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Russian’s death was justifiable homicide

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Friday 19 October 1934, The Sydney Morning Herald

RUSSIAN SHOT.
Coroner's Verdict.
"JUSTIFIABLE HOMICIDE."
HIGH PRAISE FOR CONSTABLE.

WALCHA, Thursday.

The Coroner gave a verdict of justifiable homicide at the inquest into the death of Paul Alexander Harrast, alias Romnick, who was shot by Constable J. E. Gilroy at Nowendoc on October 5. He praised the work of the police, and Superintendent O’Brien, of Tamworth, said, in reply, that Constable Gilroy had upheld the best traditions of the police.

In evidence, Sergeant Schrader said that Harrast was a well-known and dangerous criminal.

Constable Gilroy, who is stationed at Nowendoc, said that, with other police, he had been searching for Harrast, who was wanted by the police for a series of robberies. About 8 a.m. on October 5, he saw Harrast about two miles and a half on the western side of Nowendoc. Harrast was behind a log. sitting on a chaff bag which contained a number of articles that had been stolen. He rode up to Harrast, who said, “You can’t take me.” Owing to the boggy nature of the ground and the heavy timber, he had to dismount to follow Harrast on foot.

“I came to within nine or 10 feet of him and told him that he had better surrender,” Constable Gilroy proceeded. “He then picked up a stick and struck at me over his head. He held the stick in his left hand and put his right hand towards his hip pocket. He said. ‘If you come another step towards me, I will shoot you stone dead. I have a better revolver than you have.’ At the time he was infuriated. I knew he had been armed, as he had never been seen without firearms. I dodged the attack with the stick, and could see that he intended to inflict harm on me. I drew my revolver, and said, ‘If you don’t surrender, I will be forced to shoot you.’ I fired one shot over his head, which made him more furious. He grabbed the stick with both hands and came towards me. I fired a second shot. The bullet struck him, and he dropped. I had been warned not to try to arrest him by myself, as he had said he would shoot the first policeman or civilian who interfered with him.”

Constable Gilroy added that he saw Sergeant Schrader take a revolver from Harrast’s right hip pocket.

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Written by macalba

July 26, 2010 at 8:09 pm

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Russian’s body exhumed

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Monday 8 October 1934, The Sydney Morning Herald

RUSSIAN'S DEATH.
BODY EXHUMED
AT REQUEST OF POLICE.

The body of Gustav Romnick, alias Alexander Harrast, 45, the Russian who was shot dead by Constable Gilroy at Nowendoc, near Walcha on Friday last was exhumed by the police yesterday.

The inquest into the man’s death will be continued and the finding that the district coroner (Mr. F. Townsend) intended to send to the authorities that the constable had fired in execution of his duty will be withheld until further evidence had been brought forward.

Following the exhumation of the body the man’s fingerprints were taken and sent to Sydney to establish beyond doubt that the dead man was Romnick.

The police, it is understood, consider that Gilroy’s courage and resource when he encountered the dead man should be recognised. Fresh evidence will probably be tendered proving conclusively that Romnick was an armed and desperate man and, when Gilroy confronted him, was about to raid a nearby settler’s camp.

Evidence was concluded at the inquest on Saturday; then, on the application of the police, the inquiry was again adjourned until a date to be fixed.

EVIDENCE AT INQUEST.

When the inquest was resumed on Saturday, Sergeant L. Schrader said that, in response to a telephone message received at Walcha police station on Wednesday last that a robbery had been committed at Tia River on the previous day, he went with Constable Worrall to Tia thence to Nowendoc.

“By the way that the robbery was carried out,” said witness, “I presumed that the perpetrator was a criminal known as Gustav Romnick,, who had been operating in the district for the past few weeks. I had been searching for the man since Wednesday and I received word that he was seen on the Nowendoc River that morning. I instructed Constable Gilroy to go to the west of Nowendoc and Constable Worrall to go to the south. I went in a northerly direction.

“About 8 a.m. I heard two revolver shots about a mile from where I was. Ten minutes later Constable Gilroy informed me that he had come in contact with Romnick, and, after a skirmish, he had fired one shot over his head and a second shot at him to try to wound him, but that the second shot had entered his chest and he was dead. I recognised the clothing on him as stolen property and recognised him as Gustav Romnick.”

