Spotlight: Bushranging reports in the Yass Courier (20 April 1864)

Yass Courier (NSW : 1857 – 1929), Wednesday 20 April 1864, page 2


[From our Gundagai correspondent.]

April 18. — On Thursday night last Messrs. Collins, do Body, Brown, and Victor Frank arrived here, and reported that about noon on that day they were attempted to be stuck-up by two men near McKay’s dam, on the road leading to Gundagai, and about three or four miles abreast of Cootamundry. They stated that when the two bushrangers galloped out of the bush towards them, they made off at the top of their horses’ speed; Mr. Collins, who was the best mounted, took the lead, followed by the others. The bushrangers having galloped after them for about a mile they were joined by seven others, all of whom took up the chase for a short time, when they turned back, and allowed the Gundagai-bound men to go their way. Immediately on receipt of the information, Sub-inspector O’Neill with a party of mounted police started for the scene of action, and have not since returned. But now the best of the joke comes, and which I have learnt from a person residing at Mr. Dallas’ station. It seems that for some time past Mr. Dallas has had eight men assisting him in the mustering of young horses. On Thursday last Mr. D. got a mob of these horses collected in the bush near McKay’s dam, which were guarded by seven men; two others were out scouring the bush for stragglers, when Collins and company rode up. The two men, hearing horsemen galloping along the road, and fearing they would start the mob of young horses then ahead, called out to them to stand or go easy. This, in these days of war, was quite enough for the travellers, who at once took to flight. Mr. Dallas himself, with the view of explaining matters to the other party, cantered after them, but finding they increased their speed, turned back. The seven stockmen set up a jolly shout, which closed the so-called “sticking-up” affair. Now it is quite enough to saddle the country with the amount of crime it is guilty of, and not lay to its charge groundless and absurd crimes which do not exist. Could none of the fugitives distinguish between a stockwhip and a revolver? I hope, however, that the gallant four will never have such a horrible alarm again.


[From our Marengo correspondent.]

April 15. — Yesterday, Messrs. Victor Frank and P. de Body, and two others, while proceeding from Young to Cootamundry, were stuck-up by Hall and Co., but the gentlemen being well mounted, refused to bail-up, so striking spurs into their horses, dashed off, closely pursued by the robbers, who followed them almost into the town of Cootamundry before they relinquished the chase. The robbers were met near the spot where the unfortunate Mr. Barnes was shot by O’Maley, therefore the chase was rather long as well as sharp. [Our Gundagai correspondent sends a different version of the above.]

The information I sent you about a week ago respecting Hall re-organising a fresh gang turns out to be quite correct, for he has now under him seven well mounted and armed men. A very pleasant prospect for travellers and isolated settlers this winter!

Inspector Shadforth. — This police officer has sent in his resignation. He has taken this stop contrary to the wishes of his friends, who were desirous that he should submit to the enquiry into his conduct with respect to the escape of Ben Hall from Wilson’s station.

Wrong Apprehension. — Not Ben Hall. — With the usual acuteness which characterises the majority of the police of this colony, an elderly man, lame, and very much delapidated in his garments, was apprehended on the Murrumbidgee River and escorted to Young as the notorious Ben Hall. On his arrival there on Saturday he was immediately liberated, his personnel agreeing in no one particular with that of the celebrated bushranger. The old man’s hair and beard were fair, while those of Hall are very dark. There appears to be something not only stupid but heartless in dragging an old man such a distance without the remotest possibility of his turning out to be the real “Simon Pure.”

Examination of Gardiner the Bushranger. — On Friday last Francis Clarke alias Gardiner was brought before Capt. Scott, P.M. and G. Hill, Esq. J.P., in the debtor’s department of Darlinghurst gaol. Messrs. Roberts and Redman appeared for the prisoner, and Inspector Read was allowed, on his own application, to conduct the prosecution. Mr. Roberts not objecting or consenting, though he took occasion to express his strong disapprobation at the way the prisoner had been treated since his apprehension, and remarking, that on his professional visits to the gaol, he was watched, and could not consult the prisoner privately. The gaol was turned into a curiosity shop; he didn’t know by whose fault or authority, but evidently with the sole desire of gratifying morbid curiosity. The only charge against his client was that of being a prisoner of the Crown illegally at large, preferred against him by Captain McLerie. He also found fault with the mode in which the investigation was conducted, believing that such a court as the present was entirely without precedent. He did not know whether such, a step would enlist sympathy for, or create prejudice against, the prisoner; but in either case it would tend to frustrate the ends of justice. Mr. G. Hill said he did not know how he came there. He certainly expected to have some authority to conduct the prosecution, and fully believed that the criminal court would be opened. — Captain Scott said he he thought the same, and did not exactly know what he had come to try. — Inspector Reid explained the absence of a legal prosecutor, by the fact of Mr. Butler, the Crown Prosecutor, being out of town. — Francis Gardiner was then charged with feloniously shooting and wounding with intent to kill troopers Middleton and Hosie at the Fish River on the 10th July, 1861. Daniel McGlone, detective officer, had arrested prisoner at Apis Creek, on the charge of committing various highway robberies in New South Wales; also, for the escort robbery at Eugowra Creek, about June, 1862. He brought him to Sydney, and delivered him to Inspector Read; saw him received at the gaol. When apprehended, prisoner merely said “June, 1862.” Had no warrant at the time, and had never received one; was not aware that a warrant was endorsed by the authorities of Queensland; when he arrested the prisoner, he asked for a warrant, and he (McGlone) told him he would let him know all about the warrant by and by. He, at the same time, cautioned prisoner against saying anything that might he used against him. John Long Horsey, clerk in the Inspector-General’s office, produced the calendar of convictions at the Circuit Court, Goulburn, in March, 1584, before Sir Alfred Stephen, by which it appeared that a man named Clark was sentenced to seven years on the roads, for horse stealing he received a second sentence for a similar offence, of an equal duration, to commence at the termination of the first. He was sent to Newcastle Breakwater, or Cockatoo Island, till further orders. He did not know, of his own knowledge, that he ever went to Cockatoo. On the 31st December, 1859, Clark received a ticket of leave for Carcoar district. Received a letter from the Police Magistrate at Carcoar. Objection was here taken at continuing the case in the absence of the Crown Lawyer, and after some discussion between the magistrates and the prisoner’s counsel, the examination was postponed till Tuesday next, at the same place. — Bell’s Life.

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