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Russian’s body exhumed

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Monday 8 October 1934, The Sydney Morning Herald


The body of Gustav Romnick, alias Alexander Harrast, 45, the Russian who was shot dead by Constable Gilroy at Nowendoc, near Walcha on Friday last was exhumed by the police yesterday.

The inquest into the man’s death will be continued and the finding that the district coroner (Mr. F. Townsend) intended to send to the authorities that the constable had fired in execution of his duty will be withheld until further evidence had been brought forward.

Following the exhumation of the body the man’s fingerprints were taken and sent to Sydney to establish beyond doubt that the dead man was Romnick.

The police, it is understood, consider that Gilroy’s courage and resource when he encountered the dead man should be recognised. Fresh evidence will probably be tendered proving conclusively that Romnick was an armed and desperate man and, when Gilroy confronted him, was about to raid a nearby settler’s camp.

Evidence was concluded at the inquest on Saturday; then, on the application of the police, the inquiry was again adjourned until a date to be fixed.


When the inquest was resumed on Saturday, Sergeant L. Schrader said that, in response to a telephone message received at Walcha police station on Wednesday last that a robbery had been committed at Tia River on the previous day, he went with Constable Worrall to Tia thence to Nowendoc.

“By the way that the robbery was carried out,” said witness, “I presumed that the perpetrator was a criminal known as Gustav Romnick,, who had been operating in the district for the past few weeks. I had been searching for the man since Wednesday and I received word that he was seen on the Nowendoc River that morning. I instructed Constable Gilroy to go to the west of Nowendoc and Constable Worrall to go to the south. I went in a northerly direction.

“About 8 a.m. I heard two revolver shots about a mile from where I was. Ten minutes later Constable Gilroy informed me that he had come in contact with Romnick, and, after a skirmish, he had fired one shot over his head and a second shot at him to try to wound him, but that the second shot had entered his chest and he was dead. I recognised the clothing on him as stolen property and recognised him as Gustav Romnick.”

Constable F. Worrall said that he had been in pursuit of Romnick for some time for robberies in the Walcha district.

“On September 22, with Mr. M. A. Crawford, of Moona Plains station,” said witness, “I came in contact with Romnick in a creek near the Apsley River. He was then armed with a pea-rifle and a sheath knife, and was carrying a chaff bag containing stolen property. When I endeavoured to arrest him, he ran off in the thick undergrowth and escaped. I called on him to stop, saying that I was a member of the police force, and would shoot, but this did not deter him from getting into the gorges.”

Written by macalba

July 25, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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