KAROONDA POLICE STATION
At the time of writing, President John White is attending an overseas conference in his recently appointed role as Assistant Commissioner of SAPOL’s Crime Service. Along with his apology on this occasion, President John sends his usual greetings and good wishes to all our members and supporters.
A good attendance at our March members’ meeting received the benefit of an interesting presentation by retired SAPOL Detective Senior Sergeant Allen Arthur. Allen related the history behind several extraordinarily major crime investigations which he conducted over the years. He has a number of other cases which will continue to be of interest to South Australians as the years go by and we look forward to hearing from him again at an appropriate time in the future.
As a result of the sad passing of the Society’s esteemed Life Member, Retired Chief Superintendent Bob Potts, the new Secretary is Owen Bevan and Geoff Rawson has been appointed to fill the resultant vacancy in the office of Vice President. The composition of the Executive Committee, as elected at the AGM in February, is otherwise unchanged.
Quite a bit of thought and effort has been given to arranging what we hope will be a stimulating range of topics and activities at our monthly Friday night meetings and we will be encouraged by a good attendance response from our members. On the 5th April the Manager of the Enfield and West Terrace Cemeteries, Mr. Jim Everett, will be guest speaker. His subject will be “A Brief History of the West Terrace Cemetery and its association with policing in South Australia”. This will undoubtedly bring back a few interesting memories of duties associated with the City Morgue, in particular, for retired police personnel of yesteryear. Guest speaker for Friday 3rd May will be Mr. John Evans whose subject will be “Railway Stations in South Australia.” Railways and policing played very important parts in the settlement of the South Australian colony and its subsequent development, especially through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Mr. Evans has been recommended to us as a competent historian and speaker and this promises to be a good night too as he takes us through the years from 1856 to 1984.
Please join us as often as you can. We look forward to your company.
‘SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR 2002’
FAMILY MEMBERSHIP - $ 15.00
SINGLE MEMBERSHIP - $ 10.00
Society membership subscriptions for 2002 are now due. Attached to your ‘January 2002’ copy of the ‘Hue & Cry’, you will find a ‘renewal’ form for the current year. Would you please complete this form and return it to the Society, together with your payment, as soon as possible.
PLEASE DO NOT SEND ‘NOTES OR COINS’ THROUGH THE POST
Prompt attention to this matter would be appreciated.
To all those ‘efficient’ members who have already paid their subscriptions, please disregard this request - your prompt payment has been greatly appreciated.
If you have any query as to the current status of your membership, please do not hesitate to contact our Treasurer, Tony Woodcock, on any Thursday at the Thebarton Police Barracks on 82074098 between 1O.30a.m. and 3.OOp.m.
John ALLEN Chris and Helen PLANETA
John and Greta BURGESS Lola REINTALS
Brian GILES Brendan RYAN
Karoonda Police Station.
On Sunday 28th April 2002, Police Foundation Day will be celebrated by the commemoration of the life of the late Senior Constable Harold Rae Pannell, who on 12/3/1957 was shot and murdered in the course of his duty at Bowbill, about 20 Km north-west of Karoonda, where he had been stationed since 1951. A ‘Police Heritage Site’ plaque will be placed in the railway lawns area at Karoonda, and jointly unveiled by the Commissioner of Police and the Mayor of the District Council of Karoonda East Murray.
Following research into the history of policing at Karoonda, a series of photographs of the locations known to have been used for police station purposes at Karoonda since being opened in 1914, will be included as ‘cover pictures’ on the front of coming editions of ‘Hue and Cry’. Each location will be identified and described.
1. The first ‘cover picture’ shows a recent photograph of the premises known for many years as McAskill’s Coffee Palace, and at which a number of the early Mounted Constables boarded from time to time over the years from 1914 to C 1924. For some of that time it is believed that the ‘police station’ functions could have operated from this building. It is situated on the north-east corner of Peake Street and Bodey Street, Karoonda, adjacent to the early Institute building, which is visible to the right of the building in the photograph. It is also known that during the above time the ‘police station’ operated from a galvanized iron and weatherboard building nearby in the town ......... a challenge in the heat of the day in a mid-mallee town!
