Trial – The Enquirer – Day 3


The Trial as Reported by The Inquirer Newspaper

Day 3

FRIDAY, JULY 3, 1885

The court re-opened at ten o’clock precisely.

Lilian Hall, recalled, said in reply to His Honor: I did not bring my book with me, but I have no doubt I did enter Bevan’s name in it on the *19th [sic] January; I make no mistake as to the date, as I am positive he obtained the beer from me on the morning of the murder, and not on that of the day after.

Alfred Smith, examined by the Attorney General, deposed: I am a teamster, and in January last I was in the service of Mr. Platt, of Roebourne. I remember the morning of the murder; on that same morning I went out with my team for stone to the prisoner’s camp. I started after I had heard of the murder, at about half-past eleven. When I got to the camp I saw Bevan first. I spoke to him about the murder having been committed; Warburton was about eight or nine yards from us at the time; Bevan made no remark when I spoke about the murder, neither did Warburton, who, I think must have heard what I said as I spoke very loud. About ten minutes or a quarter of an hour afterwards we three were lifting a large stone into the wagon, when I spoke about the murder a second time. I said “It is a fearful cruel business; the men that done that murder ought to be burnt.” Warburton at once replied, “It is a good job I had no money in the bank.” I do not recollect Bevan saying anything about it then. Afterwards Bevan asked me where the men had been murdered. I replied, “One at the front, and one at the back of the Bank.” I noticed when I spoke of the murder Bevan appeared to be scared. He was dressed in a black and white striped crimean shirt, it was a woolen one; and dark tweed trousers. Warburton wore a white pair of moleskin trousers, and a white singlet. When I spoke to the prisoners about the murder they did not speak at once, but only after a pause. I was about half an hour there, and when I went away I left the prisoners at the camp.

Cross examined by Mr Stevens: I first heard of the murder at about half-past six, started from Roebourne at about half-past nine, and arrived at the camp before dinner time, that is before noon. I may have said in the Roebourne Police Court that I arrived at the prisoners’ camp at ten o’clock. I gave my evidence there in March. The evidence I there gave is more likely to be correct than that I now give as to the time, but I got back to Roebourne with my load of stone before dinner time. I spoke to the police about the matter before the Bank reward was offered, but Mr. McRae had offered a reward before Sergt. O’Connell spoke to me about the murder. While I was talking to Bevan the prisoner Warburton was standing a few yards off; he was working at the time, and had his back to me; I spoke louder than usual, because Bevan is a little bit deaf; I saw Warburton in Roebourne on the previous Saturday night.

By Mr Harper: I did not suspect either of the prisoners before I went out to their camp, because I had no reason to do so. Bevan is a little deaf; when I spoke to him he made no signs of having heard me. I know Bevan pretty well, and know that he has a peculiar way of walking; he throws out one of his feet in walking, I think it is the left one. After I had spoken to them about the murder, and they took no notice of what I said, I then suspected them of it. On the following Friday I met the prisoners coming into Roebourne with Sergt. O’Connell. I paid particular attention to their clothes on the Tuesday morning, because I looked to see if they had anything on them. I’ll swear that Bevan was wearing a striped black and white shirt, if my deposition taken at Roebourne states that I said it was a “plaid” shirt it is a mistake, as I only said “something like a plaid.” I know two brothers named Pont, William and another whose name I do not remember. William was not in Roebourne on the night of the murder, but I believe that the other one was, but I can’t be sure.

Re-examined: When I first spoke to Bevan I did so in a louder tone of voice than that to which he had frequently replied to before. I am certain that Bevan turns out one of his feet in walking more than the other.

By His Honor: Pont, not William, is a tall stout man. I did not speak to the police about it until Sergt. O’Connell spoke to me; I had told some people about my conversation with the prisoners, and they most likely told the Sergeant. I do not know why I did tell him first myself.

By the Jury: I had not been carting stone from that quarry before the day of the murder; that was the first time.

Caroline Platt, recalled, in reply to His Honor, said: The man I saw going towards Thompson’s was the one I fancied was Pont; he is a tall and rather stoutly built man. The one going towards the church was a short and rather lean looking man. The man going up the hill looked very short, and did not seem to be either particularly short or thin. I don’t know the christian manner of the two Ponts, but one is tall and the other short.

His Honor: Now, Mrs Platt, I cannot let you go away without telling you that you have behaved very badly indeed, in not having mentioned this very important evidence, you have just given, to the police before you did. That is enough.

