ON THIS DAY…… 28th August 1871

A most deliberate and cruel murder of a Chinaman was committed on the Beechworth- Myrtleford Road. Two Chinamen in a cart named Ah Woo and Ah Cow, were stopped by James Quinn who offered them a shilling for a ride, which they agreed. Not 30 yards down the track Quinn attacked Ah Cow so violently that the Chinaman passed out. Quinn then threw his lifeless body from the cart. A struggle then began between Ah Woo and Quinn until Ah Woo was also unconscious. Stopping the cart Quinn then drowned Ah Woo in a water race beside the road.

Witness watched as Quinn took 40 pounds from his victim, before running into the hills. The police under the guidance of Inspector Smith were able to find Quinn, and had him brought to the Beechworth Goal were four witnesses identified him as the killer. Quinn murder trial was on the 14th of October 1871 in the Beechworth Circuit Court. The Judge Sir Redmond Barry, known as the hanging Judge, presided over the case, which finished at midnight. On passing the death sentence Sir Redmond asked James “do you have anything to say?” Quinn replied “It’s not my fault, my wife made me do it.” On the morning of 14th of November at 9.00am Quinn was walked from the condemned man’s cell with Father Moran and Bamford the hangman. On reaching the gallows Quinn asked if he could speak, “I wish to say something. I am going to die an innocent man. I blame my wife for what has happened to me. She and her friends got me to come over from Tasmania and then they robbed me of 50 pounds.” Bamford then tied Quinn’s legs and his hands behind his back, placed a white hood over his head and a rope around his neck. Quinn said “She brought me to this, God Help Me.” The lever was pulled and Quinn dropped to his death After his execution it was discovered that the gates of the gaol had not been opened and the official witnesses, numbering 70 in total, hadn’t been let in. The gates were hastily opened but the public could only see Quinn’s lifeless body swinging from the rope. Quinn’s description after death was height 6 foot, black hair, hazel eyes, scar on left eyebrow, long scar on right shoulder and two scars on right breast