Contemporary accounts researched by Margaret Van Veen
The Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser
Friday 4, 1857.
In another column will be found the report of an inquest, which has brought to light one of the most horrible tragedies that has ever occurred in the colony. In a solitary prospecting hole in the bush, between Dunolly and Jones's Creek, have been discovered by accident the remains of two human beings. With the assistance of the police authorities the bodies were removed to a hotel in Dunolly, and an inquest was held over them, at which, we regret to say, the facts elicited were of a most meagre description. That the men were murdered was beyond doubt, but who they were, whence they came, and in short every other particular, is wrapped in complete obscurity. Actuated by the most sincere desire that this fearful web of guilt may be unravelled, we endevour to give the utmost publicity to all that is yet discovered in the matter. The bodies were those of two men, apparently of English birth. Death in each case was caused by a blow on the back part of the head with a heavy instrument (probably a driving pick). From the careful way in which the bodies were deposited in the hole, it is certain that more than one assisted in placing them there. Beyond this we have to grope our way by inferences and deductions, for nothing positive has yet been revealed. It is probable that the blows were inflicted whilst the men were lying down, and the blanket and opossum rug found over the bodies would seem to indicate that they were in travelling route. No marks of blood are to be found in the vicinity of the hole, and it is more than probable the bodies were carried some distance from the scene of the murder. Supposing our premises to be true, the first step necessary should be a careful and systematic search of the country aroud, more especially all recent encampments, traces of blood should be eagerly looked for, and also marks of earth being removed for the purpose of covering up the same. Of course full desription of the murdered men, with the clothes they had on ( we have given them as minutely as possible in our account of the inquest) should be placarded all over the country, and an ample reward offered for information that may lead to the apprehension of the offenders, together with offers pardon to any accomplice who did not take an active part in the murder. If the perpetrators of these foul murders be not discovered, we tremble to think of the consequences. We will not allude to the frightful danger of allowing such hellhounds to be wandering at large over the colony; the injury they would inflict would be to a certain extent limited, but there would be no limits to the moral evil that might result from the impression going abroad that such deeds could be enacted with comparative impunity from detection. This is the third similar murder within the last few months. The first a female found close to the Avoca, with head severed from the body, the instrument of death an American axe; the second, a hawker barbarously murdered, and his body partially burned; the third a fitting climax - a double murder. Is this the dawning on a new era?
The Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser Friday February 5, 1858.
REPRESSION OF CRIME.
Our readers must not scribe to us a morbid craving after the horrible, if they notice that scarcely a week elapses without several of our columns being devoted to descriptions of murders and other crimes. The blame does not lie with us, - we do not create, we simply relate the events that pass around us, and it is with much regret that we find our duty obliges us to make this journal almost a second Newgate Calendar. Such a succession of crimes as has come to light this last few months, offers indeed very grave matter for reflection to every inhabitant of the colony. In old times a considerable amount of fear was felt for the safety of property, but now it is not only property but life itself, that is in danger from the new era that is dawning forth.
HORRIBLE AND MYSTERIOUS MURDERS.
Discovery of two bodies in a hole.
Considerable excitement was occassioned in Dunolly on Monday last, by the discovery of two bodies in a hole, in a gully about a quarter of a mile to the right of the old Jones's Creek road. It appears that a coloured man, of the name William Henry Dean, left his tent on Sunday, the 29th November, to look for some new rush which he heard had taken place in the neighbourhood of Jones Creek. On proceeding over the range he came to a gully, which he followed down till reaching a hole, supposed to be sunk by some prospectors, when he stopped for the purpose of lifting some of the gravel, to see if he could detect gold. His attention, it appears, was immediately attracted by the number of flies about the hole, over which a few branches were carelessly thrown; on looking into it , he saw something.