Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer Chapter X page 3

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Recollections of a Victorian Police Officer by Sup John Sadleir

(full text transcription)

Warrants were issued for the two men Chamberlain and Armstrong, who, it will be remembered, had met the travellers in the gully leading to Tongio Mungi on the preceding evening. Armstrong was an associate of a man named Toake, a shanty-keeper at Cibbo, about thirty miles from Omeo, and to his place Chamberlain and Armstrong made their way. A large reward was offered for their arrest, and one day an aboriginal native employed by Toake came in with information as to their hiding- place. The police went out to find that the two men had left Toake’s, but the aboriginal took up their tracks, which led to a tree were the men were found concealed. They were subsequently tried and executed for their crime.

Constable Greene in another communication throws some light on a supposed tragedy connected with the disappearance of a man known as ‘Ballarat’ Harry. Again I shall allow the constable to tell his own tale. He says: - ‘Armstrong, after his arrest, made the following statement: ‘About two years ago Toake asked me to join him and a man named ‘Ballarat’ Harry, saying that Harry had ₤400 with him, and that they would go away prospecting, kill Harry and divide his money. I agreed, but at the last moment refused. Toake then said if you do not ‘split’ I will give you ₤100 on my return. Toake returned in about two weeks and gave me the money promised, and said that he had tomahawked Harry while he slept, burned the body, broke up the bones and scattered them about, and then set fire to the bush.’’ Constable Greene concludes this gruesome narrative of crime by adding: ‘It is quite true that Toake went out prospecting with Harry; that he had no money when he went; that he had plenty of money when he returned, and that ‘Ballarat’ Harry was never traced. Toake was charged with the murder of Harry, but was acquitted.” What became of Toake later I cannot say.

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