Roderick McRae recalled, in reply to the Attorney General, said: I know the two brothers Pont. One of them was in Roebourne at the time of the murder; his name is Augustus. I saw him at six o’clock of the evening before the murder, and before six o’clock on the following morning. The other brother, William, had left Roebourne on the previous Monday. Augustus Pont had injured one of his feet when well-sinking, and at the time of the murder he could not get his boot on. I saw him at the Bank at about twenty minutes to six on the morning of the murder, and he then had his injured foot in a bandage; it had been in bandages for about three weeks before.

By Mr Stevens: Mrs. Platt is accustomed to call at my store about three times a week. She is not a reserved woman, but is of a communicative disposition; she is in the habit of chatting to her neighbours; I have seen her talking to people in the streets, talking to persons frequently since the murder was committed.

By Mr Harper: The morning after the murder notices of a reward of £150 were posted on the door of my store and of Thompson’s hotel; it was well known throughout the town that the reward was offered.

Re-examined: I have not watched Mrs. Platt particularly, but I think she must have known of the reward having been offered, as every man, woman, and child in the place who could speak must have known about it. The reward of £50 offered by Mr Laurence, was not included in the £150 reward offered by the settlers. Within three days after the arrival of the Flowerdale the Bank reward of £500 was posted up in the town; I think the vessel arrived at Roebourne about February 5. There was a general opinion that the Bank would offer a reward when the new Manager arrived.

Harry Smith, having been affirmed said: I live at Roebourne, and remember the day of the murder. I went to the Bank with Sergt. O’Connell, P.C. Lawrence and Prince Tom. I saw a track near the Bank, but could not follow it up. On the same morning we went to the old race course, between the cemetery and Mt. Welcome, where we found some tracks. We picked up the tracks on the other side of the hill, and followed them towards the cemetery, when we lost them; one track was a large one, and one small. Two days after I was with Dr O’Meehan and found some tracks near the “backwash”, but did not follow them. They were the same tracks as those I had found near the cemetery before. I told the police, and the next day we tracked them to the well. We were following the tracks, not backtracking. At the well the tracks separated; I follow them; they both came back to the well again. Then they went towards the hut where Warburton was. I could only track the little one from the well to the hut, where I saw Warburton and Bevan; Ii saw the police take them; I followed, and saw the tracks they made as they walked. Bevan walked one foot out, like this (Here the witness walked on the floor of the Court in imitation of Bevan’s manner of walking, turning out his left foot very much at each step.) A number of boots were then placed on the floor in a row, out of which the witness picked out Bevan’s boots without hesitation, stating that they were the one which had made the smaller tracks. The left boot had heel and toe tips, while the right one had neither. He then picked out Warburton’s boots as being the ones which made the other track near the well, and identified another pair; the boots found in Warburton’s lodgings, as being the ones which had made the track near Mt. Welcome. Afterwards we returned to the “backwash”, where we picked up the track we first found over Mt. Welcome, and ran it back to near the back of the Bank; that track was the big one, and was made with these boots found in Warburton’s lodgings.

By Mr Stevens: There are many boots in Roebourne like the big ones, they make the same tracks. The tracks between the “backwash” and well were two days old.

By His Honor: The tracks at the “backwash” were made two days after the one I picked up at Mt. Welcome; I am certain of it.

By Mr Harper: I never put any boot into track, never measured them; had not boot in my hand at time, but me know the tracks again.

Re-examined: When Sergeant O’Connell first showed me the boots I said they might have made the tracks.

Prince Tom, having been affirmed, spoke (through Mr. Eaton, who was sworn in as interpreter) as follows: I remember the murder at Roebourne. I went out tracking with Sergeant O’Connell and policeman now dead. Harry Smith left before I had done. I began tracking close to the Bank; I saw first tracks on the side of the Bank, and followed the same track up the hill to the westward; the track appeared to be made by a person running. I saw a track close to the graveyard, it turned to the northward, making several turns round and round; The Sergeant and Lawrence were with me; it then turned round through a paddock back towards the town; it was a long track. Afterwards we went out again, across the river that time, when we found a long track and a short track (The witness then picked out the boots that had been found in Warburton’s room, which said he had made the tracks near the graveyard.) The two tracks were going to the eastwards, towards the well. I think I could recognise the boots that made the tracks. (The witness then picked out Bevan’s boots without hesitation, but got confused as to which of Warburton’s two pairs made the track at the well.)

Nothing material was elicited during the cross-examination of this witness.

The court then adjourned for luncheon.