…… ….The first witness called at the inquiry was William Henry Dean, who on being sworn, deposed: I am a miner, residing at the old Lead, Dunolly. On Sunday afternoon, the 29th November, I started to look for a new rush I had heard of in the neighbourhood of Jones's Creek. After crossing one of the two ranges I came into a gully, which I followed down till I came to two holes. I stopped for the purpose of lifting some of the gravel, to see if I could detect gold, when my attention was attracted by a number of green flies round one of the holes. On looking into this hole I discovered something, but could not tell what; I thought it was a horse. On examining more closely, I saw a pair of boots. I then groped with a stick and found there was the body of a man lying in the hole. I went direct to the Camp and gave intelligence. By the jury: There was dirt all around the hole. It was a prospectors hole. There was water in it. The upper portion of the body was covered with dirt, taken from the side of the hole, and the lower portion covered by water. I was not present when the body was taken out by the police. John McCormick, on being sworn, deposed: I am a constable, stationed at Dunolly. From information received, I proceeded to a gully near Jones's Creek yesterday morning, and the previous witness showed me a hole in which a dead body was lying. On examining the hole I found there were two bodies. The hole is about six feet in diameter, three and a half feet deep, containing ten to twelve inches of water. Both bodies were lying partly on their backs, and nearly on top of each other. I found an opossum rug and a blue blanket thrown over the heads and shoulders of the bodies. Some dirt had been taken from the side of the hole and thrown over the opossum rug and blanket. The legs of one body were exposed. The hole is situated in a gully about a quarter of a mile to the right of the old Jones Creek road. There is a footpath leading up the gully, but apparently not much used, The hole appears to have been sunk by a prospaecting party. Owing to the decomposed state of the bodies, I did not attempt to remove them on Sunday, but returned to the Camp to procure coffins. I went out again today, and on removing the bodies I observed a large hole on the back of the head of the tall man, and the brains were oozing out . On searching the body I found two pipes and a small iron wedge, now produced. On the body there were a pair of drawers, moleskin trowsers, pea-jacket, and bulcher boots. I found also in the hole two calico caps, one with a hole through the crown, now produced. The tall man was the upper man in the hole. Louis M. Quinlan, on being sworn, deposed: I am a Licentaite of the Royal College of Surgeons, Ireland, and Member of the Medical Board of Victoria. I have examined the body of a man six feet high, name unknown. He was of good muscular development, and aged, I should think, about thirty five years, black hair and whiskers. The body was in an advanced stage of decomposition, having been dead for some four to five weeks at least. ….John McCormick on being deposed: I am a constable stationed at Dunolly. I found the second body in the same hole, lying psrtly under the first; it was under water. On removing the body, I noticed a fracture on the skull, at the back of the head; the brains were oozing out. The opossum rug, which was thrown over the upper part of the bodies, was patched in the centre with two pieces of striped cotton, similar to that used for shirts; the patches were about six inches long and four inches wide. The man appeared of stout build, 5 feet 10 inches high, whiskers and beard fair and worn under chin; he seemed about 35 or 40 years of age; had on draewers, moleskins trousre, pea-jacket and bulcher boots. On the body I found a clay pipe.
The Maryborough and Dunolly Advertiser
Friday 25 December,
1857. MURDERERS GULLY.
"The appearance of the place is in keepeing with the name. A sunless ravine between two gloomy ranges, it appears a fit scene for deeds of darkness."
William Henry Dean is freed from jail after being accused of commiting the double murders. The two men had been at the Maryborough rushes for several weeks and were heading home to Jones Creek. William Dunlop, aged 35 years had a wife, young child and another one the way, waiting for him at Jones Creek. The other, Hugh McLean aged about 40 years, was said to be a cultured man who was well known at the Maryborough rush. They stopped to sleep a night at the tent of a friend of an acquaintance at White Hills, then headed off in the morning, planning to be home by midday. It is thought they may have stopped for a sleep when they were attacked.
MARYBOROUGH AND DUNOLLY ADVERTISER.
Tuesday February 1st, 1859.
EXTRAORDINARY CONFESSION OF MURDER.
Apprehension of the alleged Murderers.
