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The Gatton Tragedy Exposed At Last. An Examination Of The Secrets And Lies.
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Frederic Charles Urquhart
The branch of the Police Department concerned in this matter actually seemed to know less about the murder and its details on Tuesday night than the Press, and only yesterday morning did Inspector Urquhart and Detective Toomey proceed to the scene of the murder.
Valuable time has thus been lost, and the hours of daylight immediately following the commission of the crime have been practically thrown away. Are the two branches of the department working together as they should be?
In view of what has happened, an answer to this question should be forthcoming.
DETECTIVES AT WORK.
On inquiry at the Criminal Investigation branch at a late hour last night we were informed that no further information had been received.
Inspector Urquhart, who arrived yesterday morning from Brisbane, paid a visit to the scene of the crime during the afternoon in company with Sub-inspector Galbraith and Sergeant Arrell, and made a thorough search of the locality. Several small pieces of dress material were picked up, but no important clues were found.
Mr. Parry-Okeden, Commissioner of Police, has arrived here, and is now consulting with Inspector Urquhart and Sub-inspector Galbraith.
Inspector Urquhart is a splendid bushman, as good a tracker, possibly, as any of the aboriginals employed, and an officer of indomitable energy. But to my mind it requires more than a bushman or a tracker, or even the most complete human bundle of energy in the universe to handle this case. It requires a judge of human nature, a man of strong reasoning power, and generally high mental attainments. Those qualities Inspector Urquhart
possesses, and with them an intense though quiet earnestness and tenacity of purpose.
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.
Sub-inspectors Durham and White and several of the police are out making inquiries.
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.
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.
At the resumption of the inquiry to-day into the late Gatton murders.
He ordered the people off the ground; but they refused to go. He repeated the order, but they would not move. They were very stubborn, especially one class of the community.
Inspector Urquhart: What was the stubborn class, Mr. Ballantyne? -The Germans.
They could understand? -Yes, they could. I pointed out to them they might be defeating the ends of justice, but they would not go.
Inspector Urquhart: You seem to have observed very closely there. Did you see anything at all, beyond the marks that would afford a clue? -No. If there had been an expert there, I would have been prepared to go out and point them out before they were, stamped out. Continuing, he said if he saw a track by the same pony he would detect a resemblance.
AN IMPORTANT DISCOVERY REPORTED.BRISBANE, January 11.
After tea this evening Inspector Urquhart stated to the Press correspondents that, in accordance with an arrangement made with the Commissioner of Police, who had promised to give information to the public at the earliest possible moment, he had asked them to meet him. He had now information of a most important character, and things in connection with the case were more hopeful than at any time during the investigations. He could
not state what this information was just then-perhaps not for a day or two-until they-had collected their evidence. To make a premature statement might prejudice their case.
Several questions were asked Inspector Urquhart as to the bearing of the information, but he declined to add anything to what he had already mentioned.
THE COMMISSIONER OF POLICE INTERVIEWED.
The culvert is about 150 to 200 yards from the sliprails, and crosses the gully running down from the boundary of the paddock where the tragedy was committed to Lockyer Creek. The place had been searched before, but Inspector Urquhart, acting upon certain information, sent two men out yesterday to dig all the mud out. The mud at the sides was dry, but in the middle of the waterway under the culvert it was a thick slush. This was all cleared out as far down as the solid ground, especial care being taken to search closely along the timber cross foundations of the culvert. When the work was nearly completed and all hope practically abandoned a discovery was made right in the centre of the waterway. It was at once reported to Detective Carew, who was in charge of the party, and he brought it into town. It may be a day or two before there is any further important development. The forging of this link into the chain will take some time, and Inspector Urquhart may be trusted not to act impulsively. The chain is ingenious to a degree, and it is understood that the police days ago had established the fact that the murderer or murderers left the paddock by the sliprails after the crime, as mentioned yesterday.
Sub-Inspector Galbraith, with several of his men, came in to Gatton to-day.
How is the work of establishing the ownership of the article found at the culvert on the Tent Hill road progressing? "Very well," Inspector Urquhart replies. There are difficulties in the way; cross circumstances come in; things look pretty clear one day, and are obscured the next. The trail is a hard one to run, but there is no cause to despair-rather other-wise; there is every reason to hope.
Another matter, which calls for comment, is the overworking of the police here. Inspector Urquhart is a man of splendid physique and remarkable power of endurance, but he is showing signs of overwork.
He is at it from early morning until mid-night. His rest does not mean more than six or seven hours out of the twenty-four, and then his mind is going, and telegrams and reports reach him even before he turns out of mornings. Mr. Key and Mr. Lindsay, who are associated with Inspector Urquhart in the office work, feel the strain acutely, and Detective Toomey-one of the most energetic and earnest workers in connection with the case-leaves for Brisbane to-day for a couple of days' rest, and for medical advice.
Mr. Toomey, like his chief, gets only a few hours sleep, and is going all the rest of the twenty-four. Detectives Head and Carew seem to stand the work admirably, and are to all appearances as keen and well as when they came here.
The outside public have but little idea of the vast amount of work done in connection with the case. It is a matter of going hard night and day. There is a fine esprit in all ranks, and as one who closely watches the work; I cannot help an expression of admiration at the untiring zeal of every one, from Inspector Urquhart down.
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.
At the magisterial inquiry it is understood that representatives of the Press will be admitted, but not the general public.
Mr. Shand, of Ipswich, will arrive to-morrow morning to hold the inquiry. Inspector Urquhart and Mr. Morris have been holding a long consultation to-night, and probably after the magisterial inquiry has been closed Burgess will be arrested charged with the murder of the boy Hill at Oxley, and of the Murphy's here.
Mr. C. Morris (Morris and Fletcher) arrived here to-day, and has been engaged with Inspector Urquhart in certain matters connected with the case.
Inspector Urquhart went out to Campbell's paddock this afternoon to inspect the waterholes with a view of pumping them out. He returned at about half-past 7 o'clock.
Dr. Von Lossberg, Government medical officer at Ipswich, gave particulars, already published, of the post-mortem examined of the general condition of the bodies.
Burgess was put into the witness-box, and examined by Inspector Urquhart. He said it was very likely that he had been known by other names than Burgess. He could not tell what they were, for he never cared to mention names. He had never been in the Ipswich hospital, but he had been at Kilkivan. He had quite forgotten the name he used there.
Inspector Urquhart. You were in trouble a little while ago? Burgess, I'm always in trouble. I am never known to be out of it.
WM. M’NEIL’S EVIDENCE.
By Inspector Urquhart: Did you notice anything else? -Witness: No, I don’t think I did.
Resuming, witness said he saw the Murphy’s start away. In the trap were a rug, a big red cape, and a black mackintosh belonging to a young fellow named Bob Smith, the latter being put in on the day before going to the races. Next time he saw those things was after returning from seeing Sergeant Arrell.
Inspector Urquhart: When did you see the rug? -Witness: Oh yes, Norah was lying on it, and it was spread out. Resuming, he said: After seeing the bodies he mounted his horse, pulled the two toprails down without dismounting, and galloped to Gilbert’s Hotel in Gatton, reaching there about 10 o’clock. He went into the bar and saw Charles Gilbert, and asked where the sergeant was. The reason for that was to report the matter.
Inspector Urquhart: Why did not you go to the police barracks? -Witness: I did not know where they were. Under further examination, he said, that Gilbert told him where to find the sergeant, and he reported what he had seen to the sergeant. He got a horse and went out to the bodies. Witness showed the sergeant the tracks of the cart going out as they cantered along. Gilbert and several others followed them out. On getting to the spot with Sergeant Arrell he looked closely at the bodies, and recognised them without difficulty. He first went to Norah, then to Ellen, and then to Michael. He did not remain there with the bodies, but went on to Murphy’s farm, arriving there about 11 o’clock. He knocked up a pair of horses, and drove Mrs. Murphy to the place, and saw the bodies removed at about half-past 1 o’clock, the two girls being put in Murphy’s buggy and Michael in another. They were driven to Gilbert’s Hotel.
When he first went up he had a doubt about its being Norah’s body, but he made sure when he went back with Mrs. Murphy. He did not make sure when he went out with Sergeant Arrell.
Inspector Urquhart: When you say that you first went up and saw Norah you mean you saw a body, which you have since found out, was that of Norah? -Witness: Yes, I thought at first it was Ellen. Resuming, he said he had been married to Mr. Murphy’s daughter about three years.
He had never been at the farm until last June. He came down then to see his children, and stayed from Saturday until Monday. He drove down from Westbrook, and did not think he was in Gatton on that occasion. He visited the children there every fortnight for about three months.
His wife was in the Toowoomba Hospital.
After three months he brought her to Murphy’s, witness staying two or three days.
He came down every Saturday after that, staying until Monday. He came down on Christmas Eve last. Witness’s shop was at Westbrook, opposite the Experimental Farm. Michael had been working there four or five weeks.
Witness saw him sometimes of evenings, when he went to witness’s place.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you ever talk of the family then? -Witness: Well, I don’t think we did.
Resuming, he said when his wife left the hospital she was not cured, and was still in bad health.
Inspector Urquhart: You had got to see a good deal of these girls lately at Murphy’s? -Witness: Yes.
Inspector, Urquhart: Did you ever hear any trouble with sweethearts? -Witness: No.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you know if they had any young fellows paying them attention? -Witness: No.
Inspector Urquhart: Have you had any difference with any of the Murphy’s? -Witness: I had some trouble with Mrs. Murphy about the marriage, but it was all settled up.
Inspector Urquhart: About the boys and girls, how have you always been? -Witness: Very intimate friends.
Resuming, he said he had never been able to imagine any reason for the murdering of them. He had not an idea as to by whom it could possibly be done.
Inspector Urquhart: Why did you follow the wheel tracks when you were sure they were yours? -Witness: To see where they went to.
Inspector Urquhart: If there was a house there, was there any occasion to follow them? -Witness: I went to see what was keeping them. Continuing, he said he had noticed the tracks before reaching the sliprails. He saw them turning when some distance away. He did not at first know that they were his tracks. It did not appear as if the trap stopped before it turned in. It appeared as if driving home. There was no sudden turn, only the near wheel of the trap wobbled. It had been in that condition about two months. The cart had been upset. Three blacksmiths tried, but could not repair it. He had tested the wheel, and found it did not run true. The horse driven by the Murphy’s was very slow, and deaf.
Inspector Urquhart: There is one thing I would like to clear up. Why did you not examine the bodies more closely when you first went up? Witness: I cannot give any reason specially. I did not stop, but got on my horse and galloped in. I really cannot state any reason for not stopping. M'Neill, continuing, said that when he returned with Sergeant Arrell the bodies were in the same position as when he first saw them.
By the Bench: Murphy’s house is about four miles from where I found the bodies.
This concluded M'Neill's evidence, which was given in a straight-forward manner, and without any hesitation.
EVIDENCE OF DR. VON LOSSBERG
He first examined the body of Ellen Murphy, and then opened the skull, examined the different bones and membranes covering and nourishing the brain. He found that the skull was driven from the left to the right side, the brain substance protruding from a wound on the right parietal bone. All the main bones-the parietal, the occipital, and frontal bones-showed comminuted compound fractures. Shreds of membranes were hanging from the bones and the brain more in a state of pulp.
On the neck there were several marks of fingernails and ants. The hands of the girl were tied behind her back. Witness untied the hands, which showed marks of fingernails and abrasions through the eating of the ants. He proceeded to examine the lower portions of the body, and found many marks of fingernails.
The underclothing was splashed with blood. Witness then described other matters of observation, showing that the girl had been outraged.
After this examination he had asked one of the justices of the peace if anything further was required, and he said, “No.”
Mr. Urquhart: We do not want that, doctor; this is only an inquiry. -Witness: No, but I mention it to justify myself. Witness, resuming, said that the fracture on the skull and injury of the brain, caused by violence, was the cause of death.
He came to the conclusion that the girl had been dead from fourteen to sixteen hours at any rate, less than twenty-four. The injuries to the head must have been inflicted by a blunt instrument of considerable weight, probably while she was in an erect, position. She may have been standing or sitting up. An instrument of considerable weight would be required to fracture the bones as they were fractured. He was of opinion that the outrage had not been committed more than twelve or fourteen hours before. The appearance of Norah Murphy’s head was much the same as that of her sister, but with more blood about the skull.
All the head bones were broken, and there was great congestion of the blood vessels of the brain. The face was also in a congested state; on the right side of the eye there was a cut 2in. long, penetrating almost to the bone. The throat on the left side showed the impression of a hand, and above it a strap tightly buckled round the neck. The clothes from the neck to the waist were more or less torn down, and the skin showed the marks of fingernails. The hands were tied behind with a handkerchief, and were very congested, and showed marks of nails. The lower limbs were covered with bruises and abrasions. Witness gave evidence as to the outrage of this deceased also. He was of opinion that the cause of death was fracture the skull and injury to the brain caused by a blunt instrument, used with great violence. He did not make any further examination, as he considered that the answer of the justices to him in Ellen Murphy’s case was sufficient. He also examined the body of Michael Murphy. The skull was broken into fourteen or sixteen small pieces, some quite detached from the membranes. There was a large patch of blood about 4in. by 3in. behind the right ear, extending to the neck. It was a thin, layer, and quite dark. On cleaning this away he noticed a wound, which he thought, was caused by a bullet. On internal examination he found a channel to the base of the skull, which, in his opinion, was caused by a bullet. He looked for the bullet for a considerable time, but was hindered by bone splinters. Witness felt the effects of blood poisoning, and desisted from the examination. He stated positively that a bullet was in the head, but no exit.
This was said to everyone in the room Sergeant Arrell, Mr. M’Neill, Mr. Wiggins, and others. The arms of the man were bent backwards, but not tied, and a purse was loose in one of the hands, and a strap between the hands. There were no marks of tying on the hands. The cause of death in Michael Murphy’s case was a shot from a bullet. He had that opinion at the time but he did not mention it, but wrote it down in the Police Magistrate’s office at Ipswich on 28th December. On the 4th January, after the second post-mortem examination, he expressed his opinion also.
Inspector Urquhart: You kept it to spring it on us as a surprise. Witness: Oh, no. I regarded the matter as private, and kept my lips sealed.
He only used his finger to probe the wound; no instrumental probe. He did not know that he would be required to make a post mortem.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you try to get a probe here? -Witness: I am not acquainted with the blacksmiths and others here.
Inspector Urquhart: No, but you are acquainted with the chemist? -Witness: He has not got a probe. Had there been a medical man here I would have asked him for one.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you ask the chemist for one? -Witness: No, he was probing with his finger himself. A probe is not necessary, to search the brain for a bullet.
Mr. Urquhart: Do I understand, doctor, that this is the first time you have publicly expressed your opinion as to the cause of Michael Murphy’s death? -Witness: I wrote it down on 28th December, but never expressed it until 4th January.
Inspector Urquhart: Call Richard Burgess.
EXAMINATION OF RICHARD BURGESS.
Inspector Urquhart: Have you ever been known by any other name than Burgess? -Witness: Very likely. I go by any name you like.
Inspector Urquhart: Could you tell us a few of them? -Witness: No; I never mention names.
Inspector Urquhart: Forgotten? -Witness. Forgotten. Witness then stated that he had never been in the Ipswich Hospital; he had been at Kilkivan (this with a smile), but he had forgotten what names he had used there.
Inspector. You were in trouble a while ago, were you not, Burgess? Witness. I am always in trouble; I never know when I am out if it. Witness said that he had been released from gaol on the 30th November. He worked at anything he could get, but shearing was his best line. After leaving gaol he came straight away from Brisbane, and did a couple of days’ work for a farmer named O’Brien, about ten miles from Toowong. From there he went over a gap in the range. It took a week or two to get from O’Brien’s place to the gap. He did not stay, because the wages were too low. He walked all the way to the gap, but did not get any wages between there and O'Brien's. He did not pass through Gatton, but through Mount Walker. He got tucker where he could. If he did not get work he could get tucker. He could not say who the people were. He went over the divide at the gap, and got hack from Allora to Helidon before he pulled up. The police pulled him up at Dalby. He only knew a few people at Helidon by eyesight. He did not know Peter Healy. He got to Helidon about 29th December. Was not in the town, but about a mile or two out. He did not go to the Salvation Army Home, but stayed at Toowong. He believed that the Salvation Army captain said be stayed at the home, but he was mistaken.
O’Brien’s farm was on the old Ipswich road from Toowong, on the other side of the river from Gatton. When be left O’Brien’s the first place he struck was the quarries. He was in North Ipswich. Did not pick up a mate. Was by himself, all the time. Asked for a job at any place he thought he could get employment.
At North Ipswich did not get anything to do, and saw no one he knew. He made no purchases there, “no silk pocket-handkerchiefs or anything else.” He was not hard-up for clothes. He had not to buy any more. It was no use trying to buy, as he had no capital. He had a few "bob" when he came out. He left O’Brien without notice. “I left him that little bit of capital to himself,” said witness. He got a new shirt when he left St. Helena. With the exception of that he had only his old clothes.
Inspector Urquhart: About the boots. What were they like? Witness: Elastic-sides. They were right enough.
Inspector Urquhart: They do not stand very well? -Witness: They wore out with me.
Inspector Urquhart: And you had to get more. Did you get another pair of elastic sides? -Witness: No.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you get them at The Gap or North Ipswich? -Witness: At neither place. I got them at Killarney before Christmas. I do not know the name of the owner of the store. It was a big store.
Inspector Urquhart: I suppose you threw the old boots away? -Witness: I suppose they are planted there.
Inspector Urquhart: How far away did you plant them? -Witness: I cannot say. Some other swagman must have picked them up. They are a mystery, anyway.
Inspector Urquhart: Were they quite worn out? -Witness: They were done.
Inspector Urquhart: What did you pay for the new ones? -Witness: About 7 shillings.
Inspector Urquhart: Where did you get the money? -Witness: I earned it.
Inspector Urquhart: Do you remember where? -Witness: I earned it through going out prospecting with the schoolmaster at Killarney, Mr. Mattingley. Witness, resuming, said that they went prospecting just before Christmas; a long time before he came to Helidon. He wore the elastic-side boots before he got into gaol. He had nothing else to help them out. He spent Christmas Day partly at a selector’s place, but did not stop for
Inspector Urquhart: Did he ask your name? -Witness: No, he was not so inquisitive as all that.
Inspector Urquhart: When did you get to the selector’s place? Witness: The night before Christmas Day.
Inspector Urquhart: And camped there? -Witness: Yes.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you turn up to breakfast? -Witness: Yes. Witness said that after leaving that selector’s place he started for Clifton, but did not arrive there. He camped on the road. That was Christmas night. The selector said he had a daughter a barmaid at Allora. Did not remember where he was on the night before Christmas Eve. On Boxing Day he went on towards Toowoomba, travelling all day across country.
Could not tell where he was that night.
Could not tell much until three days after Christmas. There was a gap between Christmas and the 29th, which he could not account for; he camped out every night.
He was never in Gatton before, but had been out on the Laidley-road. Never called in the town, as the people were no good to him. Did not know what was the first public holiday after he left St. Helena. He had been travelling four or five days before getting to North Ipswich, including the two days at O’Brien’s. He did not go back again; kept straight on. Knew a man named Crotty outside Helidon, but never worked for him. It was a good bit ago that he first made his acquaintance, three or four years. Crotty did not know him except by eyesight. He never made acquaintances. He had no friends, and never looked for them; but had plenty of enemies. Could not say if he had ever been at Tent Hill; or he did not know the place by that name. Knew Flagstone Creek, and came down that way from the Range.
Inspector Urquhart: It will save a lot of trouble, Burgess, if you tell me where you were on the 26th December. Witness: I can only say what I told you: that I called at a selector’s place outside Clifton.
Inspector Urquhart: Was that the place you ran away from when you saw a man riding up? Witness: No; I didn’t do that caper that I remember. Witness, resuming, said that the man whose place he called at near Clifton had a "stammer" in his speech. Did not ask for tucker.
Inspector Urquhart: You do that sometimes? Witness: Either do that or steal, and it’s better to ask for it. Witness, resuming, said he could give anyone who knew the place directions to find it, and he could go straight there himself. That was the 26th. On the morning of the 27th he got something to eat from a woman four or five miles from there. He had accounted for the 25th, 26th, or
27th; 25th was a Sunday. Some instinct told him that. He was not quite sure, as his head was not altogether an almanac. He had spoken of the Gatton murders. He first heard of them near Helidon. He heard from a man who was leading a stallion.
Inspector Urquhart: That’s all I wish to ask the witness, your worship.
THE DETECTIVES BAFFLED.
Burgess, who was sentenced in Toowoomba to two months' in Brisbane Gaol for vagrancy, was brought to Brisbane by train on the 28th January, and safely lodged in Boggo Road Gaol.
The public were not aware of the intention to bring him down, consequently there was no demonstration. 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.
It is understood that the magisterial inquiry into the Gatton tragedy will be resumed in a few days.
There is an impression that recent investigations have not strengthened the theory with respect to the crimes having been committed by one person.
The Commissioner of Police, Inspector Urquhart, and Sub-inspector White held a consultation with respect to the case on Wednesday.
The inquiry into the deaths of Michael, Norah, and Helen Murphy on the night of 26th December last, which had been adjourned from 24th January, was continued this morning, before Mr. A. H. Warner-Shand, Acting Police Magistrate at Ipswich. The examination of witnesses was conducted by Inspector Urquhart, who had been in charge of the case all along. There was very little local interest in the inquiry, only a few persons being present at the court-house. Included in the number, however, was M'Neill, who, with others, occupied a position up to lunch time on a raised platform outside the court-house door. To this, however, the Police Magistrate objected on the court resuming after lunch, and M'Neill and the others then came inside the room.
The former sat on the floor, near the door.
The commencement of the inquiry was delayed through the failure of Mr. and Mrs. Murphy to attend. They were to have been the first witnesses; but as they had not appeared up to 11 o'clock it was decided to begin with Thomas Wilson, a blacksmith, who, in addition, is a justice of the peace.
Thomas Wilson, a blacksmith, of Gatton, deposed to M'Neill's arrival at the Brian Boru Hotel at half-past 9 o'clock on the morning of the 27th December, and announcing that the three Murphy’s were lying dead in a paddock. He accompanied the party to the scene. He saw wheel tracks turning into the paddock, the sliprails lying across the opening. He thought the wheels went over the rails, and that there was a break in the tracks in consequence; but he did not look closely. The witness was pressed on the point, Inspector Urquhart explaining that it was important, but he would not swear definitely. He explained that he found the girl Norah lying on a rug with her skull broken in, and her hands tied behind her back. There was no appearance of a struggle. He described also the position of the brother and the other sister. He said Norah's hands were tied, while Michael's were behind his back, and he saw no indication that they were tied; but a strap lay over the body. Either Gilbert, one of the party, or M'Neill took the purse, which was in Michael's hands. Witness described then the position of the horse and trap.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you go to the paddock as a magistrate? Witness: Oh, no.
Inspector Urquhart: Out of curiosity, then? -Witness: No; not exactly.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you do anything? -Witness: No.
The Police Magistrate: Don't you think, as a magistrate, you ought to have taken the magisterial duties upon yourself? Witness: I did not see any particular reason.
The Police Magistrate: Not when you saw three persons had been murdered? The witness, continuing, said he saw no signs of a struggle or footprints. There was a blood-stained stick near Michael's head. A thorough examination was made, but there was no indication of a struggle or how many persons had been engaged in the tragedy, or how the murderers came or went. He saw signs of a horse, which had one shoe on. The tracks were freshly made and going in the direction of the sliprails.
The tracks may have been made by M'Neill's horse when he was there before.
They had not noticed what horse he was riding when he came to the hotel.
EVIDENCE DANIEL MURPHY SEN.
Mr. Shand: You tell us the only person up when you went to bed was your wife, and you say you heard M'Neill going to his room when you were saying your prayers. Witness: I don't go to bed till a long time after I say my prayers.
Inspector Urquhart: Was there any one else in the house? -Witness: Yes, my son Will.
Inspector Urquhart: How do you know it was not his footsteps? -Witness: I know it was M'Neill.
Inspector Urquhart: You heard footsteps, but you don't know whose they were? -Witness: I know they were M'Neill's. Continuing, he said that next morning he was the first to rise, and all the others followed. He could not say whether there were any horses in the house paddock.
There were no horses in the yard when he went to bed. He did not know who brought up the horse that was put in the sulky.
It was usual, when a horse was wanted from the out paddock, to ride after it.
After the vehicle left he went to his room, and said his prayers, and, as usual, smoked on the veranda. He saw no one but his wife, who was seated in the sitting-room.
He remained on the veranda about an hour, and when he came in his wife was still there. His prayers took him about an hour. While on the veranda he neither saw nor heard anything. The last time he remembered seeing M'Neill that night was when the cart left; but he heard him walking about. He would swear this was M'Neill. The next up in the morning after Will was M’Neill; that was after 6 o'clock. He noticed that the trap was not in the yard, and informed his wife, who looked in the girls' room, and found they were not there. While he was having his breakfast M'Neill asked him if it was the usual thing for them to stop out like that. He said No. There was no talk of anything serious happening to them. Witness thought they might have remained at Chadwick's, or that the trap had broken down. It was at breakfast that it was first suggested that some one should look for them. M'Neill said he would go and get a horse to go and meet them, to see if the trap had broken down. He did not hear Mrs. Murphy urge M'Neill to go. After breakfast witness went to work, and M'Neill passed him on the way. About 10 o clock his son Will came, and informed him that the three children had been murdered. Witness asked if they were shot, and he said he did not know. His son further said M'Neill came out and told him. Witness and his son went home. Mrs. M'Neill was at the house. She was at the time ill, but she could be taken about. She was at Mount Sylvia Races on Boxing Day. Prior to that she had been staying at witness's place about four months, during about two months of which Michael was at the College. He was at home for a while, and then went to the experimental farm at Westbrook, where he remained about five weeks. He arrived home on Christmas Eve. M'Neill came the same day from his own place, near, Westbrook, and brought some presents-a bridle and a whip, he thought. M'Neill was very good friends with the girls, and also especially with Michael. They had always been on good terms.
Inspector Urquhart: Then is there any reason for people to say he was on bad terms with any of them-that you know of? -Once the mother was angry with the daughter because she and M'Neill went and got married in one church and not the other; but that was between her and the daughter.
Inspector Urquhart: Was there any person who had any ill-feeling against those three children of yours? -I don't know of anyone. I could not pick out one more than another.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you know a man named MacKenzie in this district? - No.
Inspector Urquhart: Look back over your past life, and see if you can remember any enemy that you had? - I know of none.
Inspector Urquhart: If you knew who did the deed, would you have any hesitation in giving him up? -Witness (emphatically): It doesn't matter if he was the highest man in the land, I would bring him up just the same as a poor man-it doesn't matter if it was the King of England. They broke my heart, they did. Continuing, witness said he knew Mrs. Cook, postmistress at Lower Tent Hill. She had two girls named Georgina and May, both of whom died. They were friendly with his girls. About twelve months before Christmas, soon after the Cook girls died, he remembered some one reading to him something about the Cook girls. It was said by Katie that it was a newspaper clipping; it was placed upon the dresser; but he did not know what became of it. He presumed his (witness's) whip was taken in the sulky when Michael and the girls left in the sulky, for he had never seen it since. No one in the house had a revolver. The girls had never complained of having been threatened. His son Michael was out West as a special constable for about ten months during the strike. He never spoke of the men out there having a "down" on him. Had he met with any trouble he would have told him. Michael was a strong active man, but he had never learnt boxing or wrestling.
Inspector Urquhart: At the present time you have no suspicion of anyone, Mr. Murphy? -No.
Inspector Urquhart: You have told us everything you know? -Yes.
Inspector Urquhart: And you have concealed nothing? -I only wish to God I knew the parties that did it. Continuing, he said he believed that Michael's horse had shoes on when he came down; but the shoes were pulled off by his sons and M'Neill before the murder was committed.
