Trial – The Enquirer – Day 1


The Trial as Reported by The Inquirer Newspaper

Day 1

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6

Chief Justice: Sir Alexander Onslow

Chief Justice: Sir Alexander Onslow

Attorney General:

Counsel for the defence: Mr Stevens appearing for Charles Warburton

Counsel for the defence: Mr Julian Harper appearing for Frederick Warburton and San Qui



(Before His Honor the Chief Justice and a Jury of twelve.)

The court opened at half-past ten o’clock……………………..


Charles Warburton, Frederick Bevan, and San Qui (a Chinaman) were arraigned upon the charge of having, on the 13th of January last, wilfully murdered Tomas Anketell and Charles Burrup at Roebourne.

After no less than eight persons had been challenged, one on the part of the Crown and seven on behalf of the accused, the following jury was sworn in: Messrs. C.C. Fauntleroy (foreman), W.McKay, H. Coppin, J.W. Wright, W. Sparks, W. Conroy, F. Armstrong, R. Mews, E. Carr, H. Strickland, A. Chamberlain and A. Silvester

The Attorney General having opened the case to the jury in an exhaustive speech of an hour and a half’s duration, called the following evidence in support of the prosecution:-

Michael Hickey deposed: I was stationed at Roebourne some months ago; the tracings produced are enlarged copies of a plan I made of Roebourne; the tracings are correct ones. McRae’s paddock is about two miles from Roebourne. The front of the Bank faces to Scholl street, to the east.

Roderick McRae, examined by the Crown Solicitor, deposed: I am Manager of the North West Australian Mercantile Co., and live at Roebourne; I knew both Mr Anketell and Mr Burrup; the former was Manager of the Union Bank there and the later was clerk. The last time I saw Mr Anketell alive was at about a quarter to twelve on the night of Monday, the 12th January last; I saw Mr. Burrup at about six o’clock that afternoon. I had been spending about two hours with Mr. Anketell and I left him on the back verandah of the Bank in his usual state of health. When I left the Bank was shut – in fact it was locked up. Mr. Burrup had not returned to the Bank at that time; it was always their custom to sleep there; Mr Anketell had returned to Roebourne only at half-past-two that afternoon, he having been away in the country upon business.

When I left the Bank I went to my home which is about 150 yards from the bank. At about twenty minutes to six the next morning I saw Mr. Anketell lying on the floor of the front verandah, lying near his stretcher; I did not go up to the Bank then, but subsequently I did go in consequence of what I had heard, when I found Mr Anketell lying dead. He was then lying in the same position as when I had first seen him that morning. I then went round to the back of the Bank; I opened the window, which was not fastened, and saw Mr. Burrup lying dead on his stretcher. There was no one about the place at the time. I sent for the Police Sergeant, and remained there until he came; no one else was in the habit of sleeping upon the premises. Each of the bodies was very much mutilated, and there was a large quantity of blood about each body. On the Wednesday morning after the murder I was bathing in the Pool at about five o’clock, when I saw Bevan come there and he bathed there too. I knew him before, and had a conversation with him. He began talking about the murder; he said he knew nothing at all about it until Platt’s teamster had told him of it. He said he had not seen Mr. Anketell for some time previous to the murder, and remarked what a fine gentleman he was.

Cross-examined by Mr Stephens: The front of the Bank faces Scholl Street, and when I left Mr. Anketell I went round the building into Scholl Street, and down that into Roe Street. I have known Warburton for some time; he has always borne a good character in Roebourne. Mr. Anketell and I were alone on the night before the murder.

By Mr. Harper: The ground at the back of the Bank is stoney. When I left the Bank I was close to Law’s house. I never said that I thought the murder had been committed by a Chinaman; public opinion upon the question was very much divided. I was out of my house a little before five o’clock on Tuesday morning, when I met a man named Gilroy before I passed the Bank; he was nearly a quarter of a mile from the bank, near the Police Station, and was walking toward the Bank at the time along Carnarvon Terrace, he was near to Bevan’s house; he was walking parallel with the Pool, alongside of which the street runs.

Re-examined by the Attorney General: Gilroy must have been forty of fifty yards up Carnarvon Terrace when I met him.

