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1868, Michael McKevitt - Unfit For Publication
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The Sydney Morning Herald, Tue 25 Feb 1868 1

TELEGRAPHIC MESSAGES.
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(FROM OUR CORRESPONDENTS.)

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TAMBAROORA.

Monday.

    The body of a lad has been discovered in a waterhole near Windeyer, with indications of a serious nature thereon. It is supposed that the unfortunate youth has been murdered.

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The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Thu 27 Feb 1868 2

TELEGRAPHIC MESSAGES.
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(From the Sydney Papers.)
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TAMBAROORA.

Monday.

(Herald.)—The body of a lad has been discovered in a waterhole near Windeyer, with indications of a serious nature thereon. It is supposed that the unfortunate youth has been murdered.

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The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Sat 29 Feb 1868 3

HORRIBLE TRAGEDY.
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(From the Western Post, Mudgee, Feb 24.)

    The town was thrown into unusual excitement on Saturday last by intelligence received from Windeyer of a barbarous murder having been committed there. The victim was a boy of the name of Francis Evans (as we are informed), who resided near Gum Flat, about six miles from Windeyer. Early last week he was sent for a loaf of bread, and not returning, a search was made, and on Friday his body was found in a water hole. As it seemed improbable that he had met with his death by drowning, an examination took place, which revealed the fact that the unfortunate boy had been strangled prior to being thrown down the hole. The body was divested of all apparel, and at some distance away the articles were found. information having been given the authorities, medical examination was considered imperatively necessary, and Dr Ramsay was sent for from Mudgee. His inspection of the body left no doubt that the surmises of foul play were correct, and in addition the horrible fact was proved that an unnatural offence had been committed upon the poor lad. Suspicion was at once directed towards an old man whose name is said to be Michael McEvitt, [aka Michael McKevitt] who resided in the neighbourhood, and who, being questioned touching the absence of the lad, made use of evasive expressions. He is now in custody. The murderer's object seems to have been to lead to the supposition that the lad had gone to the waterhole to bathe, and there perished; but it so happens that he was some time ago bitten by a snake, and since then has had the greatest aversion to going into the water. The police are actively investigating the affair, and the first examination of the accused will take place at Windeyer court on Friday next. Various strange rumours in this affair have obtained currency, but we believe the above facts may be relied upon.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Mon 2 Mar 1868 4

    THE GUM FLAT MURDER.—Since our last (says the Western Post of Friday) the police have been most active in their inquiry in this case, and some important links of evidence have been obtained; amongst others is the discovery of a belt which bears the marks of teeth, and which, it is surmised, was placed in the poor murdered lad's mouth as a gag while the assault was committed upon him. A boy will be produced as a witness who will swear that the accused made overtures to him of an abominable character, and some clothes will be produced which will lead to a most serious inference.

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The Brisbane Courier, Tue 3 Mar 1868 5

LATEST INTERCOLONIAL NEWS.

...
    HORRIBLE TRAGEDY.—The town was thrown into unusual excitement on Saturday last by intelligence received from Windeyer of a barbarous murder having been committed there. The victim was a boy of the name of Francis Evans (as we are informed), who resided near Gum Flat, about six miles from Windeyer. Early last week he was sent for a loaf of bread, and not returning, a search was made, and on Friday his body was found in a water-hole. As it seemed improbable that he had met with his death by drowning, an examination took place, which revealed the fact that the unfortunate lad had been strangled prior to being thrown down the hole. The body was divested of all apparel, and at some distance away the articles were found. Information having been given to the authorities, medical examination was considered imperatively necessary, and Dr Ramsay was sent for from Mudgee. His inspection of the body left no doubt but that the surmises of foul play were correct, and in addition the horrible fact was proved that an unnatural offence had been committed on the poor lad. Suspicion was at once directed towards an old man whose name is said to be Michael McEvitt, who resided in the neighbourhood, and who, being questioned touching the absence of the lad, made use of evasive expressions. He is now in custody. The murderer's object seems to have been to lead to the supposition that the lad had gone to the waterhole to bathe, and there perished; but it so happens that he was some time ago bitten by a snake, and since then has had the greatest aversion to going into the water. The police are actively investigating the affair, and the first examination of the accused will take place at the Windeyer Court, on Friday next. Various strange rumors in this affair have obtained currency, but we believe the above facts may be relied upon.—Western Post, February 25.

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The Mercury, Fri 6 Mar 1868 6

NEW SOUTH WALES.
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HORRIBLE TRAGEDY.
(From the Western Post, February 25th.)

    The town was thrown into unusual excitement on Saturday last by intelligence received from Windeyer of a barbarous murder having been committed there. The victim was a boy of the name of Francis Evans (as we are informed), who resided near Gum Flat, about six miles from Windeyer. Early last week he was sent for a loaf of bread, and not returning, a search was made, and on Friday his body was found in a waterhole. As it seemed improbable that he had met with his death by drowning, an examination took place, which revealed the fact that the unfortunate lad had been strangled prior to being thrown down the hole. The body was divested of all apparel, and at some distance away the articles were found. Information having been given to the authorities, medical examination was considered imperatively necessary, and Dr Ramsay was sent for from Mudgee. His inspection of the body left no doubt but that the surmises of foul play were correct, and in addition the horrible fact was proved that an unnatural offence had been committed on the poor lad. Suspicion was at once directed towards an old man whose name is said to be Michael McEvitt, who resided in the neighbourhood, and who, being questioned touching the absence of the lad, made use of evasive expressions. He is now in custody. The murderer's object seems to have been to lead to the supposition that the lad had gone to the waterhole to bathe, and there perished; but it so happens that he was some time ago bitten by a snake, and since then has had the greatest aversion to going into the water. The police are actively investigating the affair, and the first examination of the accused will take place at the Windeyer Court, on Friday next. Various strange rumors in this affair have obtained currency, but we believe the above facts may be relied upon.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 6 Mar 1868 7

    THE GUM FLAT MURDER.—We have been furnished by a correspondent with the following particulars in connection with this dreadful crime:—One of the most atrocious outrages that human nature is capable of has been perpetrated in this neighbourhood, and as we naturally look to the leading journals to accord publicity to such matters, however unpalatable the office, we forward the subjoined carefully compiled statement of facts and circumstances:—On Tuesday, the 18th February, one Evans, a sheepowner, residing at Gum Flat, a secluded spot about seven miles from Windeyer, sent out his son, a lad of eleven, to grass a portion of his flock; the sheep returned in the evening without the boy or his dog; throughout the following day the mother prosecuted a vigorous but unsuccessful search for the boy. On the succeeding morning she released the sheep usually driven by the missing boy, and followed them to a waterhole, on the bank of which she found the lad's clothes, with the exception of a shoe and a leathern strap. The body was brought to the surface by a neighbour shortly after. The police were of course communicated with, and a magisterial inquiry originated, anent the probable result of which, there was an impression on the part of the public generally, grounded on the circumstances of the case and the appearance of the body, that a verdict of death by asphyxia would be returned; in fact, it was rationally conjectured that the lad had been accidentally drowned whilst bathing. This foregone conclusion, however, does not appear to have satisfied the mind of senior-sergeant Fitzpatrick, and on that account the inquiry was adjourned. A post-mortem examination, by a medical man from Mudgee, on the day following, fully confirmed the sergeant's suspicions—Dr Ramsay declared that death had resulted from strangulation, and that immediately prior thereto an unnatural offence had been committed on the unhappy lad; he also asserted, professionally, that life must have been extinct before the body was placed in the water. It is almost needless to remark that the whole neighbourhood was horror-stricken at such revelations; but the question was, who was the culprit? And here it was feared that the extreme loneliness of the spot, and the absence of even the faintest clue to the perpetrator of the crime, would effectually preclude all hopes of bringing such a monster of depravity to condign punishment. But step by step the indefatigable sergeant of police worked up his case, and apprehended an old hand, one John or Mick McEvitt, on the charge, and has already succeeded in amassing evidence sufficient to ensure a conviction. The case was brought to book on the 28th ultimo, at the Windeyer Court-house, with closed doors; but so voluminous proved the evidence collected by the police that an adjournment was found necessary.

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The Argus, Sat 7 Mar 1868 8

    A New South Wales paper reports that "the town of Mudgee was thrown into unusual excitement on Saturday last by intelligence received from Windeyer of a barbarous murder having been committed there. The victim was a boy of the name of Francis Evans (as we are informed), who resided near Gum Flat, about six miles from Windeyer. Early last week he was sent for a loaf of bread, and not returning, a search was made, and on Friday his body was found in a waterhole. As it seemed improbable that he had met with his death by drowning, an examination took place, which revealed the fact that the unfortunate lad had been strangled prior to being thrown down the hole. The body was divested of all apparel, and at some distance away the articles were found. Information having been given to the authorities, medical examination was considered imperatively necessary, and Dr Ramsay was sent for from Mudgee. His inspection of the body left no doubt but that the surmises of foul play were correct, and, in addition, the horrible fact was proved that an unnatural offence had been committed upon the poor lad. Suspicion was at once directed towards an old man, whose name is said to be Michael McEvitt, who resided in the neighbourhood, and who, being questioned touching the absence of the lad, made use of evasive expressions. He is now in custody. The murderer's object seems to have been to lead to the supposition that the lad had gone to the waterhole to bathe, and there perished. But it so happens he was some time ago bitten by a snake, and since then has had the greatest aversion to going into the water."

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Launceston Examiner, Sat 7 Mar 1868 9

NEW SOUTH WALES.

    A horrible murder has been committed near Windeyer. The victim was a boy of the name of Francis Evans, who resided near Gum Flat. He was sent for a loaf of bread, and not returning, a search was made, and his body was found in a waterhole. As it seemed improbable he had met his death by drowning, an examination took place, which revealed the fact that the unfortunate lad had been strangled prior to being thrown down the hole. The body was divested of all apparel, and at some distance away the articles were found. Information having been given to the authorities, medical examination was considered imperatively necessary, and Dr Ramsay was sent for from Mudgee. His inspection of the body left no doubt but that the surmises of foul play were correct, and in addition the horrible fact was proved that an unnatural offence had been committed on the poor lad. Suspicion was at once directed towards an old men whose [sic] is said to be Michael McEvitt, who resides in the neighbourhood, and who, being questioned touching the absence of the lad, made use of evasive expressions. He is now in custody. The murderer's object seems to have been to lead to the supposition that the lad had gone to the waterhole to bathe, and there perished; but it so happens that he was some time ago bitten by a snake, and since then has had the greatest aversion to going into the water. The police are actively investigating the affair, and the first examination of the accused took place at the Windeyer Court on Friday last. Various strange rumours in this affair have obtained currency, but we believe the above facts may be relied upon.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Mon 9 Mar 1868 10

THE GUM FLAT MURDER.
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(From the Western Post, March 6.)

WE here publish such parts of the evidence relating to the atrocious murder as we feel ourselves justified in doing with due respect to delicacy and decency. There are, of course, parts of the evidence relating to the unnatural offence which it is out of our power to publish, but sufficient will be found appended to stamp this murder as one of the most awful that has ever occurred in the annals of crime in either this colony or elsewhere. We may cursorily observe that this is the fourth murder that has occurred in this district during the last ten years. The first was at the Murdering Hut, when a man's head was chopped off by another; the second was a case where a man was found tied up in his hut, and stabbed in several places; the third was the murder of Musson by Paddy Tom; and the fourth we now chronicle. All these murders were committed within a radius of six miles; but this last for horrible details is by far the worst. It will be seen from the evidence that every point against the accused is of a circumstantial character, and with what tact and ability the links have been forged a perusal of the evidence will prove. To senior-sergeant Fitzpatrick by far the greatest credit is due, though his efforts have been supplemented by the activity of Mr Medley and the shrewdness of Mr Scott. The accused is a middle-aged man of no very repulsive appearance, but who has undergone lengthened penal servitude both in Tasmania and Norfolk Island. He appears to view the proceedings with stolid indifference, and asks few questions. The case is causing great excitement in Windeyer, and but one feeling of intense horror and indignation seems prevalent when the case is under discussion. We here append the depositions:—

POLICE COURT, WINDEYER.
FEBRUARY 24, 1868.

