NARRATIVE OF THE MAUNGATAPU MURDERS.
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RARELY in the history of crime, during the past fifty years, is to be found a record of atrocities more startling, or showing a more cold-blooded disregard for human life, than the dreadful series of murders which have recently been brought to light in Nelson Province, horrifying its peaceful people, as well as those of the entire Colony of New Zealand, and the other colonies of the Southern seas. The savage cruelties of Italian brigands are they only crimes of the present day which can cope, in murderous magnitude, with those which have occurred in the immediate neighborhood of Nelson; and whose commission has providentially led to the disclosure, and, it is to be hoped, to the prevention, of a system of murder and robbery, at the hands of a small knot of ruffians, whose crimes are unequalled even in the wildest days of California, when Lynch Law, a ready rope, and the nearest tree sent to their account the desperadoes which at one time infested the gold-fields of that State.
A short description of the country will be of some interest here.
Distant about nine miles from the City of Nelson is the base of a large mountain forming a portion of one of the many mountain ranges which are so plentiful in this country, and whose great size and rugged character, form one of the most remarkable features in New Zealand scenery. It is reached by a narrow track winding along the river Maitai. This track will not allow of two horsemen moving together abreast, and is often a mere ledge cut out of the mountain side, and overhanging precipitous banks which take a sheer descent to the river, that is sometimes fifty or sixty feet below. The mountain, forest, and river scenery is grand and wild; and the thickly timbered hill-side frequently "glasses itself" in the deep and placid pools, where in some parts the stormy mountain stream sinks into perfect and unruffled stillness and calm beauty.
The track takes its name from the Maungatapu mountain over which it passes. This word signifies in the Maori tongue the tapu'd (tabooed) or "sacred mountain," which is about 5000 feet high, and the winding pathway which leads over it is about five miles long from base to base. This pass is cut through a dense primeval forest, which clothes the mountain and its many spurs, and steep river gorges, with continual and luxuriant foliage; and the man who for the first time rides through this lonely yet majestic and changing scenery with its rushing river, dark gullies, dense bush, and hazardous sideways, huge mountain tops, some jagged with huge rocks, and others rising into lofty peaks, must confess that seldom is there to be met with, such splendid solitudes and scenery as those which embrace this narrow and tortuous pass.
This track connects by land the two Provinces of Nelson and Marlborough; and forms the overland route to what was at one time a portion of Nelson province, the large and rich pastoral and agricultural valley of the Wairau. Mining enterprise first led to its formation some time since.
Some years ago, the expectations of a yield from a copper mine, believed to exist in the Dun Mountain, (which lies about 12 miles to the south east of Nelson), led to the expenditure of large sums of money for the purpose of forming a road suitable for the transit of the ore to Nelson, the port for shipment; and the valley of the Maitai having been chosen as the best route, some half score of miles of its course were gradually converted into a tolerable track practicable for horses and pack-bullocks. Rude bridges spanned the river at various parts of its devious course; rocks were toppled down into its channel; dense bush on its precipitous banks
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was cleared aside to enable horsemen to traverse its course in single file, while pursuing a new road from Nelson, and to enjoy a day's travel amongst the changing scene of the rushing mountain torrent, dark gullies, deuse bush, and dangerous looking sidings that alternate the track. This road had not long been formed when it was discovered that by diverging from the track at the junction of the river, about nine miles from Nelson, and pursuing a more easterly course towards the Maungatapu, that a short cut across the mountains could be made in the direction of the Wairau. Hence arose this road, which has from time to time been improved, and now extends about 70 miles from Nelson to Picton, in Marlborough province.
While there are few places more beautiful or striking, than this road displays, there are also few places offering greater facilities for the commission of deeds of violence with greater chances of escape for the perpetrators, or means of hiding their crimes. Yet never until now has a single offence been heard of along its whole extent since its formation. Comparatively free from deeds of violence and even from petty offences, such as thefts, has this part of New Zealand been since its settlement in 1842. The people of Nelson felt so secure in life and property that for nearly a generation there household doors were rarely locked, until very recently, when the gold discoveries of the province attracted a strange and moving population, multiplied largely the strange faces in our streets, and induced something more like caution and watchfulness than ever was practised before. The sense of security which had been so long enjoyed, made all the more startling the intelligence of those dreadful occurrences which we now proceed to narrate.
On the morning of 12th June, 1866, four men left Deep Creek, a small township on the gold diggings of the Wakamarina River, in the Province of Marlborough, 1 for Nelson, in order to proceed thence to the Grey River Gold-fields, on the West Coast of the Province of Nelson. They were, JOHN KEMPTHORNE, storekeeper at Deep Creek; FELIX MATHIEU, hotel-keeper there; JAMES DUDLEY, storekeeper there; and JAMES DE PONTIUS, miner there. Kempthorne and Dudley were Englishmen; Mathieu was a Frenchman, from Marseilles; and Pontius an American, belonging to New York. All were men in the prime of life, the eldest being not more than forty years of ago. The Deep Creek is the only settlement on Wakamarina Diggings which remains of then gold "rush" that arose on the discovery off gold on the Wakamarina, in April, 1864. It has always maintained a small population, and yielded fair results to the few miners who remained out of the thousands that flocked to that quarter when the diggings first "broke out." The superior attractions of the Grey Gold-fields induced the four men above-named to leave Deep Creek, with the intention of trying their fortune on the West Coast. This they were fated never to reach, for their bodies were found foully murdered, lying on the side of a mountain gorge on the lonely road which separates Nelson from the Wakamarina River. The pass spoken of leads to that river, which is thirty-five miles from Nelson, and close by the Wakamarina ford is Canvastown, once a spot well peopled with miners, now almost deserted. Deep Creek lies at a distance of seven miles further up the Wakamarina, through a heavy bush path. The four murdered men reached Canvastown before noon on Tuesday, 12th June, and left on their way to Nelson the same afternoon. They had with them altogether about £300 in gold dust and notes, and were accompanied by a pack-horse, which carried their "swags," the diggers' phrase for baggage. They rested on Tuesday night at the Pelorus Accommodation House, six and a-half miles from Canvastown, kept by Mr. Couper; whence they started on the memorable morning of Wednesday, 13th June, for Nelson, where they expected to arrive that night, but which they, or rather all that remained of them, reached in melancholy procession, sixteen days after, as "dead corpses." Previously to leaving Deep Creek, Mathieu, who owned the pack-horse which the party took with them, had arranged that a man named Möller should follow them to bring back the horse from Nelson. Möller, who is a good walker, and was unencumbered with baggage, left Deep Creek at daybreak on Wednesday, 13th June, a day after his friends. He
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passed Canvastown at an early hour, and gradually gained ground upon his four friends, who were obliged to adhere to the slow pace of their heavily-laden pack-horse. Möller had been informed that the party he was in quest of was but a short way in advance of him, and this he learned from several travellers who were, on that particular day, more than usually numerous on the road. The four lost men were last seen alive by travellers on the road at a small flat a little more than half the distance between Canvastown and Nelson. This spot is called Franklyn's Elat, from the name of a storekeeper, who established an accommodation house there during the "rush" that existed in the early days of the Wakamarina diggings. The flat is now deserted, but is frequently chosen as a resting-place by travellers, being a convenient spot at which to feed their horses and refresh themselves. Kempthorne and his companions were seen on this flat by a horseman named Birrell about one o'clock in the afternoon, and a few minutes afterwards were seen leaving the place by a man named Livingston and a woman of the name of Fulton (referred to by Burgess in his confession before the Magistrate). 2 These were the last persons, with the exception of their murderers, who saw the four men alive. Within a mile and a-half of this spot all trace of them was lost. Möller, after passing this man and woman who reported having seen his friends, walked on, and less than a mile and a-half on the Nelson side of it, close by the rock already spoken of, he met a settler on horseback named Bown, who, in answer to his enquiries, said he had seen nothing of the men or their horse, that no such party had passed, and that, from the nature of the road, he must have seen them if they had gone on. Möler was bewildered, and came on to Nelson, but found no trace of his friends, who had not been seen there. He returned to Canvastown, arriving there on Saturday, 16th June. On telling his story of the disappearance of the men to Mr. Jervis, a storekeeper at Canvastown, the latter almost intuitively concluded that the men had been murdered, and that their murderers were a party of four strange and suspicious-looking men whom he had allowed to lodge for three days in an empty building adjoining his own store. These four had arrived at Canvastown from Nelson on Saturday, 16th June. One of the four went up to Deep Creek on the Sunday following, leaving the three others at Canvastown. This emissary returned on Monday, and all kept up a secrecy of movement, refusing to admit any one into the house, and seemingly actively engaged the while within. It was the suspicious appearance and conduct of these four men which led Mr. Jervis to suspect them of having murdered the four missing men, on hearing of their non-arrival in Nelson. The one who visited Deep Creek was recognised there by the wife of a gold miner, Mrs. Morgan, who knew him on the Dunstan diggings, in Otago, and whose attention was directed to him by Mrs. Mathieu, the wife of one of the men since murdered, and who said he refused to give any name. Mrs. Morgan spoke to him. She said, "What, Phil Levy! what do you want here?" Levy rose and shook hands with the woman, who again asked him, "Where is the woman Emma that was living with you on the Dunstan?" This woman was supposed to have mysteriously disappeared. He replied, hurriedly--"Hush, don't say a word about her now;" and no more passed on the subject. He had a good deal of conversation with Dudley, another of the murdered men; and told Mrs. Morgan and others that he had come to Nelson to buy goods, but having heard of a rush at Deep Creek, he had come up to see about it. After staying a night at Mathieu's hotel, he returned to Canvastown, which he reached on the Monday evening, and rejoined his three comrades there.
