LUMPERS V. POLICE
THE EDWARDS INQUEST VERDICT OF ACCIDENTAL DEATH.
Additional proceedings at the in- quest on the death of Thomas Ed- wards, the lumper who died as the re- sult of injuries received in the disturb- ance on the Fremantle wharf on Sun- day, May 4, which were not included in our report yesterday (except in Stop Press) are given below. The inquiry was conducted by the Coroner, Mr. E P. Dowley. R.M. Sir Walter James, K.C., appeared for the Crown, and Mr. Walter Dwyer for tbe widow of the deceased.
Continuing under cross-examination, William Renton, president of the Fre- mantle Lumpers' Union, said he under- stood that it was the crowd that had followed him that had thrown the stones. Witness did not throw any missiles, but he saw the police pick them up and throw them back. When the crowd had exhausted their am- munition they commenced to retreat. Sir Walter James: The police drop- ped their batons and bayonets, and commenced to throw stones? Witness: No, it was not necessary for them to drop their arms. To Mr. Dwyer: The Riot Act was read after he was "knocked out." This concluded the evidence. Counsel did not address the jury. THE SUMMING-UP. The Coroner (Mr. E. P. Dowley) said that the jury's duty was to find out and say in their verdict how Ed- wards came to his death. This was the only part of the verdict which would give them much trouble, because as to when and where death occurred there was no dispute. The jury was not concerned with anything else. There had been a lot of evidence placed before them— to which they had listened most patiently— much of which did not bear on the real issue. There had been about 18 witnesses brought to the Court who had told them what happened on the wharf on the Sunday morning. The jury had viewed the body, and seen the wound on the head, and Mr. Rowe had identi- fied it as the body of the deceased. In- spector McKenna had given them a long narrative of what took place that morning, how the police had been brought on the wharf, the disposition made of that force, and the instruc- tions given to them. The latter was briefly, to put people off the wharf, and stop them coming on. At first the people appeared to have gone off fairly quietly, but afterwards in the vicinity of 'C' Shed there seemed to have been some violence shown to the police, and apparently the police retaliated with their rifles, batons, or whatever they had available. This was in reply to violence shown to them. They had been told the police had been instruct- ed to resort to no violence if it could be helped, and only to use violence to protect themselves. All the wit- nesses seemed to agree that the police did not resort to any violence until it
was shown to them that stones, bars of iron, etc., were thrown at them by the crowd they were trying to drive off the wharf. In carrying out their instructions to get the people off the wharf, the police were justified in us- ing violence to oppose that which was offered to them. There had been a lot of evidence given about the move- ments of the launches. It was not part of the jury's duty to decide any- thing about these boats, only how de- ceased came to his end. If he, the Coroner, was acting there as was done in other places, without a jury, he would simply address himself as to how and when deceased was wounded. There could be no doubt that the wound on his head had caused deceas- ed's death. Dr. Kershaw told them the wound was caused by a fracture of the base of the skull, that deceased lin- gered a day or two, and died. The doctor said there was a mark on the skull which might not have caused the fracture, and seemed of the opinion it might have been caused by a fall. It was for the jury to consider whether it was the knock on the head that caused death or not. They would re- member there was a regular conflict between the police, who were carry- ing out instructions, and a crowd who seemed determined to prevent them carrying them out. In opposing the police, the crowd threw missiles. The deceased had been amongst that crowd. He had got hit in the melee, and, as far as they could see, his in- juries resulted in the wound that caus- ed his death. There was little to say. A number of witnesses had deposed as to the damage to the launch. There was no need to refer to this. Then a number of witnesses seemed to all ex- press the same opinion as to the hap- penings on the wharf. A body of men came together, stones were thrown, men on both sides were hurt, and amongst them was the deceased, and it was for the jury, if possible, to say where he got that wound from. It added to the jury's responsibilities that no witness had said who struck the blow. If any witness could have iden- tified the man who hit deceased the case would have been different The only thing the witnesses, or some of them, said, was 'it was a policeman.' Of course it must have been a police- man! The crowd threw things at the police, and the latter retaliated. After ten minutes' retirement the jury returned the following verdict:— 'That the deceased, Thomas Charles Ed- wards, came to his death on May 7 at the Fremantle Public Hospital from a fracture of the skull caused by a wound on the head received on the wharf at Fremantle on May 4. We are unable to say who had caused the wound. Death was accidental.'