    Before JHL Scott, Esq, PM.

    John McKevet alias Mick, was charged with the wilful murder of one Francis Evans, at Gum Flat, on or about the 20th February.

    John James Fitzpatrick, deposed: I am senior constable in New South Wales police force, stationed and in charge at Windeyer; on the 22nd instant I arrested the prisoner at Gum Flat, near Clarke's Creek, Windeyer; I charged him with committing an unnatural offence on the person of one Francis Evans, with strangling him, and with throwing him into a waterhole on the left branch of Clarke's Creek; prisoner said, "I have never done anything of the sort, I and deceased were the best friends; I always told deceased to bring his sheep my way; on Monday last, I gave him some bread and onions;" I had duly cautioned the prisoner; I was also in uniform at the time; after Dr Ramsay's examination of the body, I asked McKevet had he seen the deceased on Tuesday last; he said, "No; but his sheep were a little below my place; I heard their bells;" I then said, "Where were you on Tuesday?" he said, "I went to Pyramul in the morning, and returned early in the afternoon or evening;" He said he was there most part of the day; that he was not at Evans's place at all on Tuesday last; that on Wednesday last he was at home all day; from these answers, and other information received by me, I considered it my duty to arrest the prisoner, as above stated; I produce a pair of trousers handed to me by Mrs Evans, the mother of deceased, as belonging to her son Francis, and as worn by him when murdered; the seat is much worn, and the waistband presents the appearance of having had the fastening-button forcibly torn away; the prisoner lives within about a quarter of a mile of the waterhole where the body was found; it is very secluded and lonesome; there are no neighbours within about a mile and a quarter; Evans's place is almost the nearest after that of the prisoner; I have examined the waterhole where deceased is said to have been found, and do not think it possible the boy could have drowned himself in it; it slopes gently from the edges, is about 4 feet deep in the centre, 6 yards long, and 4 yards wide about; there were no signs of any struggle about the waterhole, only a few osiers recently broken on the bank near where the clothes were said to have been found; I pray for a remand, in order to procure evidence which I have not yet had time to collect.

    The prisoner was accordingly remanded to the 28th instant.

    On the 28th February, the prisoner was again brought up before Mr Scott, PM.

    Senior-serjeant JJ Fitzpatrick supplemented his evidence as follows: After the depositions given by me on the 24th instant at Hargraves, prisoner then stated that he had no questions to ask me, and that what I had therein stated was quite correct; on the 24th instant, on examining the prisoner at Windeyer, I found a mark of about two or three inches square on his right hip, this marked seemed as if occasioned by a pinch; it was discoloured; the right hand of the deceased was half open, and might have occasioned such a mark. The witness here gave evidence touching certain appearances of the dress of the prisoner tending to implicate him in the commission of the abominable offence; prisoner, in the lockup, said he had two razors in a small bag under his pillow, in his hut, that they had blackish handles with, he thought, XX on the handle of one; that they were in his hut when he left it; I then shewed prisoner the razor produced; prisoner said, "It is mine, where did you find it?" I replied, "It was found at the door of your fowlhouse;" prisoner then said, "It is not my razor;" I then asked the prisoner if the saddle or coat strap now produced was his; he said, I won't say it is or it isn't;" but he had placed a strap round a bucket with some meat in it in his hut, and had put a bag over the bucket first. This strap appears to me to have marks of teeth on it, blood, and is torn in three places. These marks appear to me those of human teeth, when I put the torn ends together; this strap was found by constable Farry in my presence at prisoner's hut on the 25th instant, on a bunk, concealed under some bags and clothes; pisoner said he had no bags in the hut, except the one round or on the bucket; I produce now three and a half bags, which I found in prisoner's hut on the 27th instant, also a handkerchief which was hanging up, and appeared to have been recently washed; on the 25th instant, in company with constable Farry and W Taylor, I made the first search of prisoner's hut; I opened it with a key given to me by a man in Mr Price's storekeeper's employ, named Bob; I saw Price give this key to Bob immediately after his arrest on the 22nd instant; I took the key from Bob directly; I found the hut securely locked up; no one could effect an entrance without violence, except by the chimney; the ashes had not been disturbed on the hearth; upon opening the door I found two dogs; one was claimed by Mrs Evans; it had the distemper, and seemed very poor; I observed dog excrement on the floor; both these dogs could have got in and out at the door; I asked prisoner on the 27th, did he leave a dog of Evans's in his hut; he said, "No, my own dog was tied up at the end of the hut;" that he could not say why the two dogs were in the hut; the strap and razor were then found; on the 27th instant prisoner said to me, "I was at Evans's about sundown on Wednesday 19th instant; I met Price, of the Pyramul, in Long Gully; he had grog tied in a bundle; he was then going to Evans's; I was coming from there; Mrs Evans told me she found the boy dead in a waterhole; she said he was then in the room; there was no one there but Mrs Evans and I; that Evans was away after sheep that were lost; I believe I left no strap in my hut like the one now produced;" on the 25th instant I drained the waterhole where the deceased's body is said to have been found, in the presence of constable Farry and others; at the bottom I found the strap now produced; there were also a large number of cray fish and leeches therein; cray fish eat flesh voraciously; there were no marks of anything having, as it were, eaten deceased's flesh, except perhaps two spots on the nose; I should say that if the body had been long in the waterhole these cray fish must have greatly disfigured it; upon examining the body of deceased at Gum Flat on the 21st instant, at the inquiry then and there held at the house of William Evans, I perceived on the body of a lad pointed out to me as Francis Evans marks of fingers on the arms above the elbows as if produced by a person from behind; also the skin off the thumbs and forefingers of each hand, with much discharge; also blood oozing from the nos; I watched the body all night; on the morning of the 22nd I observed that the tongue was black and protruding some two or three inches out of the mouth, the hands cramped and stiff.

    John Farry deposed: I am a constable stationed at Windeyer. I am acquainted with the prisoner; I was present at Gum Flat on the 22nd instant, when senior-sergeant Fitzpatrick arrested the prisoner; previous to the arrest the sergeant asked the prisoner "Where were you on Friday last?" he replied, "I was at Pyramul in the early part of the day, and came home in the evening, and I remained the rest of the day in my own place;" but he was at Price's public-house at the Pyramul; the sergeant said, "Where were you on Wednesday?" prisoner aid, "At home, in my own place all day—I never left it;" the sergeant said, "When did you last see the boy?" (meaning deceased); prisoner said, I last saw him on Monday; he was at my place, and I gave him some bread and onions; I told him always to come there with his sheep, and I would give him something to eat; that he did not see the boy on Tuesday; that he had not seen the sheep, but could hear the bells a little below his place; the sergeant then arrested the prisoner; on hearing the charge, prisoner said, "I never done anything to the boy;" I brought prisoner to the lock-up; prisoner lives on the left hand branch of Clarke's Creek, about eight or nine miles from Windeyer; I went to prisoner's hut there on the 25th instant, with sergeant Fitzpatrick and Taylor to search it; in doing so, I found the strap now produced; it was covered with some bags, quite concealed; I handed it to the sergeant; it is in the same state now as when I gave it to him; I found the razor now produced outside the prisoner's hut; it was lying open in the grass about seven yards away; two dogs were inside the hut; one was claimed by Mrs Evans, this dog was a kind of sheep dog, with long greyish hair, blueish, not large, weighing perhaps 14lbs; these dogs may have been in this hut four days; but I think it possible for them to have gone in and out at the bottom of the door; they must have squeezed themselves to do it; I saw this same dog at Evans's, at Gum Flat; we could not catch it; the bags and handkerchief now produced we took away on searching prisoner's hut again on the 27th; these bags were above the strap found on the 25th instant; on the 24th instant, prisoner was examined in my presence by senior-sergeant Fitzpatrick at Windeyer; I then noticed a bruise on the prisoner's right hip; it was getting yellow; it seemed as if it had been made by a grab by some one; the sergeant then asked prisoner how he accounted for the marks on his trousers, now produced, when he attributed them to natural causes.

    Wilson Ramsay, being duly sworn, states: I am a legally qualified medical practitioner, residing in Mudgee; on 22nd instant, being called upon, I proceeded to Gum Flat, and there held a post mortem examination on the body of one Francis Evans, aged about 12 years; I found on his body excoriations on the back and forefingers of both hands, excoriations on the front of both forearms at the bend of the elbows, marks of hands on the from of both arms as if the deceased had been held from behind. Both hands were open, the body bent forward, the tongue protruding, marks of hands on the neck, the arms swollen, enlarged, and open; from its appearance I am of the opinion that the deceased had been unnaturally assaulted, then strangled, and afterwards thrown into the waterhole; there was no evidence whatever of deceased having come by his death by drowning; drowned persons have always an exudation of frothy mucous from the nostrils and mouth very tenacious and difficult of removal, hands clenched, containing whatever they last clutched, no discharge of blood from the nose or mouth; the deceased was quite dead before being put into the waterhole; the strap now produced I believe to have been torn by teeth; it appears as if bitten by the teeth of a boy of about the age of the deceased; it is not the bite of a full-grown mouth; there are spots upon it which I believe to be blood; I do not think it could be a dog's bite; I believe a boy of deceased's age could bite through a strap of this kind; he was exceedingly well developed. (The remainder of the medical evidence, having reference to the commission of the unnatural offence, is unfit for publication.)

    William Godfrey stated: I am keeping a public-house for Mr Price, on the Pyramul; I know the prisoner well; on the 18th instant I was at home until half-past 8; about half-past 9 or 10 am I passed prisoner's hut at Clarke's Green; prisoner was there then; I saw no more of him that day; on the next day (Wednesday) prisoner came to Mr Price's about 7 am, and left about 4 pm; on the 17th, prisoner was also at Mr Price's, between 10 am and 1 pm. And left late; he is in the habit of drinking a good deal; on the 17th, I think prisoner took half a pint of rum, and on the 19th a pint of rum home with him; on the 18th, when passing prisoner's, I saw some sheep about a quarter of a mile away down the creek feeding; I believe them to belong to Evans; I saw no one with them–no dog–some one might have been with them without my seeing them.