These four men were afterwards proved to be the prisoners--Richard Burgess, William or Phil Levy, Thomas Kelly, Joseph Thomas Sullivan. Their portraits, photographed in the gaol by Captain Clouston, the Governor of the Prison, are given at the beginning of this narrative. Below are descriptions of the four men as furnished to the police of Nelson by the police authorities of the town of Greymouth, on the West Coast Gold-fields, at which place it was discovered they were wanted on the charge of being concerned in the murder of Mr. George Dobson, a young gentleman employed as a surveyor by the
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Provincial Government of Canterbury; and who had suddenly disappeared. As afterwards appeared from the confessions of some of the prisoners, it was this gang who killed and buried Dobson, whose body was subsequently found where it had been buried after they had strangled him on the banks of the Grey River, about seven miles up from the town of Greymouth. The men are thus described:--
1. Richard Burgess, alias Hall, 36 years of age; five feet four and a half inches high; fresh complexion; brown hair; hazel eyes; gunshot wound on back.
2. Thomas Kelly, alias Hannon, alias Noon; 39 years of age; five feet five and a half inches high; sallow complexion; brown hair; hazel eyes; face wrinkled; marked with a mermaid and sailor on right arm; and mermaid, sailor, and two women on left arm; crucifix on breast.
3. William, alias Phil Levy; 40 years of age; an Englishman; five feet six or seven inches high; black hair and whiskers; dark eyes; long nose--hooked, Jewish.
4. Joseph Thomas Sullivan; 40 years of age; five feet six inches high; fair complexion; stout build; short brown hair, inclined to grey; long face; square forehead; blue eyes; firm mouth; small pair whiskers; no moustache; broad shoulders; has the appearance of an "old hand."
The movements of these four men were traced from the time they arrived in Nelson from the West Coast (when they were very short of money) down to the period of their apprehension, within a fortnight later, when each of them had a plentiful supply of cash, from £60 to £70 each (about one-fourth to each of the gold and money in the possession of the murdered men), although in the interim they had done nothing to earn it.
On the 6th of June they reached Nelson from Greymouth, where they were known as bad characters, and had been watched there by the police, but were not then suspected of being concerned in the murder of Mr. Dobson, who at that time had been missing for some weeks. They took passage from Greymouth to the Buller only, Levy in the cabin, and the others in the steerage; but on making the Buller they paid their extra fares on to Nelson, Levy borrowing £2 from a passenger on board. One pound of this loan, Levy repaid on his arrival in Nelson, and stated that the other he would pay shortly afterwards. On Thursday, 7th June, the four men left Nelson and crossed the Maungatapu. They were recognised by people who saw them on the road; they were dressed as diggers. They arrived at Canvastown on Saturday, 9th June, and got lodgings as above mentioned in a house in the charge of Mr. Jervis. That same night, Levy went up to Deep Creek, and learned there the intentions of Mathieu and party, and at the same time ascertained that they had gold to take with them. At Canvastown one of the men told Mr. Jervis that they were hard-up and had little money, otherwise they would have spent a few pounds with him. Their proceedings while at Canvastown were secret and suspicious, and they would allow no one to enter the house they occupied; the reason for which (as it afterwards appeared) was that on one evening they were employed in cleaning their guns and revolvers, and on another in charging them and preparing for the road. On the Tuesday morning they departed at a very early hour, and without any notice, and it was by mere accident that Mr. Jervis saw them in the grey light of the morning passing to the river in the direction of Nelson, and hailed them, getting a reply from one of them that they were "leaving this b---dy place, for nothing was to be done there."
A traveller (Mr. Galloway, of Picton,) who left Nelson on Tuesday, June 12th, arrived at the Pelorus Bridge that afternoon, having met Burgess and his fellows on the way, and not liking their looks, told Mathieu and his party, who lodged at the same house, that there were four suspicious looking men who were to camp on the road that night; but undeterred by this caution, the men went on to their fate.
Mr. Jervis, after bearing from Möller ou the Saturday night of the disappearance of his four Deep Creek friends, rode into town next day, searching the road by the way for traces of the pack-horse. He reported the loss of the men to the police, and his suspicions of murder, and its perpetrators; but so improbable did it seem that such a fearful crime could be committed in this peaceful community, that people would not believe him serious, or, if serious, some thought he was insane. However, on Monday policemen were sent out to look for the men, and two miners named Davis and Hardi, (the latter a Frenchman,) from Deep Creek came into town to look after the persons whom Jervis suspected, and to endeavor to find Levy, the man who had visited Deep Creek. That same evening Levy was recognised by these.
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miners at the bar of the Wakatu Hotel, and there and then he was given in charge of the police. He was taken to the police station and a sum of over £63 was found on his person. He refused to say where he was living, and denied having any companions. Jervis recognised him, and so did Birrell who met him and his mates on their way up to Canvastown. Report had it that three suspicious looking men were seen on the road up the country towards Foxhill and the West Coast roads, in another direction from the way to the Wakamarina. Jervis and two policemen, Levi and Beattie, went after them, and followed the tracks for some 70 or 80 miles, returning four days after finding that they were on the wrong scent.
Levy was brought up before the Resident Magistrate, Mr. Poynter, next day, on suspicion of being concerned in the murder of the missing men. It was deponed that Levy was the person who had been at Deep Creek, and Sergeant-Major Shallcrass stated that he would be able to produce evidence that Levy was connected with the four suspicious characters who had been at Canvastown. Levy was remanded, and on being so he said: "Your worship, on what evidence do you remand me? I don't deny that I was at Deep Creek; but there is nothing wrong in that, and there is no evidence against me."
The police the same day found that Levy had mates in town, and that he and another had slept at Porcelli's Oyster Saloon, in Bridge-street, and by that evening three other men were lodged in the cells along with Levy. Burgess gave the name of Richard Henry Mullin, Kelly called himself Thomas Noon, and Sullivan gave the name of Thomas Joseph M'Gee. They were all four brought up on Wednesday, 20th June, and remanded.
Meanwhile, the excitement in Nelson grew apace. The city and every place in the province where the intelligence had reached, were moved to the centre at the thought of such dreadful crimes having been committed; and the excitement in town took practical shape in the formation of a search party. On Wednesday evening, just a week after the day that Kempthorne and his companions were last seen alive, a crier called a public meeting at the Trafalgar Hotel. It was an out-door meeting, and speedily about 300 persons assembled. Mr. D. M. Luckie was called to the chair. The following is a brief narrative of what took place at this meeting:--
The CHAIRMAN stated it was evident a great crime had been committed, and the purpose of the meeting, as he had been informed, was to obtain volunteers to form a strong party to examine the locality where the men were last seen; and also to obtain subscriptions to supply the searching expedition with provisions, tents, implements, and other materiel. Regarding the first, the volunteers he said ought to be men acquainted with bush work; and as for the second, seeing the strong feeling that prevailed throughout the city on the subject, he had no doubt that all parties would devise liberal things, and supply the sinews of war. Promptitude was the object of greatest importance here, and the meeting ought to appoint a Committee to take the names of volunteers, and provide at once for the despatch of a large and well equipped searching expedition early next morning.
