Gatton Murders - Commissioner Parry-Okeden's Input

Gatton Murders

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Commissioner Parry-Okeden's Input And Time Spent in Gatton

Commissioner Parry-Okeden


To-day Mr. Commissioner Parry-Okeden, head of the police force, arrived in Gatton, and he has been closely engaged all day with Inspector Urquhart and Sub inspector Galbraith. Mr. Parry-Okeden's keen analytical mind and wide experience must no doubt prove a great assistance to his officers in this terrible case. The Commissioner in the administration of the Peace Preservation Act in 1894 showed his capacity for taking, weighing, and utilising evidence.
The police are naturally very reticent regarding the matters under investigation. Mr. Parry-Okeden is consulting them with respect to the offering of a reward.


Representatives of the Press waited on Mr. Parry - Okeden, Commissioner of Police, to-night to confer with him as to the method of obtaining news.
The news of a reward having been offered by the Government has been favourably received here, and it is hoped that it will have the desired effect, especially as a free pardon is offered to any person confessing.
A special train will arrive to-morrow morning with Dr. Von Lossberg and another doctor, who will make a further post-mortem examination of the body of Michael Murphy.
A "Government Gazette" Extraordinary has been issued containing a notification to the effect that the Governor-in-Council has been pleased to direct that a reward of £1000 be paid for such information as may lead to the apprehension and conviction of the person or persons who, at Gatton, on the night of Monday, the 26th December ultimo, murdered Michael, Norah, and Ellen Murphy; and that a pardon be granted to any person concerned in the crime, not being the principal offender, who may give such information.


A special train, with Drs. Wray and Von Lossberg, and Sub-inspector White, arrived this morning just before daylight. They left the train before reaching town, and drove direct to the cemetery, where the exhumation took place.
The police prefer to say nothing of the result of the post-mortem examination.
The special train returned to Brisbane this morning. Before the exhumation Mr. Parry-Okeden put the matter before the Murphy family, and took every care to prevent any unnecessary pain to their feelings, and in this Father Walsh assisted.
The exhumation was performed without exciting public curiosity, and the scene at the cemetery was practically unwitnessed except by those officially concerned Dr. Von Lossberg states that a bullet was found in Michael Murphy’s head. This may be accepted as correct.
GATTON, Wednesday, 5 p.m.
The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Parry Okeden, Dr. Wray, Dr. von Lossberg, and the few necessary helpers were all who were present. It was an inexpressibly sad task; yet it was unavoidable. The examination showed that the ball had penetrated the head of the victim at the back of the right ear, and had lodged in the base of the skull.


To-day news reached Gatton that several stowaways on a goods train from this district had been arrested at Brisbane on charges of offences against the railway by-laws-travelling without tickets.
Mr. Commissioner Parry-Okeden wired to Brisbane for descriptions of the men. Not much attention is paid to the matter here, as it is said that stowaways are as common on the trains as in Brisbane, but the episode shows that a careful watch is kept over all persons travelling in the colony.
Dr. Von Lossberg in his report of the autopsy said that he had noticed a wound like a bullet wound at the back of the head of the victim, but there was no exit. On noting this, the Commissioner of Police at once communicated with Dr. Von Lossberg to ascertain what steps had been taken to prove whether the wound was caused by a bullet or not, and the reply being unsatisfactory, the exhumation and second autopsy were at once decided upon.


Mr. Okeden, Inspector Urquhart, and a number of police and trackers were going out this morning, but the Commissioner and Inspector Urquhart will remain, for the present. Several fresh members of the Police Force arrived this morning.
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.
The police were out to-day making careful search in the paddock opposite the scene of the murder, an enclosure owned by one of the Moran brothers Mr. Parry-Okeden and Inspector Urquhart accompanied the party, and the water course leading from Tent Hill road to Lockyer Creek was carefully examined, as were certain points in the Lockyer Creek itself. So far as I can learn the mission was without success.


Portrait of Andrew Henry Barlow  (1836 - 1915)To-day we had a visit from the Hon. A. H. Barlow, Acting Chief Secretary. Mr. Barlow visited the scene of  the tragedy with Mr. Parry Okeden, and on his return to town I had an opportunity of conversation with him. I have no authority to make the hon. gentleman's views of the tragedy known, save to state that speaking for the Government, of which he is a member, there is a determination that no effort and no expense should be spared to bring the murderers to justice. The Premier and other members of the Government, Mr. Barlow states, are deeply moved by the appalling nature of the crime. As to the work of the police, he was much impressed with the system adopted, and the completeness with which investigation is proceeding.
Mr. Barlow fully recognises the tremendous nature of the task, which the police have before them, and quite agrees that its successful accomplishment can only be effected by patient work. The Minister left by the afternoon train on the return journey to Ipswich. Mr. Parry-Okeden leaves Gatton to-night for Brisbane on official business, and will return again on Monday morning. An idea is prevalent here that the person responsible for the Oxley tragedy may have had a hand in that of Gatton. Of course in crime many remarkable things are possible, but so far I fancy that the police are not inclined to couple the two affairs. During his run to Brisbane Mr. Parry-Okeden will have an opportunity of studying the situation and comparing circumstances attending the respective murders.


