Last week we began looking at the report on the trial of the Kenniffs featured in the Brisbane edition of Truth. This week we continue the feature as the Kenniffs give their own evidence. Jim and Paddy maintain that they were travelling around Roma for the races while their old man and brothers Tom and John maintained that they were gathering horses around Skeleton Creek. Two additional witnesses, Thornton and Mulholland, do their best to back up Jim and Pat’s story.
EVIDENCE FOR THE DEFENCE.
On Wednesday his Honor had raised the point as to whether the two prisoners could be conjointly charged with the two murders. Mr. Lilley promised to deal with the matter at the close of the case for the Crown. This he now did by announcing that he elected to prosecute the two prisoners for the murder of Constable George Doyle. This closed the case for the Crown. Mr. McGrath then submitted that there was no case to go to the jury. He quoted a number of cases and raised these points : (l.) It is necessary for the Crown to fully establish the death of Constable Doyle. (2). To identity the supposed remains produced with Constable Doyle. (3). Proof of violence having taken place must be given. (4). The Crown must bring criminal agency home to the persons accused. Mr McGrath argued at some length in favor of his objection, but his Honor interposed that there was a case to go to the jury.
The prisoners’ advocate in his address to the jury briefly outlined what the defence would be. He would call both prisoners and two other witnesses to prove that on March 30 Pat and Jim Kenniff were at a spot 90 miles from Lethbridge’s Pocket.
After hearing this evidence the jury would have no doubt that the police had GOT THE WRONG MEN. He then called James Kenniff. His Honor, directed that the prisoner should be sworn in the dock, and from that place James Kenniff, in a clear, distinct voice, gave the following evidence:—
JAMES KENNIFF’S STORY.
He said he was a horse-dealer, and was 28 years old on August 23 last. Patrick Kenniff was his brother. His father’s name was James, and he had two brothers named Thomas and John. On March 28 last he arrived at Carnarvon station with his brother about 7 pm. They rode there. He knocked at the kitchen door with his whip. Mrs. McClann answered. He asked, “Is Ryan at home?” Mrs. McClann said, “Yes, he’s having tea.” Ryan came to the door, aud witness asked him had he seen a chestnut horse of his. He said ” Yes, he’s running on Daloogarah Plains.” He asked Ryan what yarns he had been telling in Mitchell, and he replied, “I’ve been TELLING NO YARNS ; you are mistaken.” Witness then asked for Dahlke, and Ryan said he was not at home, and he did not know when he would be home. Witness said, “Very well, I’ll get you and Dahlke together, and then I’ll see what lies have been told about me and Dahlke fighting at Babiloora, and pulling me off Greytail, and giving me a hiding. You said that after Dahlke gave me a hiding you
yourself gave me one.” Witness then said, “If you were worth a punch I’d give you one, but you’ro not. You’re such an infernal liar, no one can believe you.” With that witness delivered a blow at Ryan, but missed him. That was about all that passed. He and Pat returned to their horses and rode away. Neither he nor Pat had revolvers. They were at the camp whero they left the rations, going to Carnarvon. Pat made no reference to the “pet policeman, Doyle” After they left the station they went up the creek about half-a-mile, lit a fire and had some tea. While there his brother Tom arrived, remained about half-an-hour, and then went on to Skeleton Creek, about 24 miles away.
WHEN THE MOON ROSE he (James) and Patrick started off to go to Roma Races. They arrived at the Maranoa River below the Warrong Station, which was about 30 miles away from Carnarvon, at about 3 on Saturday morning. They had a couple of hours sleep, got up and had their breakfast. They had a couple of horses with them. After getting in two horses which they had hobbled they pursued their way to Roma. They ended this stage at Merivale bullock paddock, another 35 miles away. There they picked up a racehorse named Darramundi, which belonged to James Kenniff. Then they started to Hatton Creek about 2 o’clock, and got there about 10 or 11 o’clock on Saturday night. The distance from the bullock paddock at Merivale to Hatton Creek was over 30 miles. Patrick rode Darramundi. They thought the horse had staked himself on the road as he went lame. They examined the horse, and found he had sustained a sprain. They turned Darramundi out and WENT INTO CAMP.
About 8 o’clock on Sunday morning they got up, and Patrick went out to get the horses in. While he was away two men named Mulholland and Thornton came riding down the creek. They dismounted, had a drink of tea, and remained for some time.