Mr. M. LIGHTBAND made a abort speech in which he congratulated the people of Nelson that they were so ready to take prompt action in a matter of this kind. The large meeting so quickly got together on such a short notice showed how deeply the public feeling was moved. He spoke in favor of having a large party, and particularly of employing the Maoris at Wakapuaka, whose natural instincts and habits for generations had made them masters of bush life, and better able than Europeans to follow the tracks of those whose fate we desired to know.
This proposition was warmly applauded.
Mr. THOMAS DODSON and Mr. W. AKERSTEN afterwards addressed the meeting to a similar effect.
The following gentlemen were appointed a Committee to organise and despatch a search party, take subscriptions, and supply stores for the volunteers. The italics show the names of the Working Committee under whom the Search Expedition was managed:--
Dr. Williams (Chairman of Committee)
Mr. M. Lightband, Mr. John Thornton, Treasurers.
Mr. W. Akersten (Secretary)
Mr. W. Wilkie.
Mr. Joseph Welch
Mr. J. Disher,
Mr. R. Lucas,
Mr. T. Younger,
Mr. G. Potter,
Mr. D. M. Luckie,
Mr. Charles Saxton.
Mr. T. W. Kempthorne, (Brother of one of the murdered men.)
Mr. Nathaniel Edwards,
Mr. Oswald Curtis,
Mr. J. M. Merrington,
Mr. C. Harley,
Mr. T. Dodson,
Mr. F. B. Hadfield,
Mr. J. Harper,
Mr. J. Bentley,
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The Committee met immediately, and proceeded to take the names of volunteers and of subscribers. Within half-an-hour, upwards of forty men had offered themselves as searchers; and in about the same space of time, fully £50 was subscribed and paid on the spot.
The Committee then made the necessary arrangements for sending out the search party, and shortly after eight o'clock on the morning of Thursday, 21st June, a well-equipped and provisioned party of upwards of fifty persons, all volunteers who gave their time gratuitously, under Mr. Saxton, who was placed in charge of the party, set out from Nelson to explore the district. James Martin, the half-caste chief, and another Maori from Wakapuaka, to whom a special messenger had been despatched the previous night, with a request that they would aid in the search, joined the party, and all proceeded to Franklyn's Flat, where the rendezvous of the expedition was formed.
The following is a list of the names of the Volunteers who then and subsequently took part in the search:--
CHARLES SAXTON, Captain.
A. Byng Cox
J. Bradcock, Constable
H. Martin, " "
J. Flett, " "
H. L. N. Clarke
-- De Lagone
G. T. Johnston
M. Stratham, packer
A. W. Malcolm, " "
Promptly as the party was formed and despatched, it went as promptly to work. The same day, shortly after noon, Hemi Martine (James Martin), the half-caste Maori chief, discovered the dead body of the horse which belonged to Mathieu, lying, covered with branches, about fifty feet below the roadway down the side of the mountain.
It had been shot through the head. The swags of the men were still attached to the body of the animal, which was found about half-a-mile from the rock. A loaded gun, two shovels, and other articles were also found near by.
Mr. Kempthorne, of Dunedin, had arrived in Nelson to meet his brother, and he offered a reward of £200 for the recovery of his brother's body. The Provincial Government also offered a reward of £100 for the recovery of the bodies of the missing men, and the General Government of the Colony also issued a proclamation offering a reward of £200 for such information as would lead to the conviction of the murderers; and a free pardon to any accomplice who would give such information, provided such accomplice were not the actual murderer. A similar proclamation was issued, offering like terms to an accomplice who should give information of the murder of Mr. Dobson on the Grey River, and large rewards were also offered at Greymouth for the apprehension of the four men, who were charged there with an attempt to waylay and rob a Mr. Fox, a gold-buyer on the Grey, and for whom poor Mr. Dobson was mistaken and murdered for the sake of concealment.
The Search Party assiduously continued their labors. They searched during the succeeding eight days for five or six miles on the Nelson side of Franklyn's Flat, systematically going over the ground a good dis-
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tance into the bush on the lower side of the road. Heavy rains impeded their progress for a day; and the very day when they were to search the bush on the upper side of the road, they received information that Sullivan had confessed to being an accomplice, but not an actual murderer. He it was who shot the horse, and he was the "road-keeper" in the gang; that is, he preceded the others, and while they were engaged with their victims, stood ready to give warning of danger to his companions, or to shoot those travellers who were likely to tell tales.
The men were stopped at the rock before-mentioned, and which has since been entitled "Murderer's Rock," behind which their horse was taken, and they were then pinioned and marched some four or five hundred yards, up the bed of a creek close by, where, after being cajoled with promises of being let away, they were ruthlessly murdered.
Sullivan confessed also that on the day before the murder of the four men, he and his party stopped an old man on the road, who was taken into the bush by Burgess and Levy, at a spot which Sullivan had marked, while he and Kelly were keeping the road. There the old man, whose name was JAMES BATTLE, was murdered and robbed of £3 and some shillings--all he possessed! This occurred about a mile beyond Franklyn's Flat, nearer to the Wakamarina.
He also confessed that Dobson was killed by his party, and that a man named James Wilson, now in custody at Greymouth, and formerly a bell-ringer in Nelson, known as the "curly-headed bellman," was concerned in his murder. He spoke also of hearing Burgess and Kelly tell of the murders they had had a hand in committing; and that they said these were so numerous that they could not enumerate them all.
He gave information also that the gang had been concerned in the robbery of £2500 in gold from the Bank of New Zealand at Okarita (a new gold-field township on the West Coast, to the southward of Hokitika), and at the same time implicated an officer of police, named De Lacey, in the service of the Canterbury Government in this transaction.
A plan for the robbery of the Bank of New South Wales in Nelson was also disclosed by Sullivan. Arrangements were being made for two of them entering the bank after the hour of closing, about mail-day, as if on urgent business, overpowering all within, "sticking them up," murdering them, and decamping by steamer.
A diabolical fact was also mentioned by Sullivan, and this was that Levy had a phial of strychnine; which was used as an instrument of death. This was hidden in a hedge near the town, along with a pistol. Both were afterwards found, and the poison was given to Dr. Cusack to test it. It was in the usual dry form, in powdery crystals, and there was enough to kill sixty or eighty men in the bottle, which was one of those short round phials, with a broad lip; a large part of which was broken off, apparently by the "prizing" of a knife to take out the stopper. The stopper itself, a cork one, was broken in numerous places, as if small angular bits had been snapped out in the attempts to open it with a knife. It would thus appear that it had been frequently used; at least, repeatedly opened and shut, which of itself implies use. Dr. Cusack tested it on a dog, which died after suffering the acute tetanic convulsions which strychnine produces.
THE FINDING OF THE FOUR BODIES.
The solitudes of the ravines on the Maungatapu Mountain near "Murderers' Rock," were startled, on the forenoon of Friday, 30th June, by the notes of the bugle sounding the "assembly," calling the Volunteers of the Search to aid in removing the bodies of the four men as they were found, one by one, lying stark and stiff on the spot where they were slain in cold blood.
The information given by Sullivan as to the locality where the murders were committed proved to be correct. On the previous night a messenger was sent out to the Camp at Franklyn's Flat, to keep the men in until the arrival next morning of Mr. Shallcrass with the definite information respecting the place where the bodies were. The excitement which existed in the camp of the Search Party when the news reached, we need not attempt to describe. In the morning the Volunteers went out towards the place mentioned by Mr. Shallcrass, which indicated the hillside on the Nelson side of the creek, near to the rock above spoken of. There, after some time, the bodies were found.
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That the volunteers would have found the bodies without any information such as was obtained, there is no doubt; for the most experienced bushmen who saw the systematic method of the search, and the manner in which every foot of ground was examined, all expressed an opinion that the search must ultimately be successful. The Volunteers, who had hitherto been searching below the road, had arranged to search above it, starting from the rock, and following up the banks adjacent to the creek; and the ground where the bodies were found would have been carefully and sectionally searched, and this would have been done before but for the rain which had for some days prevented operations.
It was a melancholy sight to see emerging from the wooded hillside adjoining the creek, party after party of the Volunteers bearing the bodies of the murdered men. These were slung in canvas, tied to poles carried palanquin fashion. When the four bodies were all brought down to the roadside, and laid by the side of the creek, in the midst of a drizzling rain which fell fast, the scene was sad in the extreme. Few words were spoken; but the clenched teeth and angry eye of all present, diggers and others, showed how each was affected, and none seemed to think it necessary to express his sorrow at seeing the placid bodies, nor his indignation at the cause of their death. These feelings were evident in the looks and gestures of all who formed part of the melancholy group.