In our last we published a paragraph from the Argus, containing meagre particulars of one of the persons concerned in the murder of the two men at Jones Creel fourteen months ago, having confessed to the crime, and divulged the names of his companions in guilt. We abstained from publishing the full particulars we were in possession of, at the request of the police authorities, who thought that the publicity might serve as a notice to the alleged guilty parties, whose apprehension they felt otherwise certain of securing. Indeed we should have mentioned nothing about the matter but for the paragraph in the Argus, and we understand the local officers are very surprised at the information being supplied to this journal by the town police (as it evidently was), seeing how its publication might have frustrated the ends of justice. We are aware that the police frequently employ undue reticence, and neglect publicity, when the object of securing offenders would be more aided than impeded thereby; but would this case is exceptional, as will be seen by the following particulars. It will be within the recollection of most of our readers that towards the end of the year 1857 the bodies of two men were found in a deserted hole at Jones Creek. They were subsequently identified as two miners, named Dunlop and McLean, who had been working at Chinaman's Flat, but who lived at Jones Creek, and who were supposed to be on their way back when they were murdered.very exertion was made to discover the murderers. Several persons were apprehended on suspicion, but nothing was proved against them. After a long time it was thought that no more could be done to remove the thick shroud of mystery that hung over the fearful deed of bloodshed. So things have gone on, till at last a man has stepped forward, and partly under the influece of remorse, partly from fear of his accomplices, has confessed the particulars of the murder, and pointed out his associates in guilt. Of course his statement is as yet uncorroborated: if true, it is a striking instance of the old adage, "that murder will out;" for really no crime has ever been committed under circumstances more unfavourable for discovery. The two bodies, and the lone hole in the deserted gully, were the only clues that were left to guide the most sagacious to a discovery of the authors of the deed. For the present, however, we must excuse ourselves for passing any opinion on the truth, or otherwise of the evidence of the approver, we merely give the facts as stated by himself. About the middle of last week a man, who called himself R. Dunbar, went to the Carisbrook Police Station, and delivered himself up as one of the persons concerned in the murders of the two men, Dunlop and McLean. His statement is substantially as follows. It is only necessary to add that all his testimony shows him in as favourable a light as possible. Three parties were concerned with him in the deed-Job Neil, Bill Brown, and a woman who was living with him (Dunbar), Mary Ann Dodd. It was proposed, he says, only to rob the two men, Neil was the concoctor of the plan, and told Dunbar and the woman, who had come over to Dunolly from Jones' Creek, that it was"a good chance". The two murdered mmen, on their way from Chinaman's Flat, seemed to have called at Dunolly, and were supposed to have money with them. As they were proceeding to Jones's Creek, the gang were awaiting them in ambush behind trees, armed with picks (Dunbar says he himself was unarmed). Dunbar seized one of the men, but he proved too strong for him, and Neil came to his aid, and aimed a blow with a pick behind, which brought the victim to the ground, when he was immediately despatched. The woman and the others assisted. This occurred towards the dusk of the evening. Neil and Brown at once carried the men on their backs to the place where they were afterwards found. Dunbar says he did not assist in the disposal of the bodies, nor share in the money found on them. (At the inquest it was shown there was good reason to suppose they had none.) Dunbar says he did not know the names of the deceased till he saw them in this journal, when he recognised them as men who had lived sometime as his neighbours. Subsequently he called several times on Mrs. Dunlop, asking particulars about the murders, but was never suspected in the remotest degree of having a share in it. Dunbar and the woman then went the same night to Jones's Creek, and continued to remain there some months. Neil and Brown disappeared together immediately after the murders, and went, it was supposed to Pleasant Creek. About a year after, Dunbar met Neil again at Kay's digging, only a few miles from the scene of the murder. Neil got a spendid quartz claim there, for his share in which he was offerred 1500. Dunbar went into his employment, the woman still lived with him, but they had led a most unhappy life. Dunbar says he was in constant fear of her, and they were always quarreling and fighting. On the 22nd instant she bolted in company with Neil, leaving a letter behind that she was going to join her mother in Sydney. She was only a few weeks within her expected confinement, and he at once suspected that she was going to Pleasant Creek, as Neil had told his workman that he was about visiting the place. Dunbar then delivered himself to the police at Carisbrook. Information was sent to Pleasant Creek, and Detectives Rourke and Morton captured Neil and the woman there. They are expected down today, and will be brought before the Dunolly Bench on Friday, and charged with the murder. Dunbar has never heard anything of Brown since the day of the murder; he believes Neil knows his whereabouts. Dunbar is a decent looking man; no one would suspect him of being a murderer. He says he has dreaded the influence of Neil, who treated him as a servant. He has often been told that he was insane, (indeed this is an opinion that generally obtained at Cay's diggings), but he attributes it only to the haunting impressions which the events of the murder and the connection with his associates have made on his mind. Neil, we understand, denies any knowledge of the deed, and says he can prove he was in Adelaide at the time. We must again repeat that we have only given the statement made by the approver, and that this has yet to be proved.
DUNOLLY POLICE COURT. February 4th 1859.
JONES CREEK MURDER.
