Senior Constable Alfred WAVELL
Corinda (Turn Off Lagoons)
27 October 1889
In late 1888 Senior Constable Alfred Wavell was transferred to a settlement called Corinda, southwest of Burketown in the Gulf of Carpentaria. At that time Joe Flick, a noted stockman, was working in the district and in constant demand by stations for mustering and droving work. Flick was courting an aboriginal who worked as a housemaid at the Brook Wayside Hotel, south of Burketown. The girl broke off the relationship with Flick and he believed that the proprietors of the Hotel had turned the girl against him. On 7 May 1889 Flick attempted to kill them but they fought him off. A complaint was made over the incident and Flick was located, arrested and charged with shooting with intent to murder. He was placed in the Normanton lockup but escaped by removing floor boards. Some time later Flick was sighted at Turn-Off-Lagoon by Mrs Anderson's aboriginal houseboy.
Senior Constable Wavell received orders to search for the escapee. He and tracker Jerry waited at the Anderson homestead but Flick did not reappear. Before he left on the manhunt, Wavell wrote his Will and a letter to his mother. He and Jerry borrowed horses from the Andersons and went in search of Flick. They picked up his tracks heading towards Lawn Hill Station. Although Wavell was feeling unwell, he continued the search for Flick for another day before he spotted the escapee and could give chase. Flick blockaded himself in the Lawn Hill Station homestead and a fierce gun fight ensued. Wavell, in a brave show of courage, walked towards the building calling loudly for Flick to surrender. Flick suddenly appeared at a window and shot Wavell in the chest, killing him instantly. Flick was wounded when police riddled the homestead with bullets but escaped that night during a storm. He was tracked into the scrub where another gun battle finally ended his life on 28 October.
Constable James SANGSTER
4 February 1893
In 1893, the people of Ipswich were moved by the selfless efforts of Constable James Sangster who lost his life in a gallant rescue attempt.
Early on February 4, the Jackson family awoke to find that the Bremer River had risen several metres during the night and was now threatening their home. Mrs Jackson and five of her children set out in a small boat for higher ground. This left her eldest daughter and a farm worker in the house to await its return. However, before the boat reached dry land, it hit an underwater snag and overturned, drowning four of the children.
Sangster arrived at the river bank to see the house lifted up and carried downstream in the raging torrent. Grave fears were held for the two left stranded within the building and several unsuccessful attempts were made to rescue them. Although Sangster could not swim, he decided to try again to save the pair but this attempt ended in tragedy. He was washed downstream and although managing to cling for several hours to a flimsy sappling, no one could reach him. Onlookers were powerless to help when the sappling finally broke and the young police officer disappeared beneath the water. By the next morning the river had fallen several metres and the two left stranded in the house were brought safely to shore.
Citizens of Ipswich erected a memorial fountain to commemorate Sangster's devotion to duty which still stands on the Down Street side of Brown's Park.
Constable Benjamin EBBITT
10 May 1894
At 12.30am on 9 November 1890, Constable Benjamin Ebbitt was called to Circum Street in Croydon, to arrest a man named Hugh Stack in relation to an assault on a man named Patrick Brennan. Upon arrival at the scene, Ebbitt found Brennan lying on the ground with cuts to his head, and Hugh Stack standing nearby. Constable Ebbitt attempted to arrest Hugh, who resisted and seriously assaulted the officer, threatening to murder him. Ebbitt was knocked to the ground, kicked and struck in the left eye and left ribs by stones thrown by Hugh’s brother Tom.
Constable Ebbitt was taken to the Croydon police barracks and was immediately attended to by Doctor Flood. His wounds were dressed but the damage inflicted on his eye was so severe he was sent to Brisbane for medical treatment. Ebbitt lost the use of his left eye and an abscess formed in his head which resulted in perforation to both ear drums, deafness and a gradual decline in his overall health. Constable Ebbitt never returned to active police duty and died a serving officer on 10 May 1894.
Constable Edward LANIGAN
6 September 1894
Constable Edward Lanigan was transferred to a small settlement in North Queensland called Montalbion, in the Herberton district. Lanigan soon became friends with Constable James McLaughlin from the nearby station of Watsonville. On 6 September 1894, McLaughlin came to Montalbion to arrest an aboriginal call Jacky Norman, a persistent offender who was wanted for housebreaking and stealing in Watsonville. The two officers went to arrest Norman but could not locate him. They then received information that he was at Montalbion Creek. McLaughlin rode alone to arrest Norman and Lanigan was to follow. When Norman saw the Constable he ran, causing McLaughlin to give chase on his horse.
