The Trial of the Geary’s

ON THIS DAY – FEBRUARY 28, 1854

The trial of Patrick and Margaret Geary for the murder of a shepherd in 1854, was commenced at the Old Court House, Melbourne. Mr Adamson prosecuted on behalf of the Crown, and Messrs Molesworth and Sirr represented the prisoners respectively. The presiding judge was his Honour Mr Justice Pohlman. Mr Adamson opened the case in a concise address to the jury, in which he explained the circumstances of the crime with which the prisoners were charged, and the evidence which would be called to endeavour to substantiate it. Andrew Murray was the first witness called. He stated: I am a squatter residing at St.Kilda, and had a brother named Hugh Murray. His station was situated on the Corangamite, and was north of mine. Beyond his was Mr Calvert’s station. I knew a man named Thos. Brookhouse, who was a shepherd in the employ of my brother Hugh. I know the prisoner Patrick Geary, who was also employed by my brother as a shepherd. Geary and Brookhouse were both in my brother’s employ in 1854. Geary’s hut was nearest to the home station, and about three quarters of a mile from Brook- house’s. The hut occupied by Geary was 11 or 12 miles from the home station. On the west, Lake Corangamite was about three miles from both huts. The huts are no longer in existence, but I have pointed out the site of them to constable Killen. I remember Brook- house being missing. He had a sheep dog. When Brookhbuse was reported missing, I went with others in search of him, and spent about a fortnight in the search. On the morning that we first set out, I visited Brookhouse’s hut, which then presented the appearance of his having left it with the intention of returning as usual. The breakfast things had not been removed, and the place appeared to be undis- turbed. The dog was about the hut. We followed the dog, thinking that he might lead us to where Brookhouse would be found, but he frequently stopped, and we ultimately gave up the search. My brother and myself, as well as the owners of all the neighbouring stations, lost a large number of sheep that year. On the 31st of August, 1869, constable Killen came to me, and in consequence of what he said to me I ac- companied him to the spot where Brookhouse’s hut had stood. We also went to a man named George Ball, who was engaged in building a stone wall about half a mile distant. He, and a hoy in his employ named Bayliss, took us to the place where the bones of a man had been found, and which a constable took possession of. Brookhouse was a small, natty tidy little man, having thin sharp features and a prominent chin. He was about 50, or perhaps more. John Shayp, a farmer, living near Ondit, about 12 miles from Colac, deposed: I know the two prisoners. In 1854 I was in the em- ploy of Mr John Calvert, as shepherd. I visited Brookhouse’s hut when the search was commenced, and saw a tea cup, and saucer, a basin, a teapot, and, I think, a knife on the table. The hut was swept clean, and every- thing in order, as if he had not been long ab- sent. When we approached the hut the dog ran away, I think in the direction of south. Brookhouse, I should say, was forty-eight or fifty years of age. He was about as old as I am now. I left home when I was twenty-four years of age, and have been in this country thirty-two years. I am 6ft 8in in height, and he was within an inch lower. We often com- pared our height, and I told him he would never do for a soldier. (A laugh.) He used to wear a blue serge shirt outside, and a black red- striped silk handkerchief. His hat was usually a sou’-wester. The clasp-knife produced is like one he used to have slung to his pocket. He used also to carry a similar knife. The piece of striped cotton produced is like the inside shirt he used to wear. The piece of neckerchief produced is similar, I believe, to the one he used to wear. I can observe the stripe. The bit of hat shown me appears to be a bit of a sou’-wester. At Colac I saw the skeleton found, with the boots on, and at once recognised the remains as those of Brookhouse. The boots on the bones produced I have not the slightest doubt were worn by Brookhouse. He used to have the lace-holes very close to each other. In 1854, a stranger would not pass my hut perhaps for two months. Two other witnesses were examined, and the case was not concluded when the court rose.

Patrick Geary, Margaret Geary, Old Court House, Melbourne, Molesworth, Mr Justice Pohlman, Mr Adamson, Andrew Murray, St.Kilda, Hugh Murray, Calvert’s station, Patrick Geary, Lake Corangamite, constable Killen, shot, murder, George Ball, Bayliss, John Shayp, Ondit, John Calvert, shepherd, Colac, skeleton, Brookhouse