    Catherine Evans stated: I am the wife of William Evans, and reside at Gum Flat, Clarke's Creek; I had a son named Francis Evans; he used to mind a small flock of sheep; on Tuesday, the 18th instant, he took the flock of sheep away as usual, about 7 am; he took two dogs away with him on that day; I saw no more of him on that day; in the evening about sundown the sheep he went out with came home by themselves–no dogs with them; on the night of Tuesday I searched about the place for my boy; on Wednesday, the 19th, after sundown, I and my son William Henry went and searched the diggers' holes on the left hand branch of Clarke's Creek; we had candles; we came to a hole near where my son was afterwards found; the many dogs we had with us went up a bank of a ridge near the hole and barked loudly; at this time I heard prisoner's voice calling out loudly, "Hold him, boy," and the barking of another dog; the voice was on a ridge near at hand; this was about two hours after dark; I am certain it was prisoner's voice; the voice and noise went in the direction of prisoner's hut; I went towards prisoner's hut and found him in it, dressed; my boy went to prisoner's door and said, "Are you in, Mick?" prisoner asked who's there; he opened the door, saying "Mrs Evans, I am very glad to see you tonight," I said I was not glad to see him under the circumstances; prisoner said, "I would sooner see you this night than £5 or £100," putting his hands on my shoulders, I cannot say which; he then asked me to drink; I refused, saying my little boy was lost and I was in a great way to find him; prisoner began some Irish talk; I said "I want some sensible talk; did you see my little boy?" prisoner replied "To –– with your boys;" prisoner still had his hands on my shoulders; I then shook him from me; prisoner then asked me again to drink; I refused and went out of his hut; prisoner then followed me, caught me by the arm, and brought me back and said, "I am sorry for what I have said." He pressed me again to drink; he poured some in a pannikin, caught my arm, and said I should drink; I did so, it was rum; prisoner was under the influence of drink, but not very drunk; he gave my boy bread and butter, and asked me again to drink, and I refused; he seemed to wish to get me to drink and offered me often; he said "Have another nobbler, stop all night, and I'll help you to look for your son in the morning;" prisoner laid hold of my arm and said, "Don't come here again on a Sunday poisoning my dogs;" I went away, saying I would not come there any more; before this, prisoner said, "Your son is between this and the falls;" at dawn of day on Thursday morning, the 20th instant, I went with my son William and took the sheep, following the direction they had come from the 18th evening; we got near the Murdering Hut, on Clarke's Creek; I left the sheep in charge of my son, I went home and took deceased's sheep out in the direction he went on the 18th morning; they went as it were direct to a waterhole, the same one that I was at on Wednesday night, where I heard prisoner's voice; there I saw a little pup that the deceased had taken out with him, also my son's clothes on the bank of a hole, heaped together, a felt hat, crimson shirt, pair of moleskin trousers, little provision bag, and one boot; the trousers produced are the same as deceased wore when I last saw him; they were not torn in this manner when he left me, only the knees; I miss the buttons from them; they could not be kept on without the buttons; all his clothes I found, with the exception of one boot and his belt; the belt now produced I believe to be his; will not swear to it; I went into the waterhole, but could not do much; I went for assistance in the direction of home; I met Hugh Mathews and his son; he came back with me to the hole; he went into the hole, and after some searching he touched the body, and said, "Here it is;" it came to the surface; it was that of my son Francis; Mathews took it out; just then Aleck the Greek came up; he took the body home to my place on Mathews's horse at a walking pace; we then found the other boot about six yards from the clothes; I took his things home; where the second boot was found was in the direction of the prisoner's hut from the waterhole; the body was found towards the opposite side of the waterhole from where the clothes were laid, and from the side from whence the voice came of "hold him" on the previous night; when my boy came out of the water I saw marks on the arms and fingers; his neck swelled about the glands; he was in a stooping position, with his hands extended; blood flowed out of his nose; this same Thursday evening prisoner came to my house; he was sober; he said, "We have all got to part from our fathers and mothers, and I have had to part with mine–think no more about it, but send your little boy over to my place, and I will give you some drink; I said to prisoner, "Go away–I don't want none of your drink; if you had left my little boy where his father had sent him, he would not now be lying dead there;" it was about 4 pm; prisoner then sat down; did not speak to anyone; did not go away till evening; I have known prisoner for about five years; on the Wednesday night his manner seemed different from usual; on Tuesday 18th, prisoner came to our hut at Gum Flat; he dined with us; we usually dine between 12 and 1; prisoner stayed about an hour and a half; I pulled some hairs out of prisoner's eyes; he smelt of rum; he said he had had a night in the bush last night; at dinner he said, "Did Frank tell you anything last night?" I said "No;" that he had given him bread and onions on the Monday; that my son had come back again opposite to prisoner's door; in an hour after that he had then hunted him away, and did not think he would trouble him any more; prisoner's manner was excited; he jumped up and said, "I have something to tell you;" but said nothing; prisoner used to call my boys into his place; they always took food out with them; I have cautioned the boys as to going near prisoner's hut; the deceased has only lately been near prisoner's place with his sheep; deceased was turned eleven years of age, but rather delicate; his front teeth were good and perfect; prisoner always wears a strap round his trousers; the strap now produced and broken. I believe to be the one the prisoner used to wear; on last Tuesday, 25th, I saw a dog at the prisoner's hut; it belonged to my husband; it was in the habit of going out with my sons; it is an iron grey slut, rough sheep dog; it might have been one of the two dogs my son took away with him on the 18th morning; I am not certain; the puppy used to play with this bitch; it went with my son Francis on Tuesday, 18th; my son was bitten about four years ago by a snake; ever since he has shewn a terrible dislike to water; never knew him to bathe; trembled at cold water.

    The prisoner was remanded to Thursday the 5th March, for further evidence.

    Upon the 5th instant (Thursday) the prisoner was again brought up, and the following witnesses gave evidence:–John Farry, Mrs Evans, William Henry Evans (brother of deceased), Hugh Mathews, Eliza Godfrey, William Evans (the father of the deceased), William Taylor, and William John Mathews (son of Hugh Mathews). At this stage in the proceedings, Mr Medley applied for a remand for the production of further evidence, when it is thought the magisterial investigation will close. The prisoner was accordingly remanded for a week.

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The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Tue 10 Mar 1868 11

LOCAL NEWS.
––––

...
    THE GUM FLAT OUTRAGE AND MURDER.–We have been furnished by a correspondent with the following particulars in connection with this dreadful crime:–One of the most atrocious outrages that human nature is capable of has been perpetrated in this neighbourhood, and as we naturally look to the leading journals to accord publicity to such matters, however unpalatable the office, we forward the subjoined carefully compiled statement of facts and circumstances:–On Tuesday, the 18th February, one Evans, a sheepowner, residing at Gum Flat, a secluded spot about seven miles from Windeyer, sent out his son, a lad of eleven, to grass a portion of his flock; the sheep returned in the evening without the boy or his dog; throughout the following day the mother prosecuted a vigorous but unsuccessful search for the boy. On the succeeding morning she released the sheep usually driven by the missing boy, and followed them to a waterhole, on the back of which she found the lad's clothes, with the exception of a shoe and a leathern strap. The body was brought to the surface by a neighbour shortly after. The police were of course communicated with, and a magisterial enquiry originated, anent the probable result of which, there was an impression of the part of the public generally, grounded on the circumstances of the case and the appearance of the body, that a verdict of death by asphyxia would be returned; in fact, it was rationally conjectured that the lad had been accidentally drowned whilst bathing. This foregone conclusion, however, does not appear to have satisfied the mind of senior sergeant Fitzpatrick, and on that account the inquiry was adjourned. A post-mortem examination, by a medical man from Mudgee, on the day following, fully confirmed the sergeant's suspicions–Dr Ramsay declared that death had resulted from strangulation, and that immediately prior thereto an unnatural offence had been committed on the unhappy lad; he also asserted, professionally, that life must have been extinct before the body was placed in the water. It is almost needless to remark that the whole neighbourhood was horror-stricken at such revelations; but the question was, who was the culprit? And here it was feared that the extreme loneliness of the spot, and the absence of even the faintest clue to the perpetrator of the crime, would effectually preclude all hopes of bringing such a monster of depravity to condign punishment. But step by step the indefatigable sergeant of police worked up his case, and apprehended an old hand, one John or Mick McEvitt, on the charge, and has already succeeded in amassing much evidence. The case was brought to book on the 28th ultimo, at the Windeyer Court-house, with closed doors; but so voluminous proved the evidence collected by the police, than [sic] an adjournment was found necessary.–SM Herald, March 6.

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The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Thu 12 Mar 1868 12

THE GUM FLAT MURDER.
––––
(Abridged from the Western Post, March 6.)

    We here publish such parts of the evidence relating to the atrocious murder as we feel ourselves justified in doing with due respect to delicacy and decency. There are of course parts of the evidence which it is out of our power to publish, but sufficient will be found appended to stamp this murder as one of the most awful that has ever occurred in the annals of crime in either this colony or elsewhere. We may cursorily observe that this is the fourth murder that has occurred in this district during the last ten years. The first was at the Murdering Hut, when a man's head was chopped off by another; the second was a case where a man was found tied up in his hut, and stabbed in several places; the third was the murder of Musson by Paddy Tom; and the fourth we now chronicle. All these murders were committed within a radius of six miles; but this last for horrible details is by far the worst. It will be seen from the evidence that every point against the accused is of a circumstantial character, and with what tact and ability the links have been forged a perusal of the evidence will prove. To Senior-sergeant Fitzpatrick by far the greatest credit is due, though his efforts have been supplemented by the activity of Mr Medley and the shrewdness of Mr Scott. The accused is a middle-aged man of not repulsive appearance, but who has undergone lengthened penal servitude both in Tasmania and Norfolk Island. He appears to view the proceedings with stolid indifference, and asks few questions. The case is causing a great excitement in Windeyer, and but one feeling of intense horror and indignation seems prevalent when the case is under discussion. We here append the depositions of the medical man and the boy's mother, taken at the Police Court, Windeyer, February 24th, before JHL Scott, Esq, PM.

    Wilson Ramsay, being duly sworn, stated: I am a legally qualified medical practitioner, residing in Mudgee; on 22nd instant, being called upon, I proceeded to Gum Flat, and there held a post mortem examination on the body of one Francis Evans, aged about twelve years; I found on his body excoriations on the back and forefingers of both hands, excoriations on the front of both forearms at the bend of the elbows, marks of hands on the front of both arms as if the deceased had been held from behind; both hands were open, the body bent forward, the tongue protruding, marks of hands on the neck, the arms swollen, enlarged, and open; from its appearance I am of opinion that the deceased had been unnaturally assaulted, then strangled, and afterwards thrown into the waterhole; there was no evidence whatever of deceased having come by his death by drowning; drowned persons have always an exudation of frothy mucus from the nostrils and mouth, very tenacious and difficult of removal, hands clenched, containing whatever they last clutched, no discharge of blood from nose or mouth. The deceased was quite dead before being put into the water hole. The strap now produced I believe to have been torn by teeth. It appears as if bitten by the teeth of a boy about the age of deceased. It is not the bite of a full-gown mouth. There are spots upon it which I believe to be blood. I do not think it could be a dog's bite. I believe a boy of deceased's age could bite through a strap of this kind. He was exceedingly well-developed. (The remainder of the evidence having reference to the commission of the unnatural offence is unfit for publication.)