He didn't know if M'Neill's horse was shod.
None of his (witness's) horses were ever shod. Witness and some of his sons smoked; Michael and M'Neill did not. Witness never used a piece of paper to stop his pipe up. Witness had a contract with the Agricultural College, and he had received letters from the college. When M'Neill went to look for the young people that morning he rode Norah's horse; but witness could not say if it was shod; he did not think so.
EVIDENCE MARY MURPHY.
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 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, 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. 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.
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. It was then (just before 5 o'clock) decided to adjourn till 10 o'clock the following morning, when Mrs. Murphy's evidence will be continued.
There are altogether about twenty witnesses to be examined, and the inquiry is, therefore, not expected to conclude before the end of the week. Included in the number is Mrs. M'Neill, who did not attend to-day.
The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Parry-Okeden, attended at the inquiry towards the close. Up to the present 161 sheets of depositions have been taken, which include seventy-one of to-day's proceedings.
The Inquiry into the murder of Michael, Norah, and Helen Murphy on the night of 26th December was continued this morning, before Mr. A. H. Warner-Shand, acting Police Magistrate. Inspector Urquhart conducted the examination. Only two or three persons other than those officially engaged were present in the morning: but more came in the afternoon. The progress was slow, and the evidence given was largely corroborative of that previously reported in regard to the home life of the Murphy family.
EVIDENCE MARY MURPHY
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: 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."
Kate Murphy, 13 years of age, a daughter of the last witness, deposed that before the party went to Mount Sylvia races she heard Pat tell Norah to be ready to go to a dance at Gatton in the evening.
The court then adjourned till 2.30 o'clock. On the court resuming after lunch, Inspector Urquhart said: There was a witness in this case-Mrs. M'Neill-whom I intended to call after Katie Murphy, at present under examination, had concluded her evidence.
She was served with a subpoena on the 4th instant, and the original of the summons is here, endorsed by the constable who served it.
On Monday she did not appear. I was informed that the father and mother-that is, Mr. and Mrs. Murphy-were at home when the summons was served, and said she was perfectly well able to attend the court, and would come in. But it appears M'Neill came on the scene, and would not allow her to come, as she was not well enough. I saw M'Neill yesterday, and he said his wife was unable to come, as she was suffering very much from dysentery.
I advised M'Neill to have her here. This morning, I learn, M'Neill drove his wife over to Grantham, and took her to Toowoomba. Here is the subpoena.
The Police Magistrate: It appears she was to have been here yesterday.
Inspector Urquhart: Yes; she was not exactly called.
The Police Magistrate. She was not here yesterday, and I understand the excuse was she was not well? -Inspector Urquhart: That was the excuse of her husband.
The Police Magistrate: If she was not well enough to come here yesterday, it is strange she was well enough to go to Toowoomba to-day. I am very much surprised that any member of the Murphy family should act in this manner. It is their duty to give the police every assistance in their power to find out the murderers of the children. I don’t want to take any harsh measures. I suppose you know where she is?
The Police Magistrate: You can let her know she must attend here by 2 o'clock on Thursday afternoon. The matter can hang over till then. If she does not appear then I can take action to make her come.
Katie Murphy then continued her evidence. She stated that Norah did not wish to go to the dance, as one of the children would cry after her. M'Neill told her to go, and that he would look after the little girl. Towards 9 o'clock she saw M'Neill go to his room, and heard him moving about afterwards.
James Skinner, a carter, of Gatton, deposed to cutting up the carcass of the horse on 27th December, and removing it to Clark's butcher's shop to be boiled down. The next day, he said, he found on the scene of the tragedy an empty cartridge case, covered with blood, near where the horse had been lying.
The Inquiry was adjourned till 10 o'clock the following morning.
Up to the present five witnesses have been examined. It is said there are still about twenty to be examined, more having been subpoenaed since the inquiry began.
The inquiry into the Gatton tragedy was continued to-day. Mrs. Murphy deposed that she could not suggest any person who was likely to have committed the murders. She knew no one who had a grudge against the family, and could not give any clue, nor could she say anyone was suspected by the family.
EVIDENCE KATIE MURPHY
The Inquiry concerning the Gatton murder was resumed to-day.
Inspector Urquhart stated in reference to Mrs. M'Neill, who was summoned to give evidence, that he had received a letter from Mr. Wonderley, solicitor, Toowoomba, enclosing a medical certificate stating that she was not in a fit condition to undergo public examination.
The magistrate said that the matter could stand over for a day or two.
Inspector Urquhart: These people are giving too much trouble. They know they have to be here to-day.
The Police Magistrate: It is not nice for the family to treat the inquiry in this way.
They should do all in their power to assist the police.
William Murphy gave evidence of the attendance of his brother and sisters at the Mount Sylvia races on Boxing Day, and also in regard to the movements of the members of the family on the same night. To the best of his knowledge no one left the house that night after his brother and sisters went to the dance.
After witness had been questioned about what M'Neill said when he returned from Gatton, Inspector Urquhart, addressing him, said: "Don't treat this in such a cruel way. Be careful; tell exactly what was said."
The Police Magistrate: I cannot understand why you people do not recognise the gravity of the matter. You give answers in a haphazard way, and sometimes give answers before questions are put.
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.
On the opening of the courtroom, Inspector Urquhart said, in reference to Mrs. M'Neill, about whom he had made a statement on the previous day, that he had received a letter from Mr. Wonderley, solicitor, Toowoomba, enclosing a certificate, signed by Dr. M'Donnell, certifying that the lady was not in a fit condition to undergo any public examination.
The Police Magistrate said the matter could stand over for a day or two to see what arrangements could be made. John Murphy was called, but did not answer.
Inspector Urquhart: These people are giving too much trouble. They know they have to be here from day to day.
EVIDENCE WILLIAM MURPHY
The Police Magistrate remarked that it was not nice for the family to treat the inquiry in this way, as they should do all they could do to assist the police.
The witness deposed to Norah and Helen going to the races on Boxing Day.
Men named Will Connolly, John Tracey, and Robert Smith spoke to them there, but no mention in his hearing was made by any of them of a dance at Gatton the same night. Michael informed him he was going home early to go to the dance, but witness could not say where M'Neill was at that time.
Witness rode home with Helen, and asked her if she was going to the dance. She replied she did not know. They got home at half past 6 o'clock, and turned the horses in the yard. M'Neill was in the house after the girls and Michael went to the dance at Gatton. A little before 9 o'clock witness went to the yard and turned all the horses out into a grass paddock containing about 100 acres.
None of the horses were shod. Coming in afterwards he saw his father and mother and M'Neill in the sitting-room. M'Neill went to his bedroom at 9 o'clock, and witness went to the kitchen to assist Katie. From where he was he could see any one leaving the front door. He certainly heard no one. Witness went to bed about ten minutes to 10 o'clock.
His bed lay along a partition on the opposite side of which was a bed occupied by M'Neill. During the night he heard nothing but M'Neill's snores before he (witness) went to sleep. He did not see who it was snoring, but he thought it was M'Neill. He could not swear positively. Witness rose about 5.30.
He came out by the back door, but did not notice any boots lying about. The saddles were kept in the harness-room. None were around the place.
After the witness had been questioned about what M’Neill said when he returned from Gatton, Inspector Urquhart addressed him, saying, "Don't treat this in such a casual way. Be careful to tell exactly what was said."
The Police Magistrate: I cannot understand why you people don't recognise the gravity of the matter. You give answers in a haphazard way, and sometimes give the answers before the questions are put.
The court then adjourned for lunch.
Witness, continuing, said when M'Neill came up after discovering the bodies he was much excited. Witness asked if all were dead, and he replied, "Yes: it is something terrible." Witness went in to his mother; but he could not remember what she said when she was told.
Inspector Urquhart: Have you ever been in court before? -This is the first time in my life.
Inspector Urquhart: I thought so. It is quite possible, your worship, that the witness does not clearly understand what is required of him. Although I do not exactly hit the mark in my questions, he is bound to keep nothing back, but to give all the information he possesses.
The Police Magistrate: Yes; tell all you can. -Witness: I will tell you whatever comes into my mind. Continuing, after repeated questioning, he said be remembered his mother saying, "Oh, my God, my poor children!" Arrangements were made to proceed to the scene of the tragedy. He (witness) went in the meantime to fetch his father, who was at the farm, and who asked what was the matter. Witness replied that Norah, Helen, and Mike had been murdered. Murphy, senior, then asked if they had been shot, and when told the facts he said he was glad they had attended their church on the Sunday. He also asked if Bill (meaning M'Neill) had brought the news.
Inspector Urquhart: Did your father know that M'Neill had gone to look for the children? -Yes.
The Police Magistrate: You said before that you went over to cut chaff in the morning, and that your father had then gone.
Inspector Urquhart: You said M'Neill arranged with your mother to go after your father had gone. I want you to get your mind clear, and not say things that contradict each other. As a matter of fact, you really don't know whether your father knew M'Neill had gone to look for them or not? -I could not be certain.
Do you know whether he knew or not? -I would not be certain.
Inspector Urquhart: Then you don't know? Try to make us clear. -I could not be certain. Witness, continuing, said neither he nor his father on the way home spoke of the probable culprit. He (William) tried to pacify Mrs. M'Neill. She was calling out the names of the three deceased, but no other. He and others proceeded to the scene of the tragedy. M'Neill was there, but witness could not remember anything he said.
The bodies were removed to Gilbert's Hotel about half-past 2. After visiting several places witness went home, and saw Mrs. M'Neill sitting with several women. She appeared to be calm. Since then she had been living with the Murphy family until the previous day. Her health had been "middling." She always commenced to weep when the tragedy was mentioned to her.
Inspector Urquhart: I don't want you to say you don't remember. If you ever heard, anything of the kind you must remember. I don't want you to mention any names. I want a straightforward answer yes or no, if you ever, at any time, heard any member of your family say they suspected anyone of committing this crime? -No.
You never heard? -No.
Do you, yourself, suspect anyone? -No.
Have you ever suspected anybody? -No.
Has Pat, your brother, ever told you he suspected anybody? -No.
Have you ever had any conversation with Pat about the murder? -Yes, on several occasions.
Did he ever tell you he went anywhere to look at anything in reference to the crime? -No.
Did you ever see him do so? -No.
Have you any opinion whatever as to who is the guilty party? -No.
Has Pat? -No.
Not that you have heard him say? -No.
Did Pat ever tell you that at one time he suspected somebody and that afterwards he didn’t? -No.
Did your- mother ever suspect anyone? -No.
Or your father? -No.
Has your father ever said anything about who murdered his innocent children? -No.
Have you ever heard of it? -No. Witness, continuing, said he never heard of Norah, Helen, or Michael having any sweethearts. The girls never, to his knowledge, went to the paddock to catch their own horses.
The Police Magistrate: Have you always worked on your father's farm? -No; I was for two years at the Agricultural College. Witness, continuing, said he knew a man known as "Stuttering Billy Ryan," and also his daughter, Kate. Michael also knew her.
Inspector Urquhart: Do you remember when that girl was at Hyde's, at Dungar? -Yes.
Did Michael ever go to see her? -I could not say.
Did you ever go up there yourself? -No.
Were there any other girls there besides Kate Ryan? -I could not say.
Did you ever hear Michael was Kate Ryan's boy? -I don't think I did.
Did you ever see her and Michael together? -Yes, once; at our place.
Only on that- occasion? -Yes.
Did he see her home? -I am not sure. Witness, continuing, said, he heard from Jerry about M'Neill's house being burnt down, but that he (Jerry) did not know whether it was insured or not.
Inspector Urquhart: Did Michael and M'Neill ever have any disagreement, as far as you know? -No.
Was M'Neill on good terms with all of you? -Yes.
Was your mother afraid of anyone in Gatton? -No.
Did she ever ask for protection against anyone? -I believe she did on one occasion. You need not answer names. You -believe she asked for protection against one man.
How long ago? -Four or five years.
Was that on account of one of the girls? -Yes.
Do you know of any quarrel or dispute that any member of your family ever had with anybody? -Yes; the eldest sister (Mrs. M'Neill) had with her father before she married M'Neill. There was bitter feeling on the father's side.
Do you know whether that feeling on his part continues? -I don't know.
Was M'Neill aware of it? -No; but he knows since, because he asked me when the ill-feeling occurred.
Have you Murphy's gone about the country and made any attempt by yourselves to find out who committed these murders? -No.
M'Neill did, didn't he? -Yes.
Did he ever ask any of you to join him? -No.
Did your father ever try to urge you to see what you could do? -No.
At the first, did you ever offer to lend the police any horses, or help them? -No.
Did you ever hear we were hiring horses? -I believe I did on one occasion.
How many horses had you on the place? -About twenty horses, of which seven are draught. Witness, continuing, deposed that a few weeks before Christmas Helen came in to a dance, being driven in the little trap by M'Neill. Jerry came in to the same dance and drove her home. He could not say when M'Neill came back, and he did not know what time Helen got home. He did not know if any of the victims had ever been in Moran's paddock before. He did not know of any fencing being done for the Moran's. Once, six years ago, witness, his brother Michael, his father, and Bill Marsh had a road contract on the Tent Hill road, opposite the sliprails. Several of them went into a hut in Moran's paddock to seek shelter from a storm.
This concluded William Murphy's examination, and the court was adjourned till 10 o'clock the following morning, when the evidence of John Murphy, another son, will be taken. Up to the present 300 pages of foolscap have been used in taking depositions. Of these, seventy-three were written to-day.
There was an almost entire absence of local interest in the inquiry, as there were only a few stragglers at odd times who put in an appearance at the court-house. William Murphy, whose examination took the whole day, makes the sixth witness finished with.
Sergeant Arrell, who is to be called, is expected to take over a day, so that there is not the slightest doubt of the inquiry extending well into next week.
There will be no evidence taken on Saturday and Monday, as the courtroom is needed in connection with the election.
It is understood some interesting facts will come out before the end of the inquiry; but at what stage is not clear.
Detective Carew left for Helidon on Tuesday morning, and was afterwards ordered on to Toowoomba.
A party visited the scene of the tragedy this morning.
Notwithstanding the lapse of time the bloodstains at the spot where the bodies of Helen and Michael were found were plainly visible.
There is a well-defined track made by the number of vehicles that have been taken through the paddock to the scene.
At the present time, however, such traffic has almost, if not entirely, ceased.
On the resumption of the inquiry to-day into the late murders.
Inspector Urquhart: It is absurd the way in which we have to get things out of you. -Witness: "I cannot remember things so long ago." Continuing, he deposed to the party going to the Mount Sylvia races on Boxing Day, and was asked several questions about the positions of the different parties there. To some of these the answers were, "I am not sure," and "I don't remember.”
Inspector Urquhart: I am not asking these questions just to get them down. I am asking them with an object. I want to know the true state of affairs that day. -Witness (continuing) said that of all the men spoken to on the course that day none mentioned the dance. Helen returned from the races with her brother William, and M'Neill with his wife. There was some talk about tea time of the dance in Gatton, Michael asking the girls if they were coming. Pat also mentioned the fact of there being a dance. M'Neill helped Michael to harness the horse to the trap. Witness did not see the deceased depart in the sulky. He went away to Tent Hill, and returned about 10.30. He did not notice that the dogs barked. He went to bed.
Inspector Urquhart: Where was M’Neill? -Witness: In his room. I would not be sure he was there. He was supposed to be.
Who supposed him to be there? -I did.
Did you think about him on that occasion? -No.
Now, as a matter of fact, you don't know whether he was there? -No. Continuing, witness said he went to sleep almost immediately, and did not hear a snore, a laugh, or any one speaking. In coming home that night he passed within fifty yards of the house paddock. There was an entire horse usually in the stable. He was quiet, and could be ridden, but was never used except to run up another horse. He never noticed if the stallion was in the stable that night.
He saw the animal the next morning, but did not notice anything different. After returning from Tent Hill on Boxing Night he did not strike a light, and never saw boots then or the next morning. He never knew any of the victims to have a row with any one. His mother had trouble with Mrs. M'Neill a couple of years ago about her marriage. He thought it was over her getting married in the English Church.
Inspector Urquhart: Was it about the Church she was married in or the man she married? -Witness: The Church she was married in. Continuing, he said his mother had trouble with Tom Ryan about Mrs. M'Neill's marriage to M'Neill.
The father had nothing to do with the row.
Inspector Urquhart: Do you know Tom Ryan? -Yes.
Are you friendly with him? -I speak to him when I see him.
Did your mother ever become friendly with Tom Ryan again? -I do not know.
Have you ever heard of your brothers suspecting any one? -No.
What is your opinion? -I think it was done by some one who did not know the victims. Continuing, witness said that neither his father, mother, nor brother Pat had expressed suspicions of anyone. Dan, who was formerly in the police, left because he wished to stay at home with his parents on account of the failure to discover the murderers. Dan tried hard to find the perpetrators, and had helped the police as much as possible under the circumstances, but stayed at home with his father mostly. Neither witness nor the other brothers did anything. He knew the brothers Foster, who used to come to dances. These dances ceased, not because of trouble over them, but because of the young men becoming apathetic.
Inspector Urquhart: You have no suspicions? -No.
Can you assign no reason for any one making an attack on your brother and sisters? -No.
Had you any firearms at your place? -We had an old gun, but it was no use.
Was one of the Foster boys sweet on your sister Helen, or Norah? -No.
Suppose he says he was? -He might be in his own mind.
Was it not on account of something of this sort that the dances were put a stop to? -No.
EVIDENCE JEREMIAH MURPHY
Witness went to the Mount Sylvia dance on Boxing Night. After passing Logan's, and between there and Bannerman's, where the dance was held, he did not see a loose horse with the saddle on. He didn't see Con. O'Brien at the dance, and didn't hear anything of the other dance at Gatton. He left the dance about 3 o'clock, and reached home as day was breaking. He did not see anyone between Barlow's and his father's place. When he reached home he did not see the pony that was usually running about the premises. This beast was not easy to catch when it had been out for some time. The horse could have been there, without witness having seen it. There was one dog about the place. Witness took off his saddle, put it on the veranda, and let the horse go.
He did not go to the harness room.
He went to bed, and on awaking about 6 o'clock he found a man named Robert Smith had come into his room and gone to bed.
He proceeded with his milking, Jack passing the remark that the girls had not come home from the dance. Before they finished, M'Neill came over and said it was a funny thing they (meaning Norah, Helen, and Michael) had not come home from the dance, and that they must have had a smash up. He also said some one ought to go in after them. Witness said, “they may have stopped in at Walker's place.” They had never stopped at Walker's before; but he thought the trap might have broken down, and they had remained there while it was being repaired. He and his brother then had breakfast. Afterwards he did not see M'Neill about; but after 9 o'clock, when they were chaff cutting, M'Neill rode up, looking bad. Bob Smith came and said they had been murdered in a paddock near Gatton. Witness knew M'Neill had gone into town, but could not say who told him. Smith also said Bill (meaning M'Neill) had found them. They then went towards the house, and met M’Neill coming out to them.
M'Neill said to William, "My God, Bill, such a mess you never saw in all your life. He also said their hands were tied behind their backs, and their heads bashed in, in a paddock at Gatton." He could not remember what was also said.
Inspector Urquhart: Try and remember, Murphy, because this is of great consequence to everybody? -I don't remember who he said found them.
Did he tell you he heard the news in Gatton? -I don't remember him saying anything.
Did you ask him for any details? -I didn’t ask him.
Did your brothers? -I didn't hear them, if they did.
The Police Magistrate: Did you get any information afterwards-when you cooled down-say, in two or three days? -I don't remember.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you ask him whether anybody was with the bodies? -No.
Did your brothers? -I didn't hear them. Didn’t ask any question whatever? -No.
Did your mother say anything before she left to go to the scene of the murder? -She said, " Whoever did it didn't mean it for my children."
Did you see Mrs. M'Neill that day? -Yes.
Do you remember anything she said? -No.
Have you always a blank memory like this? -It is not bad, but I cannot remember at a time like this. It is just the time you ought to remember.
Did you and your brothers remain at home all that day? -Yes.
You didn't get your horses and go about looking? -No.
You know the country well, and so do your brothers? -Yes.
Nothing wrong with you that morning, was there? -No.
Well, don't you know that the men who did that crime could not be very far away by that time? -No answer.
Didn’t somebody suggest you should make a push in some direction? -No.
Did you think of it yourself? -No, I didn’t.
Did you know how many policemen there were at Gatton at the time? -Yes.
How many? -Two.
You know there were no more? -Yes.
The Police Magistrate: Are you not in the Mounted Infantry? -Yes.
The Police Magistrate: Didn't it strike you to go to your comrades and ask them to help you? -No.
The Police Magistrate: That is what you should have done. -They could think of it themselves. I had enough to think of.
The Police Magistrate: You heard of it first; they probably didn't hear of it till next day.
Inspector Urquhart: It is simply a fact that you stayed at home that day, and did nothing at all? -I stayed at home with my sister, Mrs. M'Neill.
But there were others there? -They were strangers.
Surely some of you could have got away? -There was myself. Jack, and Pat there.
And Katie? -Yes.
When you heard of the thing, did it strike you that any particular person might have done it? -No.
Had you any suspicion? -No.
Have you since? -Yes.
The Police Magistrate: Don't give any names.
Inspector Urquhart: When your mother said it was not meant for her children, did she say who it was meant for? -No.
Have you told anyone your suspicions? -I have told a couple.
The Police Magistrate: Outside your own family? -Yes.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you tell the police? -No; but they have been told.
How do you know? -My brother Dan told them.
To which police? -I don't know.
You didn't tell me. Do you know he told somebody? -I know he told somebody.
The Police Magistrate: Did he tell you he had told somebody? -Yes.
Do your father and mother know Dan's suspicions? -Yes.
How long have they known? -Three or four weeks.
Before they gave evidence here? -I don't know. I have known that length of time.
Do you know they knew he suspected somebody? -I don't know.
Do they know Dan suspects somebody? -I don't know.
What I want to know is whether your father and mother know of your suspicions? -I don’t know.
How long have you had these suspicions? -About three weeks.
And have you taken any action in consequence of these suspicions? Have you tried to do anything? -Dan told the police, and I don't know.
You don't know whether he told the police? Have you done anything yourself? -No.
Do you know anyone who ever had quarrel with Michael? -No.
Or either of your sisters? -No.
Did you ever know of anybody who ever had a down on your mother? -No.
Or on any member of your family? -No.
Was there any jealousy or rivalry between Michael and anybody else about girls? -Not that I know of.
Do you know of any man being rejected by your sisters? -No.
And you can think of no reason for this murder? -No; I cannot. None at all.
When M'Neill came to you at the hayshed was he wearing the same clothes as the day before when at the Mount Sylvia races? -I don't know; I didn't notice.
Was he wearing the same coat? -I don't know.
Did you notice his hat? Does he wear a straw hat? -He wears a straw hat now.
Did he then? -I think he did. Did he own any other kind of hat? -That was the only one he had at our place.
Did you boys have other kinds of hats? -Yes.
Were they about the place? -Yes.
Witness, continuing, said he did not see any tramps about the place for some weeks before Christmas. The family did not keep any firearms about the place, while he had never seen M'Neill with any. He had never seen any writing like that shown him.
EVIDENCE JAMES PORTLEY
He found the articles near an ironbark tree, on the right hand side of the track from the sliprails to the scene of the murder, and about 33½ chains from the scene. He subsequently went to the paddock with Inspector Urquhart and two trackers, but did not then find anything else.
EVIDENCE CHARLES DREW
The inquiry was then adjourned till the following day, when the first witness will be Dan. Murphy, jun., who is expected to take some time.
Nine witnesses have now been examined since the inquiry was reopened. Two more subpoenas were issued this afternoon, so it is estimated that there are still at least fourteen witnesses to be examined, while some of the others are to be recalled.
The progress made to-day was more satisfactory than on previous days, owing to the witnesses being more ready in answering. There were only one or two persons present at odd times during the day. The writing shown to Jeremiah Murphy was not available for the Press; but the newspaper clipping was shown.
It is a memorial notice of "Edith May Cook, who died at Tent Hill, Gatton, 27th December, 1896, aged l8 years." There is a second notice of the same young lady, a piece of poetry following each.
At the resumption of the enquiry into the Gatton tragedy, to-day.
Witness left the races for home at six o'clock.
Ellen came home with William Murphy. M'Neill came away with his wife.
M’Neill and Michael harnessed the horse. Witness did not know whether they took the whip with them. After the departure of the deceased witness left his home for Tent Hill. He returned at 10.30. He did not think the dogs went to Tent Hill with him, but he did not remember hearing them bark on reaching home. He could not be sure whether M’Neill was in his room, but he was supposed to he there.
Inspector Urquhart closely questioned witness as to his personal suspicions, but elicited nothing of importance.
Inspector Urquhart at one time said: "It is absurd the way in which we have to drag things out of you." Witness: I cannot remember things so long back.
Inspector Urquhart; Do you suspect anyone? Witness- Yes. Witness, continuing, said he was not aware if M’Neill wore the same clothes on the 27th as on Boxing Day.
The inquiry was adjourned till the next day.
EVIDENCE MRS. MARGARET CARROLL
The Police Magistrate: You have been called, and you must tell what you can.
Before they got to the sliprails the three Murphy’s, Norah, Helen, and Michael in a small dog-cart, came up, and passed them. It was bright moonlight. They had not then reached the culvert. Then, before the sliprails were reached, witness and her party passed the Murphy’s, but were in turn passed again. As they came near the sliprails she saw a man standing on the left-hand side as Murphy's cart passed him. He stood; looking after them, and then came towards witness's cart and passed it. He did not speak. He had a small parcel in his hand; it didn't shine, and she could not see what it was. She did not see his face. He wore a soft hat, which had the brim pulled down all round. She got a look at his back. She did not know the man. He continued to walk on slowly. She thought he looked at her. She had not seen the man since that she knew of.
He seemed to be a stout man, medium height, and wore dark clothes. She remembered coming to the court-house at Gatton on the 24th January last. She saw nine or ten men there, and pointed out one in that lot, saying she thought he looked like the man she saw at the sliprails. (This was Burgess.)
Inspector Urquhart: Was he the man? -I could not swear to him.
EVIDENCE JOHN CARROLL
Inspector Urquhart said he was informed by the returning officer that the court-house was required for the purpose of polling on the following day, and for counting votes on the Monday.
The Police Magistrate said he did not see why the Divisional Board Hall could not have been secured; but, as arrangements had been made, he would have to adjourn the inquiry till 10 o'clock on Tuesday morning.
Up to the present eighteen witnesses (including those at first portion of inquiry, on the 24th January) have been examined.
There remain about a dozen to give evidence.
The inquiry has now run into 466 pages of depositions.
EVIDENCE THOMAS JOSEPH RYAN
He arrived at Gatton at 11 o'clock on Christmas Day, and got drunk. He knew nothing from the afternoon till he found himself in bed on Boxing morning. He heard he had been taken home by a constable in the afternoon. He went up to the hotel to look for the horse he had on the previous night, but failed to find it.
He went home about dusk, and went to bed, and did not get up till 8 o'clock the next morning.
Inspector Urquhart: If any one says they saw you out that night, what then? -It would be a falsehood. Continuing, he said that on Boxing Day he wore black clothes and a felt hat. He did not get his horse till the following day, when Denny Coleman brought him up to the hotel in the afternoon. He heard that Paddy Dwyer had taken him on Christmas Day, and had on Boxing Day gone to the Burnside races. The horse was not shod. On Tuesday afternoon he went to reserve and got a horse, and rode out to the Five-mile. There he saw a couple of young fellows, one of whom was M’Call; the other was a stranger. He noticed nothing peculiar about them. He had not said that he had seen them jump out of the grass, and that he thought they were the murderers. He did not say they gave him a bit of fright.
