Alpin Macpherson, alias James Macpherson, commonly known as the “Wild Scotchman”, was brought up in custody of the charge of being a Crown prisoner illegally at large; having escaped from the custody of the police at Port Mackay, on the 10th July last, while being conveyed to Rockhampton gaol, to the safekeeping of which he had been committed by the Bowen Bench on a charge of attempt to murder.
Acting Superintendent Ware deposed that he was in charge of the police at Gladstone in May last; prisoner was given into my custody, as one Kerr, alias Jack Bruce, on a charge of attempted murder of a publican named Willis, at Houghton River in the Kennedy District. He was forwarded to Bowen in the custody of Detective Lyons, and committed for trial on that charge; I produce a warrant signed by Phillip Pinnock, the police magistrate of Bowen, in which he was committed; in July I received a telegram that prisoner had made his escape at Port Mackay on the 10th of that month; I produce the Police Gazette containing a description of the prisoner and offering a reward for his apprehension; I positively swear the prisoner is the same person as that described in the Gazette and the warrant.
The prisoner, having been asked if he had anything to say to the charge, replied, “Not At present”.
The Bench: The prisoner is remanded to Brisbane Gaol, to be dealt with on the charge.
Acting sub-inspector Ware deposed: I know the prisoner; from Information received on the 31st March last, I sent two constables to Gingin station; the information was received between ten and eleven o’clock in the morning; they were despatched immediately after; I followed myself the nest morning, and met the prisoner in charge of two constables at Eureka station, in the Wide Bay district, and brought him on to the lockup at Maryborough; it was Monday evening, the 2nd April, when we arrived.
Edward Armitage deposed: I am a mailman engaged in conveying the mail from Maryborough to Gladstone and back; I remember last Friday week, the 30th March; I was conveying the mail on that day from Maryborough to Gladstone, on horseback; about three o’clock in the afternoon, I reached Gin Gin, and heard a report there that a man, supposed to be the “Wild Scotchman”, had been seen that morning; I left Gin Gin between three and four o’clock with Mr. Gadsden and Mr. John Walsh; Mr. Gadsden said, I thought in a joke, they would go with me to escort the mail; I did not see if they had any arms with them; we proceeded on the road together, until within three quarters of a mile from Munduran Station; they were about a hundred yards ahead of me when I saw a man, named Mitchell, on the road, who works at Munduran Station; he asked me what sort of man this was ahead of us; I asked him to describe the man, and he said he had a double-barrelled gun, and had red hair; I asked him if he carried revolvers, and he said he did; I suspected he was the “Wild Scotchman”, and I rode on and overtook Gadsden and Walsh, and told them of my suspicions; they directly after galloped off for Munduran, and got there before me; when I arrived at Munduran, I found them making preparations for pursuit, getting fresh horses and firearms; they told me they had met a man they supposed to be the “Wild Scotchman” on the road; Messrs. Nott, Currie, Gadsden, Walsh, and myself, then went in pursuit of the prisoner; we overtook him about four miles from Munduran, on the road to Kolonga, on horseback, leading a pack-horse; as soon as he saw us coming on behind him, he started off at a gallop; we all set off full gallop after him, until he let go his pack-horse, when someone called out, “Catch the pack-horse”, and I went after it and caught it; when I joined the party again, the prisoner had surrendered; they were two or three hundred yards in advance of me when they took him; we took him to Munduran; before we got to Munduran, I saw prisoner searched by Mr. Walsh and one of the others, and saw a pair of pistols (I believe, those now produced), taken from him; he had also a lot of cigars and some money; prisoner said if he had been better mounted and armed, he would not have been captured; he talked a great deal, he said he had not intended robbing the mail that time; I did not see the pack-horse again; it was brought in afterwards; two special constables came from Gin Gin to Munduran, to take charge of the prisoner; I knew the prisoner before; I had seen him in March last, on the occasion of sticking-up the Gladstone mail in the Port Curtis district
By the prisoner: Mitchell told me the man had red hair; I asked if he carried revolvers; when I came up to the party you had surrendered; you were not bound or secured in any way; I bound you.
John Walsh (not the person who assisted in the capture, though of the same name) deposed: I am an assistant in the post office at Gayndah; it is part of my duty to deliver the mail bags to the mailman; I remember despatching the mail to Maryborough on the 27th November last; there was, on that day, one large bag for Maryborough, with a small one enclosed for Brisbane, besides loose letters for the road; I produce a copy of the letter, bill of letters despatched that day; I find there were 7 registered letters, one of them was a parcel of deeds, addressed to Mr. Donnelly, Queen Street, Brisbane; the bags were secured with twine, and were sealed with wax, and were given in charge to John Hickey, the mailman, between six and seven o’clock in the morning; I received intelligence of this mail being robbed, by a telegram, from Golden Fleece or Maryborough; I am not quite certain which.
By the Bench: I received the telegram the day of the robbery. (The mailman, John Hickey, not having arrived, the bench adjourned the further hearing of the case, at one o’clock, until three o’clock in the afternoon; and witness not then having arrived, it was further adjourned until six o’clock.)