2. The cover picture (photograph taken late 1999) shows a stone cottage on West Terrace, Karoonda strongly believed to have been built C 1924 by Mounted Constable Frank Knight, and used as the Karoonda police station for at least some of the time during his tenure as officer in charge Karoonda police station, (27/6/1923-31/8/1926.) While the use of rented/leased premises for police station purposes was not unusual, and indeed quite common in the 1910’s and 1920’s, it was quite unusual for a member’s private premises to be used as a ‘police station.’ It possibly indicated the on-going shortage of funds which was so prevalent for country policing facililities over a long period of time. It was not until 1938 that a purpose-built police station was erected in Karoonda on the north-eastern corner of Peake Street and Bodey Street. That building is still used as the police station in 2002.
WM. J. PETERSWALD, Acting Commissoner October 26th, 1881.
MEMo.—It having been reported that ginger brandy and other cordials containing spirits are habitually sold by un- licensed persons professing to sell only temperance drinks, police officers are instructed to proceed against all such, under clause 118, Licensed Victuallers Act, 1880. Definition of liquor in clause 4. An analysis must be made in each case.
HORSES AND CATTLE.
the neighborhood of Yeralina,
in May last, a black mare, blaze on face, branded y near shoulder and
side, the property of Her Majesty’s Police Department.
Strayed from the Police Station at Redhill, on the 16th instant, a dark bay horse (“Tormentor”), sixteen hands high, branded 4% over near shoulder, the property of H.M. Government.—(C.28~l.)
Stolen, during the night of the 19th instant, ftom the paddock of Henry Searles, at Kingston, a bay mare, branded TB near shoulder, and a bay mare, branded ~, and Un-broken. ldentiflable.—(C.2868.)
Stolen from “ The Briars,” Medindie, on the 21st instant a bay horse, branded H near shoulder, the property ‘f George C. Hawker. Identifiable.—(C.287 1.)
Stolen from a paddock
at Crafers, on the night of the 6th uhimo, a cow, heavy in calf,
color, branded cue. (supposed) j on shoulder, near ear cut; and a red
three years old, a litt.le. white on belly, horns turn inwards.
By Allan L Peters © 2002
Harold Rae Pannell was born in Kadina, South Australia on May 24, 1918 and on completing his schooling, he joined the work force as a brick-maker, and lime-burner. The work was hard but young Harold Pannell knew in his mind that this was but a temporary position, for he was determined that as soon as he was old enough he was going to become a policeman.
On November 9, 1937 he sat for, and passed the South Australian Police Force Entrance Examination and on January 10,1938 Harold Rae Pannell, at the age of nineteen became a junior constable.
During the years that followed Harold worked hard and successfully passed various examinations including those for Life Saving, First Aid, and Ambulance, and had also satisfactorily completed his Third Grade Sergeant’s tests and up to the time of his death, was still waiting for a position of that rank to become available
Between 1938 and 1950 Pannell served diligently in such areas as Port Adelaide, The C.I.B. Hindmarsh, and Port Pine. In 1951 he transferred to the small, East Murray settlement of Karoonda as Officer in Charge and was promoted to the rank of Senior Constable.
While at Karoonda, Harold Pannell and his wife, Rhonda, became well respected members of the community, and both became involved in many worthwhile local projects.
On the morning of March 12, 1957 Harold Pannell visited the farming property belonging to John Ross Keith Fischer at Bow Hill, about twenty miles [32 kms] from Karoonda.
Pannell had visited the property a few times over the previous week in connection with his duties as assistant bailiff of the local court. These visits were the result of a civil court order issued against Fischer in connection with a 1955 motor vehicle accident. For one reason or another Fischer was either unable, or unwilling to pay the amount of damages claimed against him, and Harold Pannell had been forced to explain to him that goods to the approximate value of the claim would have to be seized and sold to expiate the debt.
Thirty-six year old Fischer, whose mind was not quick to grasp ideas that were not part of his every day life, had trouble trying to comprehend the logic in having to forfeit some of his possessions, but the policeman was patient and explained the situation repeatedly until he was certain that Fischer fully understood the situation. Pannell then set a time and date, 10 am., March 12 to call out at the farm with a tmck to pick up several rolls of chain fencing to offset the long overdue debt.