He did not say one of the men was Denny Coleman; he knew different. He had known the Murphy family for about eighteen years.
Inspector Urquhart: And how long is it since you had a row with Mrs. Murphy? -We only had a bit of a row about five years ago, I think.
And what was the row about? -I had no row with her. The row was all on her part. I thought it took two to make a row.
What was the row about? -About the daughter.
What daughter? -Mrs. M'Neill.
What was the row over? -She didn't want me to go with her daughter, I expect.
Were you going with her? -Yes.
For how long? -About seven or eight years.
What do you mean by "going with her"? -Well, keeping company.
Were you engaged to her? -No.
And Mrs. Murphy objected? -Yes; that is the secret of it, as far as I could learn.
And how did you learn it? -From different people; from the daughter.
When you did see her after, Mrs. Murphy told you not to? -Oh, yes; several times.
How long is it since you last saw her to speak to? -At a funeral.
When Mrs. Murphy had the row with you about Polly Murphy-as she was then did you give her up altogether? -No; I did not.
Sent her letters? -Yes.
Who took them? -I generally posted them.
Sometimes you didn’t? -Yes.
Who took the others? -Generally the brothers and sisters.
Did Norah? -I am not sure; but I sent one by Helen.
Did you ever send any by Norah? -I don't think so.
How long did that continue? -I only remember sending one by Helen.
Did the others ever refuse to take any more? -No.
Were they in favour of your keeping company with Polly? -I always thought so.
What did Michael think of it? - I never had anything to say to Michael on the subject.
Did you ever have a long conversation with Mrs. Murphy on the subject? -Never.
Did you ever say you would have Polly in spite of all? -Not in spite of all.
What did you say? -I said when I wanted her I would not ask Mrs. Murphy.
What did she say to you? -I don't remember.
Something pretty strong? -I expect so. I didn't take any notice of her. I was writing at the time. I didn't recognise her in the matter.
Why not? -I thought the daughter was old enough to look after herself.
When did Polly give you up? -Never, so far as I am concerned.
How was it she married another man?-We stopped corresponding, I suppose.
Who stopped? -Both of us. She did, for that matter. We never had any row.
Didn't you follow Mrs. Murphy along Tent Hill road once? -No. I passed her on the day we had the row.
Where? -This side of Logan's.
You were not following her? -I was not. She might have thought I was.
Why should she think so? -I could not say.
Had you given her any reason? -No.
Did she ask anyone to protect her? -I could not say. I heard afterwards she did.
Who was it? -Jimmy Logan.
Did you see her going into the house? -I saw her going that way.
Were you going to the Murphy’s? -No.
Did you ever say you would be revenged upon her for taking Polly away from you? -No; she didn't take her away from me, so I didn't want to be revenged upon her. I didn't ask you for reasons. -I am only saying so.
Have you been friendly with the family since? -Yes, all except the old lady. I never met her.
Where were you going to when you met her? -To Burns's.
When did you first hear of the murder? -About 9 o'clock on the morning of the 27th December.
Did you go to the place? -No.
Did you go to the funeral? -Yes.
Have you any idea who committed the murder? -No.
Had you ever any? -No.
Or any suspicions? -No. If I had I would gladly give them.
Do you know any enemies the Murphy’s had? -No.
You know nearly everybody in the district? -Yes.
Is it true you ever chased Mrs. M'Neill when she was Polly Murphy, along the road on horseback? -No.
Are you quite sure about your movements on Boxing night? -Yes.
You were not more or less drunk? -No (laughing), I was not drunk on that day.
It is nothing to laugh at.
There are several persons who saw you out? -I was not out that night.
Were there any others with you in the house? -There were my father and mother.
Were they in the house? -I could not say if they were there all the time.
You are not quibbling about the night? I ask you about all night.
What time was it that you went into the house? -About 6 o'clock. I had no tea or anything.
What time did you come out next day? -About 8 o'clock.
And you say between those hours you were in the house all the time? -Yes, in my own room.
Could anyone see in your room? -Yes.
Did anyone see? -I cannot say. At 10.30 my father went to bed.
You were up then? -No, I was in bed.
That was the time your father came home drunk? -Yes.
And you struck him? -No, I did not. I did not get up.
Did you know your mother was up at 12 o'clock that night? -I could not say, I am sure.
Do you know she was out at 5 o'clock in the morning? --I expect she was. She is generally up about that time or a little after.
Will you swear you were not talking to somebody on Mortimer's (hotel) veranda at half-past 8 on Boxing Night? -Yes.
Were you out at 4 o'clock on the Tuesday morning? -No.
Before you went to Esk, had you been working on your father's farm lately? -Yes.
And what are you doing just now? -Cutting and making hay.
When was it cut? -On Tuesday. Continuing, he said no crop had previously been taken off the land this year. The crop was lucerne, but it was bare about Christmas time, owing to dry weather.
When it was bare like that it was good tracking ground? -Yes, I dare say.
Did you ever see a track in that paddock of a horse with one shoe on? -No; I never looked.
Did you ever see a footmark in the paddock? -I may have done so.
With no heel on the boot? -No, sir; I didn't notice it.
Making across the paddock to the creek? -No.
Did you see where a panel of the fence had been taken down and put up again?-No. The horses and cattle are taken down through the sliprails to water.
Did you take them down? -Yes.
Were you there on Boxing Day? – No.
Were you there the day after Boxing Day? -No.
When were you there? -I could not remember.
Did you pass the farm on the day after Boxing Day? -Yes; three times.
Was anyone there? -Yes a relative of Dick King, of Spring Creek.
Do you keep any spare clothes at the farm? --No, unless it is a pair of boots.
What time did you go to bed on Boxing Night? Was it before the mall train came in (8 o'clock)? -Oh, yes.
Where did you have the words with Mrs Murphy? -At Mortimer's Hotel.
Since the murder have you been out to where the murder was committed? -Yes.
On the resumption of the inquiry to-day, Daniel Murphy, a brother of the victims, was examined.
EVIDENCE DANIEL MURPHY
He thought it was not true when he received it, and proceeded to verify the contents. The wire was received at 12.30, and he was too late to catch the 1 o'clock train.
He ascertained that the Criminal Investigation Branch had no information, but afterwards had a wire, which confirmed his news.
He came on to Gatton, where Connolly met him, and told him that the victims had been taken into Moran's paddock, their hands tied behind their backs, and the girls ravished and killed. He asked him who did it, and he replied that he did not know, but explained that M'Neill had found them. Witness went to the house where his father and mother were. The latter said, "They have murdered my children.'' 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. The following day he made arrangements for the burial of the bodies. He saw M'Neill for the first time the same day, but had no conversation with him relative to the murder until after the funeral. Witness asked him how he came to find the bodies, and be replied that he saw the cart track where it went into the sliprails. He said he followed the track on the road, and then thought they had gone into the paddock to some house. He knew the tracks, he said, by the wobbling wheel mark. M'Neill said further that he cantered across the paddock, but could not see any house. He then came back again to the rails to have another look at the track. He made sure it was his trap marks, and followed the track till he found the bodies. He went up close, and saw that the three were dead, then galloped in to the police. M'Neill told him he did not see any wheel tracks, other than those of the trap.
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.
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 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. 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.
At the resumption of the inquiry into the Gatton murders to-day.
EVIDENCE ARTHUR BROOKING
He passed Moran's sliprails about a quarter to 8 o'clock, and saw a man standing there. He was strongly built, and wore a dark felt hat, pulled down over his face. Witness was riding, and said "good night." He received no reply.
The man was looking slightly upwards at him.
He (witness) did not recognise him. His clothes appeared to be of a dark colour. When he came to the culvert, which was before he reached the sliprails, he heard a shot on the hill above. On seeing the man he thought it must have been he who fired, but he didn't notice if he had anything in his hand. He saw no one else all the way into Gatton. As he reached town the train was just leaving. He thus arrived at the time. He had never seen the man since.
EVIDENCE THOMAS N. WOODGATE
EVIDENCE FLORENCE LOWE
She came through Gatton at about twenty minutes to 9 o'clock. She first met Mrs. Carroll at a party near O'Cleary's, and next met Paddy Murphy and another on horseback. She next met Michael Donoghue and Thomas Drew. This was at Sandy Flats. The next she saw was Sergeant Arrell and Michael Connolly on the hill, all making for Gatton. She reached Moran's sliprails at fifteen minutes past 9. It was moonlight, but clouds were over the moon. Her horse was walking steadily, and a man was coming down towards her. He was in the middle of the road, but he passed on her right-hand side, at a distance of about three yards. He muttered something, but she could not say what. He looked up, and she saw his face. She could not say what he was like, or if he had a beard or a moustache, but she thought he had no beard. He was dressed in dark clothes, and wore a slouch hat. His voice was different from any she had heard before. She had since (on 23rd January) heard one something like it, and it appeared to her to be the same. She afterwards saw a man (on the same date). She picked him out from among six or seven others, and she thought he was the same. When she saw the man at the sliprails she made her horse walk faster. The man continued to walk on for some distance. She rode on, and saw no more of him. She saw nothing in his hand. From that point onward she met no one else.
EVIDENCE THOMAS DREW
This spot would be between the quarry and the sliprails. The flash went upwards. On reaching the top of the hill they met a man near the sliprails, a little further towards Gatton than where the flash was seen. He was walking towards there, and from where he (witness) was he could see any one coming up the sandy patch from Gatton. A man stationed at the quarry could see any one coming from the other side. Thus a man walking backwards and forwards could command a view of the road in both directions for a considerable distance. He did not know any place on the road where such a good view could be secured.
The man they met wore dark clothes, and a hat drawn over his face. The man was about 5ft. 8in. or 9in. in height, and thick-set. Witness did not see his face.
Mr. Donoghue said, "Good night," but the man made no reply. Witness looked back, and saw him when they were four yards past make a kind of stagger.
Witness did not notice if the man carried anything, nor did he connect him at the time with the shot, which was fired. Witness knew almost everybody in the district within a radius of ten miles. The man they met appeared to be a stranger, and unlike any one he knew. The next person they met was Miss
To the Police Magistrate: He only heard one shot. He could not swear that the man he saw at Toowoomba was positively the same. He did not notice if Michael Murphy carried a whip.
EVIDENCE WALTER ALBERT COOK
Inspector Urquhart: Were the rails up? -I could not say.
Inspector Urquhart: What? -I could not say.
Inspector Urquhart: That is nonsense. You say you don't know, when the dogs went in? -They went into the paddock there.
You said they went through the rails? -They went into the paddock. I could not say where. Then your evidence is wrong.
What are you swearing to? -I don't think they went through the rails. They were just inside the paddock. Continuing, he said they met no one on the way home.
Before reaching the sliprails they met four boys walking. Of these he only knew one-Fred Mountain.
EVIDENCE WILLIAM WIGGINS
EVIDENCE FRANK MORAN
On coming out he put the rails up. On the morning of Boxing Day he was in Gatton, and went from there to the Mount Sylvia races. He did not notice if the rails were up as he passed, but he believed they were.
He left the races to return some time in the evening, and reached his farm about 3 o'clock on the following morning. The sliprails of his farm were about fifty yards beyond the culvert, on the opposite side of the paddock to where the murder was committed. In the culvert at that time there was a puddle-hole. As he got off at the rails entering his farm he heard a loud noise at the culvert, like something rushing into water or bushes. He only heard it once; he turned round and listened, before he put the rails down. The rails of the paddock where the murder occurred were mostly kept up. There was only one set of sliprails to the paddock; but there were loose rails at the back opening on to a lane.
EVIDENCE CHARLES GILBERT
The rails were not lifted up while he was there. The first two rails were about 2in. apart; the third one was 4in.or 5in. away.
The latter was furthest from the road.
He looked at the ground between the rails and saw there was no wheel track between the rails, so that the track was broken from the first rail to the last. Sergeant Arrell and M’Neill led their horses along the track.
They followed the track for about half-a mile and came upon three bodies, a dog-cart, and a dead horse. He recognised the bodies as those of Michael, Norah, and Helen Murphy. They examined first the body of Norah, and he noticed a wound on her head and that her hands were tied.
Her clothes were drawn up, and the legs up to the knees were exposed. The hat was fastened by a hat pin, and lay a little to one side. She was lying on her right side on a rug evenly spread out, the head being off the rug. Her body was about eight or nine yards from the others. There were no signs of a struggle near Norah's body, or footprints. The ground was of a sandy, soft nature, with no grass upon it. Tracks ought easily to be seen upon it.
Helen's hands were tied with a pocket handkerchief, but her clothes were not disarranged. Michael lay with his back towards her. The conditions gave him the impression that the bodies had been laid there after death. On examining the horse he saw a bullet wound in the forehead.
The reins had been pulled through the saddle rings and were lying loose under the animal's head. In the trap there was a waterproof mackintosh, buggy cushion, and a red cloak. In Michael's hand there was an empty purse. A strap was lying across his thigh. He could not swear that the purse shown him was the same as that in Michael's hand. He went all round to see if he could find any tracks, and saw nothing except two or three hoof prints about twenty yards in the direction of the sliprails from where Norah's body lay. Wilson drew attention to these. They appeared to have been made by a light shoe or racing plate.
The tracks could not be followed; they were made in a clear spot, where a log had been burnt. He did not notice anything round Norah's neck. He saw M’Neill talking to the sergeant; but did not hear anything that he said. The tracks of the horse struck him as having been made by a horse grazing. He did not think the marks could have been made by hoofs recently trimmed and without shoes. He formed the impression that Norah's body had been placed after death where it was. As he drove in his buggy he could discern the wheel tracks quite plainly. The bodies were afterwards removed to the Brian Boru Hotel. Witness took some interest in racing. The only person in the district that he knew who used racing plates was a man named McEwan, and he believed he used them on race days. He did not think McEwan had any horses contesting at the Mount Sylvia or Burnside races on Boxing Day.
At this stage the inquiry was adjourned till 9 o'clock the following morning, when the evidence of Sergeant Arrell, which Inspector Urquhart said would be very lengthy, will be taken. There were no less than nine witnesses examined to-day, which brings the total to twenty-eight. There remain about half-a-dozen still to be examined. None of the public attended to-day.
On the resumption of the inquiry this morning,
On the following morning a man came to the barracks and said, "My name is William M'Neill. I have come to tell you that the three Murphy’s are lying dead in a paddock out there." Witness said, "What paddock?" He said, "I don't know the name of the paddock. It is about two miles out on the Tent Hill road." Witness said, "What Murphy’s?" He replied, "Michael, Norah, and Helen."
He said further, "They left their home at Tent Hill last night about 8 o'clock to go to a dance at Gatton. They did not return last night, nor had they returned this morning. We got uneasy about them, and I started off on horseback for Gatton to make inquiries about them. I came on towards Gatton, and when about a mile and a-half or two miles along the Tent Hill road I noticed wheel tracks on the road, and these tracks I recognised as those of my trap
that I had lent to the Murphy’s. The tracks were turning off the road through the sliprails into the paddock. The sliprails were up, and I could see where the tracks had gone through. I went into the paddock a short distance over a ridge, expecting to see a house that they had gone to, but saw none. I then came back to the rails, followed the wheel tracks through the paddock some distance, and came upon the trap, with the horse lying dead, and the three
Murphy’s lying dead a short distance from the trap. I did not go close up to them, nor did I stop to look at them, but rode straight away to report the matter to you." M'Neill appeared excited, and was pale-looking. Witness then asked, "What do you think has happened? Do you think the horse bolted and smashed them up?" He replied, "I don't think so, because the horse was a quiet old horse." Witness then saddled his horse and rode
away with him. When witness and M'Neill got to O'Leary's the latter said, "Do you see these wheel tracks here?"
Inspector Urquhart: Are you quite sure you recollect the circumstances of this matter? -Yes.
Are you sure? -Yes.
Do you recollect them better than a month ago? -Yes.
Why?-Because I have been thinking over them.
Then if you said in your statement that you saw an unbroken continuation of wheel tracks through the rails that is wrong? -Yes. Continuing, witness said that he followed the wheel tracks back towards Gatton to see if he could find traces of a struggle or fight, but the trap appeared to have been driven without stoppage to the rails. He had no conversation with M’Neill all this time, nor with any of those who had arrived in the buggy. They followed the tracks through the paddock, and noticed that the trap had grazed trees in several places.
He only saw the tracks of one horse. They followed the tracks to the scene of the murder. When they came up to the first body M'Neill said, "This is Norah."
Inspector Urquhart: Was the face plainly visible at the time? -Yes.
How much of the face? -The left side and one eye.
Do you think anybody who knew her could recognise her at a glance? -Yes, I do. Continuing, witness said that M'Neill pointed out the other two. Witness then described the positions and condition of the bodies. There were evidences of assault upon Norah. Helen's clothes were pulled up to her knees, and there were blood and other stains on her underclothing. He took no notes at the time, but he did afterwards.
He could not now find them.
The bench said he could not understand witness losing them. He should have religiously kept them.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you not take any precaution to keep people away from the body?
Inspector Urquhart: How did you know the murderer was not there?
The Bench: Did you not know that those persons would obliterate any tracks of the murderers? Witness, continuing, stated that a strap was lying a short distance away from Michael's feet. He did not know that Gilbert said that a strap was lying across Michael's right thigh. He did not notice tracks, but the ground was slightly disturbed. The mark could have been made by something trailing on the ground. The mark might also be made by a kick from a heel on the ground. There was some loose earth on Norah's shoulder, and he formed the opinion that she was killed where she lay. He held the same opinion of the others. He believed that, because when the bodies were lifted up there was an indentation in the ground under each, and thus that the heads were on the ground when the blows were received.
Witness thought the bodies had been dead for about twelve hours. He next examined the trap, which was about six yards away. He found no blood on it. He searched for tracks or weapons, and between the bodies and the trap he found a blue cloak, on which there was no blood.
After looking for some time, witness said, "As far as I can see, there is no trace left here; but if there is a real good black tracker he may be able to pick up some trace or track that we have been unable to find. I will ride into Gatton, and wire to the Commissioner of the occurrence, and ask him to send a black tracker." He asked the others to remain and protect the bodies. Gilbert and James said they could not, as they had to return to town. Wilson and Devitt agreed to remain. Witness before leaving, instructed Wilson and Devitt to stay until he returned, and to allow no one near the bodies or the spot. Wilson was a magistrate.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you act before you left in the same manner that you told Wilson to act, There were only four there.
Did you tell them to keep away? –No.
Why not? -Because I did not think of it at the time.
What were they doing while you were examining the place? -Walking round.
That was to give the black trackers a chance? Witness, continuing, said M'Neill only remained about five minutes after they first came to the scene. He did not ask him where he was when he first saw the bodies, or to point out which way he had come.
It did not at the time strike him as peculiar that there was no appearance of M'Neill's tracks along between the wheel tracks. If the tracks were there between the wheel tracks he would have seen them; but there were none except those of the horse that drew the trap.
Inspector Urquhart: If you noticed that, it is peculiar you did not question M'Neill. Did you see any footprints about the bodies as if a man had walked up and looked at them? -No.
Are you in a position to say there was no track? Was your examination sufficient to enable you to say so? -I believe it was.
Have you ever had any experience of tracking? -Yes; I was three or four months after a black bushranger with four black trackers.
Do you swear there were no tracks? -All I can say is I carefully examined, and I believe there were no tracks. I saw none.
Didn't it strike you as peculiar, knowing M'Neill had been there before, according to his own statement? -Well, yes, it did.
Did you take any steps to test the accuracy of M'Neill's statement? -No.
Did you question him to see if he was telling the truth? -No.
It is difficult to believe you rode from this station to the scene with M'Neill without saying something to him. Didn't you ask him for any particulars?- No. Continuing, witness said he got back to the scene of the murder about a-quarter to 12.
He had no police constable in Gatton, and no assistance whatever.
Did the Murphy family offer any assistance? -No.
Did they at any time? -No.
Did anyone else? -No, except when the bodies were being removed.
Did any magistrate in Gatton come to offer any help? -No. Continuing, witness said there were about thirty or forty people close up to the bodies on his arrival. These he requested to go out of the paddock. They retired a little, but came back again repeatedly, though he remonstrated with them.
No one then offered to help him. Mrs. Murphy asked him to have the bodies removed. Witness replied that he would like to allow the bodies to remain where they were until a doctor, for whom he had wired, had arrived.
Father Walsh, who was standing near, said it would be as well to leave the bodies until the doctor arrived.
Later, Mrs. Murphy again asked for the removal of the bodies.
Mr. James (chemist), who was there then, said the bodies should be removed on account of the sun and the ants. Messrs. Ballantyne and Wiggins urged the same course. The latter said, "Have you not taken a description of the position of the bodies when you found them." He said he had. He could not find that description. He put it in his drawer, and could not imagine where it had gone.
He then had the bodies removed.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you consider you were instructed by these two magistrates, Mr. Wiggins and Mr. Ballantyne, to remove the bodies? -No, I did not. Continuing, witness said a number of men, including M'Neill, helped to remove the bodies. Just as Michael's body was to be taken up, Mrs. Murphy, who was at the head, lifted the mackintosh that had been placed over the face, and said, "Who does this belong to." M'Neill said, "It belongs to Bob Smith; it was thrown into the trap up at the races yesterday afternoon." Witness lifted up a portion of the rug under Norah, and noticed dark stains on the underneath part, with dirt about the spot. The bodies were taken to the Brian Boru Hotel, placed in a room, and the door locked.
Dr. Von Lossberg arrived and made an examination of the bodies. It was at this time that he found the hames-strap had been put round Norah s neck, drawn tightly, and fastened with a half hitch. The clothes were taken off the bodies and handed over to witness. At the scene of the murder in the afternoon a man named Andrew Smith handed him a piece of the dead limb of a tree, about 4ft. long and 4in. through. One end was smaller than the other; at the larger end it was knotty, and at that place there were stains of blood.
He fitted it into an indentation discovered in the ground near Norah's head, which it fitted exactly. He concluded it had previously been lying in that hole, and on account of blood and some hair upon it, that it was the weapon with which the wounds were inflicted. It was a solid, heavy stick of hardwood, but he could lift it with both hands and strike a blow with it.
The inquiry was adjourned till the following morning. During the afternoon Messrs W.A. Cross and Walton Kent, JJ.P. occupied seats on the bench.
Sergeant Arrell's evidence took eighty-one pages of foolscap.
Altogether, there are now 618 pages of depositions.
The Gatton inquiry was continued to-day.
Several witnesses were examined, one of whom detailed the circumstances connected with the postponement of the dance at Gatton on Boxing Night.
Richard James, a chemist, of Gatton, gave evidence relating to his being one of the first party of persons to proceed to the scene of the murder after M'Neill brought the news into the town.
He noticed wheel tracks, and went back over them in order to see what impression had been made.
He saw no footprints round where the Murphy’s were lying.
William Davitt gave corroborative evidence.
Inspector Urquhart said that he had some witnesses to call later, but did not wish to produce them now.
The Magistrate hoped the inquiry would be resumed at an early date, as it ought to be brought to a conclusion.
The inquiry was then adjourned indefinitely.
On the resumption of the inquiry to-day, Sergeant Arrell further deposed that he did not notice, when passing the Murphys on Boxing Night, if the man driving had a whip.
On Wednesday, 28th December, witness was at the scene of the murder when James Skinner handed him an empty revolver cartridge case, saying he had found it in a pool of blood at the horse’s head. The case was dirty and bent.
Thomas George Bailey, aged 15, residing with his father at Deep Gully, deposed that he slept at his father’s house on Boxing Night. He arose at 6 o’clock the following morning, and got a horse and rode into Gatton, passing Moran’s sliprails at half past 7 o’clock. He noticed the sliprails all up, and also saw wheel tracks turning off into the paddock. He did not look to see if there were other tracks. He met no one on the way.
Edward Andrew Chadwick, a farmer, of Gatton, deposed that he was sergeant-major in the local Mounted Infantry corps. He was acquainted with the Murphy family. On Christmas Eve he met Patrick and Jeremiah Murphy, and informed them that they were going to hold a dance in the Divisional Board’s hall on Boxing Night, and asked Pat would he come. He said he was going to the College, but he would have a look in.
Altogether there were asked the Misses Jordan (2), Callaghan (2), Chadwick (2), Hennessy, Hay, Crane, Bourke, and Quinn.
Witness, with Thos. and Steve Jordan, at night opened the hall and lit the lamps.
He then went to see if the girls had come to town for the dance. Only about six appeared, and they waited till 9 o’clock, and, after conversation with Geo. Callaghan agreed to abandon the dance.
At 9.10 witness returned the keys to the caretaker, and while doing so saw a trap driving past with three persons, two girls and a man, in it. Joe Jordan, who was standing near the gate, said, “Here are the Murphys now.” They turned round and drove back. No one spoke to them. It was nothing unusual for ladies invited to dances not to come. No letter of invitation, so far as he knew, was sent to the Murphy’s.
Andrew Smith, a storekeeper at Gatton, deposed to picking up a stick at the scene of the murder, and to the exhumation of the bodies.
Richard James, a chemist, of Gatton, deposed to going with Mr. Gilbert, the hotelkeeper, and others on the morning after the tragedy to Moran’s paddock, having heard from Gilbert that the Murphys had been killed by accident.
Gilbert said his informant was M’Neill, and he (James) believed he also stated that M’Neill said it was an accident. M’Neill and Sergeant Arrell were at the sliprails when witness arrived. He noticed the wheel tracks, and went back over them to see what impression the trap made, and whether three persons were in the vehicle at the time.
The trap went up a rise to the rails, the supposition being that it was a runaway. He found that the trap had made nearly as much impression as a buggy. The witness explained how they proceeded to the scene, and described the positions of the bodies. He said, as far as he could see, death occurred in each case at about the same time. He could find no footprints round about.
M’Neill was present.
He did not hear him make any remarks.
William Devitt, bootmaker, residing in Gatton, deposed to proceeding to Moran’s paddock on the morning of the discovery of the murder. The sliprails were down when he and others arrived, but he could not say whether the wheel tracks went over them or whether they were unbroken. Witness, who said his eyesight was not too good, described what he saw when he arrived at the spot where the bodies were. He said he could see no signs
of a struggle, footprints, or indication that anyone had been there. The ground was fairly bare, and the soil somewhat sandy. M’Neill was present part of the time; but witness did not hear him say anything.
At this stage Inspector Urquhart said there were still two witnesses whose attendance was necessary who had tot yet put in an appearance at the inquiry, and it was necessary to get instructions as to how their attendance was to be secured. He had some other witnesses to give evidence later on; but at the present time he was not prepared to offer any more evidence. A certain amount of evidence could be taken the following day; but it would be very short, and it might hardly be worth while for the court to sit.
He thought if his worship saw likewise-that it would be better to adjourn the court till some time next week, leaving the day open until he (Inspector Urquhart) was in a position to say at what time witnesses could be secured.
The Police Magistrate: You are going to Brisbane this afternoon? -Inspector Urquhart: Yes.
The Police Magistrate: Well, you will be able to let me know when it will be convenient to hold the Inquiry. I hope you will be able to make it as early as possible, as the Inquiry has been, protracted to a considerable length, and we ought to try to bring it to a conclusion.
The court then adjourned. Up to the present 661 pages of depositions have been taken, and thirty-four witnesses examined. It is expected that the latter number will be increased to forty.
The enquiry as to the Gatton murders was continued to-day.
Daniel Murphy the father of the victims, was recalled and gave evidence in reference to the horses kept at his homestead. He also related a conversation, which he had with M’Neill on Boxing Night. He said the latter retired about 10 o'clock, and was certain that if anyone left the house afterwards he must have heard them, as he was up till midnight, when M’Neill and his wife were talking together, owing to M’Neill’s child being restless. During his examination the witness was repeatedly cautioned to answer straight out and not say, "I don't know," "I don't think," "I don't believe."
Several other witnesses were examined regarding the postponement of the dance at Gatton on Boxing Night.
