SATURDAY, 24TH JANUARY 1885
Such tragedy as that which is occurred in Roebourne has happened before now in the backwoods of America. The story would cause no surprise in connexion [sic] with the early days of California, but it is a startling event in modern Australia. The bushrangers who, from GARDINER down to the KELLYS, stuck up mails and plundered banks, essayed mostly, in their rough way, to be PAUL CLIFFORDS and CLAUDE DUVALS, and sought to rob civilians and not to murder them. When they waged ruthless war on life, it was against the police. But in this Roebourne instance we have brutal and cold blooded murders committed undisguisedly for plunder.
A crime that has excited more horror has never been known in this land. Roebourne is a town evidently of exceptional features, even for a remote settlement in a new country. It is frequented by the Malays and the Chinese and other scum employed in pearl fishing, the usual odds and ends of a border town will be there, and they will naturally include the desperate characters only to be found in a community where convictism has not expired. An idea of the relative morality of a colony such as Victoria and a colony not yet free from the felon taint is to be gathered from the circumstance that according to the statistics, where there are three serious convictions here, there are 20 in proportion to the population in Western Australia. These are the facts which make people resolve to keep the “accursed thing” far from us. Our West Australian correspondent in his last letter, speaking of the Roebourne district, mentioned that “violent “deaths and stabbing cases”‘ were numerous. They occurred mostly, he said, amongst the Chinese and the Malays, but his remarks made it evident that great lawlessness prevailed.
A special interest is taken in the case in this colony because one of the victims bears a familiar Victorian name, but there is not a country in the world in which the sensational record will not appeal, and will not be devoured by young and old. Such a tale attracts attention everywhere, and for that very reason we have to hope that the West Australian Government will nerve itself to the task of discovering the offenders. The one creditable sequel to such an outrage is that the offenders were tracked, that every hand was against them, and that the scaffold was near. Any other denouncement, or even any delay, discredits the community in which the crime occurs, and unfortunately the world, in speaking of the locality, will be apt to drop the prefix ” Western” from “Australia.”