    Catherine Evans stated: I am the wife of William Evans, and reside at Gum Flat, Clarke's Creek. I had a son name Francis Evans; he used to mind a small flock of sheep. On Tuesday, the 18th instant he took the flock of sheep away as usual, about 7 am. He took two dogs away with him on that day. I saw no more of him that day. In the evening about sundown the sheep he went out with came home by themselves–no dogs with them. On the night of Tuesday I searched about the place for my boy. On Wednesday, the 19th, after sundown, I and my son William Henry went and searched the diggers' holes on the left hand branch of Clarke's Creek. We had candles. We came to a hole near where my son was afterwards found. The many dogs we had with us went up a bank of a ridge near the hole, and barked loudly. At this time I heard prisoner's voice calling out loudly "Hold him, boy," and the barking of another dog. The voice was on a ridge near at hand. This was about two hours after dark. I am certain it was prisoner's voice. The voice and noise went in the direction of prisoner's hut. I went towards prisoner's hut, and found him in it dressed. My boy went towards prisoner's door, and said, "Are you in, Mick?" Prisoner asked "Who's there?' He opened the door, saying, Mrs Evans, I am very glad to see you to-night." I said I was not glad to see him under the circumstances. Prisoner said, "I would sooner see you to-night than £5 or £100," putting his hands on my shoulders; I cannot say which. He then asked me to drink. I refused, saying my little boy was lost, and I was in a great way to find him. Prisoner began some Irish talk. I said, AI want some sensible talk; did you see my little boy?" Prisoner replied, "To –– with your boy." Prisoner still had his hands on my shoulders. And then shook him from me. Prisoner then asked me again to drink. I refused, and went out of his hut. Prisoner then followed me, caught me by the arm, and brought me back, and said AI am sorry for what I have said." He pressed me again to drink; he poured some into a pannikin, caught my arm, and said I should drink. I did so; it was rum. Prisoner was under the influence of drink, but not very drunk. He gave my boy bread and butter, and asked me again to drink. I refused. He seemed to wish to get me to drink and offered it me often. He said, "Have another nobbler, stop all night, and I'll help you to look for your son in the morning." Prisoner laid hold of my arm and said, "Don't come here again on a Sunday poisoning my dogs." I went away, saying I would not come there any more. Before this prisoner said, "Your son is between this and the falls." At dawn of day on Thursday morning, the 20th instant, I went with my son William and took the sheep, following the direction they had come from on the 18th evening. We got near the Murdering Hut, on Clarke's Creek. I left the sheep in charge of my son; I went home and took deceased's sheep out in the direction he went on the 18th morning. They went as it were direct to a waterhole, the same one that I was at on Wednesday night, where I heard prisoner's voice. There I saw a little pup that the deceased had taken out with him, also my son's clothes on the bank of a hole, heaped together, a felt hat, crimean shirt, pair of moleskin trousers, little provision bag, and one boot. The trousers produced are the same as deceased wore when I last saw him; they were not torn in this manner when he left me, only the knees. I miss the buttons from them; they could not be kept on without the buttons. All his clothes I found with the exception of one boot and his belt. The belt now produced I believe to be his; will not swear to it. I went into the waterhole, but could not do much. I went for assistance in the direction of home. I met Hugh Mathews and his son; he came back with me to the hole. He went into the hole, and after some searching he touched the body, and said "Here it is," it came to the surface; it was that of my son Francis. Mathews took it out. Just then Aleck the Greek came up. He took the body home to my place, on Mathews's horse, at a walking pace. We then found the other boot about six yards from the clothes. I took his things home. Where the second boot was found was in the direction of prisoner's hut from the waterhole. The body was found towards the opposite side of the waterhole from where the clothes were laid, and from the side from whence the voice came of "Hold him" on the previous night. When my boy came out of the water I saw marks on the arms and fingers; his neck swelled about the glands, he was in a stooping position, with his hands extended; blood flowed out of his nose. This same Thursday evening prisoner came to my house; he was sober; he said, "We have all got to part with our fathers and mothers, and I have had to part with mine–think no more about it, but send your little boy over to my place, and I will give you some drink." I said to prisoner, "Go away–I don't want none of your drink; if you had left my little boy where his father had sent him he would not now be lying dead there." It was about 4 pm. Prisoner then sat down; I have known prisoner for about five years. On Wednesday night his manner seemed different from usual. On Tuesday, 18th, prisoner came to our hut at Gum Flat; he dined with us; we usually dine between 12 and 1. Prisoner stayed about an hour and a half. I pulled some hairs out of prisoner's eyes; he smelt of rum. He said he had had a night in the bush last night. At dinner he said, "Did Frank tell you anything last night?" I said no; that he had given him bread and onions on the Monday; that my son had come back again opposite to prisoner's door; in an hour after that he had then hunted him away, and did not think he would trouble him any more. Prisoner's manner was excited. He jumped up and said, "I have something to tell you;" but said nothing. Prisoner used to call my boys into his place; they always took food out with them. I have cautioned my boys as to going near prisoner's hut. The deceased has only lately been near prisoner's place with his sheep. Deceased was turned eleven years of age, but rather delicate; his front teeth were good and perfect; prisoner always wears a strap around his trousers; the strap now produced and broken I believe to be one the prisoner used to wear; my son was bitten about four years ago by a snake; ever since he has shown a terrible dislike to water; never knew him to bathe; trembled at cold water.

    The prisoner was remanded to Thursday, the 5th March, for further evidence.

    Upon the 5th instant (Thursday) the prisoner was again brought up, and the following witnesses gave evidence:–John Farry, Mrs Evans, William Henry Evans (brother of the deceased), Hugh Mathews, Eliza Godfrey, William Evans (the father of the deceased), William Taylor, and William John Mathews (son of Hugh Mathews). At this stage in the proceedings, Mr Medley applied for a remand for one week, for the production of further evidence, when it is thought the magisterial investigation will close. The prisoner was accordingly remanded for a week.

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The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 12 Mar 1868 13

THE GUM FLAT MURDER.
———o———
(From the Western Post.)

IN our last issue we gave the evidence of this horrible case up to Thursday last, but, owing to the late arrival of our report from Windeyer, were unable to complete the evidence as far as it had been taken. We, therefore, continue the depositions. The order of the Attorney-General to exhume the body arrived on Thursday, and Dr Ramsay and Mr Grant, surgeon dentist, went out on Friday for the purpose of conducting a further post mortem examination.

POLICE COURT, WINDEYER.
MARCH 5.
(Before Mr JHL Scott, PM.)

    John McEvitt was again brought up, and the following additional evidence was taken.

    John Parry, [aka John Farry] being recalled, stated as follows: I have already given evidence in this case; since then I have been at the prisoner's place; previous to the 4th, I was at Evans's place, when I got a boot given me; I took this boot to the prisoner's place and compared it with some tracks in his garden; they exactly corresponded; I found a bed in garden recently scratched about with a rake, and a few yards from the spot I found boot tracks; I examined the bed but could find no seed in the ground, neither had the ground been dug over recently; Taylor and Evans were present at the time I examined the tracks.

    Catherine Evans, the mother of the deceased, being again recalled, identified the boots produced as belonging to the murdered boy; and which he had worn when he went out. The witness continued: On the 19th I was home all day, and am positive that the prisoner was never at my house on that day, and he could not have come there without my knowledge; when I passed the hole in which the body was found, I think I was on the opposite side to which the clothes were found; I perpetually, with my husband, warned the boys against going to the prisoner's place, and the deceased was severely punished by his father on one occasion for being there.

    Hugh Mathews, a farmer, residing on the Bogie, said as follows: I know the prisoner, and also his residence; on Thursday, the 20th, I heard of the deceased being missed, and on that morning I met Mrs Evans at Clarke's Creek, about a mile from the prisoner's residence; I went with her to a waterhole; the first thing that struck my attention was a small dog near the hole, which ran up and barked; I saw some clothes close to the waterhole; I then stripped to my flannel and went into the waterhole; I groped about for about ten minutes, and then I found the body on the opposite side of the hole to where I found the clothes. The body was about two or three feet from the bank; I knew the body to be that of Francis Evans; I laid the body under a tree, and the clothes I threw over it; the body was in a crouching position when I drew it from the water, one hand shut and the other partly open; I have seen many drowned persons, but I never saw one look like this body, I refer to it in its general appearance; the hole swarms with crayfish and leeches; but there were none on the body, and hence, I imagine that the body was a very short time in the water; a man named "Aleck the Greek" then came up, and we took the body home; I do not think the prisoner could have seen me from his hut; I saw the prisoner at Evans's place on Thursday evening; I saw finger marks on the arms of the deceased, which evidently had been caused by some one catching him from behind; the body bled slightly at the nose when we got it to Evans's.

    Eliza Godfrey deposed: I reside at the Pyramul, and am the wife of William Godfrey; my husband left home on the 18th, and was from home all day; I never left the premises myself, and I must have known of anybody coming to the house; he was not at our house on the 18th; he always made a point of calling when he did come to Pyramul; he was there on Monday 17th; he came late in the afternoon, and stopped late; he was also there on the 19th, and was there most part of the day; on each occasion the prisoner took bottles of liquor away with him.

    William Evans, father of the deceased, stated: I am a farmer and sheepowner residing at Gum Flat; Francis Evans was my son, and I last saw him alive on Tuesday, the 18th; he was employed shepherding a few sheep; he left home about 7 o'clock in the morning; in the evening the sheep came home without the boy; in the morning the deceased took a puppy with him; I did not make any search for the boy, as I did not feel uneasy about him, thinking he might have gone to Pyramul, but as I was at Pyramul that day and heard nothing of the boy, I got anxious and commenced a search; I searched all that night, and on Thursday morning I came back from the ranges; I saddled a horse and made inquiries of Mathews; I rode all about, and eventually I came to the waterhole from which the body was said to have been taken; the prisoner resides close to this waterhole; about 11 o'clock in the day I was with a man named Larkin, and with him I met young Mathews and Taylor; we searched about the waterhole, but previously we passed the prisoner's hut, and we called there; the prisoner was at home, and was standing inside the door; Larkins and I were together; I asked the prisoner "Have you seen anything of Francis?" and he replied "No;" I then said, "I must go and look after my boy," and was in the act of leaving, when prisoner offered me some grog, and I took a little; Larkins and I then left; we then began searching about the waterhole, for although we had previously heard that the deceased was found in a waterhole, we did not know where; after searching about ten minutes prisoner came up and said to me, "Evans, the boy is not here; he is further down—come along with me and we will soon find him;" he then called me a —— fool, and advised me to give up the search there, and tried to prevent me from searching; I was absent a short time getting a sapling to grope the hole with, and prisoner continued his expostulations when I came back with it. (The witness here deposed to having gone home, and described the appearance of the dead body when [some text missing here] similar to other witnesses.) On Tuesday, [some text missing here] came to my house and asked for a mall [sic—mallet ?] and wedges to split some timber for hurdles; I promised to lend them, but he went away without them; on Wednesday, the 19th, I saw the prisoner at Price's public-house at the Pyramul; he asked me to have a nobbler with him, and subsequently said, "There is a day when every man has his revenge, but Evans I would not hurt you;" prisoner was then a little excited; my son had a good set of teeth, to the best of my belief; the belt now handed me is very similar to the one I have seen the prisoner wear. (Constable Farry's evidence relative to the comparison of the dead boy's boot with the tracks in the prisoner's garden, was here corroborated.)

    William Taylor, a miner, residing at Gum Flat, deposed: I know the prisoner; he lives on a place called the Murdering Hut Creek; I also knew the deceased; on Wednesday, the 19th, I heard that he was missing; I searched for the body on Thursday, the 20th, and in company with young Mathews went to prisoner's hut, about 10 or 11 in the forenoon; prisoner was outside his hut; we did not speak to him, but left Mrs Evans and Larkins talking to him; Evans said to me in prisoner's presence, "Is there any news?" and I replied "Yes, the body is reported to be found in a waterhole;" Evans said "In which waterhole?" and I said "some waterhole down below the hut—we must go and search;" Evans and I then rode down the creek, and we came to a waterhole where we saw some tracks, and we commenced searching the hole with some sticks; shortly after the prisoner came down—in fact he must have followed us; prisoner said, "Evans, what are you searching there for? Your boy is not there; if I thought (fumbling with his brace) your boy was there I would soon get him for you;" Evans said, "Mick, let us alone;" Evans then went for a longer stick, and the prisoner followed him, and as he came back caught him by the arm and said, "Don't be a fool wasting your time searching that hole, but go home, the boy is not there;" we continued the search for some time, and left for Evans's place; we left the prisoner at the waterhole; on the 25th I, with Mrs Evans, her son, and two constables, went to the prisoner's hut; when the door was opened we found Evans's dog; I knew it well, the door was fastened, but I think the dog could have squeezed out; Evans's dog did not care about leaving the hut; constable Farry, in my presence, found a broken strap; it was covered up with a great amount of rubbish; the strap produced is the same; on the 27th we made a second search at the hut and found some bags, but on the 25th we searched the waterhole and drained the water off, and found a strap at the bottom of the hole; there were great quantities of crayfish and leeches in the waterhole; Alec the Greek worked alongside of me, and he was with me the whole of Tuesday and Wednesday; he was never out of my sight; on the 20th I saw the prisoner at Evans's; he spoke to Mrs Evans and said, "What are you crying about? I have lost my father and mother—we must all part;" he then made some remark touching sending for grog; Mrs Evans said, "I want none of your grog—if you had let my boy alone where his father sent him he would not be lying dead;" prisoner then abruptly rose and said, "Where is the body?" I said, "In the room," but did not show him the body; prisoner was not drunk, but unusually excited; I have seen prisoner under the influence of liquor, but not decidedly drunk, but I never saw him exhibit such a strange excited manner as he did on this occasion.

    William John Mathews deposed: I am the son of Hugh Mathews, and reside with my parents at Bogie, and knew the prisoner by the name of Old Mick; he lives on Campbells Creek; a little before Christmas I was searching for cattle, and I met him about a quarter of a mile from his own house; he asked me to carry his swag as he was walking; I carried his swag accordingly, and he asked me to get off and have a drink of tea; I got off and went into his hut; prisoner poured what I believed to be rum into a pannikin, and he made me drink it; he wanted me to stop all night; I was frightened and drank the rum; he went up to the fire-place, and I took the opportunity of getting out; I made off, and he followed me, urging me to come back; I could not get my horse along; prisoner must have followed me for nearly a mile; he insisted that I should come back, stop all night, and help to drink a bottle of rum with him. (The witness here corroborated the previous witness touching the proceedings at the waterhole, when Evans and Taylor were present.) Prisoner at the time said he knew deceased was not there, but he thought he was in a waterhole higher up, and prisoner took a stick to search; I saw him go away towards his own residence.

