Constable Patrick W. CAHILL
Constable John F. POWER
Clermont Gold Escort
6 November 1867
Constables Power and Cahill were murdered at the MacKenzie River Crossing while escorting a consignment of bank notes and bullion from Rockhampton to Clermont. When the escort left Rockhampton in late October 1867, John Thomas Griffin, Rockhampton's Gold Commissioner, had decided to accompany it. Soon after the escort left Rockhampton, the officer in charge, Sergeant Julian, accused Griffin of trying to poison him and refused to go any further. This left Power and Cahill to act as escorts.
On arrival at the Crossing, Griffin stayed in the local Inn while the troopers camped close by. The next morning the Inn keeper said he had heard shots during the night, but Griffin dismissed this as the troopers shooting at dingoes. Griffin left for Rockhampton, but did not visit the troopers' camp before departing. A few days later the bodies of the two Constables were found at the Crossing by a bushman. Sub-Inspector Elliott, Detective Kilfedder, Bank Manager Hall, Dr Salmond, Sergeant Julian and the prime suspect Griffin, left Rockhampton without delay for the Crossing. Dr Salmond examined the bodies and declared that Power and Cahill had been poisoned and then shot in the head. Griffin was suspected of committing the crime and was immediately arrested and taken back to Rockhampton as a prisoner.
It was established during the investigation that Griffin was heavily in debt and had actually taken money from the bank bags before the escort left Rockhampton. Griffin's trial on charges of murder and robbery started on 16 March 1868. Despite an impassioned plea of innocence by his council, the verdict was guilty and he was sentenced to death. Griffin later confessed to the crime. He was hanged at Old Rockhampton Jail on 1 June 1868.
Sub-Inspector George DYAS
24 January 1881
Sub-Inspector George Dyas was transferred from Georgetown to Normanton on 8 January 1881. He set out with Constable McGrath and on the 13th made camp at 40 Mile Waterhole. At 6am the next morning McGrath left to collect the horses but at 7.30am he returned to tell Dyas that they were gone. Dyas immediately set out to search and later returned to report to McGrath that he had found horse tracks, but because of sore feet, he could not continue on to get them. Dyas pointed McGrath in the right direction and instructed him to take a bridle and find the horses.
At 11am McGrath found the tracks and at about 3pm the horses. On his return to camp he was surprised to discover that Dyas had left taking his gun, cartridge belt and bridle. He waited at the camp for 24 hours and then left for Normanton to report the incident to Sergeant Byrne. Byrne and McGrath then left for Bynoo Native Mounted Police Camp to report the situation. Soon after Sub-Inspector Lamond and several troopers left for 40 Mile Waterhole. The search for Dyas started on the morning of the 18th, four days after he went missing.
Dyas' tracks were found and followed for 10 miles down a creek to where he had taken off his boots. Some time was then lost while other footprints were investigated, later found to belong to the mailman. Lamond continued the search and on the morning of 22nd he found Dyas' bridle hanging in a tree and tracks left by a group of aborigines. On the 23rd Lamond followed more tracks and spotted a series of arrows and the word DYAS written in the dirt. At 8am Lamond finally found were Dyas had slept and tragically where he had been murdered, stripped and buried by aborigines.
Lamond believed that Dyas was murdered on the night of 20 January and that he had been speared in the back. His body was left buried at the site of the murder. It has never been ascertained why Dyas left the camp while McGrath was away looking for the horses.
Sub-Inspector Henry P. Kaye
24 September 1881
On 14 September 1881, Sub-Inspector Henry P. Kaye, Officer in Charge of a detachment of Native Mounted Police was speared to death near the Woolgar gold fields (about 100 miles north of Richmond, North Queensland) whilst acting in the execution of his duty.