At the agreed to time and date, Harold Pannell arrived at the Fischer property with a truck and driver to take possession of the fencing material. The truck driver, Cohn Murray Jackson, a carrier from Murray bridge later described the events that took place as he and the policeman prepared to load the fencing wire onto the truck.
“I saw that Fischer, who was nearby, was holding a shotgun, the muzzle of which was pointed downward, towards the ground. As Senior Constable Pannell and I began to load the wire I said to Fischer, by way of conversation, ‘It is hard for me to take these goods like this’. To which Fischer replied, ‘Its harder for me Pannell then said, ‘The wire will be at the Police Station at Karoonda, if you come into some money you can get it back.’ As we were about to load the last roll of wire, Fischer walked to within a few feet of Pannell and said ‘Leave it there’. Pannell who was bending at the time and preparing to lift the roll, told Fischer to drop the gun, then asked me to help him lift the wire. Fischer, who had brought the gun to his shoulder, pointed it at Pannell and took a single step forward, and then, from a distance of about three feet [1 metre] shot Pannell through the forehead. Fischer then ordered me to unload the truck and drive away, which I did.”
When later questioned about Fischer’s appearance at the time of the shooting John Jackson said, “I saw no sign of temper about Fischer when the shot was fired. And afterwards he displayed no more concern than if he had shot a crow.
After leaving the scene of the shooting Jackson headed immediately to the Karoonda Police Station where he reported the shooting, in as much detail as was possible.
Fischer meanwhile, headed off towards Murray Bridge in his car. He was later found and arrested at gunpoint in a garage there, by Constable G Waye. Constable Waye, being on foot, ordered Fischer to get behind the wheel of his own truck, then with the constable’s gun pointed at him Fischer drove half a mile [.8 kms.] to the police station.
Other police were meanwhile dispatched from Adelaide and surrounding areas to the crime scene where they discovered Harold Pannell’s body. He still lay where he had fallen after being shot, and even the most cursory examination was sufficient to show that death had been instantaneous.
The single barrel 12-gauge shotgun that Fischer had used to fire the fatal shot was found in the kitchen of the farmhouse by the investigating policemen.
Fischer was brought before a specially convened court hearing at Murray Bridge that same evening where Sergeant W Rodgers briefly outlined the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Harold Pannell. After hearing the evidence collected thus far, Mr. C. K. Collins J.P. who had charge of the hearing, remanded Fischer in custody to the Adelaide Gaol on a charge of murder.
Senior Constable Harold Rae Pannell was laid to rest with full police honours at Centenial Park Cemetery on Thursday afternoon March 14th. Three hundred police officers, representing all branches of the S.A. Police Force attended the funeral.
Sixty motor traffic officers on motorcycles led the cortege from the funeral parlour on Unley Road, Unley, to Daws Road. The cortege then moved to the cemetery headed by an additional one hundred uniformed constables in a slow march.
Reverend A Wright conducted the burial service at the graveside, and police buglers sounded the Last Post.
Despite the seemingly brutal and cold blooded manner in which Harold Pannell was shot to death, and the lifelong heartbreak that was so obviously suffered by his wife, Rhonda, and their two children, one cannot study John Ross Keith Fischer’s case file without some small feeling of compassion.
At his trial, which was held at the Adelaide Supreme Court before His Honour Mr. Justice Reed, Fischer, through his counsel Mr. Harry Alderman Q. C., stated that while he wished to plead “Not guilty,” he did not dispute any of the prosecution evidence, nor deny that he fired the shot that killed Harold PannelL The truck driver, Colin Murray Jackson, who had personally witnessed the tragedy, was, as a consequence one of the very few witnesses called to give evidence for the prosecution.
In his own defence Fischer read an unsworn statement, which occupied less than a foolscap page. In it Fischer said that, although he did not quite understand why the policeman was taking his wire, the policeman had been to see him several times and “had been very decent to me.
He said that he knew that the constable was coming with a truck to take the wire and was only doing his job. Fischer continued his statement saying that he did not at the time know that he was doing anything wrong. “Even afterwards I didn’t think so either, until I came to my senses. I thought I would go on working my farm. Although if I was in my right mind I would have known that shooting a policeman was murder and that I would be arrested. I was not right in my head at the time. I couldn’t have been, or I wouldn’t have done it. I was not annoyed with the policeman I had no reason for doing it. I can’t understand why I did this terrible thing. My mind was a blank.”