John Hickey was then called upon and deposed: I am engaged at Wonbah Station in the Burnett district; I remember the 27th November last; I was engaged on that day in carrying the mail from Gayndah to Golden Fleece, on the Maryborough road; I received the mail bags into my charge at the post office, Gayndah, between six and seven o’clock in the morning of that day; I cannot say positively who gave the mail to me; there was one large bag, and one inside it; the bag was sealed in the usual way; it was about eight in the morning when I started on horseback; I had reached about a mile and a half the Gayndah side of Mrs. Irwin’s public-house, a man rode up to me as I was going up a big hill; he presented a revolver at me, and told me to “pull up”; he was alone; he came off the ridge towards me, and said, “come into the bush, I want to see if there is a letter for the ‘Wild Scotchman’;” he said, “I won’t take you far”; I went with him into the bush about two or three hundred yards; he told me to take the mail bags off the horse; I dismounted and took the mail bags off, and laid them down; the prisoner opened them with a knife; I am certain prisoner is the man I have been describing; some of the letters had money in then, cheques and notes; the prisoner took the cheques and notes, and laid them beside him; he took them away with him; after abstracting the money from the letters, he returned to me the empty envelopes and the letters; I put them into the bag, and went on to Golden Fleece; the period from the time prisoner pointed the pistol at me, occupied about an hour; I was somewhat alarmed, but the prisoner made no threats which led me to believe he would injure me; the only other property prisoner took away was my knife; we both left the spot at the same time, but in opposite directions; I arrived at the Golden Fleece after dark; as soon as I arrived at the Golden Fleece, I sent a telegram to the Sub-inspector of Police, Gayndah, of the robbery; besides the revolver, prisoner carried a double-barrelled gun.
By the Bench: He opened the letters with a knife; as he opened them, laid them in a heap; I cannot say whether he put the notes and cheques in his pocket or valise; when we first met he presented a revolver at me, and ordered me to pull off the road; he used no threats; I am certain it was a revolver he presented at me; when he presented the revolver I was in fear of my life, and acted under that fear; I saw the money and cheques in the prisoner’s hands.
By the prisoner: I had just gained the top of the hill when you presented the revolver at me; the man who met me did not come up the road, but crossed me on the road coming up the hill before me.
The prisoner, having been cautioned that anything he might say would be taken down in writing and used as evidence, replied that he had nothing to say at present. Prisoner was them committed on the charge to Brisbane Gaol, to await his trial at the Maryborough Circuit Court, on Thursday the 13th day of September next.
The same prisoner was further charged with robbing the mail to Gayndah on the 28th November last.
James Halcro Robertson, postmaster, Maryborough, deposed: I remember making up the mail to Gayndah on 27th November last; I despatched on that day one bag containing letters and papers, also a bag enclosed from Brisbane, besides eight private bags; I produce a copy of the letter-bill of the letters despatched that day; the letters in the private bags are not counted; there was one registered letter; the bags were secured with twine, and sealed with the office seal, and delivered to the mailman, Williamson; he left Maryborough with them at noon on horseback; I received a telegram from the Golden Fleece that the mail had been robbed, and also an official letter from the Gayndah postmaster by return mail, that all the letters, with the exception of three had been opened, and that the registered letter had not come to hand.
By the Bench: I received the telegram on the 28th November, informing me of the robbery, and the official notice by the return mail; I know nothing of the contents of the Brisbane bag.
William Henry Williamson deposed: I am now a sawyer at Gayndah, but was formerly engaged as a mailman between Maryborough and the Golden Fleece; I was so engaged on the 27th November last; I remember that day receiving a bag from Mr. Robertson for Gayndah, and seven or eight station bags; they were received in the usual way, tied and sealed; I left Maryborough with them at noon that day; I delivered the bags that evening at the Golden Fleece, after sundown; I delivered them to John Hickey, the Gayndah mailman, and he delivered me the down mail – one bag of letters, the seal of which had been broken; he told me the mail had been robbed by the Wild Scotchman.
John Hickey deposed: I was engaged on the 27th November last in conveying the mail between the Golden Fleece and Gayndah; I remember receiving the mail bags from Williamson at that place for Gayndah, on the night of the 27th ; there was one large bag and three station bags delivered to me; I left the Golden Fleece with the bags on the morning of the 28th, on horseback; I went on until I had got five or six miles on the Gayndah side of Mrs. Irwin’s public house, when the prisoner rode up to me, and presented a double-barrelled gun at me, and told me to pull up; I pulled up; he then ordered me off the road, and said he should take me further off the road than he did yesterday, for he had seen the police about that morning; he took me about a quarter of a mile into the bush; I dismounted, and he ordered me to take the mail bags off; I took the mail bags off the horse and laid them down, and prisoner cut the seal of the bag with a knife; he then took all the letters out of the bag, and opened them with a knife; I saw him take a post-office order or cheque out of one letter; I did not see him take anything out of the other letters; prisoner made no observations when he took the letters; he told me to pick up the letters again and put them in the bag; he took two or three saddle straps and a stirrup and iron belonging to the mail contractor, from me; I was about half an hour with prisoner altogether; I can positively swear the prisoner is the man who robbed me; he had a revolver and a double-barrelled gun; he made use of no threats; I was in a state of alarm, and felt I should not have been safe of my life if I resisted giving him the mail; it was under that fear I gave up the property entrusted to me; after I had put the letters in the bag, I put the bag on the horse and took them on to Gayndah, and delivered them at the post office about six o’clock on the evening of the same day.
By the bench: The prisoner took the cheques or post office order with him.
This concluded the case. The prisoner said he had nothing at present to say, and was committed to Brisbane gaol for safe custody until brought up for trial at the Circuit Court at Maryborough, on the 13th September next.