John A. O’Meehan deposed: I am Government Medical Officer at Roebourne. On the morning of the 13th January last I was called to the Union Bank between seven and eight o’clock. On the front verandah I found the dead body of Mr. Anketell, the Bank Manager. The body was lying on its back close to the front wall of the building. I observed a stretcher there, standing between the front of the verandah and the body, about two yards from the body, and eighteen inches from the edge of the verandah. I then went round to the back room, where I saw the dead body of Mr. Burrup lying on another stretcher. The stretchers were about two feet in height from the floor. The bodies wee in charge of the police at that time. I then went home, but returned about an hour afterwards, when I examined the bodies more particularly. The principal wound on Mr Anketell, extended across the right temple from the eye to the hair, this had evidently been inflicted by a sharp instrument which had fractured both the skull and the upper jawbone. I should say it must have been cased by either an axe or a tomahawk. Such a wound would have caused death instantly.

There was another wound over the left eye, made by a blunt instrument, fracturing the skull; it could have been produced by the back of a tomahawk. A third wound had been inflicted with a sharp instrument about two inches from the upper end of the angle of a tomahawk. There was another wound similar to the last one further back, also fracturing the skull. Either of the two large wounds would have caused instant death. There was also a wound on the jaw, the bone of which was broken; and the brain had been penetrated through the orifice of the right ear by some sharp and narrow instrument; the knife produced might have inflicted the wound. There was also an L shaped wound on the back of the neck. Generally speaking the skull was smashed to pieces. Some days afterwards I saw a cut on the floor of the verandah just about where Mr. Anketell’s head had been lying when the body was on the floor. I saw a quantity of blood about the place. On Mr. Burrup’s body I saw a punctured wound over the right eye, evidently made by a round pick; that would have caused instant death. There was another wound over the right ear made by a sharp instrument, such as a tomahawk fracturing the skull. There was another small wound at the back of the ear. In both cases the blows had been directed at the head or face of each victim. I judge that the bodies must have been dead bout from four to six hours before I first saw them. To the best of my judgment I do not think that either of the murdered men had struggled. Two or three weeks afterwards Sergt. O’Connell showed me a pick, it had stains upon it which might have been those of blood or not; also some hari, over half-an-inch in length, it was similar to human hair; I found it suck on to one of the blades about half way from the point. The hair resembled one take from a man’s bear; Mr. Burrup wore a bear. I was shown a sock, on which there were marks of blood. A white shirt was handed to me some days afterwards; it had some stains on it, but I could not say what they were of. A blouse was also showed to me which was stained with blood, and a pair of trousers which were also spotted with blood. A hat was handed tom, it was stained with what I believe to be blood; I cut out the stains and handed them over to the police after I had examined them. I also saw a pair of stained boots, but I could not form any judgment as to the cause of the stains. About four days after the murder I saw Warburton’s hands. I noticed two or three cuts on the back of his left hand and one on one of his fingers, when I took up his hand to examine it he said “Oh! they are cuts I got quarrying stone.” Some of the cuts might have been made by a piece of glass or by a sharp piece of stone; they were more like scratches than cuts. As the man was engaged in quarrying stone I thought they most likely been produced by stone. The L shaped wound on mr Anketell’s neck must have been produced by a blunt instrument.

Cross examined by Mr Stevens: it was about nine o’clock in the morning when I examined the bodies; death may have occurred more than six hours before; I could not distinguish between the blood of a man and a bullock; I could detect a blood stain both microscopically and chemically even a month after the stain was made. The marks on the back of Warburton’s hand were of two kinds; some were such as might have been produced by glass, others by stones; the marks did not appear to be very old; some of them might have been four days old, and some less. It would have been quite possible for a person fracturing the skull with a sharp instrument, such as a pick, to have twisted the weapon round before withdrawing it, but I cannot possibly say that such was done.

