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I STORY OF THE SEA. I

-I

SOUTH SEA EXPEDITION.

I SEARCH TOR TREASURE

ORGANISER SHOOTS HIMSELF

BYRON BAY, Wednesday

The Coroner (Mr. W. S. Arnott) hold an1 Inquiry last night after 7 o'clock into tho

death of Charles Mason, who is alleged to j

havo shot himself with a .revolver on tho 10th Inttant'llO milos east of Moreton Bay, and ISO miles -from the Now South Wales border,

and brought ashore from tho ketch Wheat-1 shoat at Byron Bay on the evening of the 21st

Instant.

Donald Ross deposed: I am a constable sta- tioned at Byron Bay. From information ro colvod on tho 21st Instant I proceeded on board a ketch called the Wh.eatsheaC, thon lying in tho bay, and there saw In a cabin lu tho forocastlo tho body of a man lying on his back, with tho loft hand across his choBt and tho right hand across tho left. In the right hand was clasped tho revolver (produced). There -were three cartridges in the chamber. Ono had been fired. I noticed a bullot wound in tho contro of tho forehead of tho dooeased. Around tho wound was black, as if caused with powder. I examined tho body, which was ih an advanced stage of decomposition. I dis- covered no other wounds. In my opinion death took placo two or ahrco dayB pre- viously. Tho cabin was closely searched, but I found no traco of any papors or letters to indicate that deceased intended to destroy'

himself.

Edward Hayes Symonds, a seedsman, carry- ing on business at 739 George-street, Sydney, said:-I know tho .deceased, who loft Sydney with the Wheatsheaf. Captain Weavor was in command. Tho first port called at was Aola, in the Solomon Islands. Wo went from thoro to Tulagi, tho scat of government, and Woodford plantation. Wo went from there to Maululu, Maribo, and Sao. Hero wo bad some trcuble with the captain' and natives. We hold a meeting, and as the result of our de- liberations wo toltl Captain Weaver wo had no confidence in him. At Sao ho resigned his command, and gave me chargo of tho ketch on behalf of the owners lu Sydney. An inquiry was subsequently hold at Moluka. Captain Weaver wa3 returned to Sydnoy in the steamor Moresby. This was in Septem- ber. Tho commission appointed Mr. Craw- ford in charge of the ketch, as thoro was no certificated person available. Tho men agreed to continue the cruise for two months longer, ho continued, ana we Ilnally loft Tulagi on November 2. We called at Levuka for water, whoro there is a station kept by Lever Bros. A mau named Henry Colbourne hero wanted a passage" to Sydney, which wo gave him. We

returned to Aola, and there contracted ma- larial fever. Mason was seasick most of the way up and down, and was very bad with fever. On tho lath wo assembled on deck for tea; but Mason did not turn up. There wero ihon on board Captain Crawford, N. C. Symons, Henry Colbourne, J. B. Water- house, J. W. B. Symonds, a Japan est steward, and myBoIf. The- captain told the cook to toko deceased some tea. I wont below, and shortly afterwards heard* that Mason waa'dead. 1 went forward with J. W. Symonds and tho cook, and fourni Mason on lils 1 bunk In the cabin with a revolver in lils hand and a bullet wound in the forehead. Tho wound seemed blackened. Tho head was to ono side: Wo felt his pulse, and put a glass to his mouth, but found no signs of 111c. We con- cluded then to mako for tho nearest land. Wo came close to Capo Moreton, but could seo no pilot vessol, and not knowing tne coast elected to go to Byron Bay, which we reached about 2 p.m. on tho 21st. We signalled for a doctor anti the police. They came on board, taking charge oí tho body. No disagreement oocurred on board at any time, but tho trouble with Captain Weaver. Deceased sometimes complained of want of sloop. Wo had firearms when we left Sydney, but sold them to the Commissioner. Mason and I retained our re- volvers. We showed our firearms at Woodford. The revolver produced was Mason's. Mason's body was not disturbed. When wo found he was dead I suggested to bring it on deck, but the captain said It should not bo touched un- til tho police saw it. The body kept well for 24 hours, but atterwards began to sincll. Did not soo anything In Mason's demeanour to sug- gest that bo would injuro himself. Ho was about 50 years of ago, and loaves a widow and daughter lu Albany-road, Petersham, near Sydney. Ho wa3 a public accountant at Bond street. I don't know If ho had any property. The business of tho excursion to tho Islands was partly for treasure and partly to look for minerals that Captain Weaver said ho know to ex_lat tborc. Mason waa tho organiser of tho expedition. We travelled about 6000 miles.

Reginald Blanchard Crawford, sailor, living

at 118 Forbes-street, Sydnoy, at present em- I ployed as acting-captain of the ketch Wheat- sheaf, said:-I left Sydnoy on August S no mato under Captain Weaver. The deceased, Mason, was a passenger. Captain Weavor roBlgnod his command at Sao. It was through sonto dis- agreement with the partios on board. I saw Mason all tho way up. Ho

¡was on good terms with all on board.

He was a bad sailor, and was sea

| sick all the way up. I never hoard him

say anything that would lead mo to bellevo he would commit suicide. I last saw him allvo on tho morning of the 19th Jost., nbout S o'clock. Ho was then sleeping on deck. Tho night previous ho said he felt better. I did not seo him again allvo. About G.15 p.m. I was told he had shot himself. I wont below with Waterhouse and Symonds, and found him lying on his bunk on his back. I saw a bullet wound In the centre of the forehead, and a revolver clasped In his right hand, across his chest. ' Wo wero then 110 miles north of Cape Moreton and 180 miles from Now South Wales. I sailed over tho pilot ground at Capo More- ton, and could not got a pilot, a3 the pilots woro all inside. Night coming on, and tho wind freshening, I decided to run to Byron

Bay.

John Symons, hardwareman, residing at Colo Vale, said Mason was on good terms with everyone on board. Anyono could got on with bim. At timos ho was dull and depressed. At two bells, 5 o'clock, I nsked him was he com- ing up to tea. Ho said I will be up presently. I thon went up and had tea. Mason was look- ing in his bunk, with his face to the wall. We were all lu good spirits. Tho cook took him some tea, and shortly afterwards rushed out, and enid Mr. Mason shot himself. Tho ketch Is of some i5 or 10 tons, and over 00 feet

long. Mason lind tho fever as well ns the rest I of us at Aloa, and remarkod once that ho did not think ho would soo tho trip out.

Harry HaychI, a Japanese cook, described how ho found doceased when he took his tea. Ho knew of no dlsagreomont on tho trip.

Tho Coroner found that Charles Mason carno to his death by a gunshot'wound, solf-lnfllctcd, on tho high sens, about 180 miles from the New South Wales border.

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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