Inspector Urquhart said that there were still two witnesses to examine, namely Dr. Wray, the Government medical officer, who assisted in the second post-mortem and Mrs. M’Neill, who was now at Toowoomba. Several telegrams were sent requesting her attendance to-day, but no answer had been received, and the magistrate said he would, if necessary, issue a warrant to compel her attendance.
The inquiry was adjourned till to-morrow.
In consequence of the evidence of Ballantyne yesterday the Murphy’s pony was brought in last night, and early this morning Ballantyne made an inspection of the hoof-prints to compare them with those he saw at the scene of the murder, but it is understood that nothing satisfactorily definite was the outcome.
The Commissioner of Police arrived yesterday afternoon, but returned to Brisbane this morning.
On the resumption of the inquiry this morning Daniel Murphy, father of the victims, was recalled. He said he recollected saying, when previously giving evidence, that there were no horses in the house paddock on the night of the murder. There was a stable at the place, and in this Lucas, an old blood stallion, very infirm in the legs, was kept.
Inspector Urquhart: Was he in the stable on the night of the murder? -Yes.
Why did you not tell us that before? -He is always in the stable.
But why did you not tell us? You were sworn to tell the truth. -I did not think of it.
Can he be ridden? -Yes.
You did not tell us that before. Why did you conceal it? -I am not concealing anything. I did not think of it. Witness, continuing, said a small pony was kept in the paddock near the house for running up the cows in the morning. He did not know if it was in the paddock that night, but his son John had told him since he (Daniel, sen.) last gave evidence that the pony was there that night. He had not previously concealed these
things, but had not thought of them when last examined.
His son had recalled to his mind a conversation he had with M'Neill on Boxing Night.
That night at about 9.30 o'clock witness was in the kitchen, and when returning to the sitting-room he asked M'Neill to have a glass of wine, but the latter refused, saying he had a headache. He did not see M'Neill again that night, but witness believed he went to bed. He did not believe he went out afterwards.
Inspector Urquhart: What reason have you for thinking he did not go out afterwards? -I never saw him go out afterwards.
How do you know he never went out? -He usually goes to bed before me.
Could M'Neill not have left the house afterwards without your knowledge? -I don't believe he could.
Why? -I could hear him go out, I believe.
The Police Magistrate: Why cannot you answer these questions straight out instead of saying, "I don't believe this and I don't believe that”? Surely you can answer a straight question.
Inspector Urquhart: Don't you sleep at night? -Not until after 12 o'clock.
Questioned as to why this was so witness said he had previously been engaged in work, which afforded him only a limited time for sleep.
Inspector Urquhart: Is that not all the more reason why you should sleep when you get the chance? Witness, closely questioned, said he heard M'Neill and his wife talking about 12 o'clock, but he could not fix the time except through having been a good while in bed. He heard the child cry. It usually cried in the early part of the night. She would cry if disturbed by any one in the night. He did not hear any person moving in the
house or any noise whatever. Pat had two ponies other than the one at the house, but on Boxing Day they were at Spring Creek, sixteen miles away. He did not know of any other pony being about the place that night. The pony mentioned was somewhat hard to catch.
He said it fell through because they had counted upon all the young ladies in Gatton, and that night they could only make six.
He remembered a girl named May Cook. He saw an "in memoriam" notice of her in the "Queensland Times." He did not cut it out, or know any one who did.
To the best of his belief she was friendly with the Murphy girls. He did not hear of any one expected at the dance not attending. Thomas Jordan, a farmer of Gatton, deposed, in connection with the dance, that only five persons knew it had been postponed.
They discussed the matter near Gilbert's hotel, and any one standing there might possibly have heard them. He was in Gatton on Christmas Day. The dance to be held the following night was not generally known about.
Constable Perkins, of Rosewood, deposed to the boiling down of the horse found dead near the victims of the tragedy. He recovered the bullet, which he handed to Sergeant Arrell.
At this stage Inspector Urquhart said: "I have two more witnesses to call, neither of whom is in attendance. One, Dr. Wray, will be here to-morrow morning, and as to the other, Mrs. M'Neill, I have wired to Toowoomba to see if she is coming, but cannot say anything definite till I receive the reply. Every facility is afforded for her attendance. I have telegraphed this morning that a railway pass will be issued to her to
enable her to come down, but I have received no reply, so I have telegraphed again asking for a definite reply. Information reached me this morning that her relatives, the Murphy’s, do not expect her till next week, but I cannot say if it is reliable or not."
The Police Magistrate: If you don't receive a reply this afternoon I will issue a warrant to compel her to be here to-morrow or the next day. Dr. Wray will be here tomorrow.
Inspector Urquhart: Yes. The court then adjourned till to-morrow morning.
A good deal of interest as to the nature of her evidence has been aroused. It appears almost certain that her evidence will not be secured to-morrow, but it seems the police are determined that it shall be given.
GATTON, March 23.
TOOWOOMBA, March 23.
Inspector Urquhart said he had but one witness to call.
The Government medical officer had examined that witness, Mrs. M'Neill, and he considered her strong enough to undergo an examination. It would probably be detrimental to her if this examination were public, however, and it would be advisable to have the public excluded.
A chair was placed for the witness on the left of the bench, opposite to the witness-box, in order that Inspector Urquhart need not raise his voice. At 2.25 the witness, Mrs. M'Neill, was carried into court from a room at the rear of the bench, in the arms of her husband. Mr. M'Neill was ordered to leave the court by Mr. Shand who said it was possible that he might be recalled. M'Neill asked to be allowed to stay with his wife,
but permission was refused.
Mrs. M'Neill, it was observed, is a very frail woman. Her small, thin body was attired in a black dress, loose, and fastened at the waist, with a black straw hat, something like a sailor hat in shape, but of a softer straw, and trimmed with crape. The hat was tied under her chin with black strings.
Witness was evidently ill at ease by the manner in which she glanced round the court. She gave her answers in a low, weak voice, her eyes being rarely raised to the face of her questioner, and frequently turning to the door, through which her husband had disappeared. Witness was in no way hysterical, nor did she at any time give evidence of tears. At the conclusion of the examination, and during; the reading of the depositions,
witness had several times to be asked to give her attention to the reading.
Having been sworn, witness said her name was Mary M’Neill, wife of William M’Neill, and sister of the victims of the late tragedy. She resided with her husband at Westbrook, and occasionally visited her parents at Tent Hill. She remembered Boxing Day, when she went to her parent’s residence with her husband in Mr. M’Neill’s little two wheeled trap, and attended the Mount Sylvia races. While at the racecourse, her sister
Ellen came and sat in the trap with them. They left for home about 6 p.m. They passed Barlow’s Hotel, but drove straight past without stopping.
They reached home about a quarter-past 6.
They all had tea together. There were then in the house witness, her brothers William, Michael, and John, and her father and mother, the youngest sister Katie, and her own two children. Norah and Ellen also were there, and witness’s husband. She was sure that Pat also was there. She heard no one speak of a dance at tea time. Ellen had said, when at the races, that she had declined an invitation to the Mount Sylvia dance, and she
was going to Gatton.
The invitation came from Jimmy Ryan, of Blackfellows’ Creek, and was given in witness’s hearing.
Ryan appeared to go on with the joke, and said, “Ah, do come.” Ellen replied, “I don’t think I will, Jimmy,” and Ryan said, “Do come; Michael will be there, and if not I will bring him.” Ellen only laughed, and there seemed to be some joke which witness did not understand. Ryan then went away.
Witness did not hear anything further said about the dance.
She did not remember anything being said about it after tea.
Witness knew they were going to the Gatton dance, because she saw Helen and Norah getting ready.
She knew that Michael was going to drive them in, but not before she saw him preparing. Previously she thought Pat might be going to drive them.
Witness thought this because she saw him speaking to Norah before going to the races; but she did not hear what was said. Norah told witness she wanted to put her (witness’s) child to sleep before going, but witness replied, “ The child will be all right, it will make it too late.”
Witness’s husband said to Norah, “I will see to the child; you had better go.”
Witness did not know of her husband ever having any intention of going to the dance, and he never left the house with that intention.
It was nearly 8 o’clock when the party left the house for the dance. Witness’s brother Pat left soon after. Witness remained up about half-an-hour after he left, and then was helped to bed by her mother. The room she occupied in Murphy’s house was off the sitting-room, with a door opening into the sitting-room. There were two windows, one at the side opening on the front veranda, and one at the end of the house. They were
both sash windows. The two children went to bed after her, but she could not say what time. Witness did not know how long her mother stopped in the room; she thought a quarter of an hour.
Witness did not go to sleep. She did not notice if the windows of the room were shut, she slept with them open generally. Her sister Ellen usually occupied the room with her. On the night in question her husband slept in the same bed with her. Her eldest child, 2 years and 5 months, slept in the bed also. The child could speak a little. The other child slept with witness’s mother. The eldest child usually slept well, and was
sleeping well at Christmas time.
There was no clock or watch in the room.
Witness could not say what time her husband brought the child in; but she remembered him doing so. The child was awake at the time, and undressed.
Inspector Urquhart: Had your husband his boots on? Witness: No; he would not come to bed with his boots on.
Witness knew, because her mother was reading. She could not see her mother or the light, but heard her turning the leaves of the book. She could have seen the light if she had looked, but she did not. She was wide awake at the time.
She thought there was a light in the sitting-room.
Inspector Urquhart: You said just now there was, you know. Don’t give the first answer that comes into your head.
The question was again put, and witness replied that she did not know. She had not been told to say she did not know.
She had not taken any medicine or anything to drink before going to bed, nor did she have any injection with a needle.
She could not remember if her husband shut the door.
She could not remember if the child had spoken.
She did not remember if she herself spoke. Her husband got into bed with his clothes on, after putting the child to bed.
She had no idea what time this was, or how long it was after Pat left. The bedroom door was sometimes left open, and sometimes shut when she was in bed.
She could not say which it was that night after he got into bed.
She did not snore, that she knew of; but her husband did sometimes, and pretty loud.
She did not know if he spoke to her when getting into bed, or if she spoke to him.
She went to sleep that night, she thought, about half-an-hour after her husband went to bed.
She did not know if he was awake also. The child was asleep.
She did not notice the door of the room during the half-hour.
She heard some one moving in the sitting-room, but could not see them, because she did not look.
She thought she could have seen them had she looked.
She did not hear anyone in the sitting-room ask some one to have a drink before her husband went to bed. Her husband usually put his boots in the bedroom when he took them off.
She did not see him take them off that night. After lying awake half-an hour that night, she went to sleep. The bed was a three-quarter bed, with an iron railing at the bottom. There were mosquito curtains on the bed, but they were pulled back, and were not in use that night.
Witness was in better health, and sleeping better at this time than she had been.
She slept all night that night, and until morning. Nothing disturbed her, she was sure.
She had a good night. Her husband did not have to get out that night on her account, and he did not get up at all that she knew of. It was long after daylight when witness woke. She heard others in the house moving about, but did not know the time. Her husband was not up when she awoke.
Inspector Urquhart: Was he awake? Who woke first? Witness: I don’t know.
Inspector Urquhart: Try and think of that morning. Witness, after a pause, again said she could not remember.
Inspector Urquhart: Are you sure he was there? -Witness: Yes, because I saw him get up, and he came back, and told me the others had not come home. Continuing, witness said her husband still had his clothes on when he got up, the same as he had worn at the Mount Sylvia races. It was not usual for him to do so, but when be did it was on account of the little girl, because she was troublesome. The child was not troublesome that
night. Witness was sure nothing of any kind disturbed her during the night. No one entered the room during the night that she knew of. Her mother might enter the room to look at her without her hearing; but she knew of no one entering or leaving. She did not remember who gave her her tea that night. Norah usually did it. She sat at the table that night for tea. She did not know if her husband put his boots on before going out in the morning. He was only
away a few minutes, and when he returned she saw his boots on his feet. He said, “Michael and the girls didn’t come home yet.” Witness replied, “Really? Are you joking?” He replied, “No; they didn’t turn up yet.”
She did not think anything more was said. Witness got up, and had breakfast in the kitchen with her brother, Jack, Jerry and Bob Smith.
Her husband did not say he was going to look for them before he went. It was about 8 o’clock when witness had breakfast. Her husband returned about 10 o’clock.
Witness saw him return, and he spoke to her and her mother.
Witness asked if he had seen them, and he said, “Yes.”
Witness said, “Are they coming?” and he replied, “No.”
She noticed nothing wrong, and he spoke in quite his ordinary way, with nothing strange in his speech.
Witness asked why they were not coming, and “Where are they?”
Her husband replied, “They’re dead.”
Witness said, “What, the three?” and he replied, “Yes.”
Witness asked where, and he replied, “Away in some paddock near the cemetery and Clark’s butcher’s shop.”
He did not know whose paddock.
Witness did not remember what her mother said.
Witness asked her husband could it be true, and he said, “Yes.” Norah used to mind witness’s little girl, and the child was very fond of her: so also was witness.
Inspector Urquhart: When you heard they were all dead out in the paddock, did you not care enough to make further inquiries as to how it happened?
Inspector Urquhart: Well, Mrs. M’Neill, when did you first hear they were murdered? Witness: M'Neill said so, during the course of the conversation. Neither she nor her mother asked who they were murdered by. She did not know why she did not ask. She did not know who murdered them. Witness was fond of the three deceased.
She had no favourite brother; they were all alike to her; but Michael had been working near her place. If she had any idea or suspicion of who was the murderer she would say so. She had no idea, and had never had since it happened.
She had never said she had, or that she knew whose work it was.
She was 32 years old.
Inspector Urquhart: But at the Inquest your brother William’s age was given as 32.
Are you older or younger? -Witness said she was the younger; but she always understood she was 32.
She had been married about three years, but had been away from home some time before.
She had been away from home about eight years altogether; but had visited it during that time. Prior to meeting her present husband, there had been some sweethearting between witness and Tom Ryan. This had died out. They had often had rows, and witness had also had a beating from her mother for going with him. The sweet hearting continued after this. Ellen had carried letters between them, and Tom had lent her his horse, which she
had kept at her place without her mother knowing. Tom did not seem annoyed when she married M’Neill. Norah was against her going with Tom, and she had told him that her mother was against a match.
She did not remember telling him that Norah and Ellen were against it.
She might have told him that witness’s mother had told her that Ryan had said he would have Polly (meaning witness), in spite of her. The reason they objected to Tom was because he was fond of drink.
Witness did not know if Michael was against the match with Ryan. Tom had not told her so. Ryan and M’Neill had not had a row over witness. Her mother did not want her to marry M’Neill, because he was a Protestant, and she was a Roman Catholic. The other members of the family did not know anything about the proposed match with M’Neill.
She had never told anyone that her husband had been away all night on the night of the murder, and she did not think anyone had asked her.
She had seen Tom Ryan at a distance since the murder, but not to speak to.
Witness and Tom Ryan had been sweet-hearting nine or ten years.
She did not know when it was that she finally told him she would have no more to do with him.
She had never heard Ryan say, and had never heard that he had said, he would be revenged for not getting her.
She did not know of her brothers or sisters ever having quarrels with anyone.
Michael and M’Neill were on good terms, and the latter was on good terms with the whole of the family since the 17th June, 1898, prior to which date he did not know them. M’Neill had never said he suspected anyone, and she did not think he did suspect anyone. The Murphy’s had never said they suspected anyone.
Witness had never known Ellen or Norah to have any sweethearts or any preference for any young men. The party were expected home from the dance early in the morning. Witness remembered a rifle being burned in the fire at Westbrook.
She did not know of any revolver being burned at the same time.
She did not know of her husband or Michael having a revolver. The rifle had been used for shooting bullocks. Her husband was a butcher, but she did not think he was left handed.
She had seen him at work cutting up, and she believed he could use both hands.
She had never seen the bullocks shot at Westbrook; but had seen the heads.
She did not know what part they were shot in.
On the night in question, she did not think her husband could have gone out of the room without her knowledge She could swear he did not go out that night.
Inspector Urquhart: Can you really swear that your husband did not go out? An oath, you know, is not taken for nothing.
You must be sure. Consider your position, and give me your answer.
Witness remained silent for several minutes, and looked around the court.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you hear my question, Mrs. M'Neill? Witness: Yes.
Inspector Urquhart: Have you no answer? Witness: No.
Inspector Urquhart: What is your reason for not answering? Have you been told not to answer?
Inspector Urquhart: Anyone could answer Yes or No. If anyone asked you a couple of months hence if you have been in the court you could answer. If you are in a position to swear your husband did not leave the room, do so; and if you cannot swear that, then say so.
Witness remained silent, and the inspector informed the Bench that he could press the Witness no further on the point.
Witness said she had told all she knew of the happenings of the night in question.
She and her husband had talked about her coming to give evidence. He had told her to answer what she was asked, and not to be frightened or excited.
Inspector Urquhart: Well, if he told you to answer what you were asked, why did you not answer that question I just asked you? Witness remained silent, with averted head.
Mr. Shand I would not press her any more.
Inspector Urquhart: Very well, your Worship.
This closed the examination. When the depositions were read over, witness stood up to sign them; but the papers were handed to her and she again sat down.
Inspector Urquhart said he had no more witnesses to call in Toowoomba.
Mr. Shand said he could not understand why the officers of the court had been brought to Toowoomba to examine this witness, who, after an examination lasting two and a half hours, appeared as well, if not better than when she came into court.
He then announced the adjournment of the court to Gatton at 10.30 next morning, at which time and place William M’Neill had been subpoenaed to attend.
M'Neill, on entering the court to remove his wife, appealed to Inspector Urquhart for means to take his wife home and to attend the summons for the following day.
The inspector replied that he was not entitled to assistance; his duty was to obey the summons of the court.
Inspector Urquhart afterwards instructed a constable to assist M'Neill all he could.
The inquiry was resumed at 10.30 o'clock this morning, before Mr. Shand, P.M.
W. M'Neill was recalled and resworn. He was allowed a seat.
He said that he left Murphy's farm on the morning of the 27th December. The time was about 8 o'clock.
He cantered nearly all the way to the sliprails. He did not remember meeting any one. He went within about two yards of Norah's body, and was quite satisfied that Norah was dead before he left. The others may have been alive at the time. He could not say why he did not make sure. He thought the sooner the police knew the better. His impression then was that it was a case of murder.
The presence of a rug under Norah led him to think so. He did not know what other reasons there could have been, but that opinion was formed in his mind.
Inspector Urquhart said it seemed strange to form this opinion.
The witness said he could not account for it, and he did not know of any enemies of the victims. He knew the scene was in sight of the road. He could not remember whether he walked outside of the wheel tracks or on them when walking his horse to the scene.
When he went back a second time he did not point out his tracks to any one. He was not aware that any one asked him to show the tracks. He remembered returning from the Mount Sylvia races with his wife.
They reached home at about dusk, and passed Barlow's at perhaps 6 o'clock.
They did not stop, except at Clapham's store, where they bought lollies.
Perhaps they bought biscuits, but no soft drinks. A man was going away as they drove up. He was getting on a horse. He (witness) did not notice if the horse was a chestnut. He asked him if any one was about, and the man replied, "Go round to the back." He had no idea, which way the man went. If the man had approached from the direction of Murphy's he might have met Ellen, who was ahead, but he did not know how far.
They did not notice anyone following at any part of the journey from the races.
He believed a girl served him.
Witness had been driving with the Murphy's whip. He could not say if he unharnessed and let the horse go. Sometimes John Murphy did it.
It was not the same horse the Murphy’s afterwards took to the dance.
He remembered going up just as the horse was being put in. He could not say if he buckled any of the straps. He did not know who brought the horses from the paddock. His whip was in the cart, but it was of no use, it being too short.
He thought old Mr. Murphy asked him to have a drink after they had left. The question being pressed, he said he was asked one night, but he was uncertain which night that was. He went to bed between 9 and 10. The door communicating with the sitting-room caught at the bottom. Sometimes it was shut and sometimes open. He believed it was half-open.
That night he slept in his clothes, because he thought the child would be restless. He had been up at night before with it. He did not wear pyjamas, and he did not like to walk the room naked. He only wore his pants. The child "grunted" a bit; he did not call it crying. The foot of the bed was towards the end of the house -about 2ft. from the window. Witness slept well. He did not get under the clothes, but his wife did.
He slept next to the wall, and would have to cross the form of his wife to get out.
She was easily awakened. He slept inside because his wife sometimes preferred sleeping on a different side because of paralysis.
It was likely that was the case then, because she had been out all day, and was tired. She was lying in front of the bed. When witness retired he would not disturb her.
He went to Murphy's from Grantham, and saw Mrs. and Mr. Murphy. He had no recollection of a conversation. He went there to see his child, to get clothes for the child at home, and because he wanted to get the clothes he wore at the Mount Sylvia races on the day, and which he now wore, thinking the inspector might want to look at them.
Inspector Urquhart: What made you think that? -On account of the way things have been going lately, connecting me with the Gatton murder.
In conversation with the Murphy’s, he had said Polly was subpoenaed to attend. The police sent her a pass, but none for him to bring her. He thought it hard lines. He had not asked for a pass to take her away. He took her away to see the doctor. He knew there was a doctor in Gatton, but he heard from the Murphy’s that a warrant was out for the arrest of his wife, and was frightened of the effect on her. He could not remember
what the Murphy’s said. On the Wednesday all were overjoyed to see him, and they were talking together. Mrs. Murphy advised witness to have his own doctor to see his wife. They could not understand what she was wanted for. He could not recall the exact words they said.
The Bench: It is strange they talked so much there and not here.
Witness: People talk amongst themselves on family affairs.
Inspector Urquhart; That is what we want to know.
Witness: If the words were repeated, he might remember.
He went to Murphy's unexpectedly on Henderson the storekeeper's horse. He lost a rifle in a fire, and had done no killing since. He was not carrying on business. He asked Michael for the chance of a pound at Westbrook Crossing. The latter then said he had not got it. He then borrowed 10s. from Michael. He did not then know if Michael had any notes. He had since learnt that he had been paid £5 that morning at Westbrook Farm. He
distinctly remembered Michael taking 10s. from his purse. He was not sure if the purse was the same as was afterwards found in his hand. He did not take notice of it.
Reaching Toowoomba he paid Michael half-a sovereign, and witness bought a pair of leather slippers at Field's shop, which were now at Murphy’s. Witness wore them on Boxing Day and until perhaps half-an hour before going to bed.
He did not know where he left them that night, but he put them on again next morning, and wore them to the scene of the murder. They had not pointed toes.
The police could see them.
He could not say what horse he rode that morning, but believed it was the old buggy horse. He did not think it was the pony. His wife had just begun to be ill after the birth of the youngest child on the 17th June last. He paid the Murphy’s funeral expenses not because they had not the means, but because the whole family were too upset at the time. The money had since been refunded. He consulted Dan about paying, and
witness said he would do it.
The inquiry into the Gatton murder was continued to-day.
M’Neill was called again. He related the circumstances connected with finding the bodies of the three Murphy’s.
With regard to his going to bed on Boxing Night with his clothes on, he said that he did that because he thought his child would be restless.
He slept next the wall, and it would be necessary for him to cross over his wife if he wished to get out of bed.
He slept well that night, and was wearing in court the clothes that he wore at the races on Boxing Day.
He wore them thinking that the police might like to look at them.
He took his wife away to Toowoomba to see his own doctor.
He was frightened that her appearance at the court would have a bad effect upon her health.
Mrs. Murphy was the next witness.
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.
She asked her son Daniel to sign for her, but eventually made a mark for signature, and left the court trembling.
Joseph Murphy, an ex-policeman and brother of the victims, was examined regarding a conversation he had had with the police and other people. He said that none of the family, to the best of his knowledge, were ever troubled with insanity.
Daniel Murphy, another brother, gave similar evidence.
Joseph Murphy, a policeman, but not one of the Murphy family, deposed that he accompanied Constable Daniel Murphy to Gatton from Brisbane upon receipt of the news of the murders.
During the course of conversation, Dan Murphy, speaking to witness about who had done the murder, said it must have been one of the family. Witness stated that he served Mrs. Murphy yesterday, with a summons to appear and give evidence to-day. She immediately made use of more obscene language towards the police, calling them "d---- traitors" and saying that they only wanted to make her swear falsely against M’Neill.
She called the police names that were not of too choice a character.
Before the proceedings closed the magistrate, Mr. Shand, complained to Inspector Urquhart about the absurd manner in which he had conducted the case, and also made strong comments as to the reluctance of all the members of the Murphy family, particularly Mrs. M’Neill, to assist the police.
The taking of evidence was then concluded.
The police will continue their investigations.
Mystery is still the last word to be said in connection with the awful tragedy, which took place at Gatton three months ago.
The magisterial inquiry just concluded only makes the darkness deeper; though the strange reticence of the Murphy family must add to the general feeling that something lies close at hand in the way of explanation if one could only reach it.
A word of warning may perhaps be timely just here. Our very eagerness to get at the truth may incline us to give undue weight to circumstances, which are capable of explanation in quite other terms than suspicion would suggest.
Mr. Shand has commented severely upon the way in which some of the evidence was given before him, and with apparently good grounds. Yet it is not difficult to conceive that panic, rather than knowledge of facts that ought to be revealed, has been behind the evident reluctance of the Murphy family to reply to the questions of Inspector Urquhart. Looking at the matter as dispassionate onlookers, we may conclude that something has
been kept back. Yet putting ourselves in the places of people who lack knowledge of the world, whose thoughts have never travelled very much beyond Gatton, and whose senses have been dazed by a triple murder more horrible in its details than any the colony has known, and it may be dimly realised that an unreasoning fear of, and an unaccountable aversion from, publicity have made them impossible as witnesses.
Perhaps something is being concealed which has nothing to do with the murders, but which the Murphy’s in their panic are determined shall not be known.
Half-a-dozen theories could be made which would reconcile their behaviour with panic-stricken ignorance. We urge this view because the temptation to believe the worst of people is always present in complications, such as the one that has occupied the public mind and attention so long. And the same call for calm and dispassionate judgment may be made on behalf of the police.
There has been a constant stream of criticism directed upon the officers who have taken charge of these murders, and both Southern and local journals have been loud in their demands for developments, for a speedy discovery of the murderers, and for a cleansing of the blot that has appeared on Queensland's escutcheon. It would have been easy to join in this hue and cry after men, who since the first blunders were made, have been
almost hysterical in their anxiety to justify their existence as guardians of the public peace.
There has been, in our opinion, unnecessary and injurious reticence; and the methods pursued have not always been such as British justice approves of. But as to the intense earnestness and constant zeal of the police there cannot be two opinions. To have lashed them would have been to break the rules of fair play in greater measure than by keeping silence. And the work of investigation is still going on.
We would advise the Commissioner and his officers to take the public more into their confidence, but we would also advise the public to wait until the last word has been said. It may appear later on that improvements are imperative in certain directions, and that the Police Force must be reorganised, but assuredly the proper course to pursue at the present moment is to wait patiently until all means have been exhausted of bringing
the criminals guilty of this dreadful deed to justice.
Mrs. Mary Murphy was recalled. She asked what she was wanted for, as she had already given her evidence.
The Bench: You have been subpoenaed to give further evidence. Witness was then sworn.
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.
M’Neill 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? The 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.
Dan. Daniel Murphy, recalled and resworn, said he remembered travelling from Brisbane to Gatton on the 27th December. 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, "Some one 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.\
The court at this stage adjourned till 2.30 o'clock.
YESTERDAY AFTERNOON'S PROCEEDINGS.
On the inquiry being resumed after lunch, Constable Joseph Murphy was called.
He stated that he was a police constable stationed at Brisbane.
He was not related to the Murphy family.
He travelled up with Dan Murphy, of Tent Hill, on the 27th December last.
Daniel was then aware of the murder having taken place. He had remarked to witness, "It must have been some one of the family; no one else would have done it. It will be the talk of Blackfellow's Creek, and everyone will look down on us." Witness asked Dan if any of the family ever went wrong in the head, or drank at any time, and he replied "No." That was all the conversation.
