Gatton Murders - Trackers

Gatton Murders

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Trackers

28/12/1898

POLICE AND TRACKERS AT WORK. http://www.glenrowan1880.com/trackers.htm

The news of an atrocious crime having been committed has spread like wildfire, and the residents of this district are in a state of intense excitement.

Police and black trackers are being brought from all the surrounding districts to assist in hunting the perpetrators down.

By the Toowoomba goods train, which arrived shortly after midnight, Paddy Perkins, the famous black tracker, with another blackfellow named Conquian, arrived, and left again immediately for the scene of the tragedy.

30/12/1898

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.

Nlack TrackersThe tracks discovered were those of two unshod horses.

If the black tracker's conjecture is correct, it will be almost impossible to track the murderers.

Later.

Paddy Perkins and Conquian, trackers, have left, well provisioned, to scour the country surrounding the paddock where the outrage was committed.

Norman, another black tracker, who has the reputation of being one of the smartest trackers in Queensland, has just arrived from Crow's Nest, and will leave as soon as possible to assist the other trackers.

BLACK TRACKERS FROM FRASER'S ISLAND.
In accordance with an urgent wire from the Commissioner of Police, three aboriginal trackers arrived in Brisbane last night.

Mr. A. Meston happened to be on the island when the wire arrived, and in half-an-hour threeArchibald Meston picked men, had started at 1 o'clock yesterday morning in an open boat for Pialba, caught the 7.30 morning train, and reached Brisbane last night, leaving again for Gatton at 9 p m. by a goods train, and would arrive at Gatton actually on the same day on which they left Fraser's Island. Mr. Meston may be complimented on bringing these trackers on the scene of operations in the shortest possible time.

Among the natives is the celebrated tracker who caused such alarm to the Kelly gang, when the news of the intention to employ him reached them it led them to try and wreck the train conveying the trackers to the scene of the robberies.

Norman, another black tracker, who has the reputation of being one of the smartest trackers in Queensland, has just arrived from Crow's Nest, to assist the other trackers.

They are expert trackers, smart, clean, active-looking fellows, one of whom distinguished himself in pursuit of the Kelly's, and another is the tracker who lately astonished Lord Lamington by following his tracks from Government House across the Domain to the Lucinda.

Mr. Meston states that these men are in first-class working order, and will follow any track over any sort of country for any distance. It seems most unfortunate that the scene of the murder was not kept clear of everybody until the trackers arrived; but this was hardly possible under the circumstances. The only chance for the trackers now is to discover some trail outside of the trodden area.

To-morrow all the available police blacks will make a thorough search of the country surrounding the locality where the murder was committed.

25/01/1899

Mr. Archibald Meston, the protector of aboriginals for Queensland, states that he is firmly convinced as to the identity of the criminals, but naturally he declines to mention names.

He believes Michael Murphy could not have been shot until he was prostrate on the ground.

3/10/1899

The Chairman to Urquhart: Do you know Mr. Meston? -Yes.

Do you know he has stated that with his trackers he tracked footsteps, away from the general ruck, leading to the scene of the murder, and also footsteps going away from the murdered bodies?-I have not heard that footsteps, if he did.

When was he there? -A week afterwards. (Not true only four days)

Had he some trackers? -There were some boys from Deebing Creek. (Not true they came from Fraser Island).

He may call them trackers. There was only one boy fit to be called a tracker on the scene at all.

Did Meston offer you evidence? -No, except that he announced at the railway platform that he could solve the mystery in twenty-four hours.

Mr. Sadleir: Was he taken seriously? -(Laughing.)-These are the facts. I didn't take them seriously.

The Chairman: He is a man used to bush-work? -He is undoubtedly.

He has done a great deal of bush-work? -He says so.

Do you doubt it? -Well, I have not been with him, so I cannot say.

Mr. Dickson: He has had a great deal of experience of exploration work and bush life? -He may have.

Do you believe it? -Well. I cannot say that I do.

Mr. Garvin: You have had a good many years' experience with black trackers? -Yes.

Well, do you think a week afterwards, when there had been hundreds of people there; it would be possible to pick up fresh tracks? -The contention is ludicrous.