    At this stage of the examination Mr Medley applied for a remand for a week, as it would be necessary to obtain further medical evidence.

    The prisoner, upon being informed of the remand, said that he could make a statement to clear himself, that he was living alone, and hoped to have lived in quietness, but it seemed he was not to be allowed to do so. He intimated that he had no witnesses to call. During the hearing he made few remarks beyond asserting his innocence, and showed no nervousness except when the examination of the broken strap took place, when he showed some signs of trepidation. The case will close on Friday next, when the prisoner will, in all probability, be committed to take his trial.

————

    On Saturday, the prisoner was again brought up before Mr Scott, PM, when supplementary evidence was given by Dr Ramsay, and a very lengthy deposition of Dr Grant was also taken. The details have not come to hand, but the following is the gist of the evidence.

    Dr Ramsay deposed to having, in the presence of Dr Grant, witnessed the examination of the body; it was in a terrible state of decomposition, and it was considered necessary to remove the head entirely; this Dr Ramsay did, and had the head conveyed to Windeyer, where it was subsequently enclosed in a case and sealed up; the strap which was found concealed in the prisoner's hut was exhibited in Court, and the teeth marks on it were compared with the mouth of the deceased; the marks exactly tallied with the impression of the teeth, and Dr Grant distinctly swore that no other teeth, but that of the deceased could have produced the marks on the strap; the reasons for this opinion were very scientifically given by Dr Grant, and his examination occupied the Court nearly two hours. The identification of the body was impossible, owing to its decomposed state, but Dr Ramsay could swear to the coffin. It was therefore found necessary to produce the undertaker again to complete the evidence. He will be examined on Friday, and then the case will close against the prisoner. His committal to Bathurst will in all probability follow, and a jury will have to decide this extraordinary case, which is undoubtedly a cause celebre. The prisoner simply denies his guilt, and offers no rebutting evidence.

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Queanbeyan Age, Sat 14 Mar 1868 14

THE GUM FLAT MURDER.
Abridged from the Western Post, March 5.

WE here publish such parts of the evidence relating to the atrocious murder as we feel ourselves justified in doing with due respect to delicacy and decency. There are of course parts of the evidence which it is out of our power to publish, but sufficient will be found appended to stamp this murder as one of the most awful that has ever occurred in the annals of crime in either this colony or elsewhere. We may cursorily observe that this is the fourth murder that has occurred in this district during the last ten years. The first was at the Murdering Hut, when a man's head was chopped off by another; the second was a case where a man was found tied up in his hut, and stabbed in several places; the third was the murder of Musson by Paddy Tom; and the fourth we now chronicle. All these murders were committed within a radius of six miles; but this last for horrible details is by far the worst. It will be seen from the evidence that every point against the accused is of a circumstantial character, and with what tact and ability the links have been forged a perusal of the evidence will prove. To senior-sergeant Fitzpatrick by far the greatest credit is due, though his efforts have been supplemented by the activity of Mr Medley and the shrewdness of Mr Scott. The accused is a middle-aged man of no very repulsive appearance, but who has undergone lengthened penal servitude both in Tasmania and Norfolk Island. He appears to view the proceedings with stolid indifference, and asks few questions. The case is causing great excitement in Windeyer, and but one feeling of intense horror and indignation seems prevalent when the case is under discussion. We here append the depositions of the medical man and the boy's mother, taken at the police-court, Windeyer, on the 24th February, before JHL Scott, Esq. PM.

    Wilson Ramsay, being duly sworn, stated: I am a legally qualified medical practitioner, residing in Mudgee. On 22nd instant, being called upon, I proceeded to Gum Flat, and there held a post mortem examination on the body of one Francis Evans, aged about 12 years. I found on his body excoriations on the back and forefingers of both hands, excoriations on the front of both forearms at the bend of the elbows, marks of hands on the front of both arms as if the deceased had been held from behind. Both hands were open, the body bent forward, the tongue protruding, marks of hands on the neck, the arms swollen, enlarged, and open. From its appearance I am of opinion that deceased had been unnaturally assaulted, then strangled, and afterwards thrown into the waterhole. There was no evidence whatever of deceased having come by his death by drowning. Drowned persons have always an exudation of frothy mucus from the nostrils and mouth, very tenacious and difficult of removal, hands clenched, containing whatever they last clutched, no discharge of blood from either nose or mouth. The deceased was quite dead before being put in the waterhole. The strap now produced I believe to have been torn by teeth. It appears as if bitten by the teeth of a boy of about the age of deceased. It is not the bite of a full grown mouth. There are spots upon it which I believe to be blood. I do not think it could be a dog's bite. I believe a boy of deceased's age could bite through a strap of this kind. He was exceedingly well-developed. (The remainder of the medical evidence having reference to the commission of the unnatural offence is unfit for publication.)

    Catherine Evans stated: I am the wife of William Evans, and reside at Gum Flat, Clarke's Creek. I had a son named Francis Evans; he used to mind a small flock of sheep. On Tuesday, the 18th instant, he took the flock of sheep away as usual, about 7 am. He took two dogs away with him on that day. I saw no more of him on that day. In the evening about sundown the sheep he went out with came home by themselves—no dogs with them. On the night of Tuesday I searched about the place for my boy. On Wednesday, the 19th, after sundown, I and my son William Henry went and searched the diggers' holes on the left hand branch of Clarke's Creek. We had candles. We came to a hole near where my son was afterwards found. The many dogs we had with us went up a bank of a ridge near the hole and barked loudly. At this time I heard prisoner's voice calling out loudly 'Hold him, boy,' and the barking of another dog. The voice was on a ridge near at hand. This was about two hours after dark. I am certain it was prisoner's voice. The voice and noise went in the direction of prisoner's hut. I went to prisoner's hut, and found him in it dressed. My boy went towards prisoner's door, and said, 'Are you in, Mick?' Prisoner asked 'Who's there.' He opened the door, saying 'Mrs Evans, I am very glad to see you tonight.' I said I was not glad to see him under the circumstances. Prisoner said, 'I would sooner see you tonight than £5 or £100,' putting his hands on my shoulders, I cannot say which. He then asked me to drink. I refused, saying my little boy was lost, and I was in a great way to find him. Prisoner began some Irish talk. I said, 'I want some sensible talk; did you see my little boy?' Prisoner replied, 'To —— with your boy.' Prisoner still had his hands on my shoulders. I then shook him from me. Prisoner then asked me again to drink. I refused, and went out of his hut. Prisoner then followed me, caught me by the arm, and brought me back and said, 'I am sorry for what I have said.' He pressed me again to drink; he poured some into a pannikin, caught my arm, and said I should drink, I did so; it was rum. Prisoner was under the influence of drink, but not very drunk. He gave my boy bread and butter, and asked me again to drink. I refused. He seemed to wish to get me to drink and offered it me often. He said, 'Have another nobbler, stop all night, and I'll help you to look for your son in the morning.' Prisoner laid hold of my arm and said, 'Don't come here again on a Sunday poisoning my dogs.' I went away, saying I would not come there any more. Before this, prisoner said, 'Your son is between this and the falls.' At dawn of day on Thursday morning, the 20th instant, I went with my son William and took the sheep, following the direction they had come from on the 18th evening. We got near the Murdering Hut, on Clarke's Creek. I left the sheep in charge of my son; I went home and took deceased's sheep out in the direction he went on the 18th morning. They went as it were direct to a waterhole, the same one I was at on Wednesday night, where I heard prisoner's voice. There I saw a little pup that the deceased had taken out with him, also my son's clothes on the bank of a hole, heaped together, a felt hat, crimean shirt, pair of moleskin trousers, little provision bag, and one boot. The trousers produced are the same as deceased wore when I last saw him; they were not torn in this manner when he left me, only the knees. I miss the buttons from them; they could not be kept on without the buttons. All his clothes I found with the exception of one boot and his belt. The belt now produced I believe to be his; will not swear to it. I went into the waterhole, but could not do much. I went for assistance in the direction of home. I met Hugh Mathews and his son; he came back with me to the hole. He went into the hole, and after some searching he touched the body, and said, 'Here it is;' it came to the surface; it was that of my son Francis. Mathews took it out. Just then Aleck the Greek came up. He took the body home to my place on Mathews's horse at a walking pace. We then found the other boot about six yards from the clothes. I took his things home. Where the second boot was found was in the direction of the prisoner's hut from the waterhole. The body was found towards the opposite side of the waterhole from where the clothes were laid, and from the side from whence the voice came of 'Hold him' on the previous night. When my boy came out of the water I saw marks on the arms and fingers; his neck swelled about the glands; he was in a stooping position, with his hands extended; blood flowed out of his nose. This same Thursday evening prisoner came to my house; he was sober; he said, 'We have all got to part with our fathers and mothers, and I have had to part with mine—think no more about it, but send your little boy over to my place, and I will give you some drink.' I said to prisoner 'Go away—I don't want none of your drink; if you had left my little boy where his father had sent him, he would not now be lying dead there.' It was about 4 pm. Prisoner then sat down; did not speak to any one; did not go away till evening. I have known prisoner for about five years. On the Wednesday night his manner seemed different from usual. On Tuesday, 18th, prisoner came to our hut at Gum Flat; he dined with us; we usually dine between 12 and 1. Prisoner stayed about an hour and a half. I pulled some hair out of prisoner's eyes; he smelt of rum. He said he had a night in the bush last night. At dinner he said, 'Did Frank tell you anything last night?' I said no; that he had given him bread and onions on the Monday; that my son had come back again opposite to prisoner's door; in an hour after that he had then hunted him away, and did not think he would trouble him any more. Prisoner's manner was excited. He jumped up and said, 'I have something to tell you;' but said nothing. Prisoner used to call my boys into his place; they always took food out with them. I have cautioned my boys as to going near prisoner's hut. The deceased has only lately been near prisoner's place with his sheep. Deceased was turned eleven years of age, but rather delicate; his front teeth were good and perfect. Prisoner always wears a strap round hi trousers. The strap now produced and broken I believe to be one the prisoner used to wear. My son was bitten about four years ago by a snake; ever since he has shown a terrible dislike to water; never knew him to bathe; trembled at cold water.

    The prisoner was remanded to Thursday the 5th March, for further evidence.

    Upon the 5th instant the prisoner was again brought up, and the following witnesses gave evidence:—John Farry, Mrs Evans, William Henry Evans (brother of deceased), Hugh Mathews, Eliza Godfrey, William Evans (father of deceased), William Taylor, and William John Mathews (son of Hugh Mathews). At this stage of the proceedings, Mr Medley applied for a remand for one week, for the production of further evidence, when it is thought the magisterial investigation will close. The prisoner was accordingly remanded for a week.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Illustrated Sydney News masthead. Reproduction: Peter de Waal
The Illustrated Sydney News masthead. Reproduction: Peter de Waal

 

Illustrated Sydney News, Wed 25 Mar 1868 15

RETROSPECT.

...
    Intelligence has been received from Windeyer of a barbarous murder having been committed. The victim was a boy of the name of Francis Evans (as we are informed), who resided near Gum Flat, about six miles from Windeyer. He was sent for a loaf of bread, and not returning, a search was made, and his body was found in a waterhole. As it seemed improbable that he had met his death by drowning , an examination took place, which revealed the fact that the unfortunate lad had been strangled prior to being throw n down the hole. The body was divested of all apparel, and at some distance away the articles were found. Information having been given to the authorities, medical examination was considered necessary, and Dr Ramsay was sent for from Mudgee. His inspection of the body left no doubt but that the surmises of foul play were correct, and in addition the horrible fact was proved that an unnatural offence had been committed on the poor lad. Suspicion was at once directed towards an old man whose name is said to be Michael McEvitt, who resided in the neighbourhood, and who, being questioned touching the absence of the lad, made use of evasive expressions. He was at once arrested and has been committed for trial.

~~~~~

Justice A Cheeke’s notebook 16

1

Saturday [18] April 1868 [Bathurst]
John McKevitt
[aka] Mick McEvitt — Murder
Constable Fitzpatrick

~~~~~

The Bathurst Times, Wed 15 Apr 1868 17

CIRCUIT COURT

This Court was opened on Monday morning for the general gaol delivery.