Norman spooked McLaughlin's horse as it got close and McLaughlin drew his revolver. Lanigan arrived and McLaughlin told him to remain on his horse until he caught hold of Norman. The two men fought and during the desperate struggle Norman got hold of McLaughlin's revolver. Norman aimed the gun at McLaughlin but since the Constable was holding his hands the shot was difficult. Lanigan, still mounted, came to his friend's rescue by pointing his revolver at Norman and threatening him. Unfortunately Norman got a shot away which spooked Lanigan horse and promptly tossed the officer. The shot also hit Lanigan in the chest and badly wounded him. He died some minutes later. The fight for the gun went on and when finally McLaughlin wrenched it free of Norman's grip the aboriginal ran away. The search for Norman continued on the 7th and he was sighted and caught after a short chase on the 8th. Norman came to trail on 17 September 1894 and was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Senior Constable William CONROY
2 July 1895
Senior Constable William Conroy was transferred to Thursday Island in 1886. He became a well respected officer. On 1 July 1895 Amelia Tinyana went to Thursday Island Police Station and complained to Sub-Inspector Urquhart that her husband had beaten her. That evening Conroy reported to Sergeant McCreery that Tinyana was quiet and reasonable and that there were no grounds for arresting him. On the 2nd a summons was served on Tinyana and Urquhart gave instructions that police should keep an eye on him. On the evening of the 2nd Tinyana went to Mrs Boyd's house, where his wife was staying, demanding to know where she was. Andrew Boyd told him to go away or he would call the police.
A short time later Boyd heard someone trying to break in through the back door. Mrs Tinyana jumped out of the bedroom window and called for the police, she ran to Smyth's Hotel and found Conroy. Boyd returned to his mother's house and locked the doors. He let Mrs Tinyana and Conroy in when then they arrived. Boyd then left by the front door but forgot to lock it. Conroy and Mrs Tinyana were in the backyard when Tinyana ran through the house and out towards them wielding a knife. He attacked his wife and she sustained a deep wound to her arm. After which she ran back through the house and out onto the street. Ten minutes later Conroy and his prisoner came out through the front of the house, both looked exhausted as they staggered into the front garden. Constable Clines arrived and ran up to Conroy who handed the prisoner to him and said, "My God, is that you? Take this fellow, I must lie down, He has killed me", before he collapsed. Senior Constable William Conroy had been stabbed seven times and could not be saved, he died at 10.30pm on 2 July 1895. After a lengthy trail Frank Tinyana pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death. He was executed on 4 November 1895.
Constable George DOYLE
30 March 1902
Constables George Doyle and Stephen Millard, and Aboriginal Tracker Sam Johnson staffed the lonely Lethbridge Pocket Police Station. Their task was to check the seemingly endless cattle duffing and horse stealing exploits of the locally based, gun-toting brothers, Patrick and James Kenniff. In mid-March 1902, a warrant was issued for the brothers' arrest. Constable Doyle, Johnson and local property manager Albert Dahlke made up one party searching for the men.
On Easter Sunday morning, 30 March 1902, Constable Doyle and his men found the Kenniffs leaving an isolated pocket in the ranges. Within minutes Doyle and Dahlke were both dead...shot by the fugitives. Tracker Johnson, although chased by the killers, managed to escape, ride to Mitchell and raise the alarm. Four days after the killings, Doyle's troop horse was found with his packbags draped across its back. In the bags were found the burnt and pulverised remains of George Doyle and Albert Dahlke.
The Kenniff brothers evaded capture for three months. The largest man-hunt in Queensland history ended on 23 June 1902 when they surrendered after being surprised in a rough bush camp. Both brothers were sentenced to death for murdering Constable Doyle and Albert Dahlke. Patrick Kenniff was hanged in Boggo Road Prison, Brisbane, on 12 January 1903 but his brother's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
Acting Sergeant David JOHNSTON
29 March 1903
In 1888 a new lockup was built at Mackay to house the increasing number of prisoners, it's 5 cells and other buildings were surrounded by a high fence. In 1893 it was declared a prison by Queensland Legislation. In 1898 Acting Sergeant Johnston, sometimes known as Johnson, was gazetted Superintendent of the gaol and was responsible to the Controller of Prisons.
On Sunday 26 October 1902, 12 year old Alice Gunning, disappeared on her way home from Mass. When her body was later found her head had been crushed with a rock. Suspicion for the crime fell on Sow-Too-Low, a Malaitian labourer who worked and lived at Habana. On the 29th he was arrested as he returned home. Sow-Too-Low was taken to the murder scene where he confessed to the crime and after the committal proceedings he was remanded in custody to stand trail and later placed in the Mackay Prison. He mixed with other prisoners and it wasn't long before trouble began to brew. Sow-Too-Low's aversion to soap and water led to loud complaints from his fellow prisoners.
At 2.15pm on Sunday 29 March 1903, Sow-Too-Low attacked John Martin, a prisoner, with an axe, killing him with a savage blow to the head. Acting Sergeant Johnston was called for and came running into the yard, he was unarmed. When Johnston stooped over the body of the dead man with his back to the wood heap, Sow-Too-Low rushed him from behind and buried the axe into his head. Sow-Too-Low retreated to his cell after attempting unsuccessfully to attack another prisoner. Sergeant Ferguson and Constable Clulow managed to contain him there. On 12 May 1903 Sow-Too-Low was found guilty and sentenced to death for the murder of Sergeant Johnston and John Martin. He was hanged on 22 June 1903 at Boggo Road Gaol.