There are certain aspects surrounding the murders that I find odd:-
- The recollections of former PC William Thomas in 1913 mention two bloody left hand prints. One on Henry Burrup’s pillow slip and the other on his mattress. Absolutely no mention of this very significant piece of evidence is made in the police files, newspaper articles or during the murder trial. This means either a cover up by the authorities or William Thomas is embellishing the story.
- Why smash a pane of glass in the bank window when keys were readily available to unlock the door?
- The murderer put a pillow over Henry’s head after brutally smashing it in.
- No attempt is made to use Henry’s keys. They were easily found in the pocket of his waistcoat that was hanging on a peg in the wall.
- Thomas’ keys were placed back upon the bedding that covered his body.
- Did Roderick McRae not think it strange to see Thomas lying on the verandah floor between his stretcher and the bank wall?
- Why was Roderick McRae not formally and aggressively questioned?
- Why were the events of the gambling evening with Roderick McRae and the missing silver that is alleged to have been won by Thomas Anketell from Roderick McRae not brought up during the Court proceedings?
- Why did Mr Henshaw not give a statement about the gambling evening?
- The Commissioner of Police swore in George Stevens as a police constable to investigate the murder undercover in Roebourne. Stevens was on an eight week contract and initially paid the cash sum of £70. This was an amazing sum of money. To put this in some perspective, Graeme Sisson, Archivist for the Police Historical Society informed me that the wage of a police constable at that time was 7/- (7 shillings) per day, seven days a week. He also said that in those days the Police Department made a number of officers redundant. “Staff reductions” are what they called it. There were constant arguments about saving money. Therefore the financial agreement between the Commissioner and Stevens is bizarre, to say the least.
- Why then did the Commissioner of Police purposely “blow” Stevens’ cover when it appears that there was a clear agreement between both men as to the way the investigation was to be conducted? Was pressure being brought to bear upon the Commissioner? The whole matter of Stevens’ engagement and payment by the Commissioner of Police is most extraordinary. I feel there is a missing “jigsaw” piece in that particular puzzle.
- Why was Mrs Law not called as a witness at the murder trial? The reason given for her non-appearance was “because she knew nothing about what had occurred”. Following this analogy, for example, someone like Roderick McRae shouldn’t have been a trial witness either because he alleged he left his friend in good health and knew nothing of the murders. As Mrs Law was the first person on the murder scene and her house also neighboured the Union Bank then she should have been subject to questioning in the witness stand. I think the Judge, Sir Alexander Onslow, thought so too. Did she hear or see something that fateful night? Also, I find no witness deposition from her in the police file. Did she not give one? If this is the case it is most strange. Interestingly, in the recollections of former PC, William Thomas, he stated that a woman accused McRae, whilst in his presence, of being the murderer. In the newspaper article of his account it appears that the woman is referred to by her job title rather than name; the job title then being substituted with an underline i.e. “a ________ “. It appears this was to prevent her being identified? Maybe “a milkwoman” or “charwoman” etc. Mrs Law was referred to as a milkwoman and was also a charwoman. Was it she who leveled the accusation? I have to wonder whether in fact she was being “kept away” from all the ensuing proceedings because she was potentially a hostile witness. It is two years later, in January 1887, that I find a written statement of her account of the events. This statement was taken down with regards to the Franz Erdmann (alias Frank Hornig) case where it was believed by some that he was the murderer.