To the Bench, witness said 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 were a lot of traitors, and she prayed they might have the same trouble themselves before they
died.” They thought she was keeping something back. She believed they wanted her to tell a lie. They were a lot of wretches all through. That finished the conversation.”
Inspector Urquhart here said that this was the whole of the evidence he had to offer at present. A most thorough search and inquiry had been made throughout the whole district, with the result that he saw no prospect of being able to offer any further evidence. The work was still going on, and would be continued, but there was no reason to continue the present inquiry any further.
Mr. Shand said he could not allow the proceedings to close without remarking on the extreme apathy shown throughout by the blood relations of the victims of the tragedy.
With the exception of Dan they appeared to have taken no steps in the matter at all, nor had they offered to assist in the search in any way, even by the loan of horses, of which they appeared to have plenty.
They had given their evidence, too, in a reluctant and contradictory manner, excepting Mrs. M'Neill, whose evidence had been given with readiness, contrasting well with the other members of her family. The family appeared to accept it all as kismet, and had desired to bury the whole matter. Such conduct he considered beyond all comprehension and precedent.
In conclusion, he desired to congratulate the Police Department on having such an officer as Inspector Urquhart, who had conducted this protracted and anxious inquiry in such a patient and assiduous manner.
Inspector Urquhart thanked Mr. Shand for his kind remarks, and in reciprocation bore testimony to the patience displayed also by the magistrate.
This closed the inquiry, the court rising at 2.50 p.m.
The inquiry has occupied thirteen actual sitting days, during which the deposition, clerk, Mr. J. S. Falconer, has written 833 pages of depositions; totalling not less than 58,450 words.
Mr. W. Gillen, the special telegraph operator sent up from Brisbane to Gatton, has also had a particularly busy time sending Press messages, his record for one day alone totalling18, 000 words.
This large amount of work was in every case put through with despatch, and the Press representatives were accorded most courteous treatment throughout.
Mr. Shand proceeded to Ipswich by the afternoon train, and Inspector Urquhart, with his men, are for the present remaining at Gatton.
REPORT FROM MELBOURNE.
The Queensland police, it appears, made inquiries, and the nearest approach to such a name they found was a German named Uzibiel, who was not at Gatton about Boxing Day. The police have forwarded to Brisbane two revolvers, which they ascertained had been pawned about the time Wilson would be in Melbourne on the way to England. (We understand that the revolvers referred to are now in the hands of the Queensland police, who,
however, are reticent on the matter.)
At the conclusion of the enquiry into the Gatton Murders, the presiding Magistrate felt it his duty to say that he was greatly astonished at the extreme apathy of the blood relations of the victims during the enquiry.
Although there were four brothers of mature age, with the exception of Dan, who appears to have helped his brother-in-law, they did not assist the police.
Their evidence was most unsatisfactory. It had to be dragged out of them, and had been very contradictory, especially in regard to the horses in the vicinity of the house at the time of the murders. 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
Rona-street Police Station (Brisbane) he remarked that "some one at home must have gone out of their minds and done it.
He did not remember ever saying that it must have been one of the family who had done it, though he might have said it."
This sensational evidence was confirmed by Joseph Murphy, a Brisbane constable, but not related to the Murphy family of Tent Hill, who deposed that he travelled, from Brisbane in company with Daniel Murphy, of Tent Hill, on the 27th December. Daniel Murphy said to witness: "It must have been some member of the family; no one else would have done it, and we shall be the talk of Blackfellow's Creek, and everybody
will look down on us." Witness asked him if there was any member of the family who had gone wrong in the head at any time, or drank heavily. He said there was not. This witness had 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. 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." The above evidence transpired on the 23rd ult., and we will now go back to the beginning of the testimony of the Murphy family, and as briefly as possible with reasonable regard to continuity review it. First, however, it is important that the reader should bear in mind that Michael Murphy, and his sisters Norah and
Ellen, left home apparently about 7.30 p.m., arrived at Gatton at ten minutes past 9, started back immediately on the homeward journey, and were last seen near Moran's sliprails, where they immediately after, no doubt, turned off into the paddock before 10 o'clock. These times are of the highest importance in relation to the possible movements of M'Neill, who, according to the testimony of the Murphy family, could not have been the man seen at the
"rails," or the man whom Sergt. Arrell saw speaking to the Murphy party before their arrival at the fatal "turn off." If then, the Murphys are not all conspiring to mislead the police, M'Neill and the man at the rails are not identical, and, therefore, if it is to be contended that M'Neill was concerned in the tragedy it would seem that it was carefully planned, and that at least two men were engaged in it. But there is no evidence
against M'Neill, and there would have been less suspicion had not the attitude of his wife's family been so remarkable throughout. According to the statement of Murphy, senr., he went to bed between 10 and 11 o'clock on the night of Boxing Day. Up to that time, and after the departure of the party for Gatton, no one else had arrived at or left the house. The only one he left sitting up was his wife. About an hour after retiring he heard M'Neill’s child
cry, and the father speak to it. He did not see M'Neill going to his bedroom that night.
Questioned closely, the witness said that he heard footsteps when saying his prayers, which he maintained were those of M'Neill.
The Magistrate: "You tell us the only person up when you went to bed was your wife, and you say you heard M'Neill going to his room when you were saying your prayers." Witness: "I don't go to bed until a long time after I have said my prayers."
Was there any one else in the house? -Yes, my son Will.
How do you know they were not his footsteps? I know it was M'Neill! — You heard footsteps, but you don't know whose they were? I know they were M'Neill's! — Continuing the witness said the last time he saw M'Neill that night was when the dog cart left (which took the party into Gatton), but he heard him walking about. He would swear this was M'Neill. Now, as the police were so obviously intent upon determining whether M'Neill
was, or was not, during the night of the murders, absent from the house of his father-in-law, where, with his invalid wife, he was a guest, we will for the present continue along that line of evidence, taking other salient points later.
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.
Katie Murphy, the youngest of the family, stated that Norah did not wish to go to the dance, as one of the children of her sister (Mrs. M'Neill) would cry after her (Mrs. Murphy had previously asked the girls to stay at home that night), but M'Neill told her to go, and that he would look after the little girl. Towards 9 o'clock witness saw M'Neill go to his room, and heard him moving about afterwards. She could not say if M'Neill
was in the house the whole of that night.
William Murphy, the youngest brother of the family, and he was at home on the night of the murders, said that M'Neill was in the house after the party went to Gatton. A little after 9 o'clock, witness went to the yard and turned all the horses into a grass paddock, containing about 100 acres. None of the horses were shod. Coming in after wards he saw his father and mother and M'Neill in the sitting room. M'Neill went to his
bedroom at 9 o'clock, and the witness went to the kitchen to assist Katie. From where he was he could see anyone leaving the front door. He certainly heard no one. Witness went to bed about ten minutes to 10 o'clock. His bed lay along the partition on the opposite side of which was a bed occupied by M'Neill. During the night he heard nothing but M'Neill's snores before he (witness) went to sleep He did not see who it was snoring, but hi thought it was
M'Neill. He could not swear positively.
Who supposed him to be there? -I did.
Did you think about him on that occasion? No I Continuing, witness said he went to sleep almost immediately, and did not hear a snore, a laugh, or any one speaking. The remaining evidence as to M'Neill's whereabouts on the night of the murders is that of his wife, and it is the most important. Assuming it to be credible, it would seem that M'Neill was in his bed on the night of the murders, and if the testimony reproduced in this
article is to be relied upon, it is clear that M'Neill could not have been in the vicinity of Moran's paddock at the time the mysterious man at the “slip-rails " was seen.
Still more mystery.
Mrs M'Neill, the wife of the brother-in-law, has been examined at Toowoomba. She declared she was too ill to go to Gatton, but the magistrate, after an examination of her, which lasted two hours and a half, was compelled to say that he could see no sign of the woman being unfit to travel.
Her evidence was decidedly unsatisfactory to her husband.
The report reads: — Mrs M'Neill, who is a weak, delicate woman, gave her answers in a low voice, with averted face, which she seldom raised to answer the questions. The principal point of her evidence was that on Boxing Night (the night of the murder) her husband came to bed with his clothes on but his boots off. She went to sleep about half an hour after he came into the room, and slept soundly all night. She was not disturbed
by anyone going from or coming into her room. She could swear that her husband did not leave the room, that night.
Inspector Urquhart: Can you really swear that your husband did not go out? An oath, you know, is not taken for nothing. You must be sure. Consider your position and give me your answer. Witness remained silent for several minutes, and looked around the court.
Inspector Urquhart: Did you hear my question, Mrs M'Neill? -Witness: Yes.
Inspector Urquhart: Have you no answer? -Witness: No.
Inspector Urquhart: What is your reason for not answering? Have you been told not to answer? — Witness said she had not been told not to answer the question. She felt that she could not answer it.
Inspector Urquhart: Anyone could answer "Yes" or "No." If anyone asked you a couple of months hence it you had been in court, you could answer. If you are in a position to swear that your husband did not leave the room do so, and if you cannot swear that, then say so? Witness remained silent.
Inspector Urquhart informed the bench that he could press witness no further on the point. Witness said that she had told all she knew of the happenings of the night in question. The morning after Boxing Day M'Neill said, "The girls have not returned yet." He soon after went in search of them, and returned a little after 10 a.m. She asked if they were coming, and he, speaking in his ordinary way, said, "No; they are
dead in the paddock near the cemetery, on Tent Hill road." She thought she asked him how it happened, but she had forgotten whether she did or not. M'Neill first told her that they had been murdered. Neither witness nor her mother asked M'Neill who had done it, and she never had a suspicion of any person. She had never said she knew whose doings it was. She and her husband talked about her coming to give evidence.
He told her to answer what she was asked, and not be frightened or excited.
Mr Shand, P.M.: I would not press her any more. Inspector Urquhart: Very well, your Worship.
It will be remembered that in our last preceding article dealing with the evidence adduced at the enquiry into the Gatton murders, we gave all the points of evidence upon the side of M'Neill’s presence in the house of the Murphy’s during the night of the murders, except that of his wife, which we now propose to review. Before doing so it should be mentioned that when M'Neill found that his wife had been summoned to attend the
Court at Gatton, he immediately removed her to Toowoomba, some distance inland, at the time staling that she was too ill to attend the Court. After a threat to issue a warrant to compel her attendance, the Court went to Toowoomba to procure her evidence, in order that the enquiry might be closed. We give a summary of what transpired: — "Inspector Urquhart said he had but one witness to call. The Government, medical officer had examined that witness,
Mrs. M'Neill, and he considered her strong enough to undergo an examination. Mrs. M'Neill was then carried in by her husband, who was requested to leave the Court by the presiding Magistrate. M'Neill asked to be allowed to stay with his wife, but permission was refused.
Mrs. M'Neill is described, as she then appeared, as a very frail looking woman.
Inspector Urquhart. Was he awake? Who woke first? Witness: I don't know.
Inspector Urquhart: Are you sure he was there? Witness: Yes, because I saw him get up, and he came back and told me the others had not come home." Continuing, witness said her husband still had his clothes on when he got up the same as he had worn at the Mount Sylvia races. It was, not usual for him to do so, but when he did it was because of the little girl, because she was troublesome. The child was not troublesome that
night. Witness was sure that nothing of any kind disturbed her during the night. . . . She did not know if her husband put his boots on before going out in the morning. He was only away a few minutes, and when he returned she saw his boots on his feet. . . . She had never told anyone that her husband had been angry all night on the night of the murders, and she did not think any one had asked her. ... On the night in question she did not think her husband
could have gone out of the room without her knowledge. She could swear he did not go out that night. Witness was covered with the bedclothes, but her husband slept on the outside.
Inspector Urquhart — Can you really swear that your husband did not go out? An oath you know is not taken for nothing. You must be sure. Consider your position, and give your answer. Witness remained silent for several minutes, and looked round the Court.
The Inspector — Did you hear my question, Mrs. M'Neill? -Yes.
Have you no answer? No.
What is your reason for not answering? Have you been told not to answer? Witness said that she had not been told not to answer the question. She felt that she could not answer it.
The Inspector— Anyone could answer Yes or No.
If anyone asked you a couple of months hence if you had been in this Court you could answer.
If you are in a position to swear that your husband did not leave the room, do so; and if you cannot swear that, then say so. Witness remained silent, and the Inspector informed the Bench that he could press the witness no further on the point.
Witness said that she had told all she knew of the happenings of the night in question. She and her husband had talked about her coming to give evidence.
He had told her to answer what she was asked, and not to be frightened or excited.
The Inspector— Well, if he told you to answer what you were asked, why did you not answer that question I just asked you? Witness remained silent with averted head.
The presiding Magistrate — I would not press, her any more.
The Inspector — Very well, your Worship.
This closed the examination. It will be thus seen that the evidence of the Murphy family goes to show that M'Neill was in their house throughout the night of the murder, though none can swear that he was in fact there, while the reader will perceive that the line of examination by the Crown was meant to show that M'Neill might have absented himself from the house on the night of the murders the evidence of the Murphy’s to the
contrary notwithstanding. M'Neill's story of the finding of the bodies, the remarkable apathy of the family, according to their own showing, after learning of the tragedy, and some kindred points will be described in our next article.
The murders of Norah, Ellen, and Michael Murphy took place on the night of the 26th December last (Boxing Day), and probably shortly after 10 p.m.
Judging from the time that the local sergeant of Police, on his way to Gatton from the Mount Sylvia races, saw the Murphy’s speaking to a man on horseback a short distance, on the Gatton side from the "slip-rails," where they turned off into Moran's paddock to meet with sudden death. We have described, according to the evidence, what passed in the house of the Murphys on that night, which, as to M'Neill, goes to show
that he was in the house all night according to the belief of the witnesses, but does not conclusively prove that he could not have been absent without their knowledge after he had gone to his own room, and after his wife had gone to sleep. But supposing he did leave the house before the Murphys — a little after 9 o'clock — started on the homeward journey from Gatton, how could he (M'Neill) suppose that he could meet them at such an hour? He could not
know that the dance had fallen through, but would know that the party might be expected home sometime about daylight.
However, we will now follow the proceedings of the Murphy family on the day following the murders.
The father of the family deposed that on the morning of the 27th he was the first up in the house. "The next up in the morning after Will (the youngest son) was M'Neill; that was after 6 o'clock. He noticed that the trap was not in the yard, and informed his wife, who looked into the girls' room and found they were not there.
While he was having breakfast M'Neill asked him if it was the usual thing for them to stop out like that. He said no.
There was no talk of anything serious happening to them." (It may be here recalled that the mother did not want them to go out that night, that Norah expressed a wish to remain at home, and that M'Neill urged her to go to the dance. Still, all these things may have fallen out in a perfectly natural way.)
Witness thought they might have remained at Chadwick's, or the trap might have broken down. It was at breakfast that it was first suggested that someone should look for them. M'Neill said he would go and get a horse to go and meet them and see if the trap had broken down. He did not hear Mrs. Murphy urge M'Neill to go. After breakfast witness went to work and M'Neill passed him on the way. About 10 o'clock his son Will came and
informed him that the three children had been murdered. Witness asked if they were shot, and he said he did not know. His son further said M'Neill came out and told him. Witness and his son went home. 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 — 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
are dead and murdered in a paddock up at Gatton, with their hands tied behind their backs, and their beads bashed in."
The Police Magistrate — I cannot understand why you people don't recognise the gravity, of the matter. You give answers in a haphazard way, and sometimes give, the answers before the questions are put. Witness, continuing, said, when M’Neill came up after discovering the bodies he was much excited. "Witness asked if all were dead, and he replied) 'Yes; it is something terrible.' Witness went in to his mother; but he could
not remember what she said when she was told." Continuing, after repeated questioning, "he remembered his mother saying, 'Oh my God, my poor children!' Arrangements were made to proceed to the scene of the tragedy. He (witness) went in the meantime to fetch his father, who was at the farm, and who asked what was the matter. Witness replied that Norah, Helen, and Mike had been murdered. Murphy senior then asked if they had, been shot, and when
told the facts he said he was glad they had attended their Church on the Sunday. He also asked if Bill (meaning M'Neill) had brought the news.
Did your father know that M'Neill had gone to look for the children? — Yes.
You said M'Neill arranged with your' mother to go after your father had gone.
As a matter of fact, you really don't know whether your father knew M'Neill had gone to look for them or not? — I could not be certain.
Do you know whether he knew or not? — I could not be certain.
Then you don't know? Try to make us clear. — I could not be certain. Witness, continuing, said that "neither he nor his father on the way home spoke of the probable culprit. He (witness) tried to pacify Mrs. M'Neill. She was calling out the names of the three deceased, but no other. He and others proceeded to the scene of the tragedy. M'Neill was there, but witness could not remember anything he said."
At this point we may digress to give examples from the evidence of this witness of the apathy or panic of the Murphy family in regard to these crimes: — Have you Murphys gone about the country and made any attempt by yourselves to find out who committed these murders? — No.
M'Neill did, didn't he?— Yes.
Did he ever ask any of you to join him? — No.
Did your father ever try to urge you to see what you, could do? — No.
At the first did you ever offer to lend the police any horses or help them?— No.
Did you ever hear we were hiring horses?— I believe I did on one occasion.
How many horses had you on the place? — About 20 horses, of which seven are draughts.
The next witness was John Murphy, brother of the deceased, and he evinced the same curious lack of memory as the previous witness. Early in the examination the Inspector was impelled to say, "It is absurd the way in which we have to get things out of you," to which the witness made answer, "I cannot remember things so long ago." [This was on 9th March, and the murders occurred on the night of Boxing Day. It
might be fairly supposed, that the most trivial incidents of that eventful day would have been recalled by the family immediately after the tragedy by persistent and continuous effort of memory, and yet for value in tracking the murderers these people could remember nothing that was of the slightest aid to the police.]
Jeremiah Murphy, another brother, was the- next witness.
He had gone to a dance at Mount Sylvia— in the opposite direction to Gatton — on Boxing Night, and reached home as day was breaking. "When he reached home he did not see the pony that was usually running about the premises. This beast was not easy to catch when it had been out for some time. The horse could have been there without witness having seen it."
On getting up shortly after six o'clock this witness and his brother William started their milking, and before they were finished M'Neill came to them and said "it was strange the party had not returned; they might have had a smash, and someone should go and look for them."
After breakfast the brothers did not see M'Neill about, but about 9 o'clock he rode in past where they were chaff-cutting "looking bad." . Bob Smith came and said the three had been murdered in a paddock near Gatton.
Witness knew M'Neill had gone into town, but could not say who had told him.
M'Neill said to William, "My God, Bill, such a mess you never saw in all your life."
He also said their hands were tied behind their backs, and their heads bashed in in a paddock at Gatton.
He could not remember what was also said.
Inspector Urquhart — Try and remember, Murphy, because this is of great consequence to everybody? — I don't remember who he said found them.
Did he tell you he heard the news in Gatton? — I don't remember him saying anything.
Did you ask him for any details? — I didn't ask him.
Did your brothers?— l didn't hear them if they did.
The Police Magistrate — Did you get any information afterwards — when you came down, in two or three days? — I don't remember.
The Inspector— Did you ask him whether anybody was with the bodies? — No.
Did your brothers? — I didn't hear them.
Didn't ask any question whatever? — No.
Did your mother say anything before she left to go to the scene of the murder? — She said, "Whoever did it didn't mean it for my children."
Did you see Mrs. M'Neill that day?— Yes.
Do you remember anything she said? — No.
Have you always a blank memory like this? — It is not bad, but I cannot remember at a time like this.
It is just the time you ought to remember. Did you and your brothers remain at home all that day? — Yes.
You didn't get your horses and go about looking? — No.
You know the country well, and so do your brothers? — Yes.
Nothing wrong with you that morning was there? — No.
Well, don't you know that the men who did that crime could not be very far away by that time? — No answer.
Didn't somebody suggest you should make a push in some direction? — No.
Did you think of it yourself? — No, I didn't.
Did you know how many policemen there were at Gatton at the time?— Yes.
How may? — Two. You know there were no more?— Yes.
The Police Magistrate — Are you not in the Mounted Infantry? — Yes.
Didn't it strike you to go to your comrades and ask them to help you? — No.
You heard of it first; they probably didn't hear of it till next day.
Inspector Urquhart — It is simply a fact that you stayed at home that day and did nothing at all? — I stayed at home with my sister, Mrs. M'Neill.
But there were others there? — They are strangers.
Surely some of you could have got away? — There was myself, Jack, and Pat there.
And Katie?— Yes. When you heard of the thing did it strike you that any particular person might have done it? — No.
Had you any suspicion? — No.
Have you since? — Yes.
The Police Magistrate — Don't give any names.
The Inspector-- When your mother said it was not meant for her children, did she say who it was meant for? — No.
Have you told anyone your suspicions? I have told a couple.
The Police Magistrate — Outside your own family? — Yes.
The Inspector — Did you tell the police? — No ; but they have been told.
How did you know? — My brother, Dan, told them.
To which police? — I don't know. You didn't tell me.
Do you know he told somebody? — I know he told somebody.
The Police Magistrate — Did he tell you he told somebody?— Yes.
Do your father and mother know Dan's suspicions? — Yes.
How long have they known? — Three or four weeks.
Before they gave evidence here? — I don't know. I have known that length of time.
Do you know they knew he suspected somebody? — I don't know.
Do you know Dan suspects somebody? — I don't know.
What I want to know is whether your father and mother know of your suspicions? — I don't know.
How long have you had these suspicions — About three weeks.
And have you taken any action in consequence of these suspicions? Have you tried to do anything? — Dan told the police, and I don't know.
You don't know whether he told the police? Have you done anything yourself?— No.
From these examples of the evidence of the Murphy family some idea may be gathered of the extraordinary difficulties the police have had to fight in pursuing the enquiry. That the Murphys have kept careful guard upon their speech is manifest throughout, and that this reticence is dictated either by fear for their own safety or of some other person or persons who may have been associated with the crimes seems in the highest degree
probable. As for Dan Murphy having told the police of his suspicions, the only evidence of this is his own admission that when he learned the news he said to a companion "Someone at home must have gone mad and done it." Who the "someone" was that Dan Murphy had in mind when he gave utterance to these ominous words is one of the many riddles of the tragedy.
Our next article will deal with the finding of the bodies and the further part played by M'Neill therein.
Inspector Urquhart — Are you quite sure you recollect the circumstances of this matter? — Yes.
Are you sure? — Yes.
Do you recollect them better than a month ago? — Yes.
Why? — Because I have been thinking over them.
Then if you said in your statement that you saw an unbroken continuation of wheel tracks through the rails that is wrong? — Yes.
He only saw the tracks of one horse.
They followed the tracks to the scene of the murder.
When they came up to the first body M'Neill said, "This is Norah."
Inspector Urquhart — Was the face plainly visible at the time? — Yes.
How much of the face? — The left side and one eye.
Do you think anyone who knew her could recognise her at a glance? — Yes, I do.
Witness then described the positions and condition of the bodies.
There were evidences of assault upon Norah.
Helen's clothes were pulled up to her knees, and there were blood and other stains on her underclothing.
He took no notes at the time, but he did afterwards. He could not now find them.
The Bench said he could not understand witness losing them. He should have religiously kept them.
Witness went to Michael's body, round which others were walking.
Inspector Urquhart — Did you not take any precaution to keep people away from the body? Witness — There were only four persons there, Wilson, Gilbert, Devitt, and James.
Inspector Urquhart — How did you know the murderer was not there?
He did not know that Gilbert said that a strap was lying across Michael's right thigh.
He did not notice tracks, but the ground was slightly disturbed.
The mark could have been made by something trailing on the ground.
The mark might also be made by a kick from a heel on the ground.
There was some loose earth on Norah's shoulder, and he formed the opinion that she was killed where she lay.
He held the same opinion of the, others.
He believed that, because when the bodies were lifted up there was an indentation in the ground under each, and thus that the heads were on the ground when the blows were received.
Witness thought the bodies had been dead for about; twelve hours.
He next examined the trap, which was about six yards away. He found no blood on it.
He searched for tracks or weapons, and between the bodies and the trap he found a blue cloak, on which there was no blood.
After looking for some time witness said, "As far as I can see, there is no trace left here; but if there is a real good black tracker he may be able to pick up some trace or track that we have been unable to find.
I will ride into Gatton and wire to the Commissioner of the occurrence, and ask him to send a black tracker."
He asked the others to remain and protect the bodies. Gilbert and James said they could not, as they had to return to town. Wilson and Devitt agreed to remain.
Witness, before leaving, instructed Wilson and Devitt to stay until he returned, and to allow no one near the bodies or the spot.
Wilson was a magistrate.
Inspector Urquhart— Did you act before you left in the same manner that you told Wilson to act? — There were only four there.
Did you tell them to keep away? — No.
Why not? — Because I did not think of it at the time.
What were they doing while you were examining the place? — Walking round.
That was to give the black trackers a chance? Witness, continuing, said M'Neill only remained about five minutes after they first came to the scene. He did not ask him where he was when he first saw the bodies, or to point out which way he had come. It did not at the time strike him as peculiar that there was no appearance of M'Neill's tracks along between the wheel tracks. If the tracks were there between the wheel tracks he
would have seen them; but there were none except those of the horse that drew the trap. Inspector Urquhart— lf you noticed that it is peculiar you did not question M'Neill.
Did you see any footprints about the bodies as if a man had walked up and looked at them? — No.
Are you in a position to say there was no track? Was your examination sufficient to enable you to say so? — I believe it was.
Have you ever had any experience of tracking? — Yes; I was three or four months after a black bushranger with four black trackers.
Do you swear there were no tracks? — All I can say is I carefully examined, and. I believe there were no tracks. I saw none.
Didn't it strike you as peculiar, knowing M'Neill had been there before, according to his own statement? — Well; yes, it did.
Did you take any steps to test the accuracy of M'Neill's statements? — No.
Did you question him to see if he was telling the truth? — No.
It is difficult to believe you rode from this station to the scene with M'Neill without saying something to him.
Didn't you ask him for any particulars? — No. Continuing, witness said he got back to the scene of the murder about a quarter to 12. He had no police constable in Gatton, and no assistance whatever.
Did the Murphy family offer any assistance? — No.
Did they at any time? — No.
Did any one else? — No; except when the bodies were being removed.
Did any -magistrate in Gatton come to offer any help? — No. Continuing, witness said there were about 30 or 40 people close up to the bodies on his arrival. These he requested to go out of the paddock. They retired a little, but came back again repeatedly, though he remonstrated with them. No one then offered, to help him.
Mrs. Murphy asked him to have the bodies' removed. Witness replied that he would like to allow the bodies to remain where they were until a doctor, for whom, he had wired, had arrived. Father Walsh, who was standing near, said it would be as well to leave the bodies until the doctor arrived.
Later, Mrs. Murphy again asked for the removal of the bodies. Mr. James (chemist), who was there then, said the bodies should be removed on account of the sun and the ants. Messrs. Ballantine and Wiggins urged the same course. - The latter said — "Have you not taken a description of the position of the bodies when you found them?" He said he had. He could not find that description. He put it in his drawer, and could
not imagine where it had gone.
He then had the bodies removed.
Inspector, Urquhart — Did you consider you were instructed by these two magistrates, Mr. Wiggins and Mr. Ballantine, to remove the bodies? — No; I did not. Continuing, witness said a number of men, including M'Neill, helped to remove the bodies. Just as Michael's body was to be taken up, Mrs. Murphy, who was at the head, lifted the mackintosh that had been placed over the face, and said, "Who does this belong to?"
M'Neill said, "It belongs to Bob Smith; it was thrown into the trap up at the races yesterday afternoon." Witness lifted up portion of the rug under Norah, and noticed dark stains on the underneath part, with dirt about the spot. The bodies were taken to the Brian Boru Hotel, placed in a room, and the door locked.