Job Neil and Mary Ann Dodd were brought up on warrant charged with the murder of Hugh Maclean and Robert Dunlop, at Jones's Creek, on or about the end of October, 1857. The information was laid by Richard Dunbar, an accomplice, who had turned Queen's evidence. The court was crowded to suffocation. The male prisoner was dressed in a plaid jumper and appeared about 48 or 50 years of age. The woman had only been confined a fortnight previously, and appeared with a baby in her arms. She wore a broad brimmed straw hat. She is seemingly from 28 or 30 years of age. A native of Sydney. She had nothing very murderous in her appearance, and must have been at one time, rather good looking. Before the opening of the court, an altercation took place between Mr. MacDermott and Mr. Hoskins, as to who should conduct the case for the defence, when the latter gentleman politely called the other a liar. They retired outside to settle it, and returned apparently agreed to split the difference and share the honours and proceeds, without recourse to physical force. Inspector Furnell, as Crown Prosecutor, stated the prisoners had been residing at Kay's diggings, but had left there and gone over to Pleasant Creek. They were charged with the murder of Hugh Maclean and Robert Dunlop, two miners, at Jones's Creek, about the end of October, 1857. As there were an immense number of witnesses, and those scattered over the colony, he requested a remand for a week for their attendance. Mr. Hoskins said he appeared with his learned friend, Mr. Mac Dermott, to defend the prisoners, and opposed a remand. It rested entirely on the information of Dunbar, and he ought to be present. Inspector Furnell: There were a great number of witnesses, and he had strong reasons, or he would not keep the prisoners in custody. Mr. Hoskins, in a violent declamatory address, abused the approver, Dunbar, and the local paper for publishing the substance of the confession, but which, he admitted, was the only information his clients had of the crime with which they were charged. He contended that Dunbar should be at once examined. Mr. MacDermott urged the bench not to give a remand, unless a prima facie case was made out. No man is to be held in jail unless there is something before the court. We know nothing but the statement of an accuser, made behind our backs; and no grounds for a remand had been brought forward. The rule of the law is this: that the accused is bound to know his accuser. It is a great principle of law, that there should be no secret inquisition. The Bench: The information has been taken on oath. Mr. MacDermott: A secret information; the prisoner was not present. The Bench: He could not be present; he has been brought here from Pleasant Creek. Mr. MacDermott: If Inspector Furnell will state on oath that he is not in a position to make such a statement as to satisfy the public ends of justice we will bw satisfied. Inspector Furnell stated he had some conclusive evidence which he would produce, if the prisoners were remanded for a week. The Bench remanded the prisoners for eight days. The prisoners were then removed. It was rumoured, and with some grounds for credit, that the woman has made a confession.
DUNOLLY POLICE COURT. Friday, February
Before F. Quinlan, Esq., C.M.C,; Capt. Murray and G. Agar Thompson, Esq., P.M.'s; and Messrs. Daly, McLeod, Cochran, and Dr. Laidman, J.P.'s. The prisoner Job Neil was again brought up. The interest in the proceedings taken by the public appeared not a whit abated. Long before the court was opened a crowd had collected that soon filled the building when the doors were opened. A large number of females occupied two benches put apart for the purpose. A considerable time was lost before the Bench took their seats, and it was past twelve o'clock before the court was formally openend. All witnesses were ordered to leave the court. The clerk read the pepositions of the various witnesses previously examined. Mr. Zhoskins requested the Bench to recall the approver Dunbar for the purpose of asking a question. The Bench having consented, Dunbar was called and sworn: I believe the the children were left with Mary Ann Dodd at the place where she was posted. One of the the children is dead; that is the child I suspected Mary Ann Dodd of having murdered. Examined by Inspector Furnell: The child was registered when it died. I have been with Constable Cormack and pointed out to him the ground where we were all posted. Dr. Quinlan, sworn, deposed; I am a legally qualified medical practioner. I remember the 30th November, 1857. Was then living at Dunolly. On that day made post mortem examination on two bodies. Saw these bodies again when exhumed on December 15th. Examined one of them. The body I examined on the 15th of December was that of a tall man about six feet high, black hair, and black whiskers. I did not examine the other body. Remember making a post mortem examination. On the back part of the head there was an effusion of blood beneath the skull. A fracture of the occipital bone. The orifice of this fracture was one inch and three quarters in its longest diameter; it was nearly circular, the portions of bone being driven in through the membranes of the brain. The brain was liquified on account of decomposition. The bone of the head was thin. There was a bruise on the left side of the chest. I did not observe any other marks of violence on the body. The fracture on the skull was sufficient to cause death. This examination was made on the man about 5 feet 10 inches high. On the man, 6 feet high the muscles of the hands and face were rigid as if he had died after a struggle. On the man, 5 feet 10 inches in height, I made a post mortem examination. He had sharp features, light brown hair, large reddish whiskers and moustache. On examining the head, I found an incised wound on the left side below theoccipital ridge, on the right side of the junction of the partial and remple bone. There was a depressed fracture with portions of the bone driven in through the membranes of the brain. This was a stellated fracture extending round the base of the skull. The orifice of this fracture was one inch in its longest diameter, and the substance of the brain was liquified as in the other case from the effects of decomposition. The fracture on the skull was sufficient to cause death. I took notes of these at the time. I have them at home. Inspector Furnell wished the witness to get the notes, and he left the Court for that purpose; on his return being resworn the examination was continued. Mr. Hoskins enquired if thew notes were in the handwriting of witness? Witness: They are copied by my brother. Mr. Hoskins: Then I object to their being used. The Bench, after some argument, allowed the objection, and the notes were not used.
