INQUEST INTO WOOLEEBEE TRAGEDY
MILES, February 20- At the commencement of the Coroner's in-
quiry today into the deaths of four members of the Cork family at Wooleebee about January 19 or 20 Mr T. B. Stephens asked that Al-
exander Cork be allowed to remain
in court, although he was a wit- ness, so as to prevent his brother, Arthur Bruce Cork. from being branded as an assassin or murderer and to try to convince the court that this tragic affair arose in the first place out of an accident.
The Coroner (Mr J. W. Fowler) granted permission.
On January 21 the partly burnt body of Arthur Bruce Cork was found at Nevasa station, Woolee- bee, and the ashes of the bodies of his wife, Beatrice Alice Cork, his son, Ian Cork, and his daughter Meryl Hazel Cork were found in
a tub in the kitchen of the home-stead Mr Stephens appeared for Alex- ander Cork, Mr F. Winship for the relatives of the deceased Beatrice Cork, and Captain J. H. C. Wat- son, with Captain L. G. Luscombe, for the Army.
Mr Stephens said that his client accepted and would ask the court to accept as true the story which the deceased Bruce Cork set out himself in a letter to his mother in-law.
Mr Stephens added that Bruce Cork's wife had died by a most ghastly accident while she was cranking a motor car, with the re- sult that Bruce Cork's mind be- came unhinged and he destroyed his two children and himself. Bruce Cork was a man who had a most distinguished career in the last war and who was admired and re- spected by everyone who knew
Constable Dietz, in charge of the Wandoan police station, gave evidence of having responded to a telephone message and left for Wooleebee. He said that he was met on the way by Claude Alex- ander Baker and handed a letter. Witness then detailed what he had discovered at Nevasa station. He also said that he saw a six cylinder utility truck in a garage. On the front bumper bar he saw dark stains which appeared to be blood. There was a hole in the radiator grille about 6 in. in
diameter where the crank handle
had passed through into the en- gine. The metal in the hole was shiny from cranking the car. He noticed a good deal of personal property which had been burnt
There was a wheelbarrow in the
yard with dark red stains, appar- ently blood smears.
Constable Dietz said that he
formed thc opinion that Cork and Mrs Cork were much attached. Cork's reputation in caring for his children was good. Witness said that be believed that either the tragedy occurred as stated in the deceased's letter or at a time when
the property was affected by drought and he could not secure an extension of Army leave, for his son to help him. The deceased, he thought, became so worried that
his mind became unbalanced.
Mary J. Dickson, in charge of the post office at Merino Vale, Wooleebee, gave evidence regarding a telegram sent by Cork's son ask- ing for extension of lease and of a subsequent refusal by Victoria
Five letters written by the de- ceased were produced in court. One was a will, which was unsigned. The letters left directions for the disposal of the children's estates. A letter to Cork's mother, Mrs A. L. S. Cork, of Chatswood (NSW), read: "My dear mother. I have lost my family and that means all that is worth living for and I will be gone before you get this. I am too sad to go into details, but I have given them all to Mrs Baker, senior, of Green Valley. Good-bye. May God bless you. Your loving
The deceased left a long letter to his mother-in-law, Mrs Baker, describing the death of his wife and children. It read: "It all hap pened in a flash. The poor darling either slipped or was dragged down by a backfire and hit a ter- rible blow on the head with the crank handle. She never spoke again. All I could do was to rest her poor head on mc and wait for the last, which was only a few minutes but seemed hours. Every
thing worthwhile in life to me seemed to go with my dear one and I came out of the garage to tell the children. No doubt I was insane with grief for a few mo- ments. When I saw them asleep I thought that there was nothing for them without their dear mother, and I took their lives and cremated them all together. After- wards I regretted my action, but
it was too late."
Ernest Edward Baker, brother in-law of Cork, said that when Mrs Cork was about six years old she was badly burnt on the right
arm and her arm afterwards had no strength in it.
The hearing was adjourned until