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Russian shot near Nowendoc

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Saturday 6 October 1934, The Sydney Morning Herald

Shot Dead by Constable

Constable James Ernest Gilroy, in defence of his life, shot and killed Gustave Romnick, a Russian, about two miles from Nowendoc, near Walcha, early yesterday morning.

Constable Gilroy fired to protect himself after Romnick, whom he had challenged, drew a revolver and threatened him with a huge cudgel.

Constable Gilroy fired a shot to frighten the infuriated man, but it did not check his progress, and, fearing for his life, the constable fired again. The Russian fell dead, shot through the heart.

For many months isolated homes and camps in the rugged district had been ransacked in the absence of their owners. Rabbiters’ gear was stolen, tents were destroyed, and provisions and rugs were taken from outlying homes. On several occasions a powerful Russian, a comparative newcomer in the district, was in the vicinity after the thefts, but invariably he evaded capture. The man had armed himself with a rifle and a huge sheath knife, and camped in the hills, moving rapidly around the district by night, and descending upon the unoccupied homes as soon as he saw their owners leave for their day’s work.

Recently a rabbiter returned to his tent earlier than usual, and saw the Russian emerging from it laden with his week’s provisions. He ran over to his camp, but the Russian immediately dropped the goods, and threatened the owner with a revolver. He then escaped.

Outlying residents were terror-stricken, and numerous complaints were made to the police. The district was repeatedly scoured by mounted men, but the Russian’s hiding-place could never be discovered, so rapidly did he move after his depredations.

Three days ago, Sergeant Schroeder, of Walcha, organised a comprehensive search of the neighbourhood, and, together with Constables Gilroy and Worrall, took provisions sufficient to last them for a week. They were determined not to return until they had captured the marauder.

Gradually they narrowed down the search. Every night they met, but no fires were lit, for fear of attracting the attention of their quarry, whom they were certain was in the vicinity.


Before daybreak yesterday morning they separated again. All were on horseback. The section searched by Constable Gilroy was covered with thick scrub and undergrowth. Suddenly Gilroy saw a man slinking through the scrub, making for cover in the thick timber. He wheeled his horse to cut him off. Then he jumped from his horse. “I want you,” he said.

Romnick made a dash for the bush, shouting: “You can’t take me.”

“If you move again I’ll shoot you,” shouted the constable.

“Come another yard and I’ll shoot you stone dead. I have a better revolver than you,” Romnick taunted. He rushed towards the policeman, brandishing his revolver. Gilroy fired to frighten the man, and to attract the attention of the other police. The Russian raised his revolver, and again Gilroy fired, this time with the intention of wounding the man. The bullet struck Romnick in the chest, and he crashed to the ground dead. The other police heard the reports, and arrived a few minutes later. The body was taken to Nowendoc, where it was viewed by the coroner and a doctor.

“I fired the second shot to protect my own life,” Gilroy told the coroner at the inquest yesterday afternoon. “I did not intend to kill him, but only to wound him, so that I could easily arrest him. I knew at the time that he was Gustave Romnick, and that he was a dangerous criminal.”

Written by macalba

July 24, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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