Tuesday February 22nd, 1859.
THE JONES'S CREEK CAUSE CELEBRE.
The excitement produced by the extraordinary revelations lately made in respect to the Jones's Creek murders is rather on the increase than otherwise. On Friday the court was crowded from mid-day to sundown. A large number of persons remained standing the whole of that time, and several benches were occupied by female visitors. Contrary to expectation the woman Dodd was not produced, and it is even surmised that it is the intention of the crown to reserve her evidence for the trial, and not allow it to be disclosed during the preliminary examination. This course would be very unfair to the prisoner, - who would thus be in a measure unprepared for the evidence to be brought against him-and cannot in any way be required to meet the ends of justice. The prisoner Neil seemed careworn and anxious, but not more so than his situation, be he guilty or innocent, justified. His counsel declare that they can bring a number of witnesses forward to prove that the prisoner was at Adelaide at the time of the murder, and it is understood that should he be committed (of which there is little doubt) Mr. Hoskins, who with Mr. MacDermott conducts the defence, will at once proceed to Adelaide to secure the witnesses to prove the alleged alibi. It is satisfactory that the prisoner has the means (a very rich quartz claim we believe at Kay's) to enable him to take all the measueres necessary for his defense. The case assumed a much more serious character at the last examination. Previously the whole evidence against the prisoner restsed on the testimony of Dunbar, and the alleged willingness of the woman Dodd to turn approver, and corroborate his statement. Dunbar's testimony was open to great doubt, inasmuch as independent of his having a reputation amongst his associates of being a confirmed monomaniac, he had motives of private pique against the prisoner, who ran away with the woman with whom he was cohabitating. The statement of Dunbar, then, even if supported by the woman whom he accused as an accomplice, would probably have been insufficient in so serious a case to convince a jury, although left entirely uncontradicted. Now, as we have said, the complexion of the charge is changed: two witnesses on Friday gave evidence, which if true, is strongly corroborative of the approver's statement, and totally destructive of an alibi. We say if true, not with any wish to express an opinion as to its reliability or otherwise, but because the evidence was of a singularly extraordinary nature. We have given it at length in another column, together with the severe cross-examination to which the witnesses were subjected. In drawing attention to the changed aspect of the case, we have not been guided by any prejudice against the prisoner; on the contrary, we have wished to afford him fair play. When the matter first came before the public, it was thought to be little more than a hoax,-indeed our contemporary, the Mount Alexander Mail, went so far as to imply that we had made ourselves the medium of disseminating the distorted ravings of a maniac, that had no foundation in fact. Since then a revulsion has taken place, and a strong feelinf appears to exist against the prisoner, so much so as to find expression in court. For this unseemly exhibition, however, the prisoner's own counsel, Mr. Hoskins, must partly be held accountable. This gentleman, without relevance to the immediate proceedings, volunteered a solemn appeal to his Maker of his belief in the prisoner's innocence. A thrill of horror ran through the crowded court, and then succeeded a universal hiss, which the Bench scarcely attempted to suppress, and before which even the practised hardihood of the learned gentleman succumbed. This expression of feeling must have been excessively painful to the prisoner, but we are convinced it was less a mark of prejudice against him than of disapprobation at the irreverent asseveration of his counsel. Had it been uttered on the impulse of the moment, allowance would have been made, but it was evidently done deliberately, and for the purpose of effect and met with a fitting censure. To many in court it must have recalled a similar expression used by Charles Phillip in Courvoisier's case,-an expression, by the way, that blighted a career that then promised most brilliantly, and which will be remembered against the man, when the talents of the lawyer and the oratory of the counsel are forgotten.