Dr. Von Lossberg arrived, and made an examination of the bodies. It was at this time that he found the hames-strap had been put round Norah's neck, drawn tightly, and fastened with a half-hitch. The clothes were taken off the bodies and handed over to witness. At the scene of the murder in the afternoon, a man named Andrew Smith handed him a piece of the dead limb of a tree, about 4ft long and 4in through. One end was smaller than
the other. At the larger end it was knotty, and at that place there were stains of blood. He fitted it into an indentation discovered in the ground, near Norah's head, which it fitted exactly. He concluded it had previously been lying in that hole, and on account of blood and some hair upon it, that it was the weapon- with which the wounds were inflicted.
[A further instalment of evidence and review will appear in our issue of Saturday next.]
Why don't the police arrest me? M’Neill exclaimed bitterly, when, the waitresses at Toowoomba refused to serve him with food, and the customers in his business left him one by one till he was forced to close his butcher's shop.
But the police have no reason to arrest him, and he has no one to blame for the unfortunate position in which he finds himself but the Murphy family. From the first the family, instead of assisting the police as they might have been expected to do, have taken only a listless interest in the proceedings, and their indifference has culminated in almost open hostility. The son Daniel Murphy, who was a member of the police force,
obtained leave of absence as soon as the bodies were discovered, and that leave was extended to two months without his making a single effort to assist in the discovery of the miscreants. When further leave was refused he sent in his kit. A brother constable made a statement that when Murphy heard of the murders in Brisbane he exclaimed, somebody must have gone mad at home, but this Murphy denied on oath at the inquiry.
M’Neill, on the other hand, has shown remarkable activity. So remarkable, indeed, that to be perfectly frank, it has led to his unpopularity. When he noticed the wheel-marks on the Tent Hill-road, and followed them to the scene of the murders, many claimed that he had been too smart, and argued that when a man went out to look for a vehicle which he had good reason to believe had met with an accident, he did not keep his eyes on
the ground in the hope of picking up wheel-tracks, but looked well ahead. Such people argued in ignorance. M’Neill is an old bushman, and tracks mean more to a bushman than finger-posts to the townsman. Besides the tracks made by M’Neill’s dogcart were of such a remarkable nature, that no one having once seen them could mistake them.
The wobbly wheel was not like those seen on suburban hawkers' carts. It was a unique wobbler, and had defied the efforts of all the local wheelwrights to remedy it. For five, six, seven, eight, nine or ten revolutions variously, it would run as straight as its fellow, then for no apparent reason whatever it would wobble badly for one or two revolutions before it rammed its straight career.
That made a track no bushman could miss. In numerous other points where M’Neill’s actions have looked suspicious, there is an easy and satisfactory explanation; but in the feverish anxiety which he displayed to keep his wife out of the witness box he showed an indiscretion for which he is now paying the penalty of unpopularity.
When Mrs. M’Neill was first subpoenaed, the excuse was forwarded that she was suffering too severely from dysentery to attend. Yet she was able to drive from her father's house to Helidon not to Gatton, mark you, which was much the nearer station-and take the train to Toowoomba, under conditions that must have been terribly trying to any one suffering from her complaint. Other excuses were forthcoming, and when at last the
patience of the presiding magistrate, Mr. Shand, was exhausted, and he threatened to have her arrested for disobedience of the summonses, a medical certificate was received that she was suffering from embolism, and that any excitement might prove fatal. There then remained nothing to be done but to adjourn the Court to Toowoomba to take her evidence. For two hours and a half she stood the trying ordeal, and, though she had to be carried into court, she
was, at the conclusion of her evidence, able to stand without assistance and sign her depositions. A little more frankness on her part would have done much to clear her husband from the unpleasant position in which he has been placed by the public. In her evidence she admitted that though it was the middle of summer, and so hot that she was obliged to keep the windows open, M’Neill, on Boxing night, slept in his clothes, in case he might have to get up
to get something for the child, which was sleeping with them.
As for M’Neill himself, he gave his evidence in the most straightforward and unhesitating manner; and after his severe cross-examination by Inspector Urquhart, through which he came triumphantly, he might well have exclaimed, with the old philosopher, The man who speaks the truth is generally under a cloud, for truth is the last thing the world will accept. There are really only two very suspicious points of evidence against M’Neill,
and both are supplied by his wife. The first is that he slept in his clothes on the night of the murder, and that she would not absolutely swear that he might not have gone out; and the second is that in the pursuit of his calling she had seen him using his right and left hand when cutting up sheep. In consequence of the strong public feeling against him he has been forced to close his shop, and is now on a selection of land near Toowoomba. Apart
altogether from the question whether their efforts have been skilfully directed or not, the police have done an enormous amount of work, which has resulted in nothing. It would be uninteresting and useless to follow them through all the false tracks into which they have been led by evidence, which seemed in the first instance of the most valuable character, but one instance may be given. A shirt was discovered hidden in the neighbourhood. It was so marked
and stained that if its ownership had bean established, as the police were led to believe it might be, it would have provided them with a splendid foundation upon which to build their evidence of guilt. Long and exhaustive enquiries showed that the owner was a person who could not possibly have had any connection with the crime, and the stains were accounted for in an equally satisfactory manner. For the present the police appear baffled, and the only
thing that can be suggested is that the Government should increase the amount of the reward from £1,000 to five times that amount. It may be that only one person in the world knows who the perpetrator of this crime is. If it be so no harm can be done by offering the reward. On the other hand, if others are aware of it, their capacity may be tempted with £5,000; and, if they turn informers and the murders are avenged, no one will surely cavil at the
expense. There is another hopeful side to the case, and that is that the Chief Commissioner of Police is not the man to admit himself beaten.
During the shearing troubles, when he was principally Under-Secretary, he was specially empowered to inquire into the outrages perpetrated by the men on strike, and amongst other cases submitted to his care was the burning of the Ayrshire Downs woolshed. It seemed a hopeless task to clear up that crime, but Mr. Okeden was undaunted, and after years of patient work he had the satisfaction of bringing the criminals to justice, and
seeing them sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. Now that he is in charge of the police, and the reputation of his department is at stake, he may be trusted never to relax his efforts till the perpetrator of this most horrible piece of villainy has paid the extreme penalty of the law. The Argus
It is reported that the police contemplate making another arrest in connection with the Gatton murders.
It is understood that they are in possession of information, which has an important bearing on the subject.
Inspector Urquhart is still conducting investigations at Gatton. He came to Brisbane yesterday, and had a long interview with the Commissioner of Police, subsequently returning to Gatton.
The police are quite satisfied that Burgess had no connection with the crime.
Daniel Murphy, father of the victims, being recalled, said he recollected saying, when previously giving evidence, that there were no horses in the house paddock on the night of the murder. There was a stable at the place, and in this Lucas, an old blood stallion, very infirm in the legs, was kept.
Inspector Urquhart — Was he in the stable on the night of the murder? - Yes.
Can he be ridden? — Yes.
You did not tell us that before. Why did you conceal it? — I am not concealing anything. I did not think of it. Witness, continuing, said a small pony was kept in the paddock near the house for running up the cows in the morning. He did not know if it was in the paddock that night, but his son John had told him since he (Daniel, senr.) last gave evidence that the pony was there that night. He had not previously concealed these
things, but had not thought of them when last examined. His son had recalled to his mind a conversation he had with M'Neill on Boxing Night. That night at about 9.30 o'clock witness was in the kitchen, and when returning to the sitting-room he asked M'Neill to have a glass of wine, but the latter refused, saying he had a headache. He did not see M'Neill again that night, but witness believed he went to bed. He did not believe he went out afterwards.
Inspector Urquhart — What reason have you for thinking that he did not go out afterwards? — I never saw him go out afterwards.
How do you know he never went out? — He usually goes to bed before me.
Could M'Neill not have left the house afterwards without your knowledge? — I don't believe he could.
Why? — I could hear him go out, I believe.
The Police Magistrate— Why cannot you answer these questions straight out instead of saying, "I don't believe this and I don't believe that"?
Surely you can answer a straight question. Inspector Urquhart— Don't you sleep at night? — Not until after 12 o'clock.
Questioned as to why this was so witness said he had previously been engaged in work, which afforded him only a limited time for sleep.
Inspector Urquhart — Is that not al he more reason why you should sleep when you get the chance? Witness, closely questioned, said he heard M'Neill and his wife talking about 12 o'clock, but he could not fix the time, except through having been a good while in bed.
He heard the child cry. It usually cried in the early part of the night she would cry if disturbed by anyone in the night. He did not hear any person moving in the house or any noise whatever. Pat had two ponies other than the one at the house, but on Boxing Day they were at Spring Creek, 16 miles away. He did not know of any other pony being about the place that night. The pony mentioned was somewhat hard to catch.
Inspector Urquhart— It is strange that you should think that they had been murdered. Witness could not say why he came to that conclusion. When, following the wheel tracks he sometimes walked between the tracks, sometimes on them. He had not shown the tracks made by him when entering or leaving the paddock to any one, nor had anyone asked him to do so.
When returning from Mount Sylvia races on Boxing Day he stopped at a store near the Murphys'. A strange man was leaving the store when he arrived. He (witness) could not say which way the man went after leaving the store
He could not say whether he assisted Michael to harness the horse for the purpose of taking his sisters to the dance or not.
He did not know who brought the horse from the paddock.
His whip was in the trap at the time, but was taken out because it was too short.
He remembered Murphy asking him to have a drink, but could not say if it was on Boxing Night. He went to bed that night between 9 and 10 o'clock. He could not say if he shut the door of the bedroom when he went in. The reason he slept in his clothes that night was that he feared the child would be troublesome, and he might have to get out with it, because Norah was up the previous night; but the child slept well, and did not move
or cry out the whole night. He did not know if his wife woke up that night. He slept next the wall that night, and to leave the bed must have stepped over his wife. He could not have done so without waking her, he came to Gatton on Wednesday for the purpose of getting the clothes that he wore on Boxing Day. Because of the way things had been going on lately he thought that they would be more satisfied by seeing them. The reason he took his wife away from
Gatton to see the doctor was because one of the Murphys’ told him that a warrant had been issued for the arrest of his wife. Witness had a conversation with Mrs. Murphy on Wednesday, but could not remember what had passed. He had a rifle burnt in the fire at Westbrook.
Inspector Urquhart — What did you kill with after the rifle was burnt? Witness, in reply, said that he had not carried on business since the fire.
While at Westbrook Crossing he asked Michael Murphy for change of a pound. Michael could not manage it. Witness asked him for a loan of ten shillings, which Michael lent him. He did not know if Murphy had any notes. He had since learnt that Michael was paid £5 just before he left Westbrook. When Michael lent him the money he took it from a purse. He did not know if that was the purse afterwards found in Michael's hand. Witness
repaid Murphy 10s at Field's store, Toowoomba. Witness there bought a pair of patent leather slippers. He wore them to the races on Boxing Day, also on Boxing Night, and took them off before going to bed. He usually went about barefooted shortly before retiring. He did so for an hour on the night of the 26th. He did not know where he left his slippers. He put them on again next morning. He could not remember where he found them. He wore them
when riding to Gatton. They had round toes, not pointed ones. He did not think that he rode Ellen's pony to round up the horse to go in search for Michael, Norah, and Ellen. His wife's illness began on 17th June 1898, after the birth of the youngest child. Witness paid the funeral expenses of the three Murphys’ with his own cheques. The reason he did so was because he thought that the members of the Murphy family were too upset to attend to
such matters. The money had since been refunded to him. He and Dan Murphy consulted on the matter, and he (witness) said that he would do it all.
LEFT AND RIGHT-HAND BLOWS.
The second body examined was that of Norah. There was a scalp wound on the left side 3in in length and a wound an inch long over the right eye. He found a mark three-quarters of an inch in width extending round the neck, with the exception of about 4in, or the width of a hand, on the right side. Then there were well-defined marks or contusions on the thighs, particularly on the inside.
The skin of both knees was abraded. The skull was fractured. She also was healthy. The wrists were contused.
Inspector Urquhart — Was it possible in the then state of the bodies to decide whether there had been sexual violation? Dr. Wray — The bodies were too far gone. Continuing, the doctor said he made an examination of Michael's body. He found a bullet wound behind the right ear and a scalp- wound fully 41/2 in length on the right side. The bullet wound and the lacerated wound on the scalp were joined. The skull at this part was
fractured. He recovered the bullet in the brain substance (bullet produced, but the doctor retained it). He found no marks of violence on the body. Michael's body was not mutilated in the slightest degree. The occipital and frontal bones were fractured, in each case the wounds being sufficient to cause death. The bullet wound in Michael's head was inflicted before the wounds on the head. Had the bullet been discharged into his head after the skull was
fractured there would have been no resistance to the bullet, and it would have passed right through. The bullet wound would have caused death, but it was possible for a man suffering from a similar wound to live some considerable time. There would not be much external haemorrhage from the bullet wound, but this would depend upon which side the victim fell.
Inspector Urquhart— Would it be a bullet that there would be any difficulty in discovering before the hair was off the head? Dr. Wray~I should think there would be no difficulty in the first instance. It would have been possible to say whether the shot was fired at close quarters or otherwise. Continuing, he said that unless Helen's hands were tied very tightly the marks would not have been visible at the time he saw them. In
Norah's case they were.
Inspector Urquhart — And yet they were both tied with the same material? Witness, continuing, said the state of the marks on Norah's neck was due to the insertion of something between the strap and the neck, which might have been a hand for the purpose of strangling or dragging her along the ground. The wound over Norah's eye was due to a blunt instrument as a blow from a stick or a fist with a ring on. He found no marks as of a
grip with the fingers. He had been shown a stick, at the police station, but did not think it possible that the wounds could have been caused by it. They were inflicted by a heavy blunt instrument by one person, and with about the same amount of force in the use of the same instrument.
Inspector Urquhart — Can you say in each case if there was a series of blows or only one? — In Helen's case there were more than one blow. That I am positive of, and also in Michael's case.
Inspector Urquhart — Would that blow be caused by a strong person, one with great strength? — Not necessarily great strength. It was brutal force, and a vicious blow. Inspector Urquhart — The amount of strength was correlative with the weapon? -Yes. Continuing, witness said that Michael was wounded on the right side, and the others on the left, as if the person could use both left and right hands.
Michael was either in a position to be struck on the right side, or the murderer tried to hide the bullet by blows on the head.
The sittings of the Royal Police Commission were continued at the Commissioner's office, Treasury Buildings, yesterday afternoon, under the presidency of his Honour Judge Noel.
The Chief Inspector (Mr. John Stuart), who was again called, said he desired to amend his evidence at the part where he said he "performed his duties in a perfunctory manner." What he meant was that he did not perform his duty with close supervision.
Mr. Sadlier stated that the return of arrests for drunkenness presented showed that those on Sundays were very much less than those on weekdays.
The Chairman: Understand this: If you are not cognisant of the facts as well as the officer who really superintended the whole thing, we don't want to force you. The officer who conducted the inquiries might be able to do it better.
Sub-inspector White conducted all the searching, and he could give you all the facts better. I came in with the finding of the body, and supervised matters afterwards. That is not what we want particularly. Sub-inspector White conducted the inquiries up to that time.
As to the Gatton matter, were you the officer in charge from the inception? -Up to the 30th I was in charge from the date it was reported to me.
But were you the officer who first got the information with regard to the murders? -Yes; the official information. I received the telegram.
Then we will go on with the Gatton murder. When did you receive that? -The first intimation I received was about 5 o'clock in the afternoon of the 27th December, 1898. I was at my home at Bowen Hills.
In telephonic communication with this place? -No.
How did you receive the information? Inspector Urquhart called in me, and said he had heard a rumour that a murder had been committed at Gatton.
Mr. Unmack: When was the murder committed? -On the night of the 26th December, supposed to be between 9 and 10 o'clock.
The Chairman: At 5 o'clock on the 27th (about twenty hours after) you received the first official intimation of a rumour? -Yes.
Did Urquhart tell you why he called it a rumour? -He said he had given Constable Murphy leave to go to Gatton; that he had received a telegram stating that his brother and sisters had been killed. He thought that the telegram was a hoax. He asked if I had any information. I said, "Certainly not;" and that if it was a fact, I ought to have been apprised at once.
Did he say what time Murphy got the telegram? -He said some time in the afternoon-about 1 o'clock. I was suffering from anthrax in the leg, and was in the act of poulticing it. I said, " Go into town at once, and make inquiries." I heard nothing further until I came in to the office in the usual way in the morning. I saw an ordinarily-addressed telegram, addressed to the Commissioner of Police, on my table.
This was a telegram from Sergeant Arrell, saying Murphy and his sisters had been murdered at Gatton.
What time was that telegram despatched? -I have all the records here-"December 27, at 10.55 a.m." "Murphy and his sisters murdered. Can you send some black trackers?" What time was it received? -It is timed 11.16 a.m., "B." (Meaning Brisbane).
You found this telegram waiting on your table on the morning of the 28th, it having been here nearly twenty-four hours: -The 26th was a holiday. I came into the office, and, there being no clerks, I opened all the correspondence.
This telegram had not arrived then? -No. I telephoned to Inspector White, and asked him if there were any reports. I stayed till about 12.30 that morning, and then-I was suffering from anthrax-went to my home at Bowen Hills.
When was it delivered? -I don't know.
Is there anyone whose duty it is to attend to telegrams on holidays? -They should be delivered here or at Roma-street.
Is there no record in the books as to when that was received by any police officer? -No.
How did it get on to your table in the morning? -I don't know.
What does the messenger say? -There are a great many contradictory statements.
We have this telegram here at 11.16, and you were here till 12.30 on that morning, and the telegram did not get to your notice until 9 o'clock the next morning? -That is so.
I have a statement here from H. Massie. Is he the person who was on duty here to receive telegrams? -No; this is the messenger (from the Telegraph Department. He states: "I took it out at 11.52 a.m. and, as the office in the Treasury is generally closed on a holiday, I took it to the Roma street station, where I arrived at 12.15. The constable in the office told me I could deliver it at the office at the Treasury, as they
were up there. I took it up there, and delivered it to the messenger, Mr. Hurst. I had a message to deliver at Lennon's Hotel before I went to the Treasury, Building, and that was what made him take some time in getting to the Treasury Building." And it just missed you? -If his statement is correct.
Do you doubt it? -Yes, I do.
Why? -I did not leave exactly at the half-past.
Then you doubt his statement? -Yes.
Then what does Hurst say? -Constable Hurst reports: "At about 12.30, the senior sergeant telephoned from the Roma-street Police Station, asking if the Commissioner was in. I said no; but that the Chief Inspector was here, and he was acting for the Commissioner. He stated there was a message there, and asked if he sent it over would be all right. I said, yes. After about five minutes a messenger arrived with two messages, and
handed them to the constable. He handed them to the Chief Inspector immediately they were received from the messenger." These were not the Gatton telegrams. With reference to the telegrams delivered by "a" telegraph messenger, I have them here.
When did you get these telegrams? -I cannot remember exactly. It was between the hour I arrived and the hour I left the office. My memory is not sufficiently accurate.
For instance, don't you note in the office the hour received? -No.
Does not anybody? -Not as a rule.
At any rate, neither of these telegrams referred to anything at Gatton? -No.
Does Hurst say anything about the telegram stating about the murder? -(Witness looks over papers).
Mr. Garvin: I have gone through the papers. Hurst states he went into the office, and there were two telegrams on the table: but neither of them was the one from Arrell. He is positive about that. (Witness goes through the papers.)
The Chairman: We don't want you to give the evidence if you are not cognisant with the facts. -I would suggest that you get the evidence direct from Hurst.
Mr. Garvin: How do you account for finding the telegram on your table on the following morning? -All the telegrams received a little late, when everyone is away, Hurst generally puts on my table, immediately in front of my seat.
So telegrams coming like that would not be opened by anyone? -That was a holiday.
That does not matter. -No one opens them on a holiday.
What is the practice on a holiday? -That was the usual practice.
If it was a holiday a telegram would have to wait till the following morning? -Yes, unless marked " urgent."
Then Hurst would send it away at once, either to some sub-inspector, myself, or the Commissioner.
The Chairman: Ought telegrams to be marked urgent? -Certainly.
Mr. Garvin: Up to the time of the murder a telegram would be merely put aside until the next morning? -It would be put on my table.
Is that not a dangerous practice? -It has been altered.
Mr. Garvin: Never mind about that. Mr. Dickson.
When did Murphy receive that telegram? -About 1 o'clock.
To whom did he apply for holidays? -He should have applied to White; but he was away, and he then went to Urquhart.
What did you do in the morning? -I inquired where Urquhart was, and I was informed he had left in the morning train for Gatton. I asked for the Commissioner; but he was not in. I waited until the Commissioner came in.
The Chairman: When was that? -About 10 o'clock.
Is there a telephone connected with the Commissioner's house? -Yes, from Roma street.
Did you ask them to telephone to the Commissioner? -No; I thought he was on the way in. I handed the Commissioner the telegram, and he said he heard about it, and had sent Mr. Urquhart away in the morning train.
Mr. Garvin: When Urquhart told you about the rumour did you instruct him to telegraph to Gatton? -No, I thought it was a hoax.
But this is a serious thing. There is a rumour that three persons were murdered.
Did you ask him if he saw the telegram that Murphy received? -No.
You say it was the practice prior to this offence being committed for telegrams arriving at the office to be allowed to remain till next day. Who gave the orders for that? -It was the practice. I don't know who gave the orders. But if the telegrams could not be left here, they would be sent to Roma-street.
Do you know what hour of the day Murphy applied for leave to go away? -No.
Do you know if Murphy went and had that telegram verified? -No; I don't known any thing about his actions.
Did Urquhart not tell you he went to the telegraph office and had it verified?
The Chairman: You jumped to that conclusion? -It was an unheard of thing for a private telegram, to come and no official word.
Did you make inquiries from Arrell whether he sent the telegram "urgent”? I did. From what I understood from him, the stationmaster, who is also the telegraph master, would not send it urgent. At the time I was up I could not make proper inquiries, as I wanted to go to the scene of the murder. I left the other for inquiries after. It has since been inquired into by the Commissioner.
You don't know anything about it? -No.
Mr. Garvin: Is not a responsible person left to open telegrams on holidays? -It has now been arranged that all telegrams shall be taken on holidays to the Roma-street police station, and opened.
That is only since the Gatton murders? -Yes.
The Chairman: Is there not an arrangement with the Telegraph Department that telegrams on police matters should be sent at once? -I cannot say.
Mr. Garvin: Is it a practice for telegrams to be sent at all hours? -I have received them at all hours.
Is there not an officer always kept at the telegraph office on holidays? -Yes.
There is always a man on duty at Brisbane.
Prior to these murders, it was perfectly useless to send telegrams to the Police Department on holidays? -I could not say that. It depends who was in the office.
But you said there was no one in the office? -I always come in on holidays. I don't know a holiday when I did not.
When would you leave? -Between 12 and 1 o'clock.
Any telegrams coming after that would have to stand over? -Yes, if they were delivered here.
What- would be the first train leaving here after it was shown the telegram was delivered? -Five o'clock in the afternoon.
Urquhart was the first officer who went? -He went up at 7.30 on the morning of the 28th.The Chairman:
I don't propose to go further with Mr. Stuart on this matter; but with other officers. On the other murders we were going to ask some questions, but we will defer them. As to the Woolloongabba murder, we are going to ask very few questions, for several reasons.
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.
Constable Dan Murphy, after detailing what action he took when he received a telegram acquainting him of the murder, said he went from Brisbane to Gatton by the 5 o'clock train on the day after the murder, and in the evening he saw Sub-inspector Galbraith and Sergeant Arrell there. He had no complaint to make against the police, except with regard to the man Day.
He believed Day had not given a satisfactory account of himself. On being asked why he suspected Day, he said he got certain information from Clarke, the butcher, as to what sort of a man Day was, and Clarke said that Day should never have been let go. The witness was asked if he had informed the police to that effect, and he said he had told Constable Joe Murphy, who said that a hand could be laid upon Day within twenty-four
hours if he were wanted. The witness also said that the boy Carroll had identified Day as the man he saw at the sliprails on the night of the murder. When asked if he brought any charge against the police, witness replied in the negative, but said he would like to know how Day had accounted for himself.
Mrs. Margaret Carroll, who was driving in to Gatton with a cart on the night of the murder, said that when they saw the man at the sliprails her son John remarked, "That is Clarke's butcher." This was corroborated by John Carroll, who said that when he was making his statement to the police he told them that he thought the man he saw at the sliprails was Clarke's butcher.
He denied having identified Burgess, as he had simply said that Burgess looked something like the man he saw at the sliprails.
Mr. A. S. Smith, a storekeeper, of Gatton, said that on the morning of the discovery of the murder Day came into his shop and bought a razor. A few hours afterwards he returned clean shaved, and paid three months' subscription to the Gatton School of Arts. A few days after the murder witness was speaking to John Carroll, and the latter said that he took the man at the slip rails to be Day, Clarke's butcher. The witness gave this
information to Detectives Toomey and Head and Sergeant Arrell, and he supposed that they took action upon it.
The Police Commission resumed the inquiry into the action of the police in connection with the Gatton murders yesterday.
Sergeant Arrell, stationed at Gatton, stated that he joined the force in October, 1877 and had been in Gatton for about twelve months before the murders (committed on 28th December last).
He received the first intimation of the crime at about a quarter past 9 on the morning of 27th December from M'Neill.
The latter told him he had already informed some people at Gilbert's hotel.
He was told by the station master (who is also the telegraph master) that he could get the wire through at once and just as quickly as if it was "urgent."
The Chairman: Were you afraid to act except in a red-tape way? -At the time I considered it my duty to go and send the wire.
But why? Didn't you think it of the greatest importance to protect the bodies? -The men I left I thought would look after the bodies.
But they would not have the authority you would have. Is that not so? -Yes.
Why did you think it necessary to go in and send that wire when you could have got a justice of the peace to do it? -I did not think there was any likelihood of people going into the paddock. It never struck me then.
By Mr. Dickson: M'Neill, when he came, said, "I have come to report to you that the three Murphy’s are lying dead in the paddock up there."
By the Chairman: After removing the bodies he went to the telegraph office to see if there were any wires.
He spoke to Mr. Ballantyne and several others, and asked them if they had any idea who committed the crime.
By Mr. Dickson: He did not send another wire, because he thought some officials would come in the afternoon train.
By the Chairman: He did not go out to make any inquiries outside the town because he did not like to leave the bodies.
The Chairman: You left the bodies at a most important time; but you could not leave them later, but sat about in the hotel? -Witness: I did not sit about in the hotel.
The Chairman: What did you do? - I asked several persons who they thought did it.
The Chairman: What is the good of that?
The Chairman: Well, -why not say so?
Mr. Garvin: He did not make inquiries at Clarke's place about the report of a revolver heard during the night.
By Mr. Sadleir: The first suggestion of Day being concerned in the murder was made to him about two months after the murder.
By Mr. Dickson: He was informed by a man named Smith that he had informed the detectives about Day having boiled a jumper with blood on it next day.
He informed Inspector Urquhart, but was told that the report had been heard, but that the man had been cleared.
By the Chairman: Witness at the first glance at the bodies thought murder had been committed, and he could not account for M'Neill not forming the same conclusion as soon as he saw them.
He asked M'Neill if he had any idea who committed the murder; but he answered no.
M'Neill appeared much distressed.
By Mr. Garvin: He gave witness to understand, in reply to questions, that he did not know of the girls having any sweethearts, or the Murphy’s having had any quarrels.
He could see no heel tracks round about the bodies, though he searched a circle of about 200 yards.
By Mr. Dickson: Efforts were made to keep the ground undisturbed, because he asked the men not to allow any one near the bodies.
By Mr. Garvin: He did not know that they had done it.
The Chairman: Were you afraid that unless you personally sent the wire you would be "hauled over the coals? -I considered it.
Were you afraid? -No, I was not: but I considered it my duty.
