock went to England. She went with Mrs. Bannock for a change of air to Brisbane. Norah had not been there since, neither had Ellen.

Witness was reading in the sitting room on Boxing Night. The door of the room occupied by M'Neill and his wife was half open the whole time. Witness put Mrs. M'Neill to bed.

Inspector Urquhart: What side did you put her? -She always slept on the front of the bed.

Don't fence with the question. What side did you put her on? -On the front and covered her over with a sheet only. She left the window open propped up with a bottle. She put Polly on that side so that she could rub her hand. M'Neill had to sleep inside to keep the child from his wife's sore hand.

Mrs. M'Neill said he had done so next morning in answer to a question as to how she had slept. The question was occasioned because that was the first night the child had slept with them, having always before slept with Norah.

She remembered Wednesday last, and M'Neill's visit. She took him to the child to talk, and she made the usual inquiries as to the health of Polly, &c. M'Neill inquired for Dan. She believed the latter was about when M'Neill spoke of his wife going to give evidence the next morning.

MíNeill took away the clothes of his child and wife. She did not know if he took any of his own. She did not take notice if he wore the same clothes on leaving. She did not see if he left any clothes, but she heard him asking for some clothes. She could not say if he got them.

There was a back and front door to their house. They were both closed at night, but were never locked.

They were sometimes bolted. The doors and windows were kept open in hot weather.

Both were closed on the night in question. Witness's husband got up and shut them, and put out the light.

Inspector Urquhart: Why did you not tell that before? Witness. I have answered every question.

Inspector Urquhart: You swore to tell the whole truth, and not what was asked you alone.

The Witness: So I did.

Inspector Urquhart: You did not tell about your husband rising.

Mr. Shand: You do not endeavour to assist the inspector in any way. Witness: He tries to crush me, as if I was not crushed enough already.

Inspector Urquhart: Mrs. Murphy came in an unwilling humour this morning, your worship. Witness was here seized with a fit of trembling, as with blanched features she rose to sign the depositions.

Inspector Urquhart, however, requested her to sit down and rest a while. Witness cried for her son, Dan, and, upon his entering the court, said, "Sign for me, Dan."

Detective Toomey informed her that her son could not sign for her, to which the witness replied, "I can't do it, sure." The difficulty was subsequently overcome by the witness making a cross. She was then assisted out trembling by her son.

The magistrate reproved her for not relating all the circumstances.

The witness was then seized with a fit of trembling, and becoming very pale, rested for a little while, but was too agitated to sign her depositions.

The court at this stage adjourned till 2.30 o'clock.

After her examination, Mrs. Murphy was assisted to the Royal Hotel adjacent, where she was afterwards seen by Mr. Shand, acting Police Magistrate.

Mrs. Murphy, who was weeping loudly and bitterly, charged the magistrate with having endeavoured to crush her and her afflicted family, to which Mr. Shand replied that they had only been asked to assist in securing the ends of justice.

Constable Joseph Murphy, a policeman, but not one of the Murphy family, stated to the Bench, he had served a subpoena on Mrs. Murphy on the previous night. She said, "What do they want me again for? I was in there often enough, they nearly killed me the last time. She added that the wretches wanted her to say something to bring it home to M'Neill, who worked hard to help us all the time.

They are a damned lot of traitors. May God grant they may have some trouble themselves before they die. (She had prayed for God's mercy on the murderers when she first heard of the death of her children, and their father at the same time expressed satisfaction that they had gone to church on the previous Sunday) They think I am keeping something back: I believe they want me to tell a lie, they are a lot of damned wretches all through." That finished the conversation.

3/04/1899

The relations appeared to have treated the business as "kismet," and acted as if they wished it buried in oblivion.

It was on this, the closing day of the enquiry, that Dan Murphy, on being recalled, admitted that while at Roma-street Police Station (Brisbane) he remarked that "some one at home must have gone out of their minds and done it.

The witness who served Mrs. Murphy, the mother of the family, with a subpoena on the previous day to attend the Court then sitting, and in doing so had apparently got a taste of that old lady's quality. She said; "What do you want me there for? I have been there often enough before. They nearly killed me last time I was there. The damned wretches want me to say something to bring it home to M'Neill, who worked hard to help them.

8/04/1899

During the inquiry into the Gatton murders a week or two ago, Mrs Murphy, the mother of the victims, deposed that when she resided at Spring Creek she knew a family ó consisting of Julia, Minnie, and John Gleeson ó with, whom witness had some trouble.

Julia was a school teacher, whom witness reported to the department, and who was soon after removed to another district, where she lost her reason, and was taken to the asylum.

Witness deposed that Julia's sister Minnie threatened to be revenged on the Murphy family if she waited ten years. Witness knew very little of John Gleeson, and could not. describe him. Witness had since learned that Julia had recovered her reason, and was married. Witness never suspected anyone. She believed that her children were killed became they happened to be the first to come along, and not owing to any grudge.

13/04/1899

Mrs. Murphy, in the course of her evidence, said "her husband came in about half-past 6 in the morning, and informed her that Michael and the girls were not then home.

When she came out to the kitchen she said the cart might have broken down. M'Neill said: It might not be too safe.

After about an hour M'Neill said: 'If one of them had walked from Gatton they could be here by this time.

Various surmises were made, and then M'Neill said it was time some one went to look for them. She agreed, and M'Neill got a horse and rode away. The reason he went was that he was the only one not at work.

Inspector Urquhart ó Are you sure you did not ask M'Neill to go? Did you ever say, "For God's sake M'Neill, go and look for my children?" No, I am sure I didn't say it!

Continuing, witness saidó "M'Neill left about 8 o'clock, and returned a little after 10 o'clock.

She met him at the door, and asked him if he had seen the children, and if they were coming. He said no. She asked him why, and he said, "They are dead and murdered in a paddock up at Gatton, with their hands tied behind their backs, and their beads bashed in."

27/09/1899

The members of the Police Commission, accompanied by Inspector Urquhart, visited Gatton to-day.

They were met by Sergeant Arrell, and visited the scene of the Gatton murder. In the afternoon the commission took evidence at the coffee-room at the railway station.
Mrs. Murphy, Mr. Murphy, Constable Dan Murphy, Mrs. Carroll and her son John, and others, were examined.

Mrs. Murphy complained that she had not been treated with due courtesy by the police.
She also denied that she had kept anything back at the inquiry held before Mr. Shand, although Inspector Urquharts' demeanour seemed to suggest to her that she had done so.

She considered that a proper inquiry had not been made respecting the man Day, who arrived in the Gatton district on the 16th December, and who was working for a butcher named Clarke near the scene of the murder at the time that it was committed.

29/09/1899

The Police Commissioner has visited Gatton, and examined the Murphy family and others, regarding the triple murder there.
Mrs. Murphy denied that she had kept anything back at the enquiry.

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