(Before his Honor Mr Justice Cheeke.)

    The following members of the bar were present.— Mr Butler, Mr Dalley, and Mr Manning.

    The Clerk of Assize having read the usual proclamation, Mr Butler, Barrister-at-law handed in his commission as Crown Prosecutor.

    The jury penal was then read over by the Clerk.

~~~~~

The Bathurst Times, Wed 22 Apr 1868 18

———–
SATURDAY, APRIL 18, 1868.
Murder.

    John McEvitt, alias Mick McEvitt [aka Michael or John McKevitt], who on Monday last, the 13th instant, pleaded Not Guilty to an indictment, charging him with the wilful murder of a boy named Francis (or Frances) Evans, at Clark’s Creek, on the 18th February, 1868, was now placed upon his trial.

    Mr Dalley, instructed by Mr Morgan, (who had been assigned for the defence) appeared for the prisoner.

    Mr Butler, in opening the case for the Crown, said the jury would first have to consider whether a murder had been committed at all, and of this fact he believed that the evidence would be conclusive. The motive for this murder was one of the most atrocious that could be conceived, if the inferences to be drawn from the evidence were correct. It would appear from such inferences that the murder had been committed for the purpose of hiding another crime that itself was capital. Sometime at the commencement of last month the body of the boy was found in a waterhole, naked—evidently placed there to make it appear that he had been drowned; but, from the medical testimony, it would be proved that the child was dead before he was thrown into the water; there were marks of violence on his body that would clearly prove this fact, and there were also marks that would indicate that a disgusting and diabolical crime had been committed upon the deceased before his death. As another collateral proof that the boy was not drowned, the mother would tell the jury that, about two years before his death, he was bitten by a snake, and ever since that time he had had an uncontrollable repugnance to water—so much so, that he had never bathed since he had been bitten. The facts, as disclosed by the evidence, would show that the boy, on the 18th of March, went out with a flock of sheep, and that the sheep went home without him that night. This circumstance did not cause any great alarm to his parents. The sheep, it would be proved, were shepherded in the neighbourhood of the prisoner’s hut, and that nobody else but the prisoner lived in the vicinity. The jury would hear a long detail of circumstantial evidence, and it would be for them to determine two things—first of all had a murder been committed? and secondly, did the prisoner commit that murder? Well, he (Mr Butler) believed that such an amount of evidence would be adduced as would leave no doubt on the mind of the jury that a most atrocious murder had been perpetrated, and that the prisoner was the perpetrator. It would be found that the prisoner and the boy had been together during the boy’s lifetime, and there was positive proof that the prisoner had been seen in the neighbourhood of the place where the body was found, about the time when it is believed the boy was murdered. From all the circumstances the jury would have to draw the most natural conclusions. One great circumstance that pointed to the guilt of the prisoner was this. On the second day after the boy had been missed the friends of the deceased went to the waterhole, where the body was subsequently found, to search, and the prisoner interfered and said they were fools for searching there; it was not likely that it would be found there. Why did he interfere to prevent the search if there was not a knowledge of guilt in his own mind? What made him so anxious that the waterhole should not be searched, but the fact that he knew there were proofs of his crime which would inevitably be brought to light if the water were searched. The learned counsel detailed the circumstances, which he said would be proved in evidence, and concluded a calm and clear speech that was listened to with the most profound attention. He then proceeded to call the following evidence:—

    John James Fitzpatrick, having been sworn, deposed: I am a senior constable, stationed at Windeyer. I arrested the prisoner on the 22nd February, at Gum Flat—eight miles from Windeyer—at Evan’s house. On the 21st of February the Coroner held an inquiry on the body of the boy, and I saw finger marks on the arms, as if the boy had been held from behind. The skin was also off one of the fingers. I turned the body on its face, and discovered that the anus was inflamed and swollen. There were marks upon the deceased’s neck, and the body bled from the nose and mouth. The inquest was adjourned. In consequence of what I saw I apprehended the prisoner. I charged him with having committed an unnatural offence upon the boy Francis Evans; with having strangled him and thrown his body into the waterhole. He said, “I have done nothing of the kind; he and I were the best of friends; he was at my place on Monday, and I gave him some bread and onion.” I asked him where he was on Tuesday. He said he was at Pyramul all day. I asked him if he was at Evan’s that day, and he said, “No.” I asked him where he was on Wednesday, he said he was at home all day. I went to the waterhole where the body was found. (A sketch of the locality was here put into the hands of the witness, which he explained to the jury.) The prisoner, in my presence, handed the key of his hut to a man named Bob. I took the key from Bob and kept it until the 25th, when I went to search the hut. The hut was perfectly secured. I found two dogs there—a bitch which was suffering from the distemper, and another dog belonging to the prisoner. They appeared to have been in the hut some time. It was just possible for the dogs to have forced their way in between the back door and the frame. In searching the hut, in company with another constable, I found, in a bunk, under some clothes, a strap in two parts. I produce the strap (shown to the jury). The strap is severed in two places. We found a razor at the rear of the hut. We then went to the waterhole and cut a drain for the purpose of draining off the water, to search for the strap the boy used to wear around his waist. We found it, and it was identified by the boy’s parents. On the 27th, the prisoner, while in the lock-up, said he wished me to send for a doctor to examine him. (Here the reasons were given, which are unfit for publication.) I showed him the razor we had found, and he said it might be his, but he would not say. He told me then that on Wednesday he had been to Evan’s, and that he had seen the boy which had been found in the waterhole. I forgot to mention that when I first apprehended the prisoner, and put him in the watch-house, I stripped him, and on his right side, near the hip, I saw a discolouration as if from a pinch. I was present at the examination of the body after its exhumation. I remember a man named Winters being under examination. The prisoner desired Winters to be called. He said that Winters could detail a conversation which had taken place between him, Winters, and the deceased. Prisoner asked Winters certain questions about the deceased having bitten his brother’s strap through in revenge, for the brother’s having taken the deceased’s tin pot.

    Cross-examined by Mr Dalley: It is possible that the dogs may have got into the hut when it was locked.

    John Farray [sic] deposed: I am a constable. I was with Fitzpatrick in the search about the deceased. I found some tracks when I was alone. I asked Mrs Evans for one of the boots worn by the boy when alive; the tracks were in McEvitt’s garden. The deceased’s boots fitted exactly. It was on the 4th March I made the examination. There was a patch of ground, six or eight yards square, which appeared to have been raked over.

    By Mr Dalley: The tracks I found were quite distinct.

    Catherine Evans, being sworn, deposed: I am the wife of William Evans. (The witness was very much affected and was several minutes before she could give her evidence.) I live at Gum Flat with my husband. We have some sheep, which are shepherded by my family. My little boy (Francis Evans) used to shepherd one flock; I remember his going out on Thursday, the 18th Feb, with his sheep and two dogs; he did not return that night. On the next day I shepherded his sheep round the hut, expecting to see him come home. At night, I and my husband went with lighted candles in the direction where the sheep had came [sic] from, to search for the boy. We looked down some diggers’ holes. We thought that he might have fallen down. When near the prisoner’s hut, the dogs began to bark, and we thought they had found the boy. We heard the prisoner’s voice close to, singing out, “Hold him, boy”. We called out to him, but he did not come. We did not see the prisoner. We searched the diggers’ holes between the waterhole and the prisoner’s hut. When we got to the prisoner’s hut, my son, who was with me, knocked at the door and the prisoner said, “Who’s there?” My boy said “It is Willy”. The prisoner opened the door, and, when he saw me, said, “Oh, Mrs Evans, I would rather see you to- night than a hundred pounds”. I said I was not glad to see him, as I had lost my boy. He said, “To b—y h—ll with your boy, come and have a nobbler”. I said, “I want no nobbler, I want to find my boy.” When I went out, the prisoner took hold of my arm, and said he was sorry for what he had said. He poured out some grog and drank it and made me take some. I was in great distress and went home again. On the following morning I went out again, and, at the waterhole, I saw my boy’s little dog and some of his clothes lying about; I thought he was in the water hole, drowned; I went into the hole but could not find him. I went and met Mr Matthews and he went into the water hole with me and we found the body. The clothes were not altogether. One boot was five or six yards off. The strap that the boy used to wear was missing. The prisoner dined at my place on the Tuesday and went away about three o’clock. I asked him if he had seen my boy that day and he said “No”. The prisoner was at my place on the Thursday while my boy’s body was lying in the house. My boy never used to bathe; he had a terrible dislike to water and used to tremble at the thoughts of it, ever since he was bitten by a snake, four years ago.

    Cross-examined by Mr Dalley: I have known the prisoner six or seven years. We first knew him at the Lachlan. We have known him where we now live for about two years. He came to the neighbourhood first. The prisoner was under the influence of liquor on the Wednesday night when he was halloing out.

    William Henry Evans being sworn: I am the son of the last witness. We live at Gum Flat. We had a little puppy that used to go out with my brother and another dog with the sheep. On the Tuesday, the bitch went out with my brother. On the Wednesday, she went out with me. On the Wednesday night I went out with my mother with lights to look for my brother. When on the ridge, I heard the prisoner cry out “Hold him boy”. I had seen McEvitt that afternoon. He called out to me and said “Come to my hut and have some bread and tea.” I said “I have got some sheep up here, and I will come when I have got them down.” I did not want to go to his hut; I did not go. The bitch went out with me on the Tuesday, but did not stop long. I believe the belt produced to have been my brother’s. I saw my brother go out on the Tuesday morning. I saw him dress himself. His clothes were not torn that morning as they are now.

    Cross-examined: I never had a quarrel with my brother. I never recollect having been at the prisoner’s hut along with my brother.

    Hugh Matthews being sworn deposed: I live about three miles from where the body was found. On the Thursday morning Mrs Evans gave me some information and I went into the water hole and found the body. It was in a bent position, the forefinger and thumb of each hand was cut. I afterwards saw some marks as if made by the pressure of fingers on the arms. When the child was removed from the horse upon which it was conveyed to the house, I observed blood flow from the mouth. When the body was taken from the water, no water flowed from the mouth.

    William Evans deposed: I am a farmer and have some flocks of sheep. I am the father of the deceased Francis Evans. I remember the Tuesday when he last went out with his sheep. Two dogs went out with him, but one of them shortly returned. The boy did not come home in the evening. The sheep came home alone. On the Thursday, I was out with a person named Larkins looking for the boy. We called at prisoner’s hut and asked him if he had seen the boy, and he said he had not. We went on and we met Mr Matthews and other persons. Mr Fitzpatrick and Mr Taylor pointed out the water hole where the body had been found. There are other water holes close to. One is within thirty feet of it. The water hole in which the body was found, is 5 feet deep. I heard that the body had been found in a water hole, but I did not know it had been taken out. I took a sapling and went down to the hole, and the prisoner followed me and said, “Mr Evans, your boy is not here, he’s further down, nearer the falls, come along with me we’ll soon find him. Don’t be a d—d fool and waste your time; he is further down.” I still kept searching, but found nothing, and when I went home I discovered for the first time that the body had been taken home. I took one of my boy’s boots to the prisoner’s place, with the constable and the constable fitted the boot with track or tracks in the prisoner’s garden. The body was buried and afterwards exhumed, but I was not present.

    William Taylor deposed: I am a miner, and I live at Gum Flat. On the 19th of February, I heard of the boy being missing. I was with the father and Larkins at the water hole on the Thursday morning. I heard that the body had been found, but did not know it had been removed. I said in the presence of the prisoner that we had heard the boy was in the water hole. The prisoner said to Evans “Don’t be a fool Evans; your boy is not there, go home.” I was with the constable when the strap was found in the hut, the prisoner used to wear a strap when he was at work. I was present when the water hole was drained. I was at Evan’s place on the Thursday after the body had been taken home. Prisoner came there and asked Mrs Evans what she was crying for. He said it is “No use crying; we all have to part from our fathers and mothers. You’d better have some grog.” She replied “I want none of your grog; if you had let the boy be where his father sent him he would not now be lying where he is.” The prisoner made no reply but said “Where is he?” I pointed to a room in the hut. He had been drinking but was not drunk. I buried the body on the 26th February, and it was exhumed on the 6th March.

    William Godfrey deposed: I remember the boy Evans being missed. On the Tuesday I saw a flock of sheep about a quarter of a mile from the prisoner’s hut; there was no shepherd with them.

    Charles Winter deposed: When the prisoner was at the Police court, the constable asked me to come and give evidence for the prisoner. The prisoner asked me some questions relative to some conversation that I had with him in the December previous; it was about a dispute between the boy William Evans and the deceased respecting a tin billy; but there was nothing in that conversation about the younger boy having bitten through a leather strap.

    Robert Goodwin deposed: I remember the prisoner handing me the key of his hut when he was apprehended. I saw him previously on the same day. I was at his hut; I said to the prisoner, “What do you think about the boy being drowned?” He said “I’ll tell you, Robert; I think the boy was too fond of bird-nesting, and that he had fallen and got wounded, and had been drowned in the water hole when he went to do his wounds good.”

    Wilson Ramsay deposed: I am a legally qualified medical practitioner. I was called in to see the body of deceased; there were excoriations on the backs of the fingers of both hands; there were excoriations on the forearms; there were marks of fingers on the arms; the body was bent forward and rigid; the tongue was protruding; the eyes were protruding; the arms was [sic] swollen and protruding, and I am satisfied that an unnatural crime had been perpetrated. There was no evidence of death by drowning; I believe that death was caused by strangulation. In all cases of drowning, that I have seen, the hands have been clenched; in this case the hands were open. In all cases of drowning the face wears a placid appearance; the face of the boy was much puffed and bloated. All the symptoms of death by drowning were absent, while there was every symptom of death by strangulation; such as marks of violence on the throat, the protrusion of the tongue and the eyes. There were distinct marks of fingers on the throat. The fact of blood flowing from the mouth was another proof that the death was not caused by drowning. I do not think the body had been long in the water. I was present at the exhumation of the body at Pyramul. I, in company with Mr Grant, applied the strap produced to the mouth of the deceased, and found that the marks corresponded exactly with the mouth, tooth for tooth. While making the examination two teeth fell out. The skull is here, but I don’t think it is in a fit state to bring into Court; it is decomposed and has not been prepared.

    Mr Dalley said that there was no necessity for the production of the skull.

    Mr Butler said if it was in a fit state he should like it to be produced.

    Dr Ramsay left the Court, and, after a short absence, returned with the skull, which had been kept in lime. The skull produced is that of the boy Francis Evans. The soft parts of the gums have rotted away, and although all the teeth but two are in their proper places, yet they are more irregular than when the strap was fitted to the mouth at Pyramul. I find, however, that every mark on the strap has its corresponding tooth in the skull.

    Dr Grant deposed: I am a surgeon dentist. When I was first shown the strap, I was asked what the marks upon it were. I said the strap had been bitten by human teeth, the central incisor, the lateral incisor, and the canine teeth. I subsequently compared the strap with the skull produced when it was more fresh that it is at present. I found the marks on the strap corresponded exactly with the arch of the mouth—both internal and external arch. I never knew two mouths exactly alike; the strap may be applied to a thousand mouths and the indentations would not correspond. The indentations would not fit any other set of teeth.

    Cross-examined by Mr Dalley: I am a licentiate of dentistry of the Royal College of Surgeons. There are generally thirty-two teeth in the human mouth. With reference to regularity or irregularity of teeth; the rule is in favour of irregularity. I am of opinion that the strap has been bitten through, or nearly through with one bite, and that the separation of the parts has been caused by a pull with some violence from between the teeth. (Here the witness underwent a search [sic] cross-examination, but without any shaking of his scientific testimony.

    Dr Ramsay called for cross-examination: This testimony was of a scientific character and referred to a subject unfit for publication. The cross-examination then took the direction of the appearances of bodies after drowning and strangulation, but the doctor’s evidence was in no way shaken. This closed the case for the Crown.

    Mr Dalley addressed the jury for the prisoner, and after reviewing the evidence, and pointing out that there was no direct proof that a murder had been committed, but that the case against the prisoner was built up entirely upon circumstances, the learned counsel concluded a most eloquent appeal in the following words:—Your vigilance, your solemn anxiety, your religious care, in the investigation of guilt, should be heightened and augmented in proportion to the revolting nature and unnatural circumstances surrounding the crime. You should be on your guard against yourselves; for your humanity, and tenderness, and sympathy (all powerfully and irresistibly influencing your judgments) are with the victim, and your hearts are hardened against him who stands beneath the cloud of suspicion. The broken hearted parents of this poor child, weeping out their evidence, affect you infinitely more than any circumstances of the case tending to prove the innocence of this prisoner. Pity, horror, and a desire that justice should be triumphant and guilt punished—all these tend to disturb that perfect intellectual balance which should be employed to test the weight of circumstances (sometimes light as feathers), and upon the value of which guilt or innocence may be determined. My duty is discharged, onerous as it has been, it is one of incomparably less difficulty and responsibility than that which devolve upon you. In the discharge of yours, may you be assisted to a solution of this appalling question by Him from whom alone counsel and instruction can in all the great difficulties of life be obtained.

    His Honor carefully summed up the evidence, and in the course of his remarks said that although undoubtedly all the circumstances surrounding the case pointed with suspicion to the prisoner as the murderer of the boy, yet, unless the jury was of opinion that the scientific testimony respecting the strap were conclusive, the other circumstances would not be sufficient to convict the prisoner. With reference to the indentations upon the strap the medical testimony was most direct. It was stated by these professional gentlemen that the marks upon the strap could have been made by no other teeth than those of the deceased; that there were no two sets of teeth alike. If such were the case, and the jury were satisfied with the medical evidence, they must do their duty, and convict the prisoner; but if they had any reasonable doubt upon their minds as to the prisoner’s guilt, they would acquit him.

    The jury retired, and after an absence of an hour and a half, returned into Court with a verdict of Guilty.

    The Clerk of Arraigns having asked the prisoner the usual question: “If he had anything to say why the sentence of death should not be passed upon him.”

    The prisoner [Michael McKevitt] said: “I am not guilty your Worship.”

    The proclamation, ordering silence, having been made.

    His Honor said: John McEvitt, you have been found guilty by a jury of your countrymen of one of the most horrible murders that was ever perpetrated in this or any other country—the murder of a poor boy under the most revolting circumstances. The boy and his brother appear to have been in the habit of calling at your hut; in fact, you appear to have been intimate with the whole family of the Evans’—

    Prisoner: I am not guilty, your Honour.

    His Honour: The evidence against you has been purely of a circumstantial character, and but for the finding of the strap in your hut, and the evidence of the two doctors—who have sworn that the strap had been bitten through by the murdered boy, and by no other person—I don’t think there would have been sufficient evidence to convict you, although the suspicion of your guilt would even then have been very strong—

    Prisoner: The strap was not found in my bunk.

    His Honour: If you have anything more to say, you had better say it now; but do not interrupt me again.

    Prisoner: The constables have said what is wrong about the strap; I know nothing about it; I am as innocent as a child. (The prisoner, in an almost inaudible voice, said something about two men who had passed by on the day of the murder, and ended by again declaring that he was innocent.)

    His Honour: After the assertions you have made, it is of no use my making any further observations. I have now only one duty to perform, and that is to pass sentence upon you according to law. The sentence of the Court is that you be taken hence to the place from whence you came, and on a day to be fixed by the Executive Council, from thence to the place of execution, and that you be there hanged by the neck until your body be dead, and may the Lord God Almighty have mercy on your soul. The prisoner, who appeared but little moved, was then taken back to the gaol.

