The Trial as Reported by The Inquirer Newspaper
SATURDAY, JULY 4, 1885
The Court re-opened at ten o’clock, when the first called was
John O’Connell, who was examined by the Crown Solicitor and deposed: I am the son of Sergt. O’Connell, and live at Roebourne. I remember the 13th January last, the day of the murder, and also the 15th. On that day I was in charge of a lot of natives, who were diving in the pool to try if they could find anything in it; the pool is about eighty yards from Bevan’s House. I saw a native, known as Jack, bring up a shirt similar to the one produced; I gave it to P.C. Thomas. The native had it opened out when he gave the shirt to Thomas, but when he brought it up it appeared to be tied in a knot by the sleeves; there was a white bone stud in the button-hole of the collar band. A person going from Bevan’s house to the pool would go straight down the road.
Cross examined by Mr Harper: There are other houses about the pool besides Bevan’s. The shirt was given to me directly it was taken out of the water; it was dirty about the neck, but I noticed no offensive smell about it. I cannot say whether a stone was wrapped up in the shirt or not. The native continued diving for some time after the shirt was found.
Re-examined by the Attorney General: There is a blacksmith’s shop nearer the pool than Bevan’s house is.
William Thomas, examined by the Attorney General, said: I am a police constable stationed at Roebourne. On Wednesday the 14th January last, the day after the murder, I saw Bevan frequently in the town. I saw him in Noonan’s; he was talking to Gilroy; they were talking together in a very low tone; I don’t think they saw me. Afterwards I saw Bevan go down to the Chinaman’s quarters, where San Qui lives; this was between ten and eleven o’clock in the morning. After waiting a little time I went to San Qui’s, where I had seen Bevan go. I listened at the window, and heard low murmurs, but I could not distinguish the words. I then beckoned a Chinaman out; he is known as “John,” and is Mr. Lockyer’s cook; I spoke to him. About five minutes after I saw Bevan leave the house. At about four o’clock that afternoon I searched San Qui’s place with Sergeant O’Connell. I found a sheath-knife in a bundle of clean clothes which was tied up; the knife shown me is the one. On the day of the murder I saw Bevan in Ashton’s store; he had two shirts which he seemed to have just bought. On Thursday, January 15, young O’Connell handed me the shirt produced; it was wet at the time, and had a bone stud in the neck; I gave it to Sergeant O’Connell. When Bevan left San Qui’s place he went in the direction of Noonan’s.
Cross-examined by Mr Steven’s: The last time I saw Warburton in town before the murder was on the previous Saturday night, at a few minutes after ten o’clock. I did not see him in town again until after the murder on the Tuesday afternoon. To the best of my knowledge the boots have never been out of the custody of the police.
By Mr Harper: I was not set to watch Bevan, but I had a suspicion of my own about him as soon as I heard of the murder and had seen the bodies. I saw stains on the shirt, which was taken out of the pool, when it was first handed to me. I did not see Bevan enter San Qui’s house, though I saw him go to it. I thought the murmuring I heard in the house was caused by Bevan and San Qui conversing in an undertone; I thought so because I had previously suspected Bevan. I could not distinguish what language the subdued conversation was carried on. I did not say in the Roebourne Police Court that “from my own knowledge I knew that Bevan and San Qui had been talking together for about a quarter of an hour”; as a matter of fact it was the Chinese cook “John” who told me that they were talking together. I did not see Bevan come out of the house, although I saw him leaving the place.
His Honor: This man speaks with, what lawyers call, an abundance of caution.
Witness continued: I know a man named Gilroy; I saw him I think on the day of the murder, and spoke to him; his manner appeared changed; he was greatly excited.
Re-examined: Gilroy was arrested, and afterwards discharged by the Resident Magistrate; subsequently he was re-arrested and was again discharged. I saw Bevan go within two or three yards of San Qui’s place, there is no other house beyond his.
Richard Thomas Eaton, examined by the Crown Solicitor, said: I am a butcher at Roebourne, and know the three prisoners. The Chinaman was in my employ. On the day of the murder I was about 24 miles from Roebourne; at Lockyer’s station; I left Roebourne at about 4 o’clock on Monday morning. San Qui knew I was going out, as I told him before breakfast on Sunday morning that I was going away for three days. I left him in charge of the place, and returned on Wednesday. Soon after I got back I went down to the shop with the Sergeant, when I remarked that the tools were unusually clean, and that they had evidently been sharpened during my absence; I saw a pick lying on the bench, it was not cleaned; it was not my property; on it I saw some spots which I believed to be blood. My shop is not usually locked, but the Chinaman could have locked it, as I had left the key with him.
Cross-examined by Mr Stevens: I have never seen Mrs. Platt in my shop, but I have seen her walking about in the streets. The reward offered was generally talked about in the town. So far as I know Warburton is a very honest, quiet, inoffensive man.
