Thursday, March 24, 2011


One of the most remarkable aspects of Jimmy Governor was his 'hit list' of people he deliberately set out to kill.
I doubt if the 20th century American gangster, Al Capone, had one as long as his!
All on his list had offended him, his sense of pride in who he was, in one way or another.
Within the Aboriginal culture, 'pay back' for serious offences against another was publicly meted out by spearing the transgressor in the thigh.
An offence was paid back in blood.
This was the centuries' old traditional way of righting a wrong.
But ritual spearing was not an option for a part-Aboriginal man living in white society.
Or rather, one stuck between the white world and the black.
So Jimmy used a rifle to shoot or bash his victims, or a traditional Aboriginal club.
A tomahawk was his brother Joe's weapon of choice.
Bashing a human being's brains out must not have been all that different to killing a possum, something the brothers did regularly while they were living on the Mawbey property at Breelong.
They did it for the meat and the skins.

The murders at Breelong, of four members of the Mawbey family and their school teacher, was to do with current grievances of Jimmy and his wife Ethel, not longstanding ones from the past.
But these current grievances were based on ones from the past, on abuse inflicted on both of them by other people, not the Mawbeys.
In committing such atrocities against the Mawbey family, Jimmy knew he had drawn up his own death sentence.
They would be out gunning or him now.
So instead of trying to escape the arms of the law, Jimmy embarked on a targetted campaign of retribution against anyone who had done him wrong.
He had taken the first step toward infamy and his own self-destruction and now he had nothing to lose.
He wanted to complete all his unfinished business before departing this world.
And to top it all off, he wanted to go down in history as Australia's greatest murderer.
He was a proud man, and wanted to be remembered as some type of hero, a 'somebody'.

The first person on his 'hit list' he found was 70-year-old Scot, ALEXANDER (Sandy) McKAY.
According Moore and Williams, McKay (aka 'Mackay') had threatened to whip Jimmy because he had been making sexual advances to an orphaned young woman in his care.
The unarmed old man was attacked from behind while pruning a fig tree at the back of his house.
The Governor brothers then went to the house and hit his wife on the head with a tomahawk, injuring but not killing her outright.

Next on Jimmy's hit list was Irishman MICHAEL (Mick) O'BRIEN.
I have recently been told on good authority that Mick was a former friend of Jimmy's who had gotten into a fight with him and threatened to kill him on a fishing expedition.
Mick was out collecting firewood when Jimmy and Joe arrived at his house.
Inside were his 30-year-old heavily pregnant wife, Lizzie, their 15-month-old son, James, and a midwife, Catherine Lalor.
The brothers bashed the pregnant mother and her living child to death, the mother with a tomahawk and the boy with a rifle butt.
They also shot the midwife and left a threatening note for Mick on a butt in his chequebook.

Next on their hit list was 80-year-old Irishman, KIERAN (correct spelling 'Kyrien' as in Catholic Latin Mass prayer, 'Kyrie' - 'Lord have mercy') FITZPATRICK.
Moore and Williams say he had poisoned Jimmy's dogs while he was working for him.
This could have been by accident or design.
Fitzpatrick had been warned that Jimmy was coming to take him out, but he decided to defy the odds.
He lost.

Moore and Williams say that while Ethel Governor was in custody at Mudgee, she named 15 probable victims on Jimmy's 'hit list'.
Among them were McKay, O'Brien and Fitzpatrick, all of whom her husband succeeded in killing, either directly or indirectly.
Others who managed to avoid him were:
Thomas Carney, W Gawthorne, Henry Neville, Gee Li (Chinese market gardener and former next door neighbour of Jimmy's father), Joshua Davis, Joseph and Henry Single, Henry Whitfield and others.

Moore and Williams say Jimmy had announced his own hit list:
Sub-inspector Cameron, Hugh McMaster, Lennox, Theo Burnett Jr, Paddy Buckley,
T Woods, H Turvey, Starr, J Dowland, Thomas Hughes, Andy Doyle and others
That's at least another 23 targeted potential white murder victims.

Then there were the blacks living on the Wollar reservation he wanted to kill:
all his brothers, sisters and cousins (but not his mother and uncle); old Jimmy Coombes; Eliza, Kitty and Molly; Tommy Picton; and Jacky Corks, husband of his sister, Tottie.
According to Moore & Williams*, Joe Governor said he would protect his cousin, Jolly, but would shoot all the other gins there.
The whole thing is unspeakable in anybody's language, which is probably why I am struggling to find words to sum it up.

*The True Story of Jimmy Governor by Laurie Moore and Stephan Williams.