The dead bodies, although they had lain for sixteen days on the mountain side, were in no way decomposed, but seemed fresh, untouched by vermin, and only a little bleached by the rain which had fallen. The face of John Kempthorne was calm and placid, the shot through the head having produced instant death. That of Pontius was dreadfully bruised by the heavy stones which his murderers had thrown on his body. Dudley's face was little changed, except that it was more weather-beaten than the faces of the other victims. He had been strangled, Mathieu bad evidently died hard. The strap which pinioned his arms had deeply marked them, and had greatly swelled the muscles; and as he lay beside the stump of an uprooted tree, with his head thrown back, his eyes staring, and his mouth open, as if he died struggling and crying out against his murderers, the sight sent a thrill of horror and deep anger through the men who were gathered together amongst the ferm on that lonely mountain side. Poor Mathieu had had the hardest death of all. The first bullet fired into his body had been turned aside from a vital part by striking against a rib. He had perhaps fallen, but the strong vigor of a man in his prime had aided him in struggling. Then his coat had been turned aside, and a knife plunged into his breast at a point as if the heart had been felt for. But neither had this proved fatal; and at last, after the legs of the struggling man had been strapped, and he lay helpless, but still alive, another pistol bullet was fired into the knife wound, whence the blood was oozing.
The bodies were brought down into Nelson by relays of Volunteers, who carried them until the dray road was reached, when they were placed in a dray and brought to the Government Buildings. After the dead men were deposited in the Engine-house, the Volunteers, headed by Mr. C. Saxton, marched down the street to the rooms of the Search Committee, at the Trafalgar Hotel, amidst the cheers of the crowd who had gathered around them.
On reaching the hotel they were received by the members of the Search Committee; and Dr. Williams, the Chairman of the Committee, shortly addressed the Volunteers, congratulating them on the successful conclusion of their arduous, freely offered, and self-denying labors.
The four bodies were laid in the Engine-house, in the precincts of the Government Buildings, and were visited by some thousands of persons.
An inquest on the bodies was held before Dr. Squires, the Coroner, and a Jury consisting of the undermentioned gentlemen:-- Messrs. Nathaniel Edwards, John Lockett, Frank Nairn, Samuel Robinson, Francis James Blundell, Frederick Huddlestone, Henry Drew, William Akersten, James Townsend Lowe, Walter Mortimer, John Oldham, and Alexander Sclanders. Mr. Edwards was chosen foreman.
The evidence before the Coroner went to show what is stated above, and the Jury returned a verdict to the effect that the four men had been wilfully murdered.
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THE FUNERAL OF THE VICTIMS.
On Sunday a vast concourse of people numbering about three thousands persons attended to witness the interment of the bodies. The coffins were borne on two carriages, followed by another containing the chief mourners, the first two being escorted by the Police. After the mourning carriage came the members of the Search Committee on foot; and these were followed by Mr. Saxton and the body of Volunteers who had acted under his charge. His Honor the Superintendent, with the Executive of the Province, several clergymen and other professional gentlemen, together with a large body of others, came after. Next came from eighty to a hundred horsemen, and a considerable number of carriages.
The bodies were buried in one large grave, over which it is intended to place a monument. The Rev. G. H. Johnston, Incumbent of Christ Church, read the burial service, in presence of a concourse of people larger than any ever assembled near the Nelson Cemetery. The coffins bore the following inscriptions:--
Died 13th June, 1866,
Died 13th June, 1866,
Died 13th June, 1866,
Died 13th June, 1866,
A meeting of the Search Committee was held the same afternoon, to receive a deputation from the Volunteers, who had instructed its members to say that they would on no account receive any part of the reward of £200 offered by Mr. Kempthorne for the recovery of his brother's body.
Mr. Kempthorne feelingly replied, expressing his heartfelt thanks to them for what they had done, and for their rejection of the reward offered. He accepted their generous proposal in the spirit it was made, and stated his belief that without the information of Sullivan, they would have found the bodies, and that he considered them entitled to the reward. He thanked them for their unflagging energy, and hoped they would enjoy their peaceful labors, knowing that the monsters who committed this deed were safe in custody in the hands of justice,
Dr. Williams also addressed the deputation, as did other members of the Search Committee.
FINDING THE BODY OF JAMES BATTLE.
The body of James Battle was found on Tuesday, 3rd July, and was brought into town the same evening, and an inquest was held on the body. It was found in the bush, near the spot which Sullivan had marked by an impression of his heel, against a cutting on the roadside. The man who found it was a Volunteer of the Search Party, named Baker, and in his evidence before the Coroner and jury he said:-- "About half-past nine this morning, about a mile from Franklyn's Plat, on the other side towards the Heringa, and about one hundred yards from the road on the left hand going from Nelson, my attention was drawn to a fern lying above ground with its root upwards, and beside it a log of about three feet long which appeared to have been recently placed there. I went and examined the place. I first saw the dead body a little above the hips at the back; the body was lying on its face. I came to this part of the body after removing about half-an-inch of earth and leaves with which it was covered. There was no more over this portion of the body than half-an-inch of soil. I scratched off the soil with my finger, and came upon the body. Constable Martens then came up with the party. We then uncovered the body by removing all the rubbish. The man was lying on his face. On turning him over, I considered he had been strangled, because his chest and neck were all discolored under the skin. I did not see any other marks on the body. His left boot was lying under him, near to his head, and his hat towards his feet."
The medical evidence pointed to death by strangulation; and the Jury returned a verdict that "James Battle had been wilfully murdered, on Tuesday, 12th June, 1866.
Battle was an old whaler, originally from Tasmania, and on his way to Nelson to get a ship to return to that colony. His body
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was buried in tthe same grave that contained the remains of the four unfortunate men who were murdered the day after his life was taken.
DISTRIBUTION OF THE GOVERNMENT REWARD TO THE SEARCH VOLUNTEERS.
On Thursday, July 5, the Volunteers engaged in the search for the bodies assembled at the Trafalgar Hotel, where the reward offered by the Provincial Government for finding the bodies was distributed to them, by the hands of Mr. Saxton, captain of the Search Party, and the members of the Committee. The Provincial Government in acknowledgement of the good taste displayed by the Search Volunteers in refusing the reward of £200, offered by Mr Kempthorne for finding his brother's body,--handsomely increased the Government reward from £400 to £500, and this was divided equally among the men. After the distribution of the reward, the men met the members of the Search Committee, and were addressed by Dr. Williams, the Chairman, who narrated what had been done; and gave deserved praise to the men for their ready service, and the sacrifices which so many of them had made. Mr. Saxton also addressed the Volunteers, as did also Mr. Kempthorne; who preferred his warmest thanks, as well as those of his widowed mother in England.
The Volunteers at once subscribed £25 towards the erection of a suitable monument to the memory of the murdered men.
The Search Committee, during the time the men were at the camp, kept them supplied with provisons, at times a thing not easily accomplished, when the rains swelled the rivers into torrents, and rendered the steep and narrow mountain pass more than usually difficult for the pack-horses which carried the stores. The expenditure of the Committee, including the Provincial Government reward, was over £1100.
A CONFESSION BY BURGESS.
The men were remanded by the Resident Magistrate from time to time, until, on 2nd August, Sullivan was put in the witness box as approver; and Burgess, Kelly, and Levy, only were placed in the dock. After his evidence was given, the Magistrate after giving the three men the usual caution, as to the use that would be made of any statement they might make, asked them if they wished to say anything.
Burgess replied: I reserve what I have to say, Sir, at the trial before the Judge.
Kelly said: I know nothing about it; I am innocent.
Levy said; I have nothing to say at present, Sir.
Burgess spoke in a slightly tremulous tone Kelly with a clear, gentle, and soft voice, like that of a woman's, and Levy gave his brief announcement with an off-hand and almost jaunty air.
These three were then fully committed for trial for the murder of Kempthorne and his companions. All four were then put in the dock, charged with the murder of James Battle, and were remanded for a week.
The most astonishing and least expected proceeding on the part of any of the prisoners, took place when they were finally brought up on remand on 9th August, in the case of Battle's murder. This was nothing less than a confession of a most remarkable character by Burgess; a confession in which he sought to clear Levy and Kelly from all participation in the murders, and to implicate only himself and Sullivan in all these crimes. The confession was read by him from a paper written in prison. It breathes the strongest vindictive feeling towards Sullivan, while at the same time professing to be the statement of a repentant and contrite sinner trusting to the blood of Jesus for mercy.