By Mr Harper: There are about on hundred adults, or more, in Roebourne. San Qui butchered for me; he used to kill in the evening, but never in the morning. When I was away he killed sheep on Monday and Tuesday evenings, but no cattle. It would be almost impossible for him to have killed the sheep and cut them up without getting his clothes stained with blood. San Qui has always borne a good character. I should have remarked the unusual care with which the tools had been cleaned even if I had not heard of the murder. San Qui had spoken about building a hut to put the hides in, and to do so he would require a pick. There was nothing strange in my seeing a pick in my shop, nor even at its being spotted with blood. I can quite understand San Qui locking up the shop, because of my absence. The sheath-knife is not one that would not be used in my business. It does not belong to me, nor do I know anything about it at all. San Qui might have used it in killing sheep, but not to my knowledge; he has been in my service about twelve months, and I can give him a very good character as a servant; I have never had any fault to find with him; he is not at all quarrelsome. We shoot our cattle in Roebourne; there is not a pole-axe in the place.
Re-examined by the Attorney General: So far as I know Mrs. Platt has a very respectable reputation in Roebourne; her children always came to my shop for meat, but she never did so. I have never known San Qui to use any other tools in his work other than those with which I supplied him. When I was at Lockyer’s station I saw both the man Harrison and William Pont there; they were there when I got there, and were there when I left. Mr Lockyer afterwards told me that the news of the murder did not reach his station until two days after the crime had been committed.
By the Jury: The residents bathe in the pool, but I have never known them to wash their linen in it.
Charles Zeddi deposed: I am a carpenter, and live at Roebourne. I know San Qui; before Christmas time he borrowed a pickaxe from me; he said he wanted to dig some hole in which he had put some poles to make a scaffold for sheep killing purposes. The pick had no handles. The pick produced is mine but it is not the one I lent him; that one was much shorter, thicker, and greatly worn; it was a blunt round-pointed one, I have never seen it since. He could easily have got the pick from underneath my house (where I usually keep my four picks) without my knowing it. My shop is raised about fifteen inches above the ground.
Cross examined by Mr. Stevens: I know Mrs. Platt very well; she is a chatty, sociable woman; I cannot give her a good character. She lives opposite to me, and has two daughters living with her. Chinamen are in the habit of frequenting her house by both day and night. I have known Warburton for the last seven or eight years; he has always borne the character of being a very honest, quietly upright inoffensive man.
By Mr. Harper: San Qui was a servant of mine for about two years and a half; I could not give a man a better character. He was always very kind to my children, particularly to the youngest one; he used to carry them about in his arms. I have never heard him say a wrong word; he was always a kind, cheerful, and merry young man.
Re-examined by the Attorney General: My wife had some words with Mrs. Platt about two years ago; they have never been friendly since; I always keep out of her way. I have known of Chinamen going to her house at seven and eight o’clock at night; I have never known of their going to any other house except the public houses at such hours. The pick I lent San Qui was about an inch and a quarter in diameter at the points, which I had worn down in well-digging.
John Albert O’Meehan recalled, said: The punctured round-holed wound in Mr. Burrup’s head could not, in my opinion, have been made by the blunted pick described by the last witness.
Charles Zeddie recalled: The pick I lent San Qui was an inch and a quarter in diameter just behind the point, there was a short point to it. When I say “diameter: I mean “circumference.”
Daniel O’Connell recalled: There was another pick shown to Zeddie at the Roebourne Police Station; it was a short stubby pick, with round points. I found it knocking about the verandah of the Victorian Arms Hotel.
At this point Mr. Stevens objected to any evidence connected with Mr. Burrup’s death being received. His client was charged with the murder of Anketell only, and not with that of Burrup. Mr. Harper raised the same objections on behalf of his clients Bevan and San Qui.
His Honor ruled against the objection raised by the two learned counsels, on the ground that the two crimes could not be disassociated the one from the other, but consented to take a note of it.
Alfred Robert Waylen deposed: I am the Colonial Surgeon. Certain articles handed to me by the police have been returned to them, with the exception of the hair I now produce, and which was handed to me the day before yesterday. To the best of my belief it is a human hair from an eyebrow; I examined it microscopically. I have examined also two pieces of leather I cut out from a pair of boots handed to me by Inspector Rowe; I cut one piece from each boot where I observed a distinct mark or stain. I have subjected the stains to proper scientific examination. I used a solution of glycerine and water; to one of water alone; and to one of glycerine alone; three solutions in all. I then examined the solutions microscopically, when I found that the corpuscles they contained were those of blood – the blood of a mammal. There is not the slightest doubt that the corpuscles were those of the blood of a mammal. I have subjected also portions of the hat produced to a similar examination, and also on the blouse and trousers produced; on each of the articles I discovered distinct traces of mammalian blood. The traces on the trousers and blouse were comparatively faint as compared with those on the hat and boots; that is, the corpuscles were fewer in number and smaller in size, and conveyed to me the impression that the blouse and trousers had been washed. I also examined the white shirt produced, but I did not succeed in discovering any traces of blood on it. If the shirt had been soaking in a pond for two days that would, in my opinion, be sufficient to remove any bloodstains that might be on it. The solution I obtained from my treatment of the pieces I cut out of the boots gave out the peculiar odour of blood very distinctly. I found mammal blood on the knife and sheath produced.