The Court resumed at two minutes to ten o’clock, when

John Cavanagh deposed: I am shoemaker, residing at Roebourne. I repaired the pair of boots produced for Warburton in December last; in March last they were shown to me at the Roebourne Police Court, when I noticed several dark spots upon them; some of the spots have since been cut out, but I can see one now. I don’t think that these two paris of boots (Warburton’s) have been worn by the same man. The third pair I can identify as being Bevan’s, as I have seen him wearing them.

By Mr Stevens: The police spoke to me about the case for the first time on the first Monday in March. I cannot tell how old the marks I saw on the boots were. All Warburton said to me, when he gave me the boots to repair, was that he was in a hurry, as every four out of five of my customers always tell me. Milk, animal and vegetable oils, or mildew would not produce stains on leather such as this. I don’t think that the pair of boots handed to me were worn down at the heels in quarrying, as men seldom do such rough work when wearing elastic-side boots.

By Mr. Harper: It is by no means unusual to find people turning out one foot more than the other, and thus treading down one boot on the outer side. I saw Gilroy at my shop, which is almost opposite the Bank, on the morning of the murder at about ten o’clock. I asked him if that were the first time he had come on the scene? He said, “Yes, I have been out of town a little way; and he afterwards proved that he was out of town a little way that morning.” I have made boots for him; his size is sevens; but if he bought boots he would have to take eights, as his feet are so thick. I don’t think he could have worn the boots produced.

Re-examined: Bevan’s boots are of a peculiarly narrow shape in the sole, and would make a peculiar mark on the ground.

William Joseph Noonan, examined by the Crown Solicitor, deposed: I am a publican at Roebourne; I was there in December, but left on the 6th of that month, returning on the 28th February, therefore I was not there at the time of the murder. I know the prisoners; Warburton had been staying at my place. He occupied one room which opened into the billiard-room, sometimes another man shared the same room; I subsequently showed the room in question to Inspector Rowe. Just previous to my leaving Roebourne Warburton was employed, with Bevan, in sinking a well for Mr A. McRae about a chain and a half from my house. Warburton came to lodge with me about October 28, previous to that he had been lodging with Bevan for, I think, a considerable length of time. Warburton gave over working at the well on December 4. On February 28, Inspector Rowe and I examined Warburton’s room, when, behind one of the rafter we found a hat concealed. I was standing on a box to get at it, it was hidden from sight. I could not see the hat even when I got close to it, I handed the hat to Inspector Rowe, I saw some stains on it, but I cannot say what had caused them. I recognised the hat as being similar to one I had seen Warburton wearing; I believe it to be his; I recognised it by a broken bank on the side. I have seen Warburton wearing such a hat. The hat handed to me is the one I found.

By Mr. Stevens: I have seen many similar hats before; I would not swear that hat is Warburton’s, but it is very much like the one I have seen Warburton wearing. Mrs Platt is a sociable sort of woman, but she has never called at my place for liquor to my knowledge. I have always known Warburton as a sober, honest, and well behaved man. The roof of Warburton’s room leaked, it was formed of shingles, water from which would be discoloured.

Re-examined: The stains on the hat were of a dark colour. I have seen Warburton wearing the hat produced, but I don’t remember when. When I pulled the hat out from behind the rafter it was doubled up. Inspector Rowe had to put his hand in it to open it out.

By His Honor: The only other man who occupied the room with Warburton was named Barnes. He left some time ago, taking with him the only hat he owned. I believe Warburton had more than one hat.

Jane Noonan, examined by the Attorney General, deposed: I am the wife of the last witness. Warburton began Quarrying stone about the 8th December last; he used to come in from his work on Saturdays and go out again on Monday morning; he went out to his work on the morning of Monday, the 12th Jan., as usual. He returned about noon the next day, the day of the murder. He said he wanted some dinner; that he had heard of the murder, which ad brought him in; that he intended to attend the funeral. Bevan then came in, when Warburton asked him if he had bought the shirts, he replied, “Yes! I know that; I have stayed behind upon business.” On Wednesday I heard a row in the room of my Chinaman cook; Bevan came out saying that my cook and another lame man had “done it” and he would have them locked up. (After this point the witness persisted in speaking in such an inaudible tone of voice, that the Reporters were unable to catch two consecutive sentences of her evidence. Consequently it was quite impossible to report the cross-examination by the two learned counsel for the defence.)

William Joseph Noonan, recalled by the Attorney General: Warburton had a black coat in his possession before I left Roebourne; I did not know whether he kept any of his clothes at his hut. The coat was a good coat, just like a new one. We found no black coat in Warburton’s room when we searched it.

At four o’clock the Court adjourned until ten o’clock the next (this) morning.]

*I believe this is a typographical error in the date. It should be the 13th not 19th.