Newspaper articles – The West Australian – 28th February 1885

The West Australian



Our Roebourne letter contains intelligence which explains the apparently incomprehensible statement made recently by the Nor’ West correspondent of a contemporary that in the house of San Qui, against whom we have all along heard there was no direct evidence of complicity in the bank murders, clothes saturated with blood were discovered. The clothes, so saturated, were really found it appears. But San Qui was a butcher, or butcher’s assistant, and that his clothes should be bloodstained was a matter of course. It does not seem to have occurred to anyone to connect the stains in question with the murder, as the letter alluded to would have led the public to suppose, for our correspondent refers to the pick found in the possession as the chief evidence against San Qui.




With regard to the arrest, at Roebourne, of the man Gilroy, on suspicion of having been concerned in the Bank murders, we learn that the only evidence against him is that he was absent from his usual sleeping place on the night of the murder and that he was seen on the following morning coming from, the direction of the Bank.

Suspicion also rests, we hear, upon a man called William Pont who was noticed to be limping on the day after the murder, it is surmised from a cut in his boot; this man has gone to Kimberley.

From the state of the Bank verandahs, covered with blood, and from the fact that no stain of blood was found inside the bank room, it is believed that whoever attempted the robbery had no hand in the murders, but waited outside until they had been committed.




From our own correspondent.-

Roebourne, Feb. 17.  The Flowerdale, from Fremantle, arrived on the 31st ulto., after a smart passage of 7 days. She sailed on her return voyage, via western pearling banks, on the 7th inst. The Natal, from Singapore, made an appearance on the 14th inst., having been 8 days on the voyage. She leaves today for Fremantle.

I will now strive to give you some particulars of the proceedings so far against the alleged murderers of Messrs. Anketell and Burrup, a case which has been awfully mismanaged from first to last. It seems to me that the police were dilatory at the commencement in the matter of hunting up the tracks.

The inquest was held at 11 a.m. on the 13th of January ; the bodies were, however, seen by the police as early as half-past 7 o’clocknd at that time the search should have begun, but it was not until 1-30 p.m. that any move was made, when one or two tracks were found at or near the old racecourse. These tracks they lost at McKay’s paddock, and by that time it was dark.

On the following Friday (16th inst.) they discovered two tracks leading towards Mount Hall, where the two prisoners, Bevan and Warburton, were at work. These men were asked what track they used in coming to and from town, and said they travelled in a  direction different from that where the tracks were seen. The men were at once  arrested (a grave error in my humble opinion). The police ran up the tracks on their way back from Mount Hall, which led them to within 100 yards of the Bank, at the base of Mount Welcome. One of  the tracks agree with Bevan’s, and the native tracker showed how the maker of the track must have walked, and it was Bevan’s walk to perfection. If these tracks had been followed early on the morning of the murder they would have been fresh, but the delay of three days caused their partial obliteration by the footprints of cattle, etc.

The Chinaman, San Qui, is a journeyman butcher, working for Mr. R. Eaton. Mr. Eaton was away at the time. The police found a pickaxe in the butcher’s shop with stains like blood and a hair adhering to it. San Qui accounted for having the pickaxe by saying that Mr. Zeddie had lent it to him to dig holes. Zeddie, however, while admitting that he had lent the Chinaman a pick, declared that the pick referred to was not the one he had lent. The police have a blouse and trousers belonging to San Qui which are covered with blood, but he accounts for this by pleading his occupation, which necessarily led to his having blood-stained garments. The principal evidence against this man seems to be the possession of the stained pick with the solitary hair.

Against Bevan the evidence is that of the track and the fact of his being on the spot early on the morning of the murder. This he denied, saying he was not in Roebourne until the afternoon, and heard of the murder from a teamster who passed his camp between 10 and 11 on the morning of the  13th. But it is in evidence that he was  served by Mrs. J. A. Hall with a gallon of beer between 7 and 8 o’clock that morning. Mrs. Hall deposed that she said to him, “What a dreadful murder has been committed,” and he replied, “Yes, it must be either Chinamen or some of the old hands.” He cross-examined her without effect.

A week afterwards a Chinaman gave evidence that he saw Bevan in town on that morning, and Bevan said to him, “What for you Chinamen killum these white men ?”

The evidence against Warburton is weak. The police had seen a small spot of blood on a point of the broken pane of glass, and, finding a fresh wound on Warburton’s hand, asked him how he got. it. The man replied, ” Oh, I cut it with this knife” (which he had in his hand). He, however, told Dr. O’Meehan a day or two afterwards that it was caused by stones, whilst he was quarrying.

The evidence hitherto taken in this matter may be shortly stated. Miss McRae deposed that at half-past 6 on the morning of the 13th she, residing in the house of her brother, Mr. A. McRae (who was not at home), saw Mr. Anketell lying under the Bank verandah with the sun shining on him. She thought this strange, and, on looking through a binocular, noticed that he was covered with blood. She had been sleeping that night near an open French window, situated some 40 yards or so from the Bank.