By Mr Stevens: It is possible that the hair may be one of some animal, but my firm belief is that it is a hair taken from a human eyebrow.
Walter Ashton deposed: I am a storekeeper in Roebourne, and know all the prisoners. I remember the day of the murder; I saw both Bevan and Warburton at my store twice on the afternoon of that day. The first time they came together, but did not buy anything then; later on Bevan called by himself, when he bought two shirts; one was a regatta shirt and the other what is known as a “Waterloo” shirt similar to the one produced; I believe they are the ones I sold, but I am unwilling to swear to them.
Cross-examined by Mr Stevens: I know Mrs. Platt; she frequently calls at my shop; my opinion of her character is neutral. I believe that she has been at my shop between ten and fifteen times since the time of the murder. There was a general belief in the town that the Bank would offer a reward. I believe she has a bad temper. It was sometime after the date of the murder that I first hear of Mrs. Platt having seen an “object” during the previous night.
By Mr Harper: Shirts are sold with studs in them sometimes; a box holds a half a dozen shirts, but it is only the top one which has a complete set of studs, the other five have only the collar stud. I have never sold any studs like the one produced; but they are generally sold in sets; The night of the murder was a very dark one; I think that it is a pretty light at Roebourne at five o’clock in January. It was not particularly dark and gloomy at daybreak that morning.
At this point the Court adjourned for luncheon.
After luncheon the Court re-assembled at five minutes past ten o’clock.
Thomas Rowe deposed: I am Inspector of Police, stationed at Geraldton; I arrived at Roebourne on the 28th February last, to investigate this case, and took lodgings at Noonan’s Hotel. On the 1st of March Mr. Noonan searched the room Warburton had occupied in my presence. He took down from the projecting inner roof a carpet bag, a portmanteau, and some other things; then he got on a box, and afterwards handed down the hat produced. The hat was crushed flat when given to me and in consequence of what Noonan said I examined it, when I noticed some marks upon it. On the 6th March I saw Mrs. Bevan; she went with me to her residence, when she handed me the shirt produced, one of those shown to the witness Ashton this morning. I saw the second shirt produced taken off Bevan in the lockup. I carefully measured the shirts. The neck of the shirt found in the pool is 16 inches from end to end, and 15 and a half from buttonhole to buttonhole; the one taken off Bevan is half an inch shorter between the buttonholes. The third shirt, the one Mrs Bevan handed me, is the same size between the buttonholes as the one I saw taken off Bevan. The fourth shirt, the one handed by Mrs. Bevan to Sergt. O’Connell, measures fifteen inches in the collar outside of the buttonholes.
Cross-examined by Mr. Stevens: The Bank rewards of £500 was offered before my arrival at Roebourne. I was the first one who noticed the spots on the boots found in Warburton’s room.
Ah Pang having been affirmed, through the interpreter Lee Wat Sun, said: I am a prisoner of the Crown; I got imprisoned for running away from my master because he did not give me enough grub. I know the prisoner Bevan and San Qui. I was in Roebourne at the time of the murder. Bevan gave me the first news of the murder at about eight o’clock in the morning at my place. He said, “You b______y Chinaman you kill white fellow.” He stayed at my house only a short time. At that time San Qui was in the butcher’s shop.
At this point Mr. Stevens protested against the witness being allowed to give his evidence through Lee Wat Sun, who, he pointed out was an important witness for the Crown. His Honor said that though here was nothing legal in the objection raised, yet he thought it would on every account be better if an interpreter could be procured who would not be otherwise concerned in the case.
Mr Stevens: I did not raise the objection from any factious motion, Your Honour; but the lives of three men depend upon the result.
His Honour: Quite so, Mr. Stevens; You are doing only your duty, and what you have a perfect right to do.
The Attorney General then said he would postpone calling the Chinese witnesses until Monday, and that in the meantime every effort would be made to secure a suitable interpreter.
Robert Burns was then called, but as the witness had a medical certificate stating that he was suffering from an attack of heart disease, and as he had only just risen from his bed, his examination also was postponed until Monday.
Daniel O’Connell, recalled said: I saw the statement I hold in my hand handed to Bevan by the Resident Magistrate in the Roebourne Police Court; it is in Bevan’s hand-writing; I saw him read it over to himself, afterwards sign it, and then hand it back to the Magistrate.
The Attorney General put in the document (which was a very voluminous one) as evidence against Bevan, and it occupied the Master nearly an hour in reading it. In his statement Bevan described his proceedings from Monday morning to the time of his arrest with extraordinary luxuriance of detail; narrating all the conversations he had held with various individuals during that time, and the number of glasses of liquor he had drank. He stated that he had bought a gallon of sugar-beer in Roebourne on Monday morning and another on Tuesday afternoon, but denied that he had done so early on the morning of the murder. He emphatically denied that he and Warburton were in Roebourne in Monday night, and concluded his statement by calling upon the Almighty to witness his innocence of the crime laid to his charge.
Alfred Smith, recalled, said: When I went out to he prisoners’ camp on Tuesday morning they had at least two weeks of stone broken out.
At this point the Court adjourned until the following Monday morning.