Sub-Inspector Nichols later reported the events leading up to Kaye’s death. “I camped with Mr Kaye on the 13th September, acting on a requisition received from the Woolgar diggers, storekeepers, etc, I and Sub-Inspector Kaye and one trooper, in returning to our camp from the reefs, had a parley with a small mob of blacks who were camped near the township. Endeavouring to press on them, the nature of our intentions, Mr Kaye was especially fervent in his intentions of good will, and assurances of no violence, and [had] so far prevailed on the blacks as to get them to accompany us to our camp. Our idea was to get as many of them as we could there, and then see them off the field…”
Sub-Inspector Kaye, Grazier Smith, and Trooper Sambo got the natives on the road towards the camp quite easily, Nichols had gone on ahead to get more troopers. Smith claimed that it was not long before he realised, by the manoeuvres of the aboriginals, that they were going to attack. Soon after, a small patch of scrub was reached, the women went ahead leaving the men behind. Smith claims that at the time the attack was launched, Kaye was actually reassuring the natives that no harm would come to them. Kaye was speared in the chest, the others were lucky to escape. Mr Smith was adamant that no angry words were spoken, nor any violence used towards the aboriginals before the attack.
Cadet Sub- Inspector Mark BERESFORD
Cloncurry Native Police
24 January 1883
On 5 July 1882 Cadet Sub-Inspector Mark Beresford was transferred to the Cloncurry Native Mounted Police Detachment. During this period there was a great deal of unrest between the Kalkadoon and Mitakoodi aboriginal tribes, and white settlers and prospectors, which resulted in retaliatory raids by the native mounted police. On 13 January 1883, a stockman named Butcher was fatally speared on Chatsworth Station, south of Cloncurry. As a result of this attack Beresford and five native troopers named Billy, Brisbane, Charley No 6, Larry and Stephen left Devoncourt Station on the 16th on a patrol to capture the offenders. The patrol travelled into the rugged Selwyn Ranges to the south of Cloncurry.
Late on the afternoon of 23 January the patrol came upon a group of tribesmen and women camped on a small tributary of the Fullarton River near its headwaters. Troopers Billy and Larry spoke to the group and informed them that they weren't going to be killed. For some unexplained reason the patrol did not mount a guard over the tribesmen or their camp. In the early hours of the 24th, just before day break, the tribesmen suddenly attacked the police party. Beresford, as the rallying point, was attacked immediately. He was speared in the right thigh and also received a fatal blow to the head. All of the troopers were also wounded. Trooper Billy, although wounded, saved the other patrol members from being killed by shooting one of the tribesmen. The rest of the aboriginals then fled into the hills.
On 29 January 1883 a group of volunteers left in pursuit of the offenders. It is believed that they were never apprehended.
Constable William DWYER
Constable Dwyer was transferred to Taroom in central Queensland and during his time there, a notorious aboriginal known as Wild Toby roamed the district. Toby was a big, powerful aboriginal, an elusive, fearless and daring scoundrel, with no respect whatever for white man’s law or property. For many years he caused great trouble and fear in the district. On September 1882 Wild Toby was arrested by Constable Edwards for kidnapping a grazier’s daughter. He was interred for the night in the station storeroom and chained to a log but still managed to escape. On 25 September 1882, a warrant was issued for Toby’s arrest on a charge of attempted murder of one James Anderson of Wandoan.
On 24 January 1883, Senior Constable Wright, Constable Dwyer and a tracker left the Taroom Police Station in pursuit of Toby who was reportedly camped at Juandah Station. Late on the 25th the patrol saw a fire coming from what they believed to be Toby’s camp but due to the late hour they stopped to camp for the night. At daylight on the 26th the patrol made its way towards the camp and once close to it they saw Wild Toby. The patrol rode single file into the camp with Wright in the lead. Without warning Dwyer got off his horse and charged at Toby, grabbed him by the neck and put a revolver to his head. But Toby had no intention of surrendering and Dwyer could not hold onto him as he was covered in pig fat and was slippery. As Toby leapt to his feet with his tomahawk, Dwyer’s gun was knocked out of his hands and Toby lunged at Dwyer with his tomahawk. Wright got off his horse and fired two shots at Toby but that did not stop Toby from hitting Dwyer in the head with the tomahawk. Wright then managed to shoot and kill Wild Toby. Constable Dwyer died half an hour after the attack from a massive head wound.