Constable F. Worrall said that he had been in pursuit of Romnick for some time for robberies in the Walcha district.

“On September 22, with Mr. M. A. Crawford, of Moona Plains station,” said witness, “I came in contact with Romnick in a creek near the Apsley River. He was then armed with a pea-rifle and a sheath knife, and was carrying a chaff bag containing stolen property. When I endeavoured to arrest him, he ran off in the thick undergrowth and escaped. I called on him to stop, saying that I was a member of the police force, and would shoot, but this did not deter him from getting into the gorges.”

Written by macalba

July 25, 2010 at 8:02 pm

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Russian shot near Nowendoc

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Saturday 6 October 1934, The Sydney Morning Herald

RUSSIAN SUSPECT
Shot Dead by Constable
IN SELF-DEFENCE.

Constable James Ernest Gilroy, in defence of his life, shot and killed Gustave Romnick, a Russian, about two miles from Nowendoc, near Walcha, early yesterday morning.

Constable Gilroy fired to protect himself after Romnick, whom he had challenged, drew a revolver and threatened him with a huge cudgel.

Constable Gilroy fired a shot to frighten the infuriated man, but it did not check his progress, and, fearing for his life, the constable fired again. The Russian fell dead, shot through the heart.

For many months isolated homes and camps in the rugged district had been ransacked in the absence of their owners. Rabbiters’ gear was stolen, tents were destroyed, and provisions and rugs were taken from outlying homes. On several occasions a powerful Russian, a comparative newcomer in the district, was in the vicinity after the thefts, but invariably he evaded capture. The man had armed himself with a rifle and a huge sheath knife, and camped in the hills, moving rapidly around the district by night, and descending upon the unoccupied homes as soon as he saw their owners leave for their day’s work.

Recently a rabbiter returned to his tent earlier than usual, and saw the Russian emerging from it laden with his week’s provisions. He ran over to his camp, but the Russian immediately dropped the goods, and threatened the owner with a revolver. He then escaped.

Outlying residents were terror-stricken, and numerous complaints were made to the police. The district was repeatedly scoured by mounted men, but the Russian’s hiding-place could never be discovered, so rapidly did he move after his depredations.

Three days ago, Sergeant Schroeder, of Walcha, organised a comprehensive search of the neighbourhood, and, together with Constables Gilroy and Worrall, took provisions sufficient to last them for a week. They were determined not to return until they had captured the marauder.

Gradually they narrowed down the search. Every night they met, but no fires were lit, for fear of attracting the attention of their quarry, whom they were certain was in the vicinity.

SEARCH IN BUSH.

Before daybreak yesterday morning they separated again. All were on horseback. The section searched by Constable Gilroy was covered with thick scrub and undergrowth. Suddenly Gilroy saw a man slinking through the scrub, making for cover in the thick timber. He wheeled his horse to cut him off. Then he jumped from his horse. “I want you,” he said.

Romnick made a dash for the bush, shouting: “You can’t take me.”

“If you move again I’ll shoot you,” shouted the constable.

“Come another yard and I’ll shoot you stone dead. I have a better revolver than you,” Romnick taunted. He rushed towards the policeman, brandishing his revolver. Gilroy fired to frighten the man, and to attract the attention of the other police. The Russian raised his revolver, and again Gilroy fired, this time with the intention of wounding the man. The bullet struck Romnick in the chest, and he crashed to the ground dead. The other police heard the reports, and arrived a few minutes later. The body was taken to Nowendoc, where it was viewed by the coroner and a doctor.

“I fired the second shot to protect my own life,” Gilroy told the coroner at the inquest yesterday afternoon. “I did not intend to kill him, but only to wound him, so that I could easily arrest him. I knew at the time that he was Gustave Romnick, and that he was a dangerous criminal.”

Written by macalba

July 24, 2010 at 8:06 pm

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News from Nowendoc

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Tuesday 5 August 1873, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

NOWENDOC.

