Police file – James Lithgow – 6th January 1887-1

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The Police File

I have to report to the Act. Supt. of Police that on the 4th inst P.C. O’Hara arrived in Perth with a man named James Lithgow Exp late 4641 who had been drinking at Chidlows Well and speaking of the Roebourne Murder. In consequence of this I interviewed him the same evening when he made the following statement.

“In January 1885 I was in Mr Woolhouses service but in Roebourne. The night previous to the murder I was in company with R. McRae, Bevan and Pont. McRae asked me if I would make one to rob the Bank. I told him I would. The next evening I was laying down near Thompsons new house and about 11 o’clock McRae kicked me on the foot and asked me if I intended to stick to my promise. I said yes I am willing to do any B__y thing – then we all had a drink of brandy out of a bottle which McRae had and started for the Bank. McRae had a pick in his hand and Bevan a tomahawk. When we got to the Bank, Bevan stood on my right and Point on my left. McRae went up and struck Anketell on the head with the pick and then rolled him off the stretcher. He only struck the one blow. I then tried the lock of the door but could not get in. I then went round to the back of the Bank and broke a pane of glass out of the back window which I unfastened and got in and opened the door. McRae tried to force the door open while I was getting through the window. After I opened the door McRae, Bevan and Pont came in. McRae took down some papers from off the safe and shelf and threw them on the table and told me to burn them which I did by putting a lighted match to them on the table. There was no candle used in the Bank at all by us. I did not see Burrup but I think he was murdered by Bevan and Pont with the tomahawk but I did not see them. Pont was standing by me when I broke the pane of glass. We all left the Bank about daybreak and returned to where we started from. McRae asked me to have a drop more brandy. I refused and said I would clear after that fearful affair. I then went to the stable at the back of Thompsons got my horse and returned with McRae to his store where he got a fresh suit. We then went about half a mile in a straight line from the back of the store, where McRae changed his clothes. His shirt and trousers were covered in blood. He buried them beneath some rough stones. Pont and Bevan left me and McRae when I went to get my horse. I think they went towards Cossack. After McRae buried his clothes I went straight to Woolhouses. On my way I met P.C. Hickey and called at Mr Stewarts. I arrived at Mr Woolhouses the next day and the following day Maher arrived with news of the murder.”

Lithgow has evidently been drinking heavily and was remanded by the Police Magistrate for medical examination. I attach herewith a statement taken from Benjamin Longstaff who was working with Lithgow at Woolhouses.

I have seen Lithgow this morning (6th inst) and he declines saying anything further about the matter but states that if set at liberty and he can get to Roebourne by his own means he will endeavour to collect corroborative evidence.

During the conversation he contradicted in several points of his former statement – more especially respecting Hickey and Maher.

He now states he has no recollection of meeting Hickey on the road and that he arrived at Woolhouses on the morning of the same day that Maher arrived.

W.C. Lawrence
Sub Insp.
6.1.87