At the completion of Fischer’s statement, Leslie Frederick Baker, who resided in the neighbouring township of Tailem Bend, and had known Fischer for a number of years, was called to give evidence for the defence.
He said, “Fischer has lived alone on his farm since the death of his mother about three years ago. He has always been a quiet jovial sort of fellow. His married sister, Mrs. Edna Liebich, to whom Fischer was extremely close, died on March 8 of this year [four days prior to the shooting of Constable Pannell]. When I greeted Fischer on the day of his sister’s funeral, he was very distressed, he opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came out and there were flecks of froth around his mouth. This man, who is my friend, was frothing at the mouth. I was sitting in a car. He moved away, and I did nothing.” The witness concluded emotionally.
Three doctors, specialising in mental disorders, who had each independently examined Fischer while remanded in the Adelaide Gaol, gave evidence one at a time, as to their findings in regard to these examinations.
The first medical man, Dr. A W Meadows said, “Fischer’s general intelligence could be described as mentally retarded or dull — a midway position between a mental defect and lower average ability. He is not in the certifiable class. His performance is equal to that of a person of lower average capacity, though I could find no sign of brain damage to cause this condition.
The results of the tests that I subjected the accused to suggested that he has a withdrawn, restricted, apathetic personality resembling schizophrenia, but insufficient for a definite diagnosis. Fischer’s reading skill is equal to that of an average child of 8 — 9 years. His shallow interests, his tendency to turn away from reality, poor memory, egocentricity and emotional withdrawal, are some of the symptoms to be found in the epileptic character.
Fischer’s reactions to tests and his statements to police indicates confusion, which would fit either schizophrenia or ideopathic epilepsy. A person in either of those conditions would perform actions as if he were in a dream. They might even be performed unconsciously.
It is a confused mental state, a clouded state of consciousness. A person in such a state would not be able to weigh rightness or wrongness.
People with such a defect, are unable to foresee the consequences of their acts, or control themselves nor did they fully know the nature of their acts when they performed them.
The first test that I subjected Fischer to, suggested that he is more likely than the normal person to kill somebody, because he is dull, and less appreciative of consequences than the normal person.
While I cannot say with certainty that the accused did not know what he was doing when he shot Constable Pannell, there is a possibility that he was in a confused state, acting automatically. It is possible that while doing these acts something else was going through his mind, possibly something totally unrelated to the acts and context.
I am reasonably certain that Fischer did not suffer from hallucinations. Had I found that link, I would have been able to say that he is a schizophrenic. As it is, I am only able to assert its probability. Although items of conduct taken singly do not show a certain mental state, taken together they might indicate a high probability.”
In response to a question from the Judge, the doctor said, “If the shot was fired in a state of epileptic automation, the firer would not know what he was doing.”
Dr. S B Forgan was called as the next witness, his findings were very much in keeping with those of the previous witness but he appeared a little more definite when he stated, “I am of the opinion that at the time of the shooting Fischer’s conduct was that of an epileptic equivalent.” Dr. Forgan, when queried about the condition, said, “It is a type of seizure that might at times take the place of the ordinarily known fit. It is a mental seizure, not a physical one. In this condition a patient will go through a series of actions automatic in the sense that they were not controlled by his will, but he was often conscious of his actions. He would not however be able to appreciate the consequences of his act, nor know if what he was doing was morally right or wrong.
If he did have some appreciation of wrongness, he would not have the power to stop himself Howeveri strongly believe that at the time of the act Fischer did not have any such appreciation.”
The opinion of the third medical man, Dr. J M Collins, acting Deputy Superintendent of Northfield Mental Hospital, was slightly different to the previous two doctors. He was more inclined to think that Fischer was suffering from schizophrenia and that he was in fact subject to hallucinations. Like the other doctors however, he stated that Fischer would not have known at the time of shooting the policeman, that what he was doing, was wrong.
At the conclusion of Dr. Collins testimony, the Crown Prosecutor, Mr. J R Kearnan, addressed Mr. Justice Reed, indicating that in view of the whole of the medical evidence he thought it would be advantageous for His Honour to meet with, himself and the defence counsel for a brief interview in chambers.
