THE POLICE MURDERS
The Chief Secretary repeated yesterday the statement that Captain Standish is arming the police as rapidly as possible. Mr. Berry on Tuesday passed an account of £500 for firearms furnished recently to the force.
The Chief Secretary, at the instance of Mr. Graves, has promised that the families of the police officers who were murdered near Mansfield shall continue to draw the full stipends of the deceased men until their case can be dealt with next session.
(BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH)
(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER)
Walter Lynch was brought up at the Police Court this morning on a charge of writing a threatening letter to Mr. Monks on the 8th inst., purporting to be signed “E. and D. Kelly.” Sub-inspector Pewtress, in a very creditable manner, conducted the case for the Crown, and made every link of evidence fit in with great accuracy. Thirteen witnesses were examined.
Mr. E. Monks said―I was in Mansfield on the 9th inst. Called at the post-office at half-past 3 p.m. for letters. There were two for me, and the letter now produced was one I received. (The letter, which has previously appeared, was then read in court.) was very much frightened at receiving this letter. Thought my life was in danger, and rode home in great fear, expecting to be shot down from behind every tree on my way. On arriving home informed my wife of the contents of the letter I had received. My wife immediately fell on the floor in a fit, and had to take her to bed, and was ill for some time afterwards. I have been in dread since that time, and my wife has not yet recovered from the shock. Did not know the handwriting. Have known the prisoner seven years. On the 27th October I remember being called up by police and party, and was informed that the police had been charged by bushrangers and two had been shot down, also that Kennedy was missing. This was about half-past 9 p.m. I was in bed, and was asked to lead the party to Stringybark Creek, to where the police were supposed to have been murdered. Was not asked to show any tracks of murderers, but simply to discover bodies. When we found Scanlon and Lonigan, assisted in tying the bodies together, and packing them on the horse. Brought them to Wombat. I knew Scanlon and Kennedy well. Have been on friendly terms with the prisoner, but never suspected he had written the letter. Believed the letter was written by the Kellys. Prisoner had been in the habit of bringing out my letters, but had some times kept them for two days, and I had given instructions to the postmaster not to give any more. Prisoner was in my house when I used the words contained in the letter―that I could track the Kellys. This was on the Monday night after the discovery of the bodies. I said on that occasion, “I had tracked the Kellys and their horses from the camp, and could track them to where they had gone.” There were about 20 in the house at the time, including prisoner. May have used the same remarks on other occasions.
Constable Irvine stated that he passed the lockup on the 13th inst., when prisoner was getting his breakfast, and cautioned him. Asked him where he was on the 7th, when he said he was at home. Prisoner said he was in Mansfield also, but had not got his mail, because there was none for him. He said he asked for letters, but got none. It is usual after prisoners are searched at the lockup to make out an inventory of property taken from them. This course was adopted in Lynch’s case. He signed his name.
Nathaniel Joseph Maude, clerk of the police court, produced a book in which prisoner had signed his name. The signature to the letter produced was the same as that in the book. Several other documents were also produced having similar signatures to that in the threatening letter.
Mr. Hageman, shire secretary, stated that the prisoner had written a letter to the council. Upon comparing the letter sent to the council signed by Walter Lynch with that sent to Mr. Monk, he had not the slightest doubt but that the letters had been written by the same person. On comparing various individual letters he felt morally certain that they were identical in the two letters.
John Byrne saw prisoner last Sunday when at Monk’s. He was at his house last Thursday about 1 o’clock. He remained about half an hour, but witness did not know what he was doing.
Peter Walker, storekeeper, said that on the 3rd September he supplied prisoner with a packet of notepaper and two packets of envelopes. The paper produced was similar to that he had in the store.
Percy Wm. Bromfield, farmer, said that about 15 months ago he worked with prisoner for three months on Stringybark Creek. Saw the prisoner frequently. Had written letters from notes made by the prisoner, and was well acquainted with his handwriting. On the 9th inst., Mr. Kitchen showed the threatening letter now produced. Believed it to have been written by Walter Lynch.
David James, lithographer, residing in Melbourne, had seen the letter sent to the council signed by Walter Lynch, and that to Mr. Monk purporting to have been written by E. and D. Kelly. The letters were so like in character that it was difficult to see any dissimilarities. Had no doubt that the two letters were written by the same person. Other documents written by Walter Lynch were also examined, and certified to as being written by the same person who wrote the letter to Mr. Monk.
Constable Richardson proved to arrest of prisoner at Wombat by warrant. When prisoner heard the warrant read he said, “It is false. I never wrote a letter. Why should I write the letter? I have no down on Ted Monks.”
For the defence it was pointed out that of the 13 witnesses not one had dared to swear the handwriting of the letter to be that of the prisoner. Even if he had written the letter, there was no proof of his having sent it, and that therefore there was no case to go before the jury.
The bench considered a good case had been made out, and committed the prisoner for trial at the Criminal Sessions to be held at Benalla on 19th December. Bail was refused.