At the time of writing Mr. Parry-Okeden has not returned from Brisbane. Inspector Urquhart is now the only officer in town.


Mr. Parry-Okeden returned to Gatton last night, and goes back to Brisbane by the train this evening. The Commissioner seems to feel very acutely the strictures upon the Police Department while everyone is working at high pressure and under great difficulty. He said to me to-day " I do not mind criticism; I think it does good. If there is a weak spot, discover it and condemn it. But I think it would be better to defer any actual condemnation at all events until the present strain is over." Mr. Parry-Okeden proposes to return to Gatton on Thursday.


Upon being interviewed last night through the medium of the telephone, Mr. Parry-Okeden, who was at his private residence at Kedron, stated that no definite information had reached him as yet, though he had been informed by wire that Inspector Urquhart has "important and good news."


Mr. Parry-Okeden, Commissioner of Police, returned to Gatton this morning, as I have already advised by wire. The Commissioner has gone carefully into the recent developments in the case, and on the whole regards the situation as hopeful.


Captain Deacon, formerly Mayor of Ipswich, was here yesterday, and informed me that after seeing the spot and hearing some of the inner circumstances of the case he had altered his view regarding it. Captain Deacon now considers it quite possible and very probable that one man was responsible for the whole of the shocking tragedy. On this "one man" theory the Commissioner of Police has informally expressed himself. A visitor to the town asked, " Do you think one man could have committed the crimes? "Mr. Parry-Okeden replied briefly and to the point. "Yes, I do."


I think the authorities are satisfied that some closer system must be tried within a mile or two of the scene. Mr. Parry-Okeden and Inspector Urquhart discussed the question to-day pretty fully, and if further steps are deemed necessary they will probably be taken early next week.
Mr Parry-Okeden leaves Gatton to-night for Brisbane, and will probably remain there until Tuesday next. The Commissioner has urgent business to attend to in the capital apart from the Gatton case.


Mr. Parry-Okeden and Mr. Morris, solicitor, of the firm of Morris and Fletcher, arrived here to-night. Sub-inspector White also arrived.


A regular police caucus has been held here by the Commissioner, Mr. Parry-Okeden Inspector Urquhart, Sub-inspector Galbraith, and Sub- inspector White, and Mr. Charles Morris (of Morris and Fletcher, Brisbane solicitors), was present also.
The object, so far as I can learn, was to go thoroughly into the matter of the evidence regarding the tragedy at present, in the hands of the police.
Several prolonged interviews were held, and to-day Mr Parry-Okeden and Mr. Morris and Sub-inspector White returned to Brisbane, while Sub-inspector Galbraith went out to his camp at Tent Hill.


Mr. Parry-Okeden, Commissioner of Police, with Mr. Shand, Acting Police Magistrate of Ipswich, and Dr. Von Lossberg arrived this morning. The inquiry will be opened shortly. There is much excitement here.

The magisterial inquiry into the cause of death of Michael, Norah, and Ellen Murphy on Boxing Day last at Gatton was opened this morning before Mr. A. H. Warner Shand, Acting P.M. of Ipswich. Mr. A. S. Falconer came up to take the depositions. Inspector Urquhart appeared to conduct the case, and Mr. C. Morris, of Morris and Fletcher, appeared for the relatives of the deceased. Mr. Parry-Okeden was also present. The public were not admitted.


 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.


Sub inspector Urquhart arrived in Brisbane from Gatton yesterday night. He and the Commissioner, Mr. W. E. Parry-Okeden, and Chief Inspector Stuart, had a long consultation at Mr. Okeden's private residence to-day on the Gatton and Oxley affairs. The Commissioner states that investigations are progressing satisfactorily.
He expresses himself hopefully of the result. Mr. Okeden leaves for Gatton on Wednesday next.


The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Parry-Okeden, attended at the inquiry towards the close.


The Commissioner, of Police (Mr. Parry-Okeden) arrived this morning, and, previous to opening the inquiry into the late murders, he and Inspector Urquhart, with Mr. Shand, had a conference, but the outcome of this has not been disclosed.


“Yes,” said Mr. Parry Okeden, the Chief Commissioner of Police in Queensland, as he met me with a smile more serious than cynical, I really believe that when I die 'Gatton' will be found written on my heart. Not that the crime should have been difficult to solve, but mistakes were made at the outset, and the stars in their courses seem to have fought against us ever since.


The Royal Police Commission took further evidence on Saturday morning.
The Commissioner of Police (Mr. W. E. Parry-Okeden) continued his evidence.
He explained that the first official intimation he received of the Gatton murders was on the Wednesday morning next after the Monday on which the murder was committed.
When he arrived at the office a little after 9 o'clock the telegram sent by Sergeant Arrell was put before him by the Chief Inspector.


Mr. Dickson then goes on to say that he has been unable to agree with the rest of the commission in their recommendation with regard to the continued occupancy of his office by Mr. W. E. Parry-Okeden. In the first place he regards Mr. Okeden's appointment as a mistake, principally from the fact that he previously had had no experience of the working of the Police Force. Mr. Okeden, while in his reports manifesting a sensitiveness of the defects of the farce and a laudable perception of necessary reforms, had completely failed in the practical carrying out of those reforms.