By Mr Harper: I think the punctured wound in Burrup’s head was not made by the pick produced, but rather by a rounded instrument. I cannot form the slightest idea as to the cause of the stains I saw on the white shirt. There was one stain in particular I was sure was not that of blood, of the other I was not so certain. I did not analyse the stained on the sock, neither did I examine it under the microscope; but I have not the slightest hesitation in swearing that the stain was that of blood. I could detect the difference between the stain of milk or cocoa, and that of blood without a microscopic examination, provided I saw it within reasonable time. A recent blood-stain I can positively swear to by its general appearance, without regard to the nature of the coagulation, the character of the fobrine, or the form of the corpuscle. The trousers, which belonged to the Chinaman, were distinctly marked with blood, that I can swear to. If, at the magisterial inquiry, I said that I could not say that the stains on the trousers were not those of blood, my evidence taken at that time would be more reliable than the evidence I now give from only memory.

By the jury: As I do not know what a pole-axe is, I cannot say whether the penetrated would in Burrup’s head was produced by such an instrument or not.

Re-examined by the Attorney General: Some of the wounds on Warburton’s hand might perhaps been caused by a blunt knife; none of the scratches were more than four days old. The wound referred to in Burrup’s head might have been produced by the blow of a pick, and the blade being afterwards twisted round; the diameter of the weapon must have been between a half of an inch and an inch.

George Harrison examined by the Attorney-General deposed: In January last I was working as a storeman in Mr. Lockyer’s service at Roebourne. I am a convict, and was out at the time on a conditional pardon. In November and December last I was a prisoner in the Roebourne lock-up for having been drunk; during that time I was put to look after another man who was sick; he was a Frenchman, and resided upon Mr. Ridley’s property not far from the gaol. On the 1st December, while I was at Ridley’s, I saw Warburton and Bevan; I knew them as I had previously lived at Lockyer’s with them. The two men came to me together; I was in an out-house at the time. Warburton spoke to me, but not Bevan. Warburton said “When are you coming out? I replied, “In about ten days.” He said, “When you come out, come and see me. last time you came out you never came to me, thought I asked you to do so.” I replied “Well, I couldn’t as I got locked up the same night again. What do you want me for some well-sinking?” He said “No, I am tired of well-sinking; if you’ll come and see me you’ll have plenty of time to go to work afterwards. There is an affair to come off that’ll be as good as gold if it come off, but I don’t know whether it will come off until a party comes in from the bush.” That was all that occurred upon that occasion. By the works “an affair to come off” I understood he meant that a robbery was on hand; that is the way the thieves generally speak of such things. During the course of the conversation Bevan was standing a short distance of behind a heap of stones within a distance of twenty years. I was set free on the 20th December, and then went to Lockyer’s instead of to Warburton, because I thought better of it. Warburton, knew that I had been a convict, and it was well-known that Bevan had been the same. I have seen Warburton and Bevan working at the well near the Bank. On the 1st December I heard them speaking down the well between four and five o’clock in the evening, while I was on my way from the hospital to the blacksmith’s; the well was about twenty-five feet deep. Warburton said, “Do you think this job can be done?” Bevan replied “Yes I do; if you can get that party; but do you think he is to be trusted?” Warburton replied, “Oh, you leave that to me.” Bevan said, “Well, we must try to make it as much like a Chinaman’s job as possible.” Warburton replied, “you leave that to me.” Just then I coughed, when they spoke to me asking me why I was not with the sick man; I told them the man had been discharged. I received a life sentence upon a charge of highway robbery.

Cross examined by Mr Stevens: There was no murder in the affair, neither have I ever been convicted of perjury. I am only fifty-eight years of age, and I have a good memory.The two men came to me at dinner time, and it was about half-past four in the afternoon when I heard them talking down the well. Warburton and I are very good friends.

By Mr Harper: I was working at Lockyer’s in February, 1884 and it was in June I got locked up for two months, and the day after I came out I got another three months; I was therefore a prisoner in November. The well, in which I heard the two prisoners talking, is about a hundred yards from the Bank. I have never been at his place but once, when I wanted to borrow some pepper for a sick man, But I never quarrelled with him in my life. I’ll swear I got three month’s imprisonment for drunkenness, but I have never heard other Magistrate having been punished for giving me such an illegal sentence, they always give us three months up at Roebourne for drunkenness.

Re-examined by the Attorney General: After Warburton told me that he had “an affair on” and wanted me to join him, I turned it over in my mind. This was the reason Iwas so curious to hear the conversation down the well.

At this point the Court adjourned to ten o’clock the next morning. [50]