Mr. Sadleir: You thought the wire would miscarry? -Yes.
The Chairman: It would be just as likely to miscarry if you sent it.
Did you try to keep people out of the paddock by putting some one at the sliprails? -I did not think people would be there.
You have a prior idea of people's morbidity.
Do you not know it is a common device for murderers to get a crowd to collect so as to stamp out traces? -I have had no experience with murders.
But do you not know from general reading? -No.
By Mr. Dickson: The first time he went to Clark's, to make inquiries about the murder was about two months afterwards. He learned that Day, who was in Clarke's employ, did not associate with any one. He sometimes walked along the road, he heard.
The Chairman: This was two months afterwards. We will question other officers who made the inquiries there.
Mr. Bourne, superintendent in the Telegraph Department, stated that the telegram sent by Arrell was received in the office at Gatton at 10.55 on the morning of 27th December. It arrived in Brisbane at 11.16, and was delivered by a messenger named Massie; He had four other messages to deliver, and left the office at 11.52.
One message was delivered in the office. Owing to the circumstances a strict inquiry was made, and the boy's story was that, as the Treasury Building was generally closed on a holiday, he went first to Roma-street, and arrived there at 12.5.
He was told by a constable that he could deliver it at the Treasury Building.
He took it up to the Treasury Building, but though he got-into the office it took him some time to find any one.
Ultimately he delivered the message at 12.32.
The police mustered sixty men at Roma-street afterwards, and asked the boy to pick out the man he gave the message to which he did.
He was back at the office that day at 12.42, and by his book was not required to visit the Treasury again that day.
Witness noticed from the evidence that two messages delivered at the Treasury Building earlier in the day by a boy named Foster were mixed up with the message delivered by Massie.
Foster delivered the messages at 10.38, and as he had over thirty messages to deliver he could not be back in town between that hour and 3 o'clock.
Witness had not the slightest doubt about the time Arrell's message was delivered at the Treasury Building.
The message sent to Constable Murphy that his brother and sisters had been murdered was despatched from Gatton at 11.50 and arrived at 12 noon.
The messenger left the office at 12.12.
The Chairman: So if Murphy says he got that message about 12.30 he would probably be right? -Witness said yes.
The boy returned at 1.40. In his evidence the lad said he delivered the message to Murphy at 12.20.
Asked if he had anything further to say, Mr. Bourne said the whole course in connection with the Police Department had been unsatisfactory.
The police commission continued its inquiry to-day in connection with the Gatton tragedy.
Inspector Galbraith detailed the course of action pursued until the arrival of Inspector Urquhart, to whom practically he handed over the control of the whole affair.
The evidence of Sub-Inspector White went to show that the telegram from Gatton was not delivered, as alleged, by a telegraph messenger.
The private wire received by Murphy from the constable stating that his two sisters and brother had been murdered was generally regarded at the police station as a hoax. Inspector Urquhart proceeded to show that red-tapeism was really the cause of the delay, and that no earlier action was taken by the officials at headquarters.
The Police Commission resumed the inquiry yesterday into the action of the police in connection with the Gatton murders.
The examination of Sub-inspector Galbraith was continued. He stated that he questioned a man on the night of the discovery who was suspected by some persons of having had a hand in the murders.
Two trackers arrived early on the morning of 28th December, and he set these to work about 6 o'clock.
He made an examination in various parts of the paddock, including the sliprails, but he found signs of hundreds of persons having passed over the spot.
One thing that struck him particularly, however, was that the actual scene of the murder was not disturbed. He returned to Gatton and met young Murphy, and put some questions to him. He also sent Constable Colville out to Tent Hill to make inquiries at the hotel as to the persons who had followed deceased. He sent away a long wire to the Chief Inspector, and at the time Inspector Urquhart arrived. At once he informed the inspector
of what he had done and seen. He felt relieved to a certain extent of actual responsibility, though Urquhart did not altogether take over the whole charge. They worked together, sent men out to get statements, &c.
By Mr Garvin: The man who was questioned by him on the night of the discovery had never, to witness's mind, properly accounted for his movements on the night of the murders. Witness had not very strong suspicion of him at the time; but later he felt somewhat convinced that he had committed the murders. Still, he now thought he did not have a hand in the murders. He did not think any one who knew this man would take him for another
certain man once suspected.
By Mr. Dickson: The trackers who were sent up were not able to do much tracking.
They were not police trackers. Senior-sergeant Johnson obtained the first he could get, and sent them on. Chief Inspector Called Mr. Stuart, Chief Inspector, was called, and said he got the telegram sent by Sergeant Arrell (on the morning of 27th December) when he came to his office at 9 o'clock in morning of 28th December. It was on his office-blotting pad.
The Chairman: Will you tell us the grounds on which you came to the conclusion that the boy Massie lied? -I did not say he lied.
You said you did not believe him when you gave evidence before? -People may make a mistake, and not be lying.
Then you don't mean he lied? -No.
You see by the books the telegrams by Foster were delivered before 11 o'clock, while Massie said he delivered a wire at 12.32. Do you say you still believe the boy is inaccurate? -I say he may have made a mistake.
Why should you say so on this evidence? -It is the first time I heard this evidence.
The Chairman: There were about thirty telegrams to be delivered by Foster, and he must have made thirty false entries, according to your contention.
By the Chairman: If Constable Hurst got a telephonic message at 12.15 he ought to have told witness about it, and he would have waited for the actual telegram.
The Chairman: You still trust the testimony of a man like Hurst rather than believe the corroborated evidence of the boy Massie? -It is the first time I have heard it.
Well, which do you believe? -I would not like to say. A mistake has occurred somewhere.
You see where an officer at Roma-street once had to telephone to the telegraph office asking for advice as to whether a telegram left there was urgent, so as to know whether to open it? -There were previously no definite instructions about opening the Commissioner's telegrams.
The Chairman: Are there now? -Yes, there are written instructions.
What are they? -All telegrams that come to Roma-street are to be opened by the officer in charge, and immediately sent to the Commissioner.
The Chairman: A very great improvement on the other system.
Mr. Garvin: Can you tell me whether you ever before came in and got telegrams delivered like that one? -Yes.
The Chairman: That cannot happen now? -No. Witness said that when Inspector Urquhart came to him on the afternoon of 27th December and said he had heard a rumour of a murder at Gatton he did not send the officer away to Gatton at once, because he did not think there was any truth in the matter, otherwise he would have received an urgent wire. It did not strike him that he ought to come into the office and see if there
was a telegram there. He ought, he thought, to have got an urgent wire from Senior-sergeant Johnson at Ipswich.
Mr. Unmack: But you had a wire in the office? -Not an urgent wire.
But what did it matter, as no one was here to open it.
Johnson's Work. Senior-sergeant Johnson, late of Ipswich, but now of Roma, stated he received the wire addressed to Sub-inspector Galbraith.
The latter had gone on towards Rosewood, and he at once sent on a man to catch him up, and if he could not do so to return.
He instructed the Government medical official, tried to get trackers, and wired Sub inspector Galbraith at Rosewood, concluding by stating he had-not wired to the Commissioner.
He did not so wire, because he thought the sergeant at Gatton would have sent a telegram, and that the sub-inspector would at once wire from Rosewood.
Witness said he would like to quote a telegram he sent on 7th January concerning a man named Allen.
A resident of Ipswich named Betts reported to him that he had seen the man with cuts on his face and acting excitedly on 1st January.
He wired to Brisbane asking that inquiries be made to trace the man, but the papers (which he read) showed that no efforts were made until April, when
At this stage Mr. Sadleir wished to put some questions to the witness concerning a private complaint; but the chairman objected.
Mr. Sadleir said he would like to discuss the question privately, and the room was cleared.
On resuming, the Chairman said there had been a misunderstanding concerning the questions Mr. Sadleir wished to put, and he arranged to have them asked later.
First News of the Murder.
Sub-inspector White stated that about a quarter to 1 on 27th December Senior-sergeant Masterson telephoned from Roma street to the effect that Constable Murphy had received a telegram announcing that his sisters and brother had been murdered at Gatton, and that he had gone to get the matter confirmed.
News then came that the fact had been confirmed.
Witness then telephoned to the Commissioner's office, asking if there had been any news. It was about 1 o'clock.
Constable Hurst at the Commissioner's office said through the telephone that there was no telegram or news at that office.
Masterson had also stated that he had asked the CI. Branch.
He gave Murphy the necessary leave.
Senior-sergeant Masterson, stationed at Roma-street, stated that about half-past 12 Constable Hoolahan handed him a telegram received by Murphy.
He at once telephoned it to White.
He asked the orderly (Hurst) at the Commissioner's office if there was any information there, as he said if there was any truth in it there must be some information at the Commissioner's office.
This was immediately after the telegram was placed in his hand.
He telephoned to the C.I. Branch and informed Inspector Urquhart of the contents of Murphy's telegram.
He believed that officer said there was no information at that branch. Murphy afterwards got his wire confirmed.
Another constable named Joe Murphy asked permission to accompany Dan Murphy (who was brother of deceased), and witness tried to ask permission from Sub-inspector White. But the officer was not at the depot.
He kept Joe Murphy waiting until close on train time, hoping to communicate with one of the Sub-inspectors.
As he failed to do so he gave the permission on his own responsibility.
In communicating with the depot during the afternoon be stated to Sergeant Anderson there that Murphy's wire had been confirmed.
The messenger who came with two telegrams in the morning arrived much before the telegram for Murphy. He did not remember another messenger coming with a wire, and being sent on to the office of the Commissioner of Police about half-past 12.
By Inspector Urquhart: He did not remember inspector Urquhart asking him if the contents of Murphy's telegram were believed at the police station at Roma street.
He might have said to Urquhart that it was believed to be a hoax; it was generally treated so at the station.
Murphy himself did not seem to treat it very seriously.
Witness suggested it might be a hoax to get him home for the holidays; he said the man who sent it was a "harem scarem" fellow.
Inspector Urquhart said he was talking to the Chief Inspector at the Commissioner's office on 27th December.
Witness went to the C.I. Branch in George-street, and when he arrived one of the clerks said there was a rumour of a murder at Gatton.
He asked if it was an official report, but he said, "No; it is a rumour at Roma-street."
Witness then rang up Roma-street, and asked about the matter. Masterson said Murphy had received a telegram.
Witness said, "Is it true?" Masterson said he did not know, but it was not believed, owing to the character of the man who sent it.
He said further it was believed to be a hoax, witness then went home, and came in about 3 o'clock, but found nothing had come.
About quarter-past 4 he arrived at his own house, when Constable James Murphy (who was no relation to the deceased) rode up and asked for leave for the other two Murphy’s.
Witness asked, "Why? Has the rumour about the murders been confirmed"? -He said yes.
Though it was not his place to do it, witness gave the leave, and asked if the Commissioner had been informed.
He said he believed he had.
Witness found afterwards that the reason Murphy concluded the Commissioner had been informed was that the other two Murphy’s had started to go to the Commissioner's house.
Witness then went to the Chief Inspector and informed him of what had taken place, and was instructed to go into town and make inquiries.
He went to the C. I. Branch and inquired at the other places, but found there was no news.
After doing his work about 9 o'clock he rang the Commissioner up on the telephone, and asked him if he had received any news of a murder at Gatton.
He said he had not heard of it.
Witness informed him of what he knew, and it was concluded that he should go to Gatton next day.
He did not know at the time that there was a train later at night.
Mr. Dickson: Why did you not inform him before? -Because of a system in the force which if you understood you would not ask that question.
What is that system? -Each officer is responsible for his own district. I am assigned to the Brisbane sub-district, and have no authority or standing outside unless I am sent out. I cannot interfere.
Mr. Unmack; Are you in charge of C.I. Branch, which has authority over the whole colony? -I did not understand that.
Mr. Dickson: Why did you ring up when you did? -I thought it was time something was done.
But why? -The explanation is this: As I said each officer is responsible for his own district. In the natural course of things that murder would have been reported urgently to Sub-inspector Galbraith at Ipswich; to the C.I. Branch independently by the same man who reported it to Galbraith; and to the Commissioner of Police or the Chief Inspector, who is the man in charge of the "A" District. Well, when none of these
people had had wires sent to him, and so far as I could discover nobody else, I thought it was time for me to interfere.
But before that if I interfered it would be an assumption of duty, which would lay me open to a chance of getting a snub.
Mr. Dickson: You considered Galbraith did not use the wires sufficiently. Why did you not use the wires? -I did what was expected of me in reporting the matter to my superior officer immediately.
Did you not come to the conclusion that it was a double murder and suicide or a crime by a drunkard or madman? -I did to a certain extent.
These are words from your own report? -That is the conclusion that came to my mind as a probable solution of no news of the crime being sent.
Mr. Garvin: Don't you think a system that prevented you from taking some definite action in a serious case like this was a wrong one? -Yes. I may say this: I suppose if I had taken action, as it has turned out, I would have got credit and approval; but if I had taken action, and there had been no occasion for it.
Mr. Garvin: Then you would also have got credit for it.
Witness: There was no official report; there was a discredited telegram; and there was a confirmation I never saw. It would be an assumption of discredit of the action of every officer in the district.
Supposing you had gone to the telegraph office at the railway station and got confirmation from the other end you could not have got blame for that? - I could not get blame for that; but it was not my place to do it.
Sergeant Arrell, asked at this point, said he did not know that there was a copy of the general orders in the office.
Inspector Urquhart, questioned by Mr. Sadleir, said he did not assume that he held special abilities for his position. He had not asked for it. He had been appointed without solicitation. He did not boast that he was an expert. He had no experience of this particular work previously. He had had more experience now than when he took over the branch.
Mr. Garvin: Don't you think there is too much red-tape business? -Yes, it is what I have complained of.
Mr. Garvin: If such a case had happened in New South Wales such a thing would not have occurred.
Inspector Urquhart said it was what he had referred to the first day he gave evidence before the commission, and which had given some umbrage, because it was misunderstood. He did not think any person who had been present with those who were first on the scene after the discovery of the murder had a grain of common sense, or they would not have allowed the tracks to be so obliterated.
Witness, continuing, said he took Toomey with him to Gatton in the morning mail train, and he was doubtful about the murder until he arrived at the town.
He saw Galbraith, and was told what he had done.
He was not told to take charge he had simply been told that he was to go up and see what was the matter.
He was not put in full charge until 7th January. He found the bodies were in the coffin, and he could not see them; but inspected the clothing, and noted one very important particular.
Witness tendered a copy of his report of 31st March showing his subsequent efforts.
Questioned in connection with the man Day, Inspector Urquhart said the boy Carroll had said the man at the sliprails was like the man at Clark's. Inquiry was made concerning him, but it was not considered there was any suspicion attaching to him.
He said he came from New South Wales; but no inquiries concerning him were made because they were not thought necessary.
After a time Day came to witness and said he had had a disagreement with Clark, and wished to go away, and asked if there was any objection.
Subsequently Day enlisted in the Permanent Force, but absconded, and a warrant was now out for him on that charge.
Senior-sergeant Johnson, of Roma, who was present to give evidence, was asked several questions regarding the Jubilee Fund.
He said the majority of men in his district were against the fund because they did not see what benefit would accrue to men in outlying places.
The commission adjourned till Monday morning.
The Police Commission continued the investigations yesterday into the action of the police in connection with the Gatton tragedy, when Inspector Urquhart, Detective Toomey, William M'Neill, and Chief Inspector Stuart were examined.
Urquhart expressed the opinion that the man Day was not concerned in the murder, and he also said he thought Sergeant Arrell had done his best according to his lights.
M'Neill complained of the worry he had been put to by the police without a reason being given him.
Chief Inspector Stuart questioned the efficiency of the Government medical officer who made the post mortem examination.
The investigations by the Police Commission into the action of the police in connection with the Gatton murder were continued yesterday.
Dan Murphy, brother, and Wm. M'Neill, brother-in-law, of the deceased, were present.
URQUHART FURTHER EXAMINED.
Carroll did not identify Day as the man he saw at the sliprails on the night of the murder, but he said the clothes he wore might be like those worn by the man he saw.
Witness questioned the boy very closely, and took statements from him, and this was the real amount of what he said.
At Toowoomba Carroll identified Burgess as the man he saw, and later he said he did not identify him, but said the man was like him.
Day and Burgess were not at all alike.
Another thing was that Florence Lowe, who was spoken to by a man near the sliprails, said the man wore a coat, rather long, and which came down in front.
The Chairman: It would be quite possible that the parties saw two different men.
Mr. Dickson: Did you know at the inquiry that Carroll said to his mother as he passed the man, "That is the man at Clark's"? Yes, I believe I did.
Mr. Garvin. Would that not be an important point? -Yes, and I pressed it upon him; but he would not say positively.
Have you heard that Carroll said to M'Neill on the ground near the bodies that it was the man at Clark’s? -No, I never heard of that before. M'Neill never told it to any one.
The Chairman: Would you be surprised to know Day gave a false birthplace? -I am aware of the circumstances; but I am not sure it is false.
You don't believe this office record? -What office record?
That there is no trace of a man named Day.
He either gave a false name or a false birthplace? -He gave the same name as he was under at Gatton.
Then he lied about his reference? -No; he named Clark as a man who could be referred to if necessary; but he did not say he could give a reference from him.
Is it not a matter of some importance that a man should be going about giving false names? -No, I don't know that it is.
If you found a man was lying about his name or birthplace, it would be worth thrashing it out? -It was not known till long since.
You didn't make any inquiries? -Yes, we made inquiries about him, and he said he came from New South Wales.
You did not make any inquiries in New South Wales? -No.
Is it not a peculiar thing that you did not make inquiries? -I was satisfied from the inquiries made at Gatton that he was not concerned in the murder.
Well, will you tell us why you suspected Burgess and tried to fit things on to him? -I didn't try to fit things on to him. I deny that emphatically.
Well, why did you suspect him? -Because he was identified apparently beyond all doubt.
I want to know why the man Day was so quickly excluded from suspicion? -His place was searched without his knowledge; and then with his knowledge.
He was brought up in the presence of his employer, and questioned by Toomey; all his clothes were overhauled.
We will have all that from Toomey.
Looking back now, you think you acted with wisdom in letting that man go? -Yes. I have arrested a man for murder since with far more against him than Day, and the row about him is something frightful.
You don't know anything about Day's antecedents whatever? -Yes, I do.
What do you know? -We questioned him. Witness, continuing, said that all kinds of inquiries were made in Gatton concerning Day, and all the officers were satisfied he had nothing to do with the murder. Besides, Burgess was identified as being in Gatton on the night of the murder. At no time, however, were the inquiries of the police confined wholly to Burgess. In fact, there was not a person in Gatton who did not think as he
(witness) did at the time.
He gave up the pursuit of Day because there was not a suspicious circumstance against him.
There was blood on his sleeve; but he was a butcher, and had been carrying beef. Mr. Clark confirmed this.
He did not have the coat examined; the analyst would have simply pronounced it mammalian blood.
The Chairman: I understand they can go further than that now? -Not here.
Did it not strike you to take that coat and have it analysed? -No.
His employer says he boiled that coat. Did he tell you that? -No.
Mr. Garvin: The man was washing his clothes. Did that not strike you as peculiar? -All butchers wash their clothes.
But he was a suspect? -It was not mentioned till long afterwards.
Well, that is an explanation; but certainly if the police heard of it at the time it was their duty to get that coat and have it examined? -After it was washed?
Yes; even then.
The Chairman: -Did Sergeant Arrell say that M'Neill announced the matter to him in these terms: "The three Murphy’s are lying dead in a paddock" :-I cannot remember if he did.
Did it strike you as a peculiar way to speak of the matter? -Yes, it did strike me at the time. I believe he stated previously at Gilbert's hotel that it was a murder.
Was that not peculiar? -Perhaps it was.
Sergeant Arrell said he had no doubt that it was a murder as soon as he saw the bodies? -M'Neill did not go right up to the bodies. He might have known at the time.
Was there a well near the Murphy’s? -I don't know.
That gives me an opportunity of saying that I have had no reason to suspect the Murphy’s of complicity in the matter.
I don't suggest it? -I searched in different places.
How was it you held to the theory that Murphy and his sisters went voluntarily into that paddock? - I have never held that.
What train of thought did that put you on? -It did not put me on any train; but I concluded they were compelled to go in by being stuck up by an armed man.
Mr. Dickson: Can you say whether that cartridge was fired from a revolver or a rifle? -It could be fired from a revolver or a sporting rifle. I think it was fired from a sporting rifle, because if it was fired from a revolver it would not be so likely to drop out.
Mr. Garvin: Do you think that it a smart officer was on the ground he would have been able to do something? -At the first glance it might appear so; but I don't know what you mean by a smart officer.
A man well up in his duty? -To my mind the whole thing lay in the tracks.
If I had seen them as early as he saw them? Without any interruption from the tracks of others I could have gathered some indication that would have told me something, at all events.
I would have known how many were concerned in it, and in what direction they left the scene.
Then in saying that I am speaking as a man who was accustomed to tracks for many years, and could read tracks like a book. I don't think Arrell had that experience. Admitting he did not have experience as a tracker, but using all the precautions that a sergeant should have used, could he not have kept the people back for 100 yards at any rate? -I am very loath to blame Sergeant Arrell in the matter.
Many things could have been done. The ground might have been roped off.
Mr. Dickson: You said the crime bewildered him? -Yes. It was beyond him, and it might be beyond another man. I would not like to say how I would act if I had to face it and alone.
The Chairman: If a man blundered as a competent man should not have blundered-? -I would be loath to blame him.
He did his best. He tried to get a wire through to Brisbane.
That comes back to the old question of red-tapism? -Yes.
Mr. Unmack: You recollect we pressed you as to why you did not communicate with the Commissioner about the rumour, and you said you could not speak to him owing to other officers being over you? -Yes.
I am going to bring you back to your previous evidence, in which you stated that in cases of emergency you would take action immediately, and risk approval.
Why did you not act in this way? -Because my superior officers were available, and I immediately reported it to the Chief Inspector.
You did not report it to the Chief Inspector. You did not report it to him till late in the afternoon, and you had the information, about it at 1 o’clock? -But I did not have it then.
But you had a telegram from Murphy? Which I considered a hoax.
Did you think any person would have been so inhuman as to send a telegram of that kind? -Yes.
Do you think it is possible? -Yes, I have seen worse things done than that.
Mr. Unmack: Then you did not take action because you did not believe it? -Yes.
How was I to suppose the whole police system had broken down, and that officers who were supposed to act were doing nothing? You were in charge of the C.I. Branch?-You come back to the old question. I am in charge of the C.I. Branch in Brisbane.
In reference to your branch you were asked what was the strength of your force.
You say twenty-one all told, sixteen in Brisbane, and five outside? -With whom I have nothing to do.
Then you are misleading us with this evidence.
Why did you not tell us your charge was only in Brisbane? -That is the anomalous position. These men are theoretically under me, and I have nothing to do with them.
I will give you fair play. (After reading.)
You did say that? -I have endeavoured to explain to the commission the position I am in with regard to these men.
Don't you think you have too many ideas about people going about with bogies or hoaxes? -No.
You didn't believe the Hill matter? -You are going outside the mark. I never did anything of the kind.
You pooh-poohed Hill's statement. -I never pooh-poohed his statement.
Didn't you give evidence here that you told him to go home? -No, not at all.
Do you know what the action of the branch was when they received the first report? -Yes, you told him to clear out.-I say we did not.
You told him to go home, that the boy had run away, and would come back? -No. We didn't. We took statements, sent copies to the other offices, and sent the sergeant to inquire at the depot what was being done. We didn't pooh-pooh the man and send him home. I don't know how you could have got the idea into your head.
At all events you thought this was a hoax? -I asked what was the opinion at Roma street, and of the recipient of the telegram, and they said it was a hoax.
Could the recipient possibly imagine it was a hoax? -He knew the character of the man who sent the telegram, and he said he was a "harem-scarem" fellow. I have met the man since, and he was quite right.
Well, when you had such a serious thing before you as a treble murder you inquired what the recipient thought of it. Why did you not send for young Murphy? -I didn't think it was necessary. It was not my business.
But you are in charge of the C.I. Branch? -As officer in charge of the C.I. Branch it is not my duty to interfere with matters where other officers are concerned.
Mr. Garvin: Could not the whole thing be discovered by sending to the railway station to inquire into the truth of the matter, the other, office being closed?
It could be discovered in five minutes. If such a thing occurred again would you take that course? -The same thing could not happen again without news arriving.
Mr. Unmack: Ah, that is admitting that the other system was faulty? -No, not altogether.
The Chairman: 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.
Had he some trackers? -There were some boys from Deebing Creek. 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 bus-hwork? -He is undoubtedly.
He has done a great deal of bus-hwork? -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
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.
The Investigations of the Police Commission into the action of the police in connection with the Gatton tragedy were continued yesterday.
Robert Geo. Christie, a constable stationed at Gatton, deposed that he had been employed in Gatton in making inquiries into the Gatton tragedy. The bent of his evidence was that on 24th April he drew out a report concerning a man mentioned in connection with the tragedy, but before he submitted it he heard
Urquhart came up to witness in the street afterwards and swore at him, and threatened him also if he talked about the man. The report also suggested that the man mentioned would be likely to be the one who passed Wilson at Oxley on 10th December. Witness consequently did not submit the report. His idea was that the detectives had made a blunder, and tried to cover it up, and consequently endeavoured to prevent any
inquiries being made. He thought that the man when he passed Oxley was handed the revolver by Wilson. The object of the man's murder at Gatton he thought would be lust. He allowed the girl Lowe to go without molestation because there were two men who had just passed, and he would be discovered.
The man probably decoyed the Murphy’s into the paddock with a yarn about a man being injured while opossum-shooting. Witness did not go to the Commissioner with the information, because he thought that Urquhart would recommend his dismissal, and the request would be complied with.
The position of the Commissioner and Urquhart was talked about by members of the force by Sergeant Arrell, Constable Colville, and others. Witness and some of the others thought it was not safe to go to the Commissioner under the circumstances. He showed the report to Sergeant Arrell.
He did not ask the latter to send the report to the Commissioner, because he knew that officer was more frightened than himself.
Arthur George Clarke, a butcher at Gatton, gave evidence.
Constable Hurst, orderly at the Commissioner's office, was called with regard to the receipt of telegrams on the day of the discovery of the murder.
The Chairman said his recollection of the evidence of this officer was that at about 12.15 Senior-sergeant Masterson telephoned from Roma-street that there was a messenger there with two wires, and about five minutes afterwards a messenger produced two wires at the office, which were handed to the Chief Inspector. This was all the communication from Roma-street, except an inquiry later about the Gatton murder?
The Chairman: Do you corroborate that, Senior-sergeant Masterson?
The Chairman: And only one boy came to the Roma-street station that day? -Senior-sergeant Masterson: That is as far as I can find out.
The Chairman: Were you there all the morning?
Questioned as to the time, Masterson said he thought the time was before 12; it might be 11 o'clock.
The telegraph messenger (Massie) was called, and reiterated his statement that he went to the Roma-street Police Station, and was directed to the Commissioner's office, where he delivered the message to Hurst.
The Chairman (to Constable Hurst): Again I press you, Hurst, to try-. At any rate-I don't know what the other commissioners think-my mind is against you against the accuracy of your statement. I don't say you are wilfully incorrect.
Constable Hurst: I said before I might not be altogether correct. I am going by the time Inspector Urquhart left. The Chairman: You are not corroborated about those two telegrams by senior sergeant Masterson?
Mr. Garvin; Did you get a third wire at all? -Constable Hurst: No.
Mr. Bourne (of the telegraph office) said the boy got back at 12.42. and he did not appear to have been out again that day.
Mr. Bourne was questioned by the Commissioner of Police as to whether he (Mr. Bourne) did not say there was some confusion about the delivery of the telegrams.
Mr. Bourne said there was no confusion, and he did not remember making any such statement.
