Deposition – Daniel O’Connell

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The Depositions

Deposition of Daniel O’Connell

The examination of Daniel O’Connell
Sergeant of Police of Roebourne
taken on oath this 12th
day of March in the year of Our Lord one thousand
eight hundred and 85 at Roebourne
in the Colony aforesaid, before the undersigned, one
of Her Majesty’s Justices of the Peace for the said Colony in the presence and
hearing of Frederick Bevan, Charles Warburton, William Holmes Gilroy and San Qui who
are charged this day before me for that they the said F. Bevan. C. Warburton
W.H. Gilroy and San Qui at Roebourne on
the 13 January 1885 did wilfully murder
Thomas Anketell and Henry Burrup at the
Union Bank and did ??? enter
the said Bank

 

This deponent Daniel O’Connell on his oath
saith as follows:- I remember Tuesday the 13th January, about 7 o’clock am. I was sent for to the Bank and went at once. I saw a number of people on the road in front of the Bank and found Mr Thomas Anketell, Bank Manager dead in the front verandah with the bed clothes over him. He was lying against the wall of the house. There was a quantity of blood in the centre of the bed and bunch of keys in the middle of it. There was a stretcher on the other side of the body with some blood on the end of it. I raised the bedding and saw Mr Anketell’s head. I found a hole over the left eye and a cut alongside the right eye. There was a mark as of some sharp instrument in front of the right ear. There was a hole in the right cheek and the lower jaw appeared to be broken. His upper teeth lapped over the lower. I noticed the skull appeared to be all fractured. The body was on its back lying straight, arms by his side, hands clenched, legs straight out, eyes closed. I covered the body and went round to a room at the back.

Mr Burrup’s room, on looking in the window I saw him lying on the bed dead, partly on his left side, his right leg over the left and partly over the side of the stretcher. There was a pillow over his head smothered in blood. I lifted it up and found cuts on the right side of his head and 2 cuts on the back of his right hand. The bed was smothered with blood and there was blood on the wall and ceiling. The room did not seem upset, except that from the position of body I supposed search had been made under it. I saw a waistcoat hanging on a peg on the wall over the bed. I looked in the pocket and found a key of the safe of which I took possession. On going out of the door of the room I saw spots of blood on the verandah near the door.

I went around to the north end of the Bank to a French window. One half of the shutter was down and on the window I saw marks as of a sharp instrument. I went round to the front and found a window partly open, a pane of glass in it broken. On a point of the pane remaining in the sash there was blood. The pane was under the catch of the window. There was a mark on the upper sash, apparently cut by a blunt instrument. I entered by that window and found 5 matches on the floor at intervals towards the safe. They had been struck and many partially burnt. There was some grease on the floor alongside of some papers. I took it to be candle grease and that a candle had been burning there. It was to the left of the safe about 2 [ft?] from the outer wall where Mr Anketell’s body was.

It is a weatherboard building. From the position of the grease I think it was put not to throw light on the window. The papers were close to the floor in a box. They were charred and there were other papers above them. If the papers had caught fire and the box, the premises might have been burnt down. I opened the safe. Nothing appeared to have been disturbed. I opened the safe with one key I found on Mr Anketell’s bedding and the key I found in Mr Burrup’s waistcoat pocket. There was some paint off the safe but I can’t form an opinion how or when it was done.

I saw the remains of Mr Anketell moved into his room and I then saw on the verandah floor where his head had been a cut. I should say it was made with a tomahawk. I could not say if it was fresh. It was covered with blood. I noticed marks on the weatherboard wall which looked to me like pick marks. I have since seen the edge of a tomahawk which might have made them. I have compared them. The back of the tomahawk was battered, flattening out the back and making it round at the edges (board with marks produced). I had the boards cut out and they have been in my possession ever since.

The same day I went up over Mount Welcome to track. On coming on to the plain north of the town I picked up a boot track, which appeared to be running and walking. After following it a short distance I came on one barefoot track of which I only saw one plain impression and in a few strides it ran out. It seemed fresh. I followed the boot back till we came to a small tree. There was a mark as if someone having sat down, and then having walked round and round the tree about 4 or 5 yards from it. It then struck off in the direction of Roebourne: followed it till we got to McRae’s fence then it was getting dark and we could not follow further.

Next morning could not pick up the track again at that spot. I then went to San Qui’s dwelling and searched the place. I saw the trousers San Qui had on had blood on and also a blouse which he was not wearing. He said it was the blood of sheep when I asked him what caused the blood. I also found a knife which appeared to have blood on it. On asking him about the knife he said it was Edward’s boy’s knife. The boy was in the next room and I turned to him and he said it was his. (I produce the trousers, blouse and knife). He handed me a key. I asked him what it was and he said it was the key of the butcher’s shop. I went there leaving San Qui with a constable. On looking on the bench in the butcher’s shop I saw a pick (produced) with two spots of blood on it. I asked San Qui about it and he said he borrowed it from Charles Zeddi to sink holes. I found also on the bench 2 tomahawks, an axe, and some steels. I produce one of the tomahawks and the axe. I noticed the axe and tomahawks were remarkably clean. I took possession of the pick. I arrested San Qui, telling him he was charged with attempting to break into the Bank. I am sure I gave him to understand he was charged with murder but I don’t remember the exact words. He said he knew nothing about it. San Qui was at the time employed in butchering for Mr Eaton. When I got to the Police Station after arresting San Qui and taking the implements it was past 3 o’clock. Subsequently Dr O’Meehan examined the pick and found a hair on it which I produce. The pick was found as it is without a handle and I saw nothing of a handle.

