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Named in honour of George Doyle

Constable George DoyleConstable George Doyle while attempting to arrest brothers Patrick and James Kenniff on the 30 March 1902 was murdered by them at Leithbridge's Pocket via Springsure.

On the 21st March 1902 a warrant was issued by Roma Police for the arrest of Patrick and James Kenniff for the theft of a pony in October 1901.

Both Patrick and James Kenniff were well known to police having previously served terms of imprisonment for cattle duffing and horse stealing.

Following the issue of the warrant it was sent to Constable George Doyle, Officer-in-Charge of the Upper Warrego Police Station, with instructions to arrest the Kenniff Brothers. A police search party, lead by Constable Doyle, set out in search of the Kenniffs. Accompanying Constable Doyle were Christian Dahlke, manager of Carnarvon Station, who had previous unfavourable dealings with the Kenniffs and aboriginal tracker, Sam Johnson.

Sam Johnson was later to play a vital role in the conviction of the Kenniffs in the Brisbane Supreme Court.

On the morning of Sunday 30th March 1902, the police party surprised the Kenniffs, who were camping at Lethbridge's Pocket, and took James into custody. Patrick Kenniff was believed to have escaped.

Sam Johnson was sent to collect the police pack horses so they could start in pursuit of Patrick Kenniff however on his return he found Doyle, Dahlke and James Kenniff missing from the camp. When both the Kenniffs rode back into the camp towards Johnson he fled and raised the alarm.

A later search located the camp site showing considerable evidence that a gun fight had occurred. Constable Doyle's horse was located and the saddle bags were found to contain approximately 200 pounds of charcoal later identified as burnt human remains including some personal belongings of Doyle and Dahlke. It became apparent that the Kenniffs had burnt the bodies of Doyle and Dahlke with intent to dispose of their ashes in an attempt to conceal the crime. The reason the horse and remains were located, and not disposed of, is not known as there were no witnesses and the brothers when located continued to maintain their innocence.

A 1000 reward was offered for the capture of the Kenniff brothers. A search party of 50 police and aboriginal trackers search for 3 months until they found the Kenniffs at Arrest Creek, just south of the town of Mitchell. The Kenniffs reportedly surrendered to the police without a fight.

The Kenniff brothers were transported to Rockhampton, where they were committed for trial to the Supreme Court in Brisbane, for for the wilful murder of Constable George Doyle and Albert Dahlke. Following the trial, presided over by the Chief Justice of Queensland, Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, both Patrick and James Kenniff were convicted of murder and sentenced to death by hanging.

Patrick Kenniff, whose last words were to profess his innocence, was hanged in Boggo Road Gaol on 12 January 1903 and his body interred in the South Brisbane cemetery.

Following an appeal James Kenniff's sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he served 16 years in gaol. After his release he worked on cattle-stations in the north-west and fossicked in the ranges north of Charters Towers. He died in Charters Towers of cancer on 8 October 1940. He was buried in Charters Towers cemetery.

The Collins family of Tamrookum Station near Beaudesert, and owners Carnarvon Station that had been managed by Christian Dahlke, had the remains of Constable Doyle and Dahlke interred in their private cemetery at the church at Tamrookum.A monument was also erected in their honour. The inscription reads; 'In memory of Constable George Doyle and Albert Christian Dahlke, whose uncompromising efficiency and heroic endeavour to their duty and vindicate the law led to their murder under revolting circumstances at Lethbridge's Pocket, near the head of the Warrego River, Easter Day, 1902. In order to destroy traces of the crime their bodies were burned, but the ashes having been subsequently recovered were interred in this place January 13, 1904.'

Qld Police Vessel "GEORGE DOYLE" - Sunshine Coast

QPV George Doyle

A 9.8 metre Cougar Cat, glass reinforced epoxy resin planing catamaran built by Atlay Cat, Gold Coast in 1989 and was powered by twin 225 h.p. Outboard motors (photo above taken on the day of her launching).




Queensland Police Service Museum

The Trial of Australia's Last Bushrangers
Anthony J H Morris QC
Presented to the Queensland Museum's Queensland 1901 Lunchtime Lecture Series,
31 January 2001

Queensland Heritage, 1 (1968), no 9, p 3, 2 (1969), no 1, p 3
The Bushranger Site
School of Education
University of New England

Australian Dictionary of Biography
Kenniff, Patrick (1863 - 1903)

Photo Kenniff Brothers, Queensland Heritage, vol.2.no.1,November 1969 & Anthony JH Morris QC

Allan L Peters, Police Journal, April 2007,p28

© 2009 Copyright John Rice
Last Modified June 2009