Patrick soon afterwards arrived with the horses Darramundi, Tommy Atkins, Faithful and White Foot. The two men remained for about two hours. (Mulholland at this stage was brought up from the cells below and identified). Mulholland and Thornton rode away together about 11 o’clock. After they had gone Jim and Pat left for Myall Downs, taking Darramundi with them. On the Monday following they put in the day looking for some horses that Patrick had lost there about three years before. They stayed in that vicinity for about two days. From there they went to Merivale Paddock, about 40 miles from Myall Downs. They spent two or three days at Merivale and then turned back to Myall Downs. That would bring them to about April 4 or 5.
On resuming after lunch, Robert James Thornton was called and identified by James Kenniff, who, continuing his evidence, said he got the two rifles which were 200 yards away from the camp. Both were loaded as he had left them against a tree early in April last, with a bit of dry bark covering the barrels and triggers. Besides the rifles he looked for a bandolier. While away from the camp his attention was directed by the report of rifle shots. He went to within 100 yards of the camp when he saw a man there. He was carrying the rifles at the time and he thought one constable FIRED AT HIM.
What did you do then ?— I ran away towards where some horses were tied up. I was looking at the horses when I was fired at again.
Continuing, he said he walked back to camp and then in the direction of Mitchell. He had walked about two miles when he saw some men in plain clothes — horsemen — coming along thr road. They wore a quarter of a mile off and were coming in his direction. Constable Tanker and Cramb with two trackers came to within 80 or 100 yards of him and he called out “Were is my brother Pat?” They said he was further down the road. He said “Fetch him up and let me have a look at him.” They said he was all right. He then walked out and asked them who they were. He laid his rifles down. They said they were constables. He never heard them call on him to surrender.
Did you point a rifle at Cramb? — No.
Or at anybody else? — No.
Nor anywhere near it? — No.
In the nighttime?— Yes.
What did you want to see Dahlke for? — To see if Ryan was telling lies and to fetch him before him.
What did you want to bring Ryan before Dahlke for?— Because he was his boss ; to prove that he didn’t give me a hiding — Ryan didn’t.
You went for a double purpose — to kill two birds with one stone ?— I thought I would ask when I saw Ryan.
How long has the chestnut horse been lost? — It was lost since about January.
Then you had your time cut out to get to Roma?— Yes.
How many miles is it from Carnarvon to Roma by the route you proposed to go? — I could not tell you the distance.
Tell me how many miles — you had your work cut out? — I KNEW I COULD DO IT. I don’t know the exact distance to tell the truth.
You’re too old a bushman for that you know?— I knew it was about three days by day and night to get there for the off-day races as we wanted to do.
Why did you not go straight from Warrong?—Because we went to Carnarvon to get that chestnut horse and any others we could pick up.
If you were going to Roma, why did you want horses?— To put them to grass. There is no grass about there.
And the houses were in bad trim?— Grass was failing ; it had been good about there.
You picked up Darramundi?— Yes, at Merivale on the morning of March 29.
You were going to travel him day and night and race him at Roma? — Yes.
You expect us to believe that?— I don’t know what I expect you to believe but I was going to do it.
Continuing James Kenniff said the camp where he boiled the billy was half or three quarters of a mile from Carnarvon. The reason he did not take Darramundi to the Roma races was because he went lame. They were going to have a try to get to Roma for the off day. Pat rode a mare called Faithful, and he rode Whitefoot, both very fair horses. It was a matter of chance whether they picked up horses on the way. He did not say that they had ridden 123 miles in 24 hours. He did not know whether they had ridden 95 miles.
You bet as a bookmaker? — No; I am A BIT OF AN AMATEUR.
Did you pass through Joyce’s selection? — No.
As soon as you saw the notice you turned back? — No, not exactly turned back ; we
Looking for grass for eight horses for three months?
Mr. McGrath: I will call the sister.
In answer to Mr. Lilley James Kenniff said Brown, who was in charge of Meteor Downs, gave his father notice to leave. Why, he could not say. He did not know whether there were any horses, or cattle stolen. He was not in Mitchell the time Pat was fined £20 for travelling without a way-bill. He did not know nor had he heard that Cleary’s horse was stolen the night Pat was released. He had not heard that Sunnyvale had been burned down after Pat was released.
Edward Brown a blacksmith, identified a short-barrelled revolver as being one he saw
Mr. McGrath then announced the close of his case.