The confession by Burgess, probably unprecedented in its character in the history of great crimes, is given below in connection with the proceedings, which on that occasion took place before John Poynter, Esq., the Resident Magistrate of Nelson, and other Justices of the Peace.
For full and minute details of all the incidents connected with these terrible events the reader is referred to the complete and accurate report of the trial of the murderers, which commenced at Nelson, on Monday, 12th September, 1866, before His Honor Alexander J. Johnston, Judge of the Supreme Court of New Zealand, who held a special sitting to try the men for the murders with which they were charged.
They applied for a Special Jury to try them, a request which was granted by the Judge, and the following Special Jurors were summoned:--
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A. B. Bain
W. H. Barlow
J. F. A. Kelling
H. H. Knowles
N. T. Lockhart
D. M. Luckie
R. R. Morton
J. M. Pearson
R. M. Paton
S. H. Pike
H. Redwood, jun.
G. W. Schroder
H. H. Stafford
H. E. Thompson
W. H. Turner
C. B. Wither
Before proceeding to the narrative of the trial, chronological precedence is given to the wild, untrustworthy, and blasphemous confession of Burgess, as delivered by him in the Magistrate's Court, a report of which is appended:--
"THE CONFESSION OF BURGESS, THE MURDERER."
Written in my dungeon drear this 7th of August, in the year of Grace, 1866. To God be ascribed all power and glory in subduing the rebellious spirit of a most guilty wretch, who has been brought, through the instrumentality of a faithful follower of Christ, to see his wretched and guilty state, inasmuch that hitherto he has led an awful and wretched life, and through the assurance of this faithful soldier of Christ, he has been led, and also believes that Christ will yet receive and cleanse him from all his deep-dyed and bloody sins. I lie under the imputation which says, "Come now and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they he red like crimson, they shall be as wool." On this promise I rely. He has told me Christ will pardon me, when deeply dyed with the blood of my fellow creatures. He has shown me the inestimable value to be derived from fleeing from the wrath to come. He tells me that in order to attain this, I must unburden myself before God, just as a guilty wretch. He says that Christ will cleanse me, if I will but go to him with a humble and contrite heart, of the enormities of the unheard-of crimes of which I have been guilty. Thus humbled, I will now unfold to you the heinous sins that have been committed on the part of the prisoner Sullivan. He has been guilty, in order to save his miserable and wretched life by trying to sacrifice the lives of others to save his own. But it shall not be done. Justice shall be done, and the murdered men who have been sent hurriedly out of this world at the expense of my own immolation on the altar of justice, and the lasting execration and odium of my fellow creatures, while time continues, a as most bloody murderer. Therefore, all you that are here assembled, listen! and while you listen, weep! The confession of the murders of these men, who have been foully murdered among you. Before bringing the bloody drama before you as it was enacted, you must accompany me in my revelations from the time I first saw prisoner Sullivan. It will only be a synoptical view I shall now give you, because it is very distressing to me to furnish you more, for I have not the facilities afforded me even to give you this; for it is written in the dark, and on my knees, so that you will only have a brief account: but it is the truth you will thus have, for I have no further motive than the furtherance of justice in this my bloody confession. It can do me no good in a wordly point of a view. It is not done thinking I should he able to spare this miserable life of mine. No; but the reward I look for on earth is the execrations of my fellow creatures while the world continues. I trust I shall be rewarded by God, and not by man, for I offer my vile body at any moment to atone for what I have done. But it is made to disabuse the public mind of a perjured and guilty statement of the prisoner Sullivan, and to spare the effusion of innocent blood from being shed, for the murderer Sullivan would go to any length to save his own life, since there is undeniable proof of his guilt. I will now proceed to put you in possession of the truth.
I was walking in the streets of Hokitika one day with Kelly, when he drew my attention to a man who passed us. He said, "I think I know that fellow; if so, he is an old schoolmate of mine. His name is Sullivan." He said, "such a character!" No more was then said; but in a few days Kelly came to me, and said, "I was right the other day, that was the same party. I left him just now at the Rose, Thistle, and Shamrock Hotel; come up," which I did; and then I saw Sullivan sitting in the parlor. We amused ourselves by playing at cards for the most part of the evening, when Sullivan began playing a man for money. Sullivan began cheating--words ensued between them. They went outside to fight, and Sullivan gave the man in charge for robbing him of half a sovereign. The man was locked up, and I said to him, what is this you have done? He said, "do you think I was going to let a wretch like that best me?" This was the beginning of our acquaintance. Shortly after this, we became on very intimate terms, so much so that he agreed with me to effect several robberies, two in particular, one being the banker at Ross town, Mr. Kerr, which was not accomplished. I may mention here, that Sullivan at the time of our first intimacy, showed me the bottle of strychnine mentioned in his statement. I said, "what made you bring the like of this?" He said, you do not know the value of this; who knows but we may require the like of this in some big thing we might do?" These were his words, as nearly as I can I recollect. The other robbery was Mr. Fox, the banker at the Grey. At this time I was meditating robbing the bank at Okarita, in order to effect which I said it would be necessary to procure some trooper's clothes. I watched my opportunity, and robbed the camp at Hokitika of the same. I took four revolvers and cases, sword-belts and cartouche sashes, with their pants, &c. After I effected this, I said I must, be very steady for some time, or else suspicion will fall on me. I said to provide against any accident happening through neglect or any other mishap, I should provide myself with a competent witness; so
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with that, I proposed taking the man Chamberlain, now in charge at Hokitika, to go and see the Maria ship as she lay on the beach a wreck, and on the way to find some of the property taken from the camp. This was done. On the way I kicked the sand where they were planted, and then Chamberlain picked them up, and gave them to me. I said "look about, there might he something else." Shortly after, I was taken on suspicion, and on searching my dwelling they found two revolver cases belonging to the camp. The revolvers I had lent that night, just before I was arrested for the robbery. At the investigation Sullivan came up with Chamberlain, and swore that he was with me when they were given to me by the latter, which resulted in my acquittal. This is but a specimen of his abilities. Since he has been in custody he has tried to make himself useful, at the sacrifice of all truth and justice, for he has given information against the said Chamberlain, whom we gulled into believing that he found those cases, which the man really thought he did. With him, he has charged Mr. Carr, the constable, against whom he had a greater antipathy than any man in the force. Perhaps this is the way he has chosen to pay him out. After I got discharged, I said I must leave Hokitika for a while, at all events; so with that we proposed going to the Grey. We arrived there on Saturday, 26th May. I took up my residence at the Provincial Hotel. Sullivan began drinking, and spent what money he had, which was very little. He left the Greymouth township on the Sunday night, and did not return till the Tuesday following, late in the day. During this time Mr. Dobson, the surveyor, was murdered. He came to town, and sent the man Wilson, now charged with the murder in Hokitika, of Mr. Dobson, to find me and tell me to go to the Bridge. I went to the Bridge indicated, and there I saw Sullivan. He told me they had made a great mistake in stopping a man whom they took for a banker, but who turned out to be only a surveyor. He said "he was such a nice young fellow, but after we stopped him we could not let him go, so I took him off the road about 200 yards, and there I "burked" him, meaning choked him. He said, laughing, as I was taking him into the bush, "Did you think I was a banker? Here is all I have--some £6 odd." He said, "I buried him, compass and all--he had a compass with him." He has since been found, I believe, by the murderer Sullivan telling where he was buried. Mark the atrocity of his acts. He has since charged an inoffensive man, Wilson, with complicity in the murder, who is as innocent as the babe on it's mother's breast. Sullivan said, "where is Tommy?" meaning Kelly. I said, "he's over at Cobden. "Well," he said, "what is to be done?" I told him that since he had been away, I had heard that there was a bank at the Buller, and I thought of sending for a man I knew at Hokitika, and ask him if he would come with us, and put the bulk of the notes away for us. He said, "a good idea," so with that I sent a note to Hokitika, there and then to Levy, asking him if he would come. He replied to the letter, that if it was worth while he would; and come he did. We shipped by the Wallaby, but before leaving I asked Sullivan how much money he thought we might want to take with us. He remarked, "oh, you've got plenty." I said when we got there, we might have to wait; I said, "I'll get £10 more, at all events." We arrived at the Buller, and found that it was untrue that there was a bank there, and so it was settled that we should go on to Nelson by the Wallaby, and from thence to Havelock, and so on to Picton. We came here, as you have heard, on the 6th June. We reached Canvastown, as you all know. But before leaving