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The Gatton Tragedy Exposed At Last. An Examination Of The Secrets And Lies.
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VINDICATION OF THE GATTON DISTRICT.
I deeply regret having to write you on this dreadful subject, but two letters have appeared one on the 5th instant, signed Louie H. Hawtree, and another on the 6th instant, by "One Who Knows." I do think, sir, that when a man takes his pen to write through the Press he should have the manliness to sign his name. These letters are a gross libel and a slander on the inhabitants of the Gatton district, and I can assure you the feeling here to-day is very grievous indeed.
I claim, sir, that up to the present time the Gatton district has been known as a very quiet, law-abiding, and peaceful community. That there are a few who may be classed as undesirable I am not going to deny. These are to be found in every community; but to infer, as your correspondent does, that life and property have been in fear and danger for the last twenty years, is utterly untrue.
The town of Gatton is situated on one of the main roads through the colony. We therefore have in our midst very frequently men of an undesirable class, but these must not be classed as residents; they are merely comers and goers.
I have lived in this district for the last thirty-four years, and I think I should know something about it and its people. The charge made in the letters of which I speak is that the young men of Gatton have not given any help to the police. Any man that is not a blockhead would know that the police do not desire, nor would they tolerate, any interference of the outside public, and rightly so. Men who are practised in hunting the criminal are best left alone. No doubt they have often wished in this case that there was not so much of information which they may have gathered known to the public.
I claim, sir, for the people here that they will compare favourably with any town and district in Queensland of the same population, and they would glory in taking, a hand in bringing the wretches to justice.
If it was simply a matter of scouring the country, this could be done, and I can assure you that if it was the desire of the police a large body of men could be enrolled who would be willing, without reward, to help run those wretches to earth who have brought such a blot upon the fair name of this district." One Who Knows" would seem to know more than those who have lived here for nearly a life-time. He says a lot of cattle and horses have been maimed and mutilated within the last twenty years. The only case of this kind that I know of having come before the public was a horse the property of the police, which was shot some years ago.
The outrage upon a young school teacher of which "One Who Knows" speaks I do not think ever took place in this district. I have certainly never heard of it, and upon inquiry I cannot hear of any one who did; and if it did occur I do not think the police would have let it rest in the manner "One Who Knows" wishes to infer. In fact, so much security has been felt that we have the fact of a young girl on the very night of the murder riding from Gatton to Ropely, a distance of eight miles, without protection, and I am certain that our Police Court proceedings will show that a great majority of those who have presented themselves there have been strangers to the district.
That such a terrible crime has taken place in our midst every inhabitant deeply grieves over, but that the district abounds with scoundrels only worthy of the gallows is a libel, which cannot go, unchallenged. "One Who Knows" tells us that there was only one policeman stationed at Gatton. Let me say for his information that there were two, but unfortunately one was away on other duty, and so Sergeant Arrell was alone during the whole of that dreadful day.
However, there is one point upon which I agree with "One Who Knows." In all cases in which females are criminally interfered with, apply the lash, and that unsparingly.
I am, sir, &c., C. WIGGINS. Gatton, 6th January
Clement Batstone Wiggins.