The Chairman: We are asking the question because of the discredit upon the force- I heard Meston say. "It is not often I have to confess myself beaten, but for once I am now." About ten minutes afterwards he made the statement on the station that he could solve it in twenty-four hours-if he is correctly reported.

M'Neill is a good tracker, and there were also other men who could track. The black trackers sent up were inferior men.

Mr. Garvin: Don't you think it would be a good thing to have good trackers kept in Brisbane? -Yes; but there is a difficulty about keeping them near the city. You need not keep them near the city.

This concluded the examination of Inspector Urquhart. The officer intimated that he would like to offer some evidence in reply to certain evidence already given; but he was told this would come later.

18/10/1899

Archibald Meston, protector of aborigines in Southern Queensland, said he had had forty years' experience of aboriginals.

The Chairman: We understand that shortly after the Gatton tragedy you were on the scene? -On the Wednesday he (witness) was at Fraser's Island, and received a telegram from Chief Inspector Stuart asking for three trackers. He started the men at midnight, an hour after he received the wire, and the boys reached Gatton late the next night.

On Friday he (Meston) arrived at Gatton, and went to the scene of the tragedy.
And did you put these boys on to try to trace the tracks? -No. I had nothing to do with the trackers other than sending them to the Commissioner. I took one of the boys out.

Did this boy point anything out to you? -Yes, the boys all had a decided theory of their own about who committed the murder and how it was done.

Did they find any tracks? -Yes.

All three? -Yes.
What did they tell you, and did you convey that information to the police? -Well, I understood the information given to me by trackers would be given to the officers. I didn't interfere with them. I took the boy out for my own satisfaction, as I had a decided opinion.

What we want to know is if the police refused to do anything after anything material had been put before them.

Did you see any track? -Yes, one track was quite distinct, because it was outside the trampled circle.

But there were horses in the paddock? No, this was different; it was back on the ridge. It went from the scene of the murder round the ridge to the rails.

Did you tell any one? - I told Inspector Urquhart on the Saturday who I thought committed the murder, and how it was done; and I also called attention to significant facts.

You never put anything in writing? - I did on my return to Brisbane, I wrote a report, and showed it to the Home Secretary and the Commissioner. Outside of that I have nothing to do with any statements. I was credited with many statements I did not make.

Urquhart says that when leaving you expressed yourself as completely baffled-? That is utterly untrue. I never had a shadow of a doubt up to the present time.

Mr. Urquhart makes more statements that are utterly untrue.

He says I was there a week afterwards. It was four days.

I did not say on the railway platform that I could solve the mystery in twenty-four hours.

He says it was impossible to trace tracks after a week.

One of the finest bits of tracking in Queensland was after three weeks.

He says the trackers sent up were men of inferior type.

The three I sent up were the best boys on Fraser's Island out of fifty.

One of them was the best boy after the Kelly gang in Victoria.

The other two were also good.

I pointed out to Mr. Inspector Urquhart that he was starting in a wrong direction, and it is very unfair that the police should be blamed for his blunders.

The blunders from beginning to end exhibited stupidity that amounts to infatuation.

He did not do one wise thing from start to finish.

Mr. Meston said he regarded the Queensland police as a body in physique and intelligence equal to any others in the world.

That is a pretty general condemnation. -When I went there I asked him about different persons; but he replied regarding each that he had proved an alibi.

He had accepted their statements without making any inquiries.

He even did not know a blood stain when he saw it.

Mr. Meston was questioned at some length concerning the tracks, and he mentioned another track.

He declined to indicate publicly what his theory was, and whom he suspected; but he offered to place his report before the Commission.

His theory was held by some of the men in the force.

The Chairman said the Commission did not care for anything unless it was something that the police did not act upon.

Mr. Meston said it was for the trackers to give the information to the police.
Subsequently Mr. Meston came back, and said the track that went round the ridge to the bodies was the same track that came from the bodies in a triangular way to the sliprails.

19/10/1899

Mr. A. Meston, the protector of aboriginals in Southern Queensland, stated that he sent three of his best trackers to Gatton.

All three found tracks, and had a decided opinion as to who committed the murder and how it was done.

He understood that the information given him by the trackers would also be given to the police.

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