Saturday, August 11, 2012


The role John Mawbey played in what happened at Breelong is becoming clearer to me.
At the time of the murders, he presented as a 'good guy', an innocent victim of Jimmy Governor.
It was the women involved, the ones who had denigrated Jimmy and his wife Ethel, who copped all the blame.
Mrs Mawbey, her eldest daughter, Grace and the schoolteacher, Ellen Kerz.
It had nothing to do with him.
But it was John Mawbey who placed Jimmy in a 'no win' situation in the first place by giving him a job beyond his ability to do on his own.
In doing so, he shamed him, made him feel inferior, just as much as his wife Sarah Mawbey did Ethel.
This is one 'take' on the story.
But on the other side of the coin, Jimmy would have known he could not make any real money out of the fencing job unless it was done quickly.
For this to happen, he needed help.
He claimed that his brother Joe and Jacky Underwood just turned up at Breelong, and it was only then that he asked them for assistance.
But they knew where he was, indicating he had told them where he was going to be after accepting the job.
So it may already have been planned beforehand, with Jimmy being more cunning than he later let on.
The plan failed because trying to do the job too quickly resulted in shoddy workmanship.
Jimmy prided himself on being cunning.
The Singleton Argus, 8 November 1900, reports that after he was captured, he 'gloried in ... his powers of cunning in outwitting the police and and the others who were engaged in the pursuit'.
He may have thought he was one jump ahead of John Mawbey, even offering the housework services of his wife Ethel to cinch the deal, but this time his scheming failed.
I think Jimmy intended to kill John Mawbey when he went to the inn before going to the house.
Unlike some of his future victims, Mawbey did not come outside in response to Jimmy's call.
He did not take the bait.
He may have been aware that Jimmy was on the warpath and was trying to placate him by asking him inside to warm himself by the fire.
Jimmy lulled him into a false sense of security by asking to have rations delivered to his camp the next day.
He then went to the house and murdered Mawbey's wife, two daughters and a son.
John Mawbey would have felt like a fool for allowing himself to be tricked by Jimmy in this way.
And like an abject failure as a husband and father for not protecting his wife and children when he knew trouble was brewing.
He may have been fooled by Jimmy's surface charm, which fooled other people.