the Wallaby, Sullivan brought away with him the cook's large knife, which he charges Levy with doing. I asked him what he wanted with that tool; he said, "I'd sooner have it and a revolver than all the number of arms you could give me. Armed with these, I am a battery of defence," or something like it. After we reached Canvastown, I told Levy we should not go any further that day; so he might as well run up to Deep Creek, and see what sort of a place it was. He went; and after he had gone we learned that Havelock was such another place as Canvastown. We said, that is me, Sullivan, and Kelly, if we were going on to Picton it would not do to go by the road, for there were no wayfarers travelling, and the residents on the road took great notice of all who passed, so that the best thing we could do was to return to Nelson, and proceed by boat to Picton. This was settled. During the time Levy was away we ground the knives as Sullivan has said. In the evening I cleaned the guns and pistols, but did not load them as Sullivan swore. Levy returned on the Monday afternoon. He brought with him a paper, but for the life of me I can't say whether it was a Marlborough Press or not, I know it was a newspaper, and contained matter regarding the bank at Picton. I asked him what sort of a place it was where he had been to. He said it was a poor place, and that he saw fifty or sixty people there, he should imagine. He remarked that he knew many of them, and that he stopped at Mathieu's public-house, whom he also knew. He said Mathieu asked him during the evening how things were progressing on the West Coast, he told him; Mathieu's reply was that he was going to-morrow himself and some more friends; at the worst by Tuesday. I told Levy that we were going back to Nelson in the morning; that Picton was a good distance from there, further, I believed, than from Nelson. He lay down, when me, Sullivan, and Kelly went out, when I said, "we'll intercept these people on their way to Nelson; Levy says that the publicans and storekeepers carried everything in the buying line." I remarked another thing, "they are going to the West Coast, and it is ten to one but they will buy up all the gold they can." Kelly said, do no such thing; we did not come here to do that; you could have done that where you came from, with greater certainty of having something for your trouble." "Well," I said, "that's right enough, but we did not bring money sufficient with us; we may have to remain in Nelson a week, and then wait perhaps at Picton." He said, "I've got about £16 besides what you have, and that will see us over three or four weeks nicely." "Well," I said, "I shall put these people up, who will be any the wiser that it is me? I'll keep secluded after I've done it; so I'll do it." He (Kelly) said, "It's just like you, you won't be reasoned with. I should like before you set
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this road on fire, to be at Nelson." I said, "that you can do; these people don't leave till to-morrow; by that you can reach Nelson; we shall go as near it as possible." Sullivan said, "I think it is the best thing we can do, who knows what gold they might bring down with them, so Dick, you and I will do it. Let them go on to Nelson, it don't want us all." So the next morning we started. Sullivan said in his statement in Court, to save the boat-hire we waded through the river. Now in the first place there was no boat, but a Maori's canoe which could take only one of us over at a time in consequence of the then state of the river, which was that low that we crossed it without wetting our boots as high as the ancle. We all had big boots on. Mr. Jervis can disprove what Sullivan said about crossing the river, for he was looking at us. We proceeded on our way without anything happening, until we reached three miles on the Nelson side of the Pelorus Bridge, where we stopped and had some dinner. While having it an old man came by carrying a shovel. He was going on to Nelson. As he passed he gave us the time of day, and passed on. There was no remarks passed whatever about the old man after dinner, we proceeded on our way, Sullivan, as usual, in front. We went for some distance without stopping. In journeying on I walked principally with Kelly. He tried all he could to dissuade me from having anything to do with these men. I got offended at his continued importunities, so I went a-head and overtook Sullivan and the old man, who were sitting down near a bridge. I put my swag down which consisted of fire-arms, and joined them. Shortly after Kelly and Levy came up, and Kelly said, "Well, I'll wish you good-day." I said, "So long." Levy also said, "Good-bye master," meaning me. They then passed on. When they were gone, Sullivan remarked to me that he thought the old man "Held it," which is a cant term, meaning that he possessed something. I pooh-poohed it, he said, "Allow me to know, I see by the appearances." Shortly afterwards, the old man picked up his bit of a swag and went on. We followed not long after him. We went some distance, Sullivan still in advance a good way of me. When I came up with him he had overtaken the old man, who did not walk very fast. They were in serious conversation. I heard the old man, in reply to a question, say he had been working at Wilson's cutting flax up at so much the acre. The old man then proceeded up the range, when Sullivan said, "I don't like that old fellow; I noticed when I overtook him this last time, that he shifted the position of his knife; he partly knows who we are, so since we are going to do these people over [his very words], I think we had better prevent him from doing us any harm hereafter." I said, "Very well," so with that we put our swags in the bush, and turned back and met the old man coming up the range. Sullivan was in advance of me. He said to the old man, "Did you see a knife lying on the road, for I have lost mine out of my sash." He said, "No." By this time I was close up with him. I pulled out a pistol I had taken out of the swag, and which was empty, but I had put some pieces of paper in the chambers of the cylinder. I told him I thought he had some gold; he assured me had not. Sullivan said, "Let'see." He then caught him by the arm; at this the old man put his other hand to his knife, when I caught him by the wrist, and took it from him. [Here Burgess asked to be allowed to retire for a few minutes, and on returning resumed his statement as follows] I said, "Come down here," and he replied, "I won't;" and then sat on the ground. He said, "Are you going to murder me?" I said, "What an idea to enter your head; come on down the gully." He refused to go; then I took him by the throat, and he said, "I'll go; I'll go." So with that we took him down the hollow some sixty or eighty yards on the lower side of the road. The old man said, "If you murder me, I shall he foully murdered." We made him sit on the ground; I then took him by the throat, and held him till he was nearly dead. When I released my hold, the confined air or breath came bubbling up through his mouth. Then Sullivan drew his fist and gave him a severe blow on the abdomen. Sullivan, took the old man's shovel and raked a hole just below where the old man lay; we rolled him over, and he stopped in the hole with his face downwards. We covered him up and left him. When we regained the road,Sullivan said, "That's a bit of nasty work for nothing; but it is not for what he had; he might have done us a deal of mischief." We went about a mile, and then camped for the night at Franklyn's Flat, I believe it is called. We camped in one of the old skeletons of a former house; we had no tent, but the fly of one. Kelly and Levy had the tent; we had no billy, that also was with Kelly; we made shift with what we had; Before I lay down I loaded the guns and pistols. In the morning we started, early, towards Nelson. We went to where a rock crops out alongside the road; I must mention that this was the place we stopped at the first night we left Nelson for Canvastown. We put our swags in the bush, and cleared the place to take the horse off the road; we then took up our stations. Sullivan remained behind the rock, because that gave him a view of the road, the men were coming; he could see a distance of six hundred yards or more; he was looking, down a descent. I crossed the road and took up my position; I had command of the road from Nelson. We remained secreted for some time, when a horse came past; shortly after some men with cattle from Nelson, and then some Maoris on horseback. The day was getting advanced, when we changed positions in consequence of mine being in the shade, and Sullivan's, in the sun. We remained like this till Sullivan, came from his covert and said, "Here's a young woman and a fellow carrying a swag; I'll put them up." I said, "No." He said, "I will." I replied, "If you do----" with that they rose the incline, and came along. I wish to God I had let him stop them; these men would not have been murdered; but I should have shot Sullivan, for when he persisted in his demand, I rose my gun, and as sure as he had stopped them, he would have rolled over a dead man; for in my hand a gun is a formidable weapon of destruction. So, Ann Fulton, for such it was who passed, I saved you from a worse fate than death. But that would have followed. So when you hear the fate that you thus escaped, you, if no one else can speak, in the behalf of Burgess, the murderer, who now solicits
