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Vital clue found in bushranger murders

IN television parlance, Mike Munro has received the bullet many a time – but now he has found one – and it very well could be from the shooting of Australia’s last bushranger.

While filming historical documentary series Lawless – The Real Bushrangers, Munro and his crew uncovered a bullet cartridge in a remote location in Queensland’s Carnarvon Range.

The site was where brothers Patrick and James Kenniff – considered to be among Australia’s last bushrangers – murdered Constable George Doyle and station manager Albert Dahlke in 1902.

In a grisly scene, the men’s charred remains were found stuffed into the saddle bags of Constable Doyle’s horse, spreading fear through the local community.
A large-scale manhunt ensued and the Kenniffs were eventually captured and found guilty of the murders.
Patrick Kenniff was hanged in Brisbane’s notorious Boggo Road Gaol in 1903 but his brother had his sentence reduced to life imprisonment, serving 12 years before dying of cancer.

Now, 115 years after the event, experts believe the TV crew may have uncovered physical evidence of one of Queensland’s most infamous crimes.

Adam Ford holding the cartridge believed to have been shot by the Kenniff brothers. Foxtel

The casing was found by metal detector, buried 10 centimetres underground, and lying three metres from where the murders occurred.
Ballistic experts at Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre tested the cartridge and were able to confirm it as a match for the revolver colt .44 and winchester .44 rifles carried by the Keniff brothers.

Forensic pathologist Professor Roger Byard, who has been working in forensics for two decades, believes several factors support the theory the cartridge is a remnant from the murders.

“We presume that the Kenniffs fired their weapons because we’ve got Doyle and Dahlke who are dead, and we’ve found a .44 cartridge at the scene that’s old and matches the era – so it’s reasonable to think the last person to handle that would have been one of the Kenniffs,” said Professor Byard.

James Kenniff.

James Kenniff. Queensland Police Museum

Archaeologist Adam Ford is equally as excited by the unlikely find, uncovered in the remote location, three hours north of Roma.

“This is what I love about archaeology,” said Ford.

“This find that’s no bigger than the end of your finger, we found in the middle of nowhere – and yet it provides a direct link to this event which involves the death of these two guys, including a police officer in the line of duty.”

For Munro, who discovered he was a descendant of the murderous Kenniff brothers after his father revealed the shameful family secret from his death bed, the casing provides a tangible link to his hidden past.

“To be investigating your family history, with some of the best professionals in the country and then find a slug, in the middle of nowhere, which was in all probability last handled by your murderous great uncles … it just doesn’t get any better than that,” said Munro.

Lawless – The Real Bushrangers airs 8.30pm tonight on The History Channel.

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Written by Anadkat Madhav

I am a software engineer, project manager, and Mobile Application Developer currently living in Rajkot, India. My interests range from technology to entrepreneurship. I am also interested in programming, web development, design, Mobile Application development.

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