Police file – Thomas Sullivan – unknown-date 1887


The Police File

About 3 months ago I was coming down from Alex McRae’s to the Port and when about 60 miles from the Port I came across a teamster named Sullivan. I think his Christian name is James. I believe he is Forrest’s teamster. It was late at night and he did not know I was there. He was lying down with his team and I just dropped my swag down and lied down on one side without discovering myself to him. I overheard him talking to himself and saying that he wished to Christ he had never seen Alex and Rod McRae and then he would not have been implicated in the murder. In the morning I boiled my pannican and never let him know that I had overheard him.

I stayed a few days at Ashburton. On my arrival there at Clark’s hotel, I found Alec McRae, Bob Cummings, the Policemen Guilfoyle and Dunne and Clark himself. I think that was all. Dunne called me out one night and told me I had better tell him all about it, mentioning that I knew all about the murder. I wasn’t going to tell him and in fact I did not tell him anything.

The teamster Sullivan the same night that I met him talking to himself said that Alec McRae, Roderick McRae, a blacksmith (whose name I think is Donegan) and Anderson, Roderick McRae’s teamster were the murderers. He didn’t say how the murder was done. He said something about papers.

This man (Sullivan) and Donegan the blacksmith were at Clark’s when I was there. Sullivan was crying the next morning after I arrived at Clark’s. This is what I intended to come down here for before when I was made a prisoner, there being no charge against me.

Alex McRae followed me down all the way when I was coming down with Dunne. While at Simontown I overheard Alec McRae say, on several occasions at night after we turned in “I wish I could do away with him” and on one occasion he said “I would give that fellow £600 to clear out of the country”. I believe he referred to me when he said this.

Anderson the teamster is a man as tall as me with a big rough beard. He was in Roebourne at the time of the murder and afterwards went to the 90 Mile Beach to a station there. Both Anderson and Sullivan were at the Ashburton when I left.

I heard no particulars of the murder from Sullivan. I have seen Lithgow at Jarrahdale. I heard that he had been telling some one there that they sent across to the other side (the eastern colonies) for the two Ponts for the murder. That is why I have come down here now.

[The above statement made by Thomas Sullivan was undated and unsigned. It was taken down by Detective Constable John G. Baker as the handwriting matches that of his (Baker’s) report after he had visited Jarrahdale to find out more about Sullivan and his mate Adam McCullock. Therefore this statement has been made sometime after that visit and quite possibly after Sullivan appeared at the Perth Central police station making allegations. Maybe it is then that a decision is made to arrest Sullivan and elicit a statement from him as to what he knows of the Roebourne murders.

It is unclear how Dunne supposedly thought that Thomas Sullivan knew about the murder. Sullivan had a history of drunkeness. Maybe he started talking about what he had overheard.

Whilst in Jarrahdale it was stated that Thomas Sullivan had come down from Roebourne with his friend Adam McCullock however in this statement no mention is made of that; only that he has come down with Dunne.]