The Chairman (after the discussion): At any rate the fact remains that Constable Hurst admits he was on duty at the time this boy must have been there. (To Hurst): You say you looked on the Chief Inspector's table to see if there were any wires-at what time?
The Chairman: Well, the wire must have been there.
The Chairman: Yes, it must have been there, as the boy went off duty at that time.
Is it possible the Chief Inspector put that wire in his pocket and took it away with him?
The Chairman: Well, it is between you and the Chief Inspector.
The Chairman (after further questions): At 12.42 Constable-Hurst was here. At 12.42 that boy was discharged from duty. So that he delivered that wire, if he delivered it at all, whilst Hurst was here. So the only other conclusion is that the boy neglected his duty and sneaked in at a late hour in the afternoon, or came in the next morning.
The boy, when examined, said that as soon as he got off duty he went to his home at Woolloongabba, and he was not on till 1 o'clock the next day.
Mr. Bourne (examined) said the system of delivering telegrams without getting receipts had been abolished in the city, and mistakes did not occur once in 5000 times.
The boy Massie had a good record all round, and witness had great confidence in him.
To the Commissioner of Police: He knew wires in his (Mr. Parry-Okeden's) writing were received in the telegraph office as early as 9.30 in the morning.
Wm. Fred. S. Keys, correspondence clerk in the Police Department, was asked if he had heard a conversation between Arrell and Urquhart, in which the latter had told Arrell to drop all matters and references in connection with Day. But he could not remember any conversation of the kind. He pointed out that he had been at Gatton since the commencement, and he could not be expected to remember any particular conversation.
Sergeant Arrell was called in connection with the same matter. He said what Christie had stated about Urquhart telling him not to do anything further about Day was, as far as he (witness) could recollect, correct.
Witness would not say it was his impression, as Christie had stated, that whatever Urquhart said the Commissioner would be ruled by. He advised Christie not to send in the report. As Christie had said, witness had a strong feeling that one particular man mentioned had a hand in the murders. He could not point to any defect in the action of the police in connection with this man except that he might have been detained.
Mr. Dickson: Is it not a fact that you were as frightened of Mr. Urquhart as Christie? -Well, I am not frightened of Mr. Urquhart now.
Did you say "I have a good mind to throw my uniform over the fence”? -I was angry; and I believed I used the words.
Did you say you would not say any more about this man? -I made up my mind not to say any more about him.
Inspector Urquhart: You were serving under my orders at Gatton for about seven months? -Yes.
Had you anything to complain of about my treatment of yourself and the other men? -No, except that once.
Inspector Urquhart said he had never sworn at a man in the force in his life, as Christie alleged he had done to him. And he had always treated that officer most liberally.
Senior-sergeant Johnson (of Roma, but late of Ipswich) was called in connection with the charges against him over his action prior to the arrest of the man Somerset. He was examined by Mr. Sadleir at some length in connection with the matter.
The commission then adjourned till Thursday morning.
The Police Commission resumed its sittings today, when Inspector Urquhart was examined as to the reasons why he suspected Burgess, and why he did not suspect a certain butcher's assistant.
He said he was satisfied that the latter had nothing to do with the murders as there were no suspicious circumstances against him, except that he had a blood stain on his sleeve.
It never struck him that he should get the stain examined by an analyst.
He had no reason to suspect that any of the members of the Murphy family were concerned in the murders.
Detective Toomey stated, in confidence, that the members of the Murphy family as soon as they heard of the murders suspected M’Neill, but they got no evidence to justify their suspicion.
The Police Commission to-day continued its inquiry concerning the Gatton murders. Robert J. Christie, a constable stationed at Gatton, stated that he drew out a report with reference to a certain man in connection with the tragedy, but before submitting it he heard Inspector Urquhart ridiculing any connection between the man in question and the tragedy.
Witness alleged that Urquhart came to him in the street and swore at him.
His idea was that the detectives made a blunder, and tried to cover it up by preventing any inquiries to be made in that direction.
He did not go to the Commissioner of Police with his report, as he was afraid that Urquhart would recommend his dismissal and that that recommendation would be acted upon. Inspector Urquhart denied having sworn at Christie or any other man in the force.
The Police Commission resumed its sittings to-day, when Inspector Urquhart was examined as to the reasons why he suspected Burgess, and why he did not suspect a certain butcher's assistant. He said he was satisfied that the latter had nothing to do with the murders as there were no suspicious circumstances against him, except that he had a blood stain on his sleeve. It never struck him that he should get the stain examined by an
analyst. He had no reason to suspect that any of the members of the Murphy family were concerned in the murders.
Detective Toomey stated, in confidence, that the members of the Murphy family as soon as they heard of the murders suspected M’Neill, but they got no evidence to justify their suspicion.
The investigations into the actions of the police in connection with the Gatton murders were continued by the Police Commission yesterday. Dr. Von Lossberg, Government Medical Officer for the Ipswich district, was called. He said he wished to state that he did not come voluntarily to give evidence; he came in answer to a summons. The first notice he received to go to Gatton to examine the bodies was at 1 o'clock on 27th
December from Acting Sergeant Fay. He was told to go to Gatton by the first train, as a treble murder was reported. He proceeded by the 2 o'clock train, and was met by Sergeant Arrell, who said he had had the bodies removed to a hotel. Witness went into the room at Gilbert's hotel, where the bodies were lying. The room was crowded; but he had the people put out. Witness asked for an order from justices in case a post-mortem was required, and an order was
handed him signed by two justices. A piece of wood was shown with which it was thought the murder had been committed. Witness then described the state in which he found the bodies of the girls.
Mr. Garvin: Do you think it possible that one man could have outraged both girls? I do not think it was possible.
The Chairman: Did you tell Sergeant Arrell this at the time? -Yes. Witness said Norah was a strong girl; but not so strong as represented. Certainly, they were not strong girls for farmer's daughters. The girls were about the same size, except that Norah was a little fuller in build.
By Mr. Garvin: There should have been tracks where the outrage occurred; and if ordinary care had been used they must have been noticed.
By Mr. Dickson: The injury near the eye was like a knife cut, and was probably inflicted while she was in a standing position.
By Mr. Garvin: He believed the girls were violated before the death injuries were inflicted, and that they were standing up when they were struck down.
Witness examined the body of Michael.
Before he went on to the examination of the head he found some blood just above the ear. He washed this away, and found a wound behind the right ear.
He said to he gentlemen present, "Hello, here is a bullet wound." No one said anything, and he proceeded to probe it with his finger. He cut away some of the bones, but suddenly felt a sharp prick under one of his fingernails. He washed his hands in disinfected water, and went on with the examination again. But he felt numbness in his finger and swelling up the arm. He then asked Mr. James (chemist) to probe, which he
did without result. As the poison was beginning to affect him, he (witness) did not go on further with the examination. He got blood poisoning, and was bad for three months afterwards. He explained to those present that he could not go on further.
The Chairman: You know that Sub-inspector Galbraith says that neither of the two women showed signs of having had a post-mortem made on the skull? -Well, I had eleven bones out on the table, and that showed that something was done.
How long were you occupied in making these post-mortems? -About two hours and twenty minutes.
Mr. Dickson: What was your opinion of the death of Michael Murphy? -I thought he was shot.
The Chairman: Did you express that opinion to the people present? -Yes.
Witness said the injuries to Michael's head were done after he was dead, and while he was on the ground. He did not tell Arrell that the girls were injured on the head while alive and Michael after he was dead. In fact, Arrell was very quiet, and did not ask any questions.
Witness had not been able to examine other parts of Michael's body.
There was no one in charge of the crowd of people in the room when he arrived.
By Mr. Garvin: The persons who committed the offence would be likely to have blood on them, more particularly on the lower garments. From the wound near Norah's eye the upper garments might have blood on them. On the stick shown him there was blood and hair, the hair being light-coloured similar to that of the girl Helen.
By Mr. Unmack: When giving evidence at the Inquiry he did not speak much because he was told at the magisterial inquiry to "shut up." He was told by Inspector Urquhart not to speak except to answer questions.
What were you saying at the time? -It was about the post-mortem. Witness went on to explain that he had been giving evidence concerning the bullet wound, and where it was situated, when Inspector Urquhart told him only to answer questions. He was very indignant at the manner in which he was treated, because he considered he was closed up.
Mr. Unmack: Well, you will not be closed up here, Doctor; so go on.
Inspector Urquhart: It is not true he was closed up. It is absolutely false.
Witness said he had explained to Sub-Inspector Galbraith that he could not conclude the post-mortem, owing to the injury to his finger. Witness was present at the second autopsy. The exhumation was made on his (witness's) recommendation. The Chief Inspector (Mr. Stuart) had called upon him and said, "I am the Chief Inspector; I come about the Gatton murders." Witness said, " My word, you will be in a nice
Stuart asked him about the wound in the head, and he (witness) pointed out that it was not his fault that further examination was not made, and that he had not given instructions for the burial or the bodies, and consequently it was the fault of the police that they were buried before the discovery was made. The bullet wound was almost in a horizontal course, and Michael must have been in an erect position. At the exhumation of
the body Dr. Wray asked witness to point out the bullet wound, which he did.
Dr. Wray said, "That is no bullet wound."' Witness insisted, and an examination was made, the bullet being almost immediately brought to light.
The investigations of the Police Commission into the action of the police in connection with the Gatton tragedy were continued yesterday.
Inspector Urquhart: I would ask you to allow me to refute a statement made yesterday by Dr. Von Lossberg. The statement has gone out to the public, and it is right my refutation should go with it as soon as possible.
It is with reference to my not allowing Dr. Von Lossberg to speak at the inquiry.
The Chairman: We understood you to deny that yesterday.
Inspector Urquhart: I only interjected once. I would like to make a proper denial.
I understand the commission have a wire from the magistrate who conducted the inquiry.
The Chairman: The wire runs, "I was greatly struck with the patience and courteous behaviour of Inspector Urquhart at the Gatton inquiry towards all witnesses, including Dr. Von Lossberg. On several occasions I passed questions to him to ask the witness, which altered the statement of witness to a great extent. The inspector gave no reason to any witness to complain about his manner of conducting inquiry. A. S. W. Shand."
Inspector Urquhart: I would further state that there are many statements made in Dr. Von Lossberg's evidence yesterday devoid of truth and absolutely opposed to the truth, and if the commission consider it is desirable in any way evidence of that fact could be produced.
Mr. Unmack: That is a very unusual course. Urquhart was here all the time.
Inspector Urquhart: I beg your pardon, only part of the time.
Mr. Unmack: He was here at all events most of the time. That was the time for him to oppose it. If we are to go on day after day, and one witness is allowed to deny what another says, what will be the result? Inspector Urquhart: I presume you want the truth?
Mr. Unmack: But you were here.
Inspector Urquhart: The sitting closed before I could answer it. I have taken the earliest opportunity.
Mr. Unmack: I am just as anxious as any one for fair play; but this is irregular.
The Chairman: I want to give fair play all round.
Inspector Urquhart: Mr. Unmack said the other day he would give me fair play.
Mr. Unmack: So I will. Inspector Urquhart: As long as you will permit me to bring refutation I will bring it.
The Chairman: Write a report.
Mr. Unmack: Then Dr. Von Lossberg should be here to refute. You don't know where you are going to stop the thing.
The Chairman; Oh, yes, I do. I have conducted inquiries before.
Inspector Urquhart: The other matter does not concern me so much as it concerns the department.
The Chairman: You can give us a report, and we will send it to Dr. Von Lossberg; but we do not consider it necessary to call you again.
INQUIRY WORK BY THE POLICE.
No names were mentioned in connection with the matter; but it had reference to a statement that had been made about Michael Murphy having served with the police in the West during the shearers' strike. It appeared that in the only case in which a conviction was secured-the Ayrshire Downs woolshed burning-Michael Murphy did not give evidence. Inspector Urquhart pointed out that the police had made inquiries in connection with the
Inspector Urquhart mentioned another case. In which Mr. Herbert, solicitor of Toowoomba, received a letter from a Victorian lady stating that before God she could prove a certain man in Gatton was the murderer. The letter was sent to the Chief Inspector, who had the papers sent on to the police in Melbourne.
There was a report from the Criminal Investigation Branch, Melbourne, in which it was shown the woman was waited upon. She stated that, after reading in the Melbourne papers of the murder, she prayed to God to reveal to her the name of the murderer, and about 3 o'clock one morning she woke up and heard her name being called.
The Chairman: Never mind going on with that.
Inspector Urquhart: There were a number of letters like that, and I simply wish to show that I did not neglect any trivial things in the investigation.
Mr. Garvin: When was that? -I would have to look at my diary. The jumper he was wearing had a smear of blood on the sleeve. I looked it carefully all over, and that was the only mark of blood I saw.
The Chairman: He had two jumpers? This was one that looked quite fresh and new. There was blood on the sleeve. It was smeared. It was thin at the edge and thick in the centre.
Mr. Garvin: You heard the evidence of King? -Yes.
If that jumper had been taken possession of it would have prevented this difficulty? Neither Clarke nor King mentioned these matters to us.
King says there were sixty spots on the jumper. -Clarke says twelve.
The Chairman: Why do you think they are telling lies? -I don't say they are telling lies. They have simply talked themselves into a delusion. I don't say they tell lies. They simply talk themselves into it. There is no reason either for us to be telling lies. I may say, in regard to some of the evidence about Toomey that Toomey worked so hard he knocked himself up.
I never saw a man work harder.
The proceedings of the commission inquiring into the working of the Police Department were continued yesterday.
Mr. Unmack: There is one little matter I wish to bring before you, Mr. Chairman-a little matter that affects this commission and the department.
I merely mention to you what I have heard in justice to the department and ourselves.
It is rumoured that Constable Christie, who has given very valuable and good evidence, I consider, has been transferred to an inferior position from Gatton, and reduced from a mounted constable to a foot constable.
It is further rumoured that Constable Christie has asked for information and for the reasons of his transfer, and he has got none.
And it is further stated that Christie has since tendered his resignation, and he has been asked to take leave for seven days in order to reconsider his decision.
What I want you to find out, Mr. Chairman, is the correctness or otherwise of this statement.
We have a right to protect a witness who comes before the commission.
The Chairman: We can ask Mr. Parry-Okeden when he comes before us.
Alfred Robinson, a reporter on the "Queensland Times," Ipswich, called by the commission, stated he was the first Press representative on the scene of the Gatton tragedy.
He produced notes taken by Mr. James, chemist, who was present; but there was no statement in them concerning the probable presence of a bullet in the head of Michael Murphy.
Witness came from Gatton in the train with Dr. Von Lossberg, who stated he found a wound, which he thought, was a bullet wound; but on examining it he came to the conclusion that it was caused by a knock from a stick.
Mr. C. G. Wiggins, a justice of the peace living at Gatton, said he gave the order for the post-mortem on the bodies and the order for burial.
He was present at the post-mortem, when Sergeant Arrell pointed out a wound in the head, of Michael Murphy. Dr. Von Lossberg said it might be a bullet wound; but he could find no exit, and he then said he thought it was caused by a blow from a stick.
Dr. Von Lossberg said he had pricked his finger with a bone; he washed his hands, and then asked Mr. James to probe.
The doctor remained in town until the mail train left in the evening, but said nothing.
Witness received no certificate from him.
He understood it would be put in at Ipswich.
When the bodies had remained at the hotel for nearly forty hours, and never having been informed by Dr. Von Lossberg that the inquiry was not completed, he gave the order for burial.
Sergeant Walter King, stationed at Laidley, deposed to going to Gatton and making inquiries.
He did suspect some persons as a result; but he did not care to give names.
He reported the matter to both Sub-inspector Galbraith and Inspector Urquhart, but he never gave any information about the man Day.
The Chairman said he understood the witness had expressed a wish to make a statement before the commission.
Sergeant King said he had never desired to come to give evidence.
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.
The Royal Police Commission took further evidence on Saturday morning.
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.
Witness also produced a prepared copy of evidence, &c, which he stated showed that the telegraph messenger (Massie), who had the telegram to deliver, was in the police office for fifteen minutes at least while the Chief Inspector,
Inspector Urquhart, and Constable Hurst were present.
The question of the exact time the telegram was delivered formed the subject of much discussion, Mr. Bourne (of the Telegraph Department) and the messenger (Massie) being present. - What was considered was whether the lad could some time later have got into the police office by means of the steps from the Home Secretary's Department and placed the telegram on the Chief Inspector's table.
Mr. Bourne contended that the books showed that Massie was not on duty after 12.42 p.m. until 5.30 p.m.; but the Commissioner pointed out that he had a report from an officer of the department that the boy was delivering telegrams during the whole of the day.
Pressed by Mr. Unmack for an opinion, the Commissioner said he had never been able to come to a conclusion when the telegram did come. But it seemed to him that there was quite as much corroboration of Hurst's statement as Massie's statement. He explained that when he took over the office he found the practice was on holidays to leave the telegrams at the Roma-street Police Station, where the police telephone exchange was. He saw
no reason to alter that practice. He was frequently rung up at his house at all hours both from the police station and the telegraph office to be Informed of the contents of important telegrams. The system of opening telegrams had since been altered.
As the evidence of the Chief Inspector came into review, the Commissioner was asked by the Chairman:
May we assume that Mr. Stuart has an exceedingly defective memory? -His memory is defective, judging from his evidence and certain facts.
Has he outlived his usefulness as a police officer? -I would not go so far as that. I must leave you to judge.
Mr. Unmack: There were several cases yesterday where he did not remember.
Mr. Dickson: Yes; Rody Byrne's case was a glaring one. Witness: What Mr. Stuart says is not correct; there was no such regulation as that he mentioned.
Continuing, he said he thought Sub-inspector Galbraith should have wired him earlier of what action he took first in connection with the Gatton tragedy, because he had to wire all round next morning to find what his officers had done. Still, he knew Galbraith had done well, and so had Sergeant Johnson, then at Ipswich. He also commented on the explanation given by Inspector Urquhart as to the rumours of the murder he had heard,
and the rules of the service he referred to as a reason why he did not take action. He thought that when the confirmation of Murphy's telegram came it could not be considered a hoax.
The Commissioner gave explanations concerning complaints made by several members of the force.
The commission then adjourned till Monday at 10 o'clock.
ADDENDUM BY FRED. W. DICKSON, ESQ.
In arriving at this opinion I, of course, bear in mind that the commission has had the evidence of Inspector Douglas of Townsville, Inspector Meldrum of Rockhampton, and a few members of the force at one time stationed in the Central and Northern parts; but it is, in my opinion, unreasonable to expect that the grievances of the men and sub-officers, through any defects In the administration of the force or otherwise, would be
disclosed by the evidence of their superior officers, or that the public could be expected to incur the loss of time and expense consequent on coming to Brisbane to give evidence.
Mr. Dickson then goes on to say that he has been unable lo 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.
As examples illustrating his contention, Mr. Dickson quotes the removal of nearly all the old detective officers when the Criminal Investigation Branch was established, and the substitution of men of no particular experience in the work required of the branch under a man who had held previously third detective rank, and who, in the opinion of the commissioners, had largely brought about the disruption in the branch.
Mr. Dickson also quotes the displacement of First-class Sub-inspector Nethercote by Second-class Sub-inspector Urquhart, "an officer who had absolutely no experience of the detective force, and had little or no experience of general police duty except as a native police officer until 1891." This method of carrying out the "reorganisation" has resulted, Mr. Dickson considers, "in the present disorganisation”
so abundantly established from the evidence as existing at any rate in the Criminal Investigation Branch, and is, in my opinion, responsible to a very great extent for the absolute and apparently helpless inability of the force to discover the perpetrators of the diabolical outrages that have lately taken place at Gatton, Oxley, and Woolloongabba, as well as the enormous number of crimes of a more or less serious nature which have come before the
commissioners as not having been traced to the guilty parties.
Mr Dickson mentions numerous other minor matters in support of his contention.
Mr. Dickson goes on to say:-"As an administrator of the department I am of opinion that the present Commissioner has shown utter incapacity, and falls far short of what is required.
His method of dealing with charges against his officers and men, and the means adopted by him to get at the bottom of such charges, notably in the case of Senior-sergeant Grimshaw, specially commented on by the commissioners, where it must be accepted from the evidence he first compelled or instructed an officer to commit a breach of the law by opening and detaining the senior-sergeant's letters, and then brought to the inquiry a
mind satisfied that the man was guilty, cannot be too severely condemned."
Other cases of like nature are alleged by Mr. Dickson, who further alleges that Mr. Okeden has allowed himself to be "run" by his officers, and has shown an entire ignorance of his department. Mr. Dickson, concludes his reference to the Commissioner as follows:-"
Mr. Dickson makes the following references to Inspector Urquhart and ex-Senior sergeant Grimshaw -Inspector Urquhart.
THE GATTON MURDER.
The Commissioner ordered him to take two men and proceed to Gatton. He did not leave till half-past 7 o'clock next morning, although there was a train at midnight. The Commissioner is in part to blame that so late a start was made by Inspector Urquhart. These facts disclose, in our opinion, a culpable indifference on the part of the Inspector to his duty to the public, and is deserving of severe censure. The inspector, in his
evidence before us, stated that if he had interfered in the first instance, and the telegram had turned out baseless, that he would have been reprimanded. If this statement is correct, we think it shows the existence of a rotten system. The neglect of Inspector Urquhart in not communicating with the Commissioner before 9 o'clock is to us incomprehensible, in the face of the evidence that both by rule and practice he was in direct communication with the
Commissioner. If there is any red tape rule which prohibits an officer obtaining important information about a crime from communicating it direct to the Commissioner it should immediately be altered, both for the welfare of the public and the efficiency of the force.
Chief Inspector. -The Chief Inspector is an officer of very lengthened service, but is unfortunately, in our opinion, out of touch with his duties. He also has a harshness of manner and roughness of demeanour, which unfit him for the very important position that he holds. His memory is very defective, and for this reason, if for no other, we think the Chief inspector has to a great extent outlasted his usefulness as a senior
officer of police.
Inspector Fitzgerald. -The inspector was deprived of his seniority rank, and, in the face of his very long services, and acknowledged good work done, he was naturally much incensed, and still smarts under what he considers an injustice. We therefore recommend that he be restored to his seniority rank. Inspector Urquhart. -This is an officer of cultivated intelligence, but of such an impulsive and exacting temperament that he is
not suited for the very delicate work which detectives have frequently to do. We think a mistake was made in placing this officer at the head of the Criminal Investigation Branch, when he admittedly had had no training in that special kind of work. Although loath to hurt the feelings of an officer who has probably been sincerely desirous of loyally performing his duties, we are unanimously of opinion that, if an appointment of equal status and pay to that
of his present office could be found for him in the civil service, it would be of advantage to the discipline of the force and the nubile.
The Criminal Investigation Branch should be relieved from the duties appertaining to minor inquiries, which should be attended to by the ordinary plain-clothes police, whose number should be increased (vide Appendix No. 8).
We recommend the removal of Inspector Urquhart, Sergeant Shanahan, and First-class Constable Fowler from the Criminal Investigation Branch, because the evidence discloses the fact that the want of cohesion and disorganisation in this office has been largely brought about by a feeling of mistrust amongst the men, engendered by what they considered too great intimacy between Sergeant Shanahan, First-class Constable Fowler, and the
We recommend that each of them should in future serve in different districts.
The members of the Police Inquiry Commission had the unpleasant duty of dealing with quite a number of personal charges and grievances.
It is impossible to deal with such a matter so as to satisfy everybody; very often it is so dealt with as to satisfy nobody.
A glance at the report now before us shows that the Commissioners have taken infinite pains to get at the truth, and that their recommendations are based on such knowledge as was accessible. Naturally many complaints broke down; perhaps the most ludicrous collapse was that of the Irish patriot who insisted that his countrymen received unjust treatment in the force, and who was unable to produce one single instance in support of
his complaint But the coinage as well as the impartiality of the Commission is seen in tile personal recommendations made by them. Passing from Mr. Parry-Okeden to his subordinates, we find detailed and strenuous effort made to remove friction, to punish the offending, and to right the wronged.
The Chief Inspector is "out of touch with his duties," and has "outlasted his usefulness"; it is recommended that he should retire.
Inspector Urquhart is of a temperament unfitting him for his post, and it would be an advantage "if an appointment of equal status and pay to that of his present office could be found for him in the Civil Service."
Against both the Commissioner and the Home Secretary the member- of the Commission take the part of Sergeant Edward Johnson, who, they think, has been unduly punished, and should be restored to his previous rank.
It is recommended that Sergeant Shanahan, and First-class Constable Fowler, as well as Inspector Urquhart, be removed from the Criminal Investigation Branch, where their intimacy has done mischief. Several minor cases were dealt with patiently, among them that of ex-Constable Seymour, whose reinstatement to the force is recommended.
The case of ex-Detective Grimshaw is, perhaps, the only one left in an unsatisfactory position. He was dismissed on the charge of receiving bribes from a Chinaman.
Three of the five members of Commission think the dismissal was warranted; the other two, one of them Judge Noel, regard the Commission's procedure and the decision as "exceedingly questionable and improper."
The just and humane treatment of the members of the force so closely concerns its efficiency that a very large proportion of the report deals with these matters.
Such questions as superannuation, pay and allowances, promotion and transfer, barrack accommodation, defaulters' sheets, inquiries into misconduct, fines and punishments, must be settled on a satisfactory basis if the class of men we want is to be attracted to the service.
On all these matters, and many others of' like sort, the Commission ask for reform. It was found, for example, that barrack accommodation was bad. "At the depot the beds are execrable"; "lavatory and sanitary arrangements are disgraceful"; "Roma-street barracks are entirely inadequate"; and a similar state of things obtains throughout the colony.
New rules are recommended for fines and punishments, and the over resort to transfers as a means of punishment is condemned.
The most unsatisfactory items in the list are the record sheets and the methods of conducting inquiries.
It seems that men were "sometimes punished upon a private statement made without their knowledge by the superior officer to the head of the department."
It seems, too, that "men were kept in absolute ignorance of condemnatory remarks made secretly in the defaulter-sheet;" "in many cases they bad been refused a view of their defaulters’ sheet?"
The recommendations that men should wear khaki uniform in summer, and that detectives should never wear uniforms of any kind, are so plainly reasonable that we wonder they should have been necessary.
There are other matters of more direct interest to the public.
One important recommendation is an increase in the force itself. "The evidence before us," says the Commissioners "is conclusive that there is urgent necessity for a substantial increase in the force both of officers and men.
We recommend three extra sub-inspectors and twenty-five men at least."
We are inclined to lay some stress on that "at least," two other matters connect themselves with this.
On the one hand, the Commissioners are of opinion that too many of the police are employed as clerks in the various offices.
On the other, they think that the control of the street traffic might with great advantage be left in the hands of the police, "in view of the excellent results achieved in London and elsewhere." And the increase of force they recommend is "exclusive of any extra men that might be wanted should the police be made entirely responsible for the control of the street traffic in Brisbane."
Special attention should be given to the recommendation touching manual of rules, and provision of some elementary law books for guidance at the various stations throughout the colony.
In one particular the Commissioner is dissatisfied with the "instructions" which, however informally, have been given to the force.
Very strong things were said by some witnesses of the tying of the hands of the police in relation to the liquor laws.
On that head the Commission say: "We think that the police should be given increased facilities for enforcing these laws, as the prohibited traffic has assumed such proportions as to become a public evil."
A large section of the report refers to the Criminal Investigation Branch, and to the murders, which during the last twelve months have baffled inquiry. After recommending some reforms in the detective department itself, including the appointment of Mr. Nethercote as inspector, the Commissioners point out the mistakes made in dealing with these tragedies.
Similar remarks are made over the series of initial blunders in the Gatton case.
Sergeant Arrell, the first official visitor, had no note-book and took no notes; and he used no precautions to prevent the ground being trodden all over.
If this Commission did nothing more than remove some of the stumbling blocks, which have so, interfered with the discovery of crime, it would deserve well of the Country.