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your prayers on behalf of his guilty soul. [Here his voice shook.] After they passed, Sullivan remarked "You are a fellow!" I made some answer about mothers and sisters of our own. Shortly after a horseman was coming in the direction of Nelson; it was Mr. Birrell. We were getting impatient, when we saw four men and a pack-horse coming. I left my cover and had a look at the men, for Levy had told me that Mathieu was a small man and wore a large beard, and that it was a chestnut horse. I said, "Here they come." They were then a good distance away; I >took the caps off my gun, and put fresh ones on. I said, "You keep where you are, I'll put them up, and you give me your gun while you tie them." It was arranged as I have described. The men came; they arrived within about fifteen yards when I stepped out and said, "Stand! bail-up!" That means all of them to get together. I made them fall back on the upper side of the road with their faces up the range, and Sullivan brought me his gun, and then tied their hands behind them. The horse was very quiet all this time, he did not move. When they were all tied, Sullivan took the horse up the hill, and put him in the bush; he cut the rope and let the swags fall on the ground, and then came to me. We then marched the men down the incline to the creek; the water at this time barely running. Up this creek we took the men; we went I daresy five or six hundred yards up it, which took us nearly half-an-hour to accomplish. Then we turned to the right up the range; we went I daresay one hundred and fifty yards from the creek, and there we sat down with the men. I said to Sullivan, "Put down your gun and search these men," which he did. I asked them their several names; they told me. I asked them if they were expected at Nelson. They said, "No." If such their lives would have been spared. In money we took £60 odd. I said, "Is this all you have? You had better tell me." Sullivan said, "Here is a bag of gold." I said, "What's on that pack-horse? Is there any gold?" when Kempthorne said, "Yes, my gold is in the portmanteau, and I trust you will not take it all." "Well," I said, "We must take you away one at a time, because the range is steep just here, and then we will lot you go." They said "All right," most cheerfully. We tied their feet, and took Dudley with us; we went about sixty yards with him. This was through a scrub. It was arranged the night previously that it would be best to choke them, in case the report of the arms might be heard from the road, and if they were missed they never would be found. So we tied a handkerchief over his eyes, when Sullivan took the sash off his waist, put it round his neck, and so we strangled him. Sullivan after we had killed the old man, found fault with the way he was choked. He said, "The next we do I'll show you my way." I said, "I had never do no such a thing before. I have shot a man, but never choked one." We returned to the others when Kempthorne said, "What noise was that?" I said it was caused by breaking through the scrub. This was taking too much time, so it was agreed to shoot them. With that, I said, "we'll take you no further, but separate you, and then loose one of you, and he can relieve the others." So with that, Sullivan took De Pontius to the left of where Kempthorne was sitting. I took Mathieu to the right. I tied a strap round his legs, and shot him with a revolver. He yelled. I ran from him with my gun in my hand. I sighted Kempthorne, who had risen to his feet. I presented the gun, and shot him behind the right ear; his life's blood welled from him, and he died instantaneously. Sullivan had shot De Pontius in the meantime, and then came to me. I said, "look to Mathieu," indicating the spot where he lay. He shortly returned and said, "I had to 'chiv' that fellow, he was not dead," a cant word, meaning that he had to stab him. Returning to the road we passed where De Pontius lay and was dead. Sullivan said, "this is the digger, the others were all storekeepers; this is the digger, let's cover him up, for should the others be found, they'll think he done it and sloped," meaning he had gone. So with that we threw all the stones on him, and then left him. This bloody work took nearly an hour and a half from the time we stopped the men. Sullivan says, in his guilty statement, I returned in the space of a quarter of an hour; we could not reach the place where the men were murdered under that. We searched only the box, and there we found the gold belonging to Kempthorne, some 46 ounces. We had repacked the horse, when a horseman passed, going to Canvastown. I left the horse and went behind the rock, and then I saw a footman speak to the other. I heard the word "no." They then parted. The one passed in the direction of Nelson. I told Sullivan what I heard. We paid no attention to the men passing, because I asked the men if there was any one else belonging to them behind; they said no. We then led the horse on the road. We did not proceed far, when Sullivan threw the two shovels down the gully; one is our own, the other belonged to the old man whom we murdered. We went about half a mile, or it might be more. The reason we took the horse away thus was to mislead anyone from knowing the spot where the deed was done. On the road Sullivan threw the gun produced away. It was his own; he brought it with him to the Grey. He also put a shirt foul with the blood of Mathieu off the road, and hid it behind a dead log. It was nearly a new shirt, and had a slight rent or tear on the right arm.
Sullivan: I wish you would cause him to describe that rent.
Burgess: We took the horse down the gully, and then shot him. It was not Levy who was afraid to lead him down, but Sullivan. We then proceeded on the road. We did not stop till we reached the old chimney on the side of the Maungatapu range, where we had done these bloody deeds. Then we kindled a fire, not to make tea, as Sullivan had stated, but to read the letters and papers which we took from the men, which we kept kindled with the papers. There I undid the swags and put the gold in them, and threw the powder I had in my pocket away, and some pepper which was in the handkerchief with the remains of a cooked fowl, which we killed, belonging to the Maoris at Canvastown, in consequence of Mr. Jervis having no meat, Here he planted the satchel and gold-bags. We then journeyed on. When within a mile of the first accommodation house in Nelson, I heard some one
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speaking, when Kelly said, "Is that you, Dick?" I said, "Yes." I remarked, "How is it you did not reach Nelson?" He said, "I got too tired, and could go no further. So me and Phil (meaning Levy) drew in off the road, and covered ourselves in the bedding." Going along, Kelly asked me if I put the men up. I said, "Yes," but did not tell him I had murdered them. He said, "I did not like to be seen on the road, so I waited till it became dark, when I was going to start." he said, "how much did you get from them?" I said, "about £300." He said, "I would not have had it happen for as many thousands!" He said, "they (meaning the murdered men) will reach town to-morrow." It was arranged between me and Sullivan, before we came unexpectedly on these men, meaning Kelly and Levy, that when we reached town, I must take charge of Levy, in case these people should be missed. I said, "we can tell Tommy, meaning Kelly, that we put these people up; there is no fear of him,--besides, we shall be away as soon as possible. We must not let that Jew know anything. Do you know, Dick, (speaking to me), I don't like him, so we must mislead him, and tell him we put a fellow up, and got some gold"; accordingly, we did so. Levy never knew till he was arrested that the men had been murdered. Coming to town, a man came out of the accommodation house, distant from Nelson about four miles, with a light in his hand, because his dogs gave the alarm of our coming. We hid ourselves, and he returned to the house. When we were passing the woman looked out, but without a candle in her hand. She called her little dog, and we passed by; but she could not tell if there were two or four men passed; but there were four. We reached town; we separated. I told them to meet me in the morning at the port. I asked Levy to take me to some retired place He said, "I am at a loss where to take you, as I am almost as great a stranger as yourself"; at all events, we went to the Italian's oyster saloon, kept by Leonard. Levy asked him, by way of introduction, how far it was to Collingwood. He then asked him about some acquaintance of his, and finally asked him if he could accommodate us with a lodging, which was accorded us after a little more conversation. In the morning I met Sullivan at the place appointed. I said, "we'll go and sell the gold; come on one side, and we'll alter the amount in the bags." I took one bag, and Sullivan the others. I took mine to the Bank of New South Wales in Trafalgar-street. I had on a dark reversible coat, and a plush hat. He went, I believe, to the Union Bank with his. We met, that is, me and Sullivan: he produced a bank receipt of the amount of his gold, which came to a hundred and odd pounds. He said they asked him where the gold came from. He said, "the Grey." He said he sold it under the assumed name of Clarence Evereste. I produced a bank receipt for the amount of gold I sold, which came to seventy odd pounds. They asked me no name, but where the gold came from. We met, that is, me and Sullivan; we divided the money. He said, "there is some more gold I kept back to sell with the large nuggets we got off the persons of those men. I'll go and sell them by and by, with the gold nuggets." I said, "all right; I'll go and change myself." With that, I had a bath, and altered the shape of my whiskers, which were at this time full all round my face. I got them split at the chin. I then cleaned myself, and we all met at the lower end of Bridge-street. I told them (the three other men) that where I sold the gold was the easiest place to be done that I ever saw. This you must understand to be the Bank of New South Wales. I said, "when the Airedale comes in we'll go to Taranaki and wait there a month, and come and do this in preference to the one at Picton." I gave Kelly £20; he said, "I don't want any yet." To Levy I gave £10, but not in the presence of the others. In the afternoon Sullivan came to me by appointment opposite the church in Trafalgar-street. He gave me about £20 as my portion of the remainder of the gold. He said they kept him a long time in consequence of the assayer being absent, and he valued the large gold at £3 13s. per ounce; the other I sold by itself. He said, "I have got too many sovereigns, I want two or three large notes; I want to send that woman of mine something,"--meaning an abandoned woman, who--
Sullivan (passionately): Do you tolerate this, your worship? Will you allow him to speak this way about my wife in my own presence?
The Resident Magistrate: Be quiet; he must make his statement, and you must not interrupt him.
Sullivan: Then your Worship had better order me out of Court.