Mr. R. McRae deposed to his parting with Anketell at the Bank at half-past 11 the previous night ; that deceased, who had returned from the country at 8 o’clock that evening, said he was tired and should turn in ; that the Bank was at that time locked ; that at half-past 5 in the morning he (witness) was going towards the Roebourne hotel, about 90 yards from the Bank, when he noticed deceased lying under the verandah apparently asleep.

Subsequently, hearing that something was wrong, he went to the Bank and saw the body of Anketell. | He  looked in at the window, which was shut but not fastened, and saw Burrup’s body. He then told the police.

Sergt. O’connell deposed that he saw Anketell’s body under the verandah, off the stretcher and alongside the wall, with the bedding over him and covered with blood. Blood, too, was on the stretcher, and a bunch of keys was in some blood on the top of the bedding. The body was stretched out, the arms being by the side, with the hands clenched. Burrup’s body was lying on the left side, with the legs partly off the stretcher, and the right leg over the left, as if some one had turned him over. Under him were his day clothes. His waistcoat was hanging on the wall, and in the pocket witness found the duplicate key of the safe. A pillow was over the face of the deceased. There was blood on the walls, and even up to the ceiling; and on the verandah, near Burrup’s door, the sash of the window had been cut by some sharp instrument.

The sergeant also gave evidence about the partially burnt  matches near the safe, and other matters of which I have before given you particulars. Marks were found on the weather-boarding near Anketell, as if made by a pick, and on the floor of the verandah, as if made by a tomahawk.

Dr. O’Meehan’s evidence as to the nature of the wounds is merely a confirmation of what has already been forwarded to you. All the wounds seem to have run one into the other. The doctor said he did not think there had been a struggle, and the general opinion is that death in both instances was immediate. A sock has been found among some rocks stained with blood, and the police are thinking of draining the pool to find the tools used. Natives have been diving and found a white shirt, stained, but it is doubtful whether by blood. It is supposed that the murderers cast off their shoes, and perpetrated the crimes in stockinged feet.

On the 7th inst. a Mrs. Platt  gave evidence to the effect that between one and two in the morning of the 13th she heard footsteps in the direction of Noonan’s (which is opposite the Bank), but at some distance. At day dawn she got up and looked out of her window to call her dog, which was with other dogs barking in the direction of the Bank, when she noticed a man going along the side of a hill towards the stables at Thompson’s inn. Between the Bank and Thompson’s she saw another man on the side of the hill going towards the Church. She lost sight of him when he got to the south end of the Church. She saw a third man crawling up the hill (these hills are spurs of Mount Welcome), and when he had reached the top, he stood up, looked around, and then went towards the cemetery. This man appeared to be of small stature. Could not recognise any of them.

Saw Bevan in Roebourne that morning at about 7 o’clock, thus confirming the evidence of Mrs, Hall and the Chinaman. Mrs. Platt’s statements are received by many with suspicion, as she never volunteered them until the bank reward was known.

A man named William Gilroy was arrested on the 14th, charged with being concerned in the late murders, and, on the 16th, he had a hearing. A witness named Lillis said he was living at Bevan’s, as was the prisoner. On the night of the 12th ulto. he slept in the same room as Gilroy. Usually kept a lamp burning all night, as he had a bad hand. At midnight woke up and found the light extinguished, and that Gilroy was not in bed. Afterwards slept until daybreak, and then saw Gilroy standing at the door dressed. No words were spoken. Gilroy went in the direction of Eaton’s. Saw him again at breakfast time, when he said he had gone to Frank Smith’s camp up the river. Mrs. Bevan asked him whether he had heard the news. Gilroy said “No.” She then told him of the murders. He said nothing although he is generally talkative. The next day accused said to witness, in course of conversation that the murders had  been done with a pick without a handle. Witness deemed it improbable that such a weapon had been used, but prisoner replied that Anketell might easily have been killed by first dropping a few stones on the verandah to ascertain whether he was asleep and then using the pick with both hands drive it into his skull. Witness observed that Gilroy and Bevan were much together, and more intimate than usual on that day.

Frank Smith deposed that Gilroy had been to his camp on the morning of the 13th January between 7 and o’clock Sergt. O’connell stated to the Court that prisoner told him that Bevan could not have come in to Roebourne on the night before the murder without he (Gilroy knowing it, as he (Gilroy) was there all night. The prisoner was remanded for eight days. Although the evidence against the prisoners is not very strong, yet the general feeling is that they (those first arrested at all events) are the actual criminals. The people are now becoming more calm, but at first they were much scared, scarcely daring to walk about at night.

On the night of the 16th a meeting was held, the Government Resident in the chair, at which it was resolved to frame and forward to the relatives of the deceased letters of condolence, such letters to be signed by Messrs. Laurence, O’Meehan, and A. McRae on behalf of the district. I believe it is the intention of the settlers to place a commemoration tablet in the church.