Police File


The Police File

The Police File on the Roebourne bank murders of Anketell and Burrup gives an insight into the “behind the scenes” investigations that were not made public. There are cryptic telegrams, red herring statements, allegations that the Police Commissioner stymied an otherwise promising investigation, a suspect of high social standing but no proof as to his guilt, and plenty more: all make for fascinating reading. [105]

I am working through the above mentioned documents, transcribing them. As each document is transcribed it is posted here. Click on the blue links below to read the various transcriptions.

Note: [?] indicates that I could not transcribe a word (yet). Any comments or clarifications I make will also be enclosed in [ ] brackets.


3rd July 1885 – Memorandum by detective with some observations and reporting of society heresay about the murders.

12th January 1887 – Letter from William Anketell (father of the murdered Thomas) to Acting Colonial Secretary regarding his belief of the identity of the murderer and why he won’t name him.

18th February 1887 – Report from Sub. Inspect. Lawrence to Commissioner of Police sending several statements that he took down during a recent visit to Roebourne relating to the murder of Messrs Anketell and Burrup. He discusses James Lithgow, Frank Hornig and Roderick McRae

1st May 1887 – Report from Inspector Daniell O’Connell to the Commissioner of Police explaining/justifying his actions whilst investigating the Roebourne murders.

8th November 1887 – Report from Sergt. Payne, to Commissioner of Police, detailing his visit to Roderick McRae at Croyden Station.

25th April 1888 – Report from Insp. R.C. Hare to Commissioner of Police detailing the views of various classes of people in Roebourne upon the murders of Anketell and Burrup.

more to come …

The investigations into Franz Erdsmann, alias Frank Hornig, who was a suspect in the murders.

Coming soon …

The allegations of James Lithgow that he was witness to the murders and the police reports on such allegations.

4th January 1887 – The first statement made by James Lithgow whilst at Chidlows Well

6th January 1887 – The second statement made by James Lithgow whilst in Perth

6th January 1887 – Statement made by Benjamin Longstaff refuting that James Lithgow was in Roebourne at the time of the murders –

6th January 1887 – Report by Serg. O’Connell commenting on the first Lithgow statement

12th January 1887 – The third statement made by James Lithgow

17th January 1887 – Cyphered telegram from Sub Inspector Lawrence to Supt. of Police and cyphered reply

26th January 1887 – Telegram from PC Guilfoyle to Sergt. Payne after interviewing H. Woolhouse and checking entries in Woolhouse’s station book verifying dates of James Lithgow’s movements –

26th January 1887 – Report by Sub Inspector Lawrence about his investigations as to whether James Lithgow was in Roebourne during the time of the murders.

Allegations made by Thomas Sullivan as to the Roebourne murders and police reports

31st January 1887 – Telegrams from J. J. Howe to Commissioner of Police regarding Thomas Sullivan and Thomas McCullock possibly knowing something about the Roebourne murders.

4th February 1887 – Report from Detective Constable John G. Baker.

8th March 1887 – Report from Sergeant at Perth Central police station on allegations being made by Thomas Sullivan.

Date unknown – Statement made by Thomas Sullivan – sometime after Baker’s report and possibly just after he was making allegations at the Perth Central police station.

George Stevens being employed as an undercover detective by the Police Force, his allegations that the Police Commissioner purposely stymied his investigations in Roebourne, and the ensuing stoush with the Commissioner insisting on receiving Stevens’ report before paying Stevens’ outstanding account.

11th – 19th July 1890 – Correspondence from Sub Inspector Back informing the Commissioner of Police that George Stevens (who was the solicitor representing Charles Warburton at the Roebourne murder trial) believes he can solve the murder case if sent to Roebourne as an undercover detective.

28th July 1890 – Correspondence from George Stevens to the Commissioner of Police outlining his offer to go to Roebourne to investigate the murder case and terms of payment for such service.

31st July – 3rd August 1890 – Telegrams regarding times of interview between Commissioner of Police and George Stevens. Also short document showing Stevens being sworn into the police department as a police constable and a receipt of payment.

11th October 1890 – Correspondence from Mr Hayward of the Union Bank to Commissioner of Police enquiring as to whether George Stevens is still in the employ of the police department and a telegram from Stevens to the Union Bank requesting £40 be wired to himself.

13th October 1890 – Threatening telegram from Commissioner of Police to George Stevens demanding an immediate answer as to why no report has been lodged and Steven’s reply.

21st Oct 1890 – Correspondence from George Stevens castigating the Commissioner of Police for not letting him do his job properly and effectively “blowing his cover” whilst investigating the murders in Roebourne.

8th November 1890 – Correspondence from George Stevens to Commissioner of Police noting that no reply was received from his previous letter and now enclosing a full account of his expenses.

19th November 1890 – George Stevens in correspondence reminds the Commissioner of Police that he, the Commissioner, broke their agreement and hampered Steven’s investigation.

18th December 1890 – George Stevens in correspondence now threatens the Commissioner of Police with legal action in order to recover his costs.

31st December 1890 – In correspondence George Stevens informs the Police Commissioner that his report is available under seal and will be released immediately upon payment of his oustanding account. Also, the reply to this correspondence from the Commissioner.

31st December 1890 – George Stevens long awaited report on his findings at Roebourne.

7th January 1891 – In correspondence George Stevens informs the Commissioner of Police he is now starting legal proceedings to recover payment of his account.

14th January – 6 April 1891 – Correspondence between George Steven’s solicitor, the Police Commissioner and Crown Solicitor with Stevens finally accepting a payment.