~~~~~

Empire, Sat 25 Apr 1868 19

SATURDAY, APRIL 18TH.
THE CLARKE’S CREEK MURDER.—
CONVICTION OF THE MURDERER.

    John McEvitt, alias Mick McEvitt, who on Monday last, the 23rd instant, pleaded not guilty to an indictment, charging him with the wilful murder of a boy named Francis Evans, at Clark’s Creek, on the 18th February, 1868, was now placed upon his trial.

    Mr Dalley instructed by Mr Morgan (who had been assigned for the defence) appeared for the prisoner.

    Mr Butler prosecuted for the Crown.

    The motives assigned for the murder are the most atrocious that could be conceived, the inferences from the evidence being that the murder had been committed for the purpose of hiding another crime that itself was capital. The evidence, as far as reproduced, is abridged from the Bathurst papers.

    Mrs Evans, the mother of the boy, was called, but she was some time before she could compose herself to give evidence.

    Hugh Matthews [sic] lived about three miles from where the body was found. Went in the waterhole and found the body. It was in a bent position. The forefinger and thumb of each hand were cut. Afterwards saw some marks as if made by pressure of fingers on the arms. William Evans: I am a farmer and have some flocks of sheep. I am the father of the deceased Francis Evans; remembers the Tuesday when he last went out with his sheep. Two dogs went out with him, but one of them shortly returned. The boy did not come home in the evening. The sheep came home alone. On the Thursday I was out with a person named Larkins looking for the boy. We called at prisoner’s hut and asked him if he had seen the boy, and he said he had not. We went on and we met Mr Matthews [sic] and other persons. Mr Fitzpatrick and Mr Taylor pointed out the waterhole where the body had been found. There are other waterholes close to. One is within thirty feet of it. The waterhole in which the body was found is five feet deep. I heard that the body had been found in a waterhole, but i did not know it had been taken out. I took a sapling and went down to the hole, and the prisoner followed me and said, “Mr Evans, your boy is not here, he’s further down, nearer the falls, come along with me we’ll soon find him; don’t be a d–––d fool and waste your time; he is further down.: I still kept searching, but found nothing, and when I went home I discovered for the first time that the body had been taken home. I took one of my boy’s boots to the prisoner’s place, with the constable and the constable fitted the boot to a track or tracks in the prisoner’s garden. The body was buried and afterwards exhumed, but I was not present.

    Dr Wilson Ramsay described the state of the body at the inquest, and pointed out the particulars to the jury. The hands were open and the body rigid, I am of opinion (he deposed), from all the marks and appearances on the body, that an unnatural crime in this case had been committed. There were no signs about the body of its having been drowned. In all the cases of drowning I have seen, the hands are always clenched, the eyes are usually half open, the tongue protrudes. There were signs of strangulation. The body was bent. In a case of drowning the body would be straight. My opinion is that the deceased did not come to his death by drowning. There were marks of violence on the throat. The eyes were protruding, the tongue also. My opinion is that he died from strangulation. There were marks of hands on the throat. It is not usual for the nose to bleed after drowning. I have told you my reasons for believing he was not drowned, and my reason for believing he was strangled. I was present at the exhumation of the body at the Pyramul. (Strap produced.) I put this strap into the mouth of deceased, and found the teeth marks on it exactly corresponded with the boy’s teeth; they corresponded precisely with the arch of the mouth as well as in the case of the teeth. Two teeth fell out at the time of the examination. These are they (produced). The skull is here.

    Dr Ramsay retired, and after a little time returned, bringing the skull into the Court (great sensation), and proceeded to fix the two teeth in question in the cavities with the greatest care. The skull had been imbedded in lime, which had taken off all the flesh, and the remainder of the teeth had therefore fallen out.

    Dr Ramsay’s evidence continued. That is the skull of the boy who lost his life at Pyramul in February last. It is a most remarkable skull. I never saw one like it in my life. (The doctor here described to the jury the peculiar formation of the arch of the mouth, and proceeded to place and apply the marks to the teeth.) Every tooth in this skull corresponds to the marks on the strap. The strap was indented by the teeth in that mouth (pointing to the skull).