Burgess: I do not mean his wife, your Worship; I have better sense than to speak thus of her. I mean a woman of infamous character, who came on board the ship with him, and with whom he had illicit commerce at Hokitika. I said, "I'll go to the bank, and get the notes, and see whether they know me or not." I returned, and told him they did not know me. "Know you!" he said, "your mother would not know you." We used to meet, as he said, of an evening, because I never left Levy for two minutes together all the time we were in town. During these meetings, Kelly said to me, "There is nothing about that bit of work." I said, "Oh, they are keeping it quiet." I silenced Levy the same way if ever he alluded to the fellow I put up. Things continued at this till the Monday morning, when Sullivan walked into the Oyster Saloon, and beckoned me out. I followed him out. There was Kelly, on the other side of the road. He motioned me over, and we went as far as Mr. Edwards' store. He said he was in Dupuis', the barber's, getting shampooed, when he heard the sergeant telling the barber about these men being missed. He said, "What did you do with them, Dick?" Sullivan said, "What odds? let them find them; who knows it's us? was nobody, else on the road?" I returned to my lodgings and had breakfast. I kept Levy in the house till dinnertime. I then took him out in the suburbs, and we sat down on the grass till nearly dusk. I saw Sullivan again in the evening, in the absence of the others. He said, "It's all right. Owens, the landlord of the Mitre Hotel, has quashed it altogether. He suspects three Italians; so he has sent a telegram to intercept them: they are supposed to have gone in the Kennedy." That night, just before going to bed. Levy said, "Will you take a glass of porter, master, before you go to bed?" He did not return. I went to bed, and fell asleep waiting for him. I never missed
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him till the morning. I cleaned myself and went down town, and then I saw Sullivan. He was the first who told me about Levy being apprehended. He said Owens described him as a dark looking ruffian. I said, "Where is Tommy?" meaning Kelly. He said, "He is gone with Potter for a ride; I am going too; there is a horse left for me in the stable."
I left him, and saw him soon after on the Waimea-road, riding a eream-colored pony. He said, "You might as well come for a ride." I said, "I want to see Tommy, for I think we had better go; you don't know what might happen." With this I went and got a horse, and we went as far as the Plough Inn, and remained there some time to kill the day. On the road thither we stopped at the turnpike gate, when I threw down a shilling for the toll of the horses. A woman picked it up off the ground, and asked us, in the presence of a young man whom I took to be her son, if there was any news about these unfortunate men? We said one man was arrested, being a suspected party. Further on the road I alighted at the first inn on the right-hand side (the Turf Hotel.) Up to this I rode the cream-colored pony. Sullivan had the bay horse hired for me. I asked for two glasses of ale; it was brought by the landlord. The landlady, came to the door, and said, "Any news about these men?" when Sullivan said, "It's all moonshine; they may have gone overland to the Buller or elsewhere." The landlady said it was very wrong of them if such was the case, and they ought to be severely punished for upsetting the public mind. We started from the Plough, where Mr. Potter came by in his gig, driving his wife, child, and Kelly with him. I rode my horse ahead because Sullivan stopped with them. I returned the horse, and paid the hire. I asked what was the pay? The livery stable-keeper said 12s. 6d.. I said, "The horse has only been as far as the Plough, and there he has been baited." He said, "Well, give me half-a-guinea," and added, "you were not the gentleman who hired the horse." I said, "No, it was Mr. Symons." I said, "We want two horses to-morrow." He said, "I'll let you have two fresh ones." Sullivan came on with Kelly to Collingwood-street bridge. I told them since "Phil," meaning Levy, was taken, it would not do for me to return to my lodgings. Kelly said, "Well, I shall stop where I am." I shook hands with him, and told Sullivan to come with me to see if there was any suspicion of me where I lodged. I then left. Sullivan came after me at a great distance; I felt piqued that he did not come quicker. I saw a constable in disguise pretending to light his pipe. The constable is Mr. Murphy. I knew his mission; I was aware who he was. Sullivan came by; I allowed him to pass.. He crossed the road and moved on. I could see I was surrounded. Murphy stopped Sullivan, and asked him to go to the Oyster Saloon to fetch one of the Italians to see if I was the man that lodged there. This Sullivan told me the next day in the watchhouse. Sullivan left, pretending to go with the message. He went down the street instead of coming over to me and telling me. Shortly after I was arrested not far from the station. I had no arms with me, or you would never have been put in possession of the foul and bloody way we effected those murders. Sullivan said in his statement I removed my arms from the Italian the night Levy was taken. I planted them the first night I came in town. They will be found where the cottages are newly erected; at the end of the last one there is a gorse bush; there is an opening in the bush about twelve feet from the fence fronting the cottage. They consist of a double-barrelled gun, one revolver, one-pound canister of powder, rolled up in an oilcloth. When we were all at the watchhouse they removed Levy, when Sullivan said, "I was not far wrong about that bloody Jew." I said, "I am surprised at you not knowing better. It's only a ruse on the part of the police, to create a misunderstanding among us; and another thing, if he does suspect we killed those men, he'll put his foot in it if he opens his mouth." The day after we were in the watchhouse, the bill reporting the murder of Mr. Dobson was put up on the door. I read it aloud. I was cognisant of the murder of Mr. Dobson. Two days after the man Stone arrived he was put in the same cell with Levy. He told him it was reported in the papers that me and Kelly and Sullivan were supposed to have murdered him, which account was borne out by Constable O'Brien, who said there was a warrant issued for our arrest. Sullivan said, "I blame the man Wilson for this." The night Levy was removed the bill was torn down, and another one put in its place. When we got up in the morning I said, "What have we here? here's a rum affair!" for you could not speak without the constables hearing you, so I made little of it. I read it. I remarked to Sullivan, "Now what do you think of the Jew?" Shortly after he said he would write to his wife. He was let out for that purpose--
The Resident Magistrate: If this is to go on much longer I must adjourn the court until to-morrow. I don't see the use of all this.
Burgess: I am nearly done, your worship.
Mr. Pitt: He has only half a page to read; but he is in your worship's hands, and if you think proper to stop his statement, of course you can do so.
Sullivan: I wish to reply to some parts of this in a few words, sir.
Mr. Sharp: Oh, you can't reply.
Burgess continued: He was let out for that purpose when he made that guilty and bloody statement. I have now finished this awful version. Let me again repeat my motive in making it. It is that the red-handed bloody murderer, my confrere in these bloody deeds, shall not abuse the public mind by sacrificing the innocent lives of others for what he has done. By giving credence to his guilty statement, justice is outraged, innocent blood is spilt, and the clemency of the crown is abused. Mark the victim he is about to sacrifice, who by my just and offended God is innocent of those men's blood; and had I been persuaded by him (Kelly I mean), the men would have been alive this day. Levy was a man we brought with us for another thing, and by my eternal damnation hereafter if I lie does he know any thing about it. He was the cause of their being murdered,-- but it was the innocent cause, for after it was done he was not made a confidant of Chamberlain at Hokitika, he is innocent. Wilson for the murder of Dobson, there never was greater villany enacted towards one fellow against another than to charge him with com-
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plicity in this deed. I trust before the coming trial, if the Government will but show itself desirous to see the innocent righted, I shall be able to prove, by competent witnesses, that the man Wilson is innocent with that he is charged. Why has he (Sullivan) made these people his victims? It is because there is undeniable proof of his own guilt. There is his shirt, foul with blood, on the road; the gun which the Government may be able to trace to him, and the bankers where he sold the ill-gotten gold, all which he knew would come against him. I was nearly forgetting to repeat the innocence of Mr. Carr, the constable. I bore him enmity once, but I forgive him. And what is my reward for all this disclosure that I have made to you? Oh! God, assist me in my hour of need, for I have incurred their everlasting curses, by thus unfolding my guilty conscience to my fellow men. But what care I what they may say, or do to me, if I can attain God's blessed forgiveness for these my bloody crimes? All you who acknowledge God as your Father in heaven, pray to His dear Son on my behalf. Amen.
Thus closed the statement, the dictation of which occupied fully five hours. It was delivered throughout in a clear and distinct voice, and save one exception near the close, without a quiver in the tone.
During the delivery of the statement, Mr. Poynter several times interrupted Burgess, saying that the matter was not relevant; that he was not making a statement, but going into an argument; and that this should be reserved for his trial. It did not concern his case to bring in about these men at Hokitika.
Burgess said it did concern his case, as he was accused of robbery at Hokitika; and as he was arrested here, he had no opportunity of making a statement there.
Mr. Poynter permitted the statement to on go to its close.
Next day (Friday, 10th August) the prisoners were brought up. Burgess's statement was read over to him and was declared by him to be correct; upon which he signed a paper, remarking as he did so, "I have signed my own death warrant." His signature to this document is singular, the name being reversed "Burgess Richard" instead of "Richard Burgess."