After a short adjournment His Honour told the jury that the medical evidence accorded with the view that Fischer was insane in the legal sense, at the time of the shooting and that the jury could return a verdict accordingly of not guilty on the ground of insanity.
If such a verdict were to be given, he said, it would be his duty to order detention, the practical effect of which would be the removal of the defendant to a mental institution where he would remain until the authorities were satisfied that he could be released with safety to the community.
His Honour said that the Crown had dealt fairly with the case, and everything had been done to see that the public interest was cared for. It was unfortunate that a member of the Police Force had been killed, but the jury had a duty to do in accordance with the evidence.
After a short conference in the box the jury returned the verdict, which His Honour had invited, and His Honour announced the finding, as required by the law, ordering John Ross Keith Fischer to be kept in strict custody until the Governor’s pleasure be known.
Fischer was released from the mental institution to which he had been confined when it was deemed that he no longer posed a threat to society. He died in Adelaide on July 9, 1988 at the age of sixty-seven.
Harold Rae Pannell is listed with pride on the South Australian Police Honour Roll among the names of other brave South Australian Police Officers whose lives were forfeited in the line of duty.
On Sunday, April 28, 2002, the 164th anniversary of the foundation of the South Australian Force, a memorial is to be unveiled to the memory and sacrifice of the late Senior Constable Harold Rae Pannell, at Railway Park, Main Street Karoonda. The memorial was instigated and installed through the Joint efforts of the South Australian Police Historical Society, the Police Association of South Australia, and the District Council of Karoonda East Murray.
** ** * * * ** * *
By the First World War the first detective training school had been started in England, and the Criminal Record Office set up. By then the Metropolitan Police were equipped with a few bicycles and cars.
Return of appointments, &e., in the Police Force :-
Transfers to Mounted Police, Northen Territory—Frederick Briggs, George Montagu, and Philip Stuart Bastard, from 8th instant inclusive; Jdmes Raff and Charles Stanley from 13th instant inclusive.
From the South Australian Government Gazette, August
His Excellency the Governor, in Executive Council, has
been pleased to appoint Thomas Walker Bee, Esquire, spector of Metropolitan Police, to be an Inspector of Mounted Police, vice Roe resigned. By command,
Chief Secretary’s Office, Adelaide, August 20, 1873.
His Excellency the Governor, in Executive Council. has been pleased to appoint William John Peterswald, Esquire, “Warden of the Goldfields, to be Inspector of Metropolitan Police, vice Bee transferred.
ARTHUR BLYTH, Chief Secretary.
His Excellency the Governor, in Executive Council, has been pleased to appoint Mr. Inspector Bee, of the Mounted Police, to be an Inspector of Public Houses, Wine Shops, &c., under provisions of the Licensed Victuallers Act of 1869.
ARTHUR BLYTH, Chief Secretary.
Chief Secretary’s Office,
Adelaide, August 20, 1873.
Police Commissioner’s Office, Adelaide, 6th Nov., 1873.
A horse injured, by careless or improper riding will in no case be exchanged. If the injury be slight, the rider -will be placed under stoppage of one shilling a-day, in addition to reduction of class, or such other- punishment .as may be awarded: if the horse be so seriously injured as to be permanently unfit for further service, the rider will render himself liable to summary dismissal from the Police Force.
With reference to the periodical relief of Mounted or Foot Constables, the Inspectors will be guided by the following rules
1st. The Commissioner will be happy at all times to meet the wishes or the convenience of every zalous and well- conducted man.
2nd. -No man is to be relieved
from an outpost in consequence
of incapacity, carelessness, disagreement with his comrades, or
he must learnto do his duty where he has been placed, zealously,
and in co-operation with his comrades, If he either cannot, or will not
not learn this, he must leave the Force.
Police Commissioner’s Office, Adelaide, 7th Nov., 1873.
Constables of the
Metropolitan. Police are directed to
take charge of any prisoners given into their custody by the special
of the Corporation of the City of Adelaide. They will lock these
up, and take them before the Police Magistrate, the special constables
being warned to attend and prefer the charge. - -
|The “HUE & CRY” is
Published by the South Australian
Police Historical Society Inc.,
Thebarton Police Barracks
C/— Box 1539 S.A. 5083
G.P.O. Adelaide 5001
Gaiway Avenue, Broadview