    Dr Grant, surgeon dentist, of Mudgee, being sworn, deposed: I am a surgeon dentist. I was present when the body in question was exhumed. On first seeing this strap I said these marks were made by human teeth. This was before I saw the body exhumed. The doctor then explained to the jury the marks on the strap, and gave his reasons for his opinion that the skull before the court was evidence in itself, that the teeth in that mouth were the identical teeth, which had made the marks on the strap. I never saw two mouths alike. Fitting as these marks do, it is probable that they fit no other.

    Mr Dalley having addressed the jury for the defence, his honor summed up, and the jury retired at twenty minutes to 3. At four minutes to 4 they returned into Court with a verdict of guilty.

    At 7 o’clock the prisoner was brought up for sentence. On being asked whether he had anything to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon him according to law, the prisoner replied, “I am not guilty, I know nothing about it.” Silence was proclaimed in the Court and his Honor proceeded to pass sentence, which he did in the follow terms:—The sentence of the Court is that you be taken hence to the place from whence you came and thence, on a day to be named, to be placed of execution, and that you be there hanged by the neck until your body be dead; and may God have mercy upon your soul.

~~~~~

NSW Executive Council Minute, 8 May 1868 20

Minute No. 21

At Government House,
Sydney 8th May 1868

Present
    His Excellency the Governor [The Right Honorable Somerset Richard]
    The Honorable the Vice President [James Martin, Q.C.]
    The Honorable the Colonial Secretary [Henry Parkes]
    The Honorable the Secretary for Lands John Bowie Wilson]
    The Honorable the Post Master General [Joseph Docker]

    The Council having met pursuant to Summons the Minutes of the Proceedings on the 4th instant – are read and confirmed.

    His Excellency the Governor then lays before the Council a Report by His Honor Mr Justice Cheeke of a Capital Conviction of John McKevitt at the recent Bathurst Assizes for the Wilful Murder of Frances Evans—

    His Honor being in attendance is introduced and the Report having been read in his presence—affords such information as is deemed necessary and withdraws.

    2. After the most careful deliberation on the subject—the Council are unable to perceive of any circumstances which would justify them in recommending a commutation of the Sentence of Death passed upon him and advise that it be carried into effect.
...
The Council then adjourned Sine die
Acting Clerk of the Council

~~~~~

Illustrated Sydney News, Sat 16 May 1868 21

RETROSPECT.

...
    At the Bathurst Assizes, McEvitt, for the murder of the boy Evans, near Mudgee, was convicted and sentenced to death. He protested his innocence, and seemed quite unmoved by his awful position.

~~~~~

The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 27 May 1868 22

EXECUTION OF BARNES AND MCEVITT.— These two wretched culprits were executed within the walls of Bathurst gaol yesterday morning, and according to the telegram of our correspondent, the scene was frightful, from the circumstance that the fall was so great as nearly to sever their heads from their bodies.

~~~~~

NSW Government Gazette, Fri 29 May 1868 23

HM Gaol, Bathurst,
26th May, 1868.

I GEORGE BUSBY, the Medical Officer of the Gaol at Bathurst, do hereby declare and testify that I have this day witnessed the execution of John McKevitt, lately convicted and duly sentenced to death at the Supreme Circuit Court at Bathurst; and I further certify that the said John McKevitt was, in pursuance of such sentence “hanged by the neck until his body was dead.”

    Given under my hand, this twenty-sixth day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-eight.

[Signed] Geo. Busby,
Surgeon.

————

HM Gaol, Bathurst,
26th May, 1868.

We, the undersigned, declare and testify, that we have this day been present when the extreme penalty of the law was executed on the bodies of Albert Barnes and John McKevitt, lately convicted at the Supreme Circuit Court, Bathurst, held on the 18th day of April last, and duly sentenced to death; and that the said Albert Barnes and John McKevitt were, in pursuance of such sentence, “hanged by the neck until their bodies were dead.”
    Wm C Uhr, Deputy Sheriff.
    Alexr Forbes, Gaoler.
    John C White, Proprietor of [The Bathurst] Free Press [and Mining Journal]
    Thomas Wilton, Printer.
    Denis O’Brien, Sheriff’s Bailiff.
    James S Grant, Surgeon Dentist.
    Richard May, Verger.
    Jno Moody, Clerk.
    Michael Algano, Teacher.
    John McLean, householder.
    Henry Ellis, Chief Warder.
    RW Waters, Senior Sergeant.

~~~~~

Illustrated Sydney News, Sat 13 Jun 1868 24

————————
TERRIBLE SCENE AT AN EXECUTION.

THE Bathurst Times, of the 27th ult, thus describes one of the most revolting sights ever witnessed at a public execution:—

    “The sentence of death passed upon the two men Barnes and McEvitt at the last Assizes, was carried into effect yesterday morning within the precincts of the gaol, but in a manner that produced a spectacle most horrifying and sickening to witness,—the heads of the wretched victims being fairly wrenched from their bodies by the ropes, so as to retain connection merely by the muscles at the back of the neck.

    “Albert Barnes, it will be remembered, was convicted of the murder of an old man named James Casey, at Hassan’s Walls, in March last. He and his victim had been inmates of the Liverpool Asylum, and on leaving that institution, they travelled together, Barnes being penniless, and Casey having some few pounds in his possession. Barnes was crippled in the right leg and used crutches, and he and the murdered man were traced along the roads, Bar to within a short distance of the spot where the body of Casey was found. Barnes, a day or so later, was seen travelling back alone, had plenty of money, and spent it lavishly. Leading from the body of the murdered man were certain tracks and indentations in the soil as if produced by crutches. Upon evidence as to these facts, Barnes was found guilty of murdering his mate and cast for death. In the condemned cell he was attended by the Rev T Sharpe, MA (Church of England), and paid great attention to the rev gentleman’s ministrations; and, being visited by his lordship the Bishop of Sydney, made a full confession of his crime, and expressed deep remorse and contrition for the deed. He was very penitent, and carried out his religious instructions with great strictness and fervour, being found at all times engaged in prayer. He desired that the fact of his confession might be made known to the judge and those concerned in his trial, and seemed to realise to the full a sense of his awful condition.

    The shocking circumstances attending the crime of which John McEvitt was convicted, cannot fail to be impressed upon the minds of our readers, and it is unnecessary to repeat more of them here than to mention that his presumed victim was a boy named Francis Evans living at Clark’s Creek, not far from the residence of the prisoner. The body of the boy found in a waterhole, with marks of ill-usage upon it, and the case against the prisoner was supported by a remarkable chain of circumstantial evidence that left no reasonable doubt of his guilt. The prisoner, however, persistently denied the commission of the crime, and though assiduously visited by the clergy of his church (Roman Catholic,)—the Rev Fathers McGirr and Schastignon, to whose advice and instruction he listened with great respect and attention—he nevertheless asserted his innocence to the last. His lordship Bishop Quinn also visited him in his cell, but, we understand, without eliciting from the wretched man any admission of his guilt. To Mr Forbes, the governor of the gaol, who went to him late on Monday night to ask him if he had any last request to make, he declared his innocence, saying, ‘I have saved life, but never taken it.’ He seemed, like Barnes, to be resigned to his fate, and expressed thankfulness for the kindness with which he had been treated in the gaol. “At nine o’clock yesterday morning, Mr Uhr, deputy- sheriff, demanded the bodies of the convicts from the gaoler, and the executioner (Bull) pinioned McEvitt, whilst Barnes, who was unable to move without his crutches, was allowed to proceed to the foot of the gallows with his arms at liberty. The Rev Messrs Sharpe and Lisle were in attendance upon the latter, and the Rev Father Schastignon accompanied McEvitt. The procession passed down the corridor to the courtyard where the gallows was erected, and then the culprits knelt down in prayer at the prisoners’ mess-table. Barnes buried his face in his hands and wept convulsively—not seemingly in fear, but with contrition and shame, whilst at the other end of the table McEvitt knelt erect, with a stolid expression on his features, muttering responses as the priest prayed. There was nothing defiant or demonstrative in his manner. His fac was devoid of expression showing no signs of emotion or fear, and the prayers of the clergyman having been brought to a conclusion he was conducted up to the drop. The crutches of Barnes, who was now quite calm and collected, were then taken from him, and, being pinioned, he was assisted up the steps to the gallows by two warders and placed by the side of his wretched companion, where he stood without motion or speech. The Rev Father Schastignon stood on the scaffold by the side of McEvitt for a little time while offering him religious consolation, and then McEvitt spoke, but his voice, as at the trial, was so weak, and his utterance so indistinct, that it was impossible to catch what he said, except that he was innocent of the charge of murdering Francis Evans. The priest, having left the platform, the executioner passed the caps over the heads of the culprits, and then followed the catastrophe which is almost too sickening and ghastly to describe.

    “In height, the floor of the scaffold stands about fourteen feet from the ground, and below the drop the earth is excavated to a depth of three feet, and as the event proved, it was well this precaution was taken. In England, we believe it is seldom that a drop of more than three or four feet is given, but in this colony it is customary to extend the fall to ten or twelve feet. The reason for this is undoubtedly a merciful one, as death is rendered instantaneous; but in the present instance, owing possibly to some miscalculation as to the length of the ropes, the fall given to Barnes was quite fourteen feet, whilst McEvitt fell nearly two feet lower. The moment the executioner pulled the bolt the bodies of both men lurched downwards through the chasm, and came to the end of the shivering rope with a dreadful thud. As the bodies swung round, that of McEvitt presented a spectacle that evoked an exclamation of horror from the spectators. The man’s head was severed from his body, the rope having rived through his flesh, and now merely sustained the body by its hold on the muscles at the nape at the neck, causing a horrid gaping wound, from which the vertebrae protruded, whilst blood spurted forth in streams from the severed veins and arteries. The same catastrophe had happened in the case of Barnes, but the collar of his shirt having caught in the noose the terrible occurrence was screened from view, though blood poured from his clothes in streams. Death was, of course, instantaneous in the case of both men, but the horror of the scene is indescribable, and we relinquish the attempt. In a little time, the bodies were lowered into shells and removed for the purpose of burial.” 

 


1   The Sydney Morning Herald, Tue 25 Feb 1868, p. 5.

2   The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Thu 27 Feb 1868, p. 2.

3   The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Sat 29 Feb 1868, p. 3.

4   The Sydney Morning Herald, Mon 2 Mar 1868, p. 6.

5   The Brisbane Courier, Tue 3 Mar 1868, p. 3.

6   The Mercury, Fri 6 Mar1868, p. 3.

7   The Sydney Morning Herald, Fri 6 Mar 1868, p. 4.

8   The Argus, Sat 7 Mar 1868, p. 5.

9   Launceston Examiner, Sat 7 Mar 1868, p. 2.

10  The Sydney Morning Herald, Mon 9 Mar 1868, pp. 2, 3. Emphasis added.

11  The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Tue 10 Mar 1868, p. 3.

12  The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Thu 12 Mar 1868, p. 2. Emphasis added.

13  The Sydney Morning Herald, Thu 12 Mar 1868, p. 5. Emphasis added.

14  Queanbeyan Age, Sat 14 Mar 1868, p. 3. Emphasis added.

15  Illustrated Sydney News, Wed 25 Mar 1868, p. 1.

16  SRNSW: NRS5774, [2/2541], Judiciary, A Cheeke, J. Notebooks Criminal Causes (Bathurst), 1865-1874, pp. 1-12. The handwriting in the notes is extremely difficult to decipher and are therefore not included.

17  The Bathurst Times, Wed 15 Apr 1868, p. 2.

18  The Bathurst Times, Wed 22 Apr 1868, p. 2. Emphasis added.

19  Empire, Sat 25 Apr 1868, p. 5. Emphasis added.

20  SRNSW: NRS4232, [4/1548], Executive Council, Minute books, Minute 21, 8 May 1868, pp. 108, 120, R24447.

21  Illustrated Sydney News, Sat 16 May 1868, p. 2.

22  The Sydney Morning Herald, Wed 27 May 1868, p. 4.

23  SRNSW: R3743, NSW Government Gazette, Fri 29 May 1868, p. 1582. Emphasis added.

24  llustrated Sydney News, Sat 13 Jun 1868, p. 12.