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Named in honour of Patrick W. Cahill

Patrick CahillPolice Trooper Patrick W. Cahill and Police Trooper John Power were murdered by Thomas John Griffin, gold commissioner and former police magistrate, at the MacKenzie River crossing about 180 kilometres from Rockhampton on the night of 6 November 1867. The three men were escorting 4,000 in notes, which they had received from the Joint Stock Bank, from Rockhampton to Clermont on the instructions of Griffin in his capacity of gold commissioner.

Griffin shot both troopers in an attempt to cover his theft of part of the money subject of the escort.

Griffin was an Irish-born soldier who had served in the British Army as a sergeant and had been decorated in the fighting in the Crimea before coming to Australia. He served in the police in Victoria and New South Wales, eventually being sent to Rockhampton to take charge of the police at the time of the Canoona gold rush in 1857.

After Queensland was separated from New South Wales he became clerk of petty sessions in Rockhampton in 1862, and then police magistrate and gold commissioner at Clermont in 1863.

In late October 1867, while accompanying Police Troopers Cahill and Power on the Peak Downs gold escort, Griffin stole a sum of money ($500) from the escort. He later realised that when the money was found to be missing he would be suspected so he decided to steal all the money and make it look as though bushrangers had taken it.

On the morning of 5 November 1867 the escort party arrived at the MacKenzie River crossing. Camp was pitched there and the three retired for some hours to Bedford's Hotel nearby.

Sometime between 2 and 3 a.m. on the 6 November 1867, a number of shots were heard to come from the area of MacKenzie River crossing.

Later the next morning the caretaker at Bedford's Hotel, John Peterson, found the trooper's bodies at the camp, shot through the head. The 4,000 notes were missing.

Griffin had returned earlier that morning to Rockhampton and when the news broke concerning the deaths of the two troopers he volunteered to return and assist with the investigation.

Griffin came under suspicion when it was learnt that money he had paid to some Chinese gold diggers had been part of the money stolen from the escort. The Queensland Police Gazette of Wednesday 1st January 1868, p5, reported that "Griffin was arrested by Sub-Inspector Elliott and Detective Kilfelder on suspicion of committing the murder and robbery. Two hundred and fifty-three of the stolen notes were recovered and traced to Griffin's possession".

Griffin was convicted of the murder of both Troopers after a trial that lasted eight days.

Griffin continued to protest his innocence to the hangman's scaffold in Rockhampton Gaol although it was later established that he had confessed to the murders to Alfred Grant, one of the gaolers. Griffin's guilt was clinched when a search, based on the information he had given Grant, found the money from the escort.

On the morning of 1 June 1868, Griffin was hanged at Rockhampton Gaol.

Qld Police Vessel "P.W.CAHILL" - WHITSUNDAY



P W Cahill 2

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.

© 2009 Copyright John Rice
Last Modified June 2009