Special Constable

John PHEGAN

YEAR OF DEATH

1867

JURISDICTION

New South Wales

DETAILS OF DEATH

John Carroll (a senior warder at the Darlinghurst Gaol) was the leader and one of four men sworn in as Special Constables to search for and capture the Clarke Gang of bushrangers. The patrol consisted of Carroll Patrick Kennagh Eneas McDonnell and John Phegan. All were well armed with the sophisticated Tranter weapons and were posing as surveyors in the Braidwood area. On the night of the 8/9 January 1867 the four men were walking through an area of very dense bush on Jinden Station Braidwood. There is little doubt that the party were ambushed by the Clarke Gang probably the most violent and bloodthirsty gang of bushrangers in Australian history. Witnesses apparently heard shooting during the night but did not investigate until the following day. In a clearing in the bush McDonnell and Phegan were found shot to death their bodies riddled with bullets. About 800 metres further on Carroll and Kennagh were found also shot to death probably after surrendering. Carroll was found lying on his back with a neatly folded handkerchief on his chest with a one-pound note pinned to it. A large sum of money he was carrying in his pocket had not been touched. Like Carroll Kennagh and McDonnell were prison warders and Phegan had been chosen for the search because as a former associate of the Clarkes he knew the Braidwood area well. These murders represent the highest number of police ever killed in a single incident of this type in Australian history. It is only surpassed by the spearing of patrols of Native Mounted Police in Queensland in the 1860’s.

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