FATAL ACCIDENT.—An accident, resulting in the
death of a young man named James McCane, occurred
at this place on the evening of Sunday the 20th July,
while attempting to cross over the river, although
the river was not flooded at the time. The party in
question made use of a small flat bottom canoe, which
he pushed out into deep water, and at the same time  
losing his balance, and upsetting the frail craft, was
at once in deep water. Being unable to swim, in a
very few seconds he disappeared, to rise no more.
This was witnessed by a few children and women,
who could render no assistance, until it was too late.
I may just mention the deceased was sober at the
time, and was well known in the neighbourhood for
his sober steady habits.

Gold digging is very slack just at this time, nothing
new found. Weather too cold and wet for prospect-
ing. About one hundred men are still at work, and
many of the diggers are busily collecting small stones,
which they believe to be diamonds. I am sorry to
say that they are not of that precious family, but the
common topaz, of various colours, and can be readily
scratched or cut with the real diamond.

Nowendoc, July 25th, 1873.

Written by macalba

March 29, 2010 at 6:06 am

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Mining report from Nowendoc

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Thursday 19 December 1872, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

NOWENDOC.

It has become a settled conviction that our diggings
are the most promising in the colonies, and that a
large amount of wealth lies hidden there. I am able
to report the finding of a nugget weighing 9 oz on
30th November, another on the same date 3 oz. 18
dwts , also one by J. R.'s party 2 oz. 6 dwts. 16 grs.,
another 2 oz 1 dwt, and several smaller ones from
1 oz. 10 dwts downwards. There is also in the
Manning News a positive assertion that a nugget
weighing 20 oz has been found, and a quartz reef
rich in gold, a specimen of which, about the size of
two pint pannikins and estimated to contain half-a-
pound of gold, had been seen by the writer. Now
whilst the probabilities are in favour of the truth of
these last reports, I can hear of no person on the
diggings who has the slightest knowledge of
the fact of the gold having been found,
but it is remarkable that, simultaneously with the
report getting afloat, the fortunate finders went to
Sydney to secure a lease of the ground where the
nugget and quartz were said to be found, and osten-
sibly for copper mining, whereas it is believed that
no copper exists there. I have, however, ascertained
that 15 oz of gold were found in the above locality
by a party of four in three days.

That our gold field will soon assume a very marked
importance, of which the Government must take
cognizance, is the belief of many old and enterpris-
ing miners now on the spot. Men of considerable
intelligence and large experience, especially recent
arrivals from New Zealand, who, acting upon
that conviction, have commenced work on
a large scale, in digging a race a mile and
a half long, and are fully satisfied with their
work so far, these persons are only pioneers
dispatched hither to see and report progress, which
they will probably do by this post. So that, know-
ing their views on the matter, we may expect an in-
crease to our mining population to be reckoned by
hundreds.

As many are preparing to leave the river for the
Christmas holidays, it is probable that mining news
will be slack till the commencement of the new year.

December 13th.

Written by macalba

March 28, 2010 at 6:09 am

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Manning district to Walcha

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Friday 6 November 1953, The Sydney Morning Herald

Developmental Road Opening

TAREE, Thursday. — The
Commissioner for Main
Roads, Mr. H. M. Sherrard,
will officially open the Jordan
developmental road on Satur-
day.

The opening of the road
will shorten the route from
the Manning district to the
tablelands by more than 50
miles.  

Construction work on the
new section and improve-
ments to the existing tracks
have been going on for the last
two years.

The Department of Main  
Roads spent more than
£18,000 on the project. The
developmental road leads
through Nowendoc to Walcha.

Written by macalba

March 27, 2010 at 6:04 am

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Population of New England Towns, 1871

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Tuesday 6 June 1871, The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser

POPULATION OF THE NEW ENGLAND TOWNS.

The Armidale Express of Saturday has the following :-  

Mr. Blythe has favoured us with the following
return of the population in the registry district of
Armidale :- Males, 5448 ; females, 4315 ; total, 9763.

POPULATION IN TOWNS, DISTINCT.

        Males. Females.  Total.
Armidale  720 ... 650 ... 1370
Uralla    128 ... 126 ...  254
Walcha    124 ... 119 ...  243
Bundarra   97 ...  88 ...  185
Bendemeer  61 ...  49 ...  110
Wandsworth 44 ...  37 ...   81
Nowendoc   27 ...  18 ...   45  
Falconer   19 ...  16 ...   35

Written by macalba

March 26, 2010 at 8:05 pm