The entry of San Qui’s arrival at the Station is 3 o’clock. I compared the pick with the marks on the weather board and believed it could be made by it. I took possession of the piece of glass produced which was in the sash of the broken window at the Bank. It had blood on the point of it where I got it.

On Friday the 16th I went with P.C. Lawrence, nat. Prince Tom and Harry Smith tracking. On the back wash we picked up two tracks, which we followed to McRae’s well in the paddock. I stopped at the well. Afterwards I went to where the prisoners Bevan and Warburton were working going along a track corresponding with the smaller of the two tracks. I had already followed. I asked the prisoners if there had been anyone pass there or stopping there. They said not that they knew of. I asked them if they had come out by the back wash. Warburton said “No” they always came out by the road. I asked if they had been down to the well and Bevan said they had been on Monday for water. I noticed a cut on the back of the fingers of Warburton’s left hand and asked him how it came there and he said “with this knife” holding a knife in his hand. I had noticed the cut the previous day at the Victoria Hotel, when it looked quite fresh.

I arrested the prisoners Warburton and Bevan charging them with breaking into the Union Bank. Warburton said “It a nice thing to be arrested on suspicion of murder. I’ll not forget this”. Warburton said they were out there on Monday night and knew nothing about the murder till the teamster came out at dinner time. Bevan remarked “it was his first trip”. Warburton said they “slept” there on Monday night. Bevan said nothing more than above stated. I locked them up. I searched a room at the Victoria Hotel which I was told was Warburton’s. I there found the boots produced (Marked A) and took possession, and Prince Tom afterwards saw them. I searched the room and pulled down from a roof a portmandeau, a carpet bag and some clothing, examined them and put them back. The prisoners had boots on when I arrested them. Bevan was wearing the boots marked B and Warburton the boots marked F. I observed a peculiarity in Bevan’s walk the left foot very much turned out. I afterwards observed the same peculiarity in the track I had followed on Friday. I went again to the tracks on Friday afternoon to the spot from which we had started and back tracked them to the end of the permanent pool. There we lost the larger track and back tracked the smaller one to the road in front of Zeddi’s house. There we lost it. Then we went to the track we had followed on Tuesday and tracked it back to the foot of Mount Welcome, then followed an impression continuous with the track over stony ground to about 58 yards from the back of the bank. We could see something had gone along turning a stone here and there and the spinifex.

When I went to the Bank on Tuesday morning the Bank doors were locked. The window of Mr Burrup’s room was shut to but not fastened and the door also shut to but not fastened.

On the 15th January I received a shirt from P.C. Thomas. It is produced (marked C). It was wet. There were stains on it. I dried it. There was a stud in this neck. It is now as when I received it. I noticed the stud when I received it. I produce another shirt (marked D). I got that at Bevan’s house on the 16th from Mrs Bevan. I was searching the place and believe I asked her about shirts. It is now in the same condition as when I got it. There are two studs in it. I showed it to Corporal Kennedy and Inspector Rowe and my attention was then called to the studs that there was no stud in the collar of D and that the studs in the two shirts are similar. The shirts have remained in my possession.

On the boots marked A I see spots on the front and a mark which I take to be blood on the back strap of the boot. I did not observe those till Inspector Rowe pointed them out but the boots have been in my possession since first seized.

On the 10th instant I went again in the direction of the track on Mount Welcome. I went by arrangement for Mrs Platt to note the position and direction. I had put marks where I had gone before. On the 10th I was a yard or two to the right of them going and returning kept exactly on them. I have compared the boots marked A and F. Those marked F are shorter and broader than A. I know the prisoner Gilroy. I have seen him at Bevan’s I was talking to him there about 2 days after the murder. He was sitting on the steps. I asked him whether he knew if Warburton or Bevan had been in on Monday night. He said he hadn’t seen them. I asked if they had come in without his knowing. He said he didn’t think they could. That he was very watchful and had been there all Monday night and had been pouring water on Lillis’ hand. I asked him if he thought Lillis knew. He said he didn’t think he knew anything. That he had had a sleeping draught and slept like a log.

On Tuesday in February, I think the 3rd of the month I had a conversation with Gilroy at Cossack. I asked him if he had ever said Mr Anketell had employed him to open the safe at the Bank. He said “No” but he had had a conversation with Bevan and told him that the Banker in New South Wales had lost the keys of the safe and had to telegraph to Newcastle for a namesake of Bevan’s to come and open the safe.

The first evening I was talking to him Gilroy said he had taken a walk on the morning of the murder as far as Platt’s building. He on another occasion told me he had been on that Tuesday morning as far as Frank Smith’s.

I afterwards arrested Gilroy and told him he was charged with murder, with others, at the Bank. I read the warrant to him to that effect. He said “That’s strange”. Later on he was discharged.

I spoke to him last Tuesday the 10th inst. I asked him how many pairs of boots he had. He said he had only 1 pair and they were made by Cavanagh. I re-arrested Gilroy yesterday evening. I read the warrant charging him with the murder. He afterwards said “it was spite”.

I produce the shirt Warburton had on (marked X) when I arrested him. I got the shirt (marked H) from Mrs Bevan and the shirt marked I from the Inspector. I produce the hat (marked J) which Warburton was wearing when arrested.

No x exam by Bevan

Ditto Warburton

Ditto San Qui

x exam by Gilroy: You said you walked as far as Platt’s building.

Daniel O’Connell
Sergeant of Police

Before me
E.H. Lawrence J.P.