0002 THE UNSOLVED MURDER OF A POLICEMAN

STABBED 16 TIMES WITH HIS OWN WEAPON. WHO KILLED THE POLICEMAN?
STABBED 16 TIMES WITH HIS OWN WEAPON. WHO KILLED THE POLICEMAN?

WHO KILLED THE POLICEMAN?
Today’s AUSTRALIAN TRUE CRIME entry is the story of one of an Unsolved murder of a policeman by a man they could not hang.

Born in Middlesex, England, in 1765, Joseph Luker was a petty criminal who runs afoul of the law several times.

Joseph and his friend, James Roche, were apprehended on 23 June 1789, with a heavy load of led guttering, taken from the roof of a house belonging to George Dowling. The led was worth about ten shillings ($150 Australian approximately).

On 8 July 1789, Joseph was sentenced in the Old Bailey to transportation for seven years to New South Wales. He left England, on the ship Atlantic, along with 219 other criminals, as part of the Third Fleet. The trip took 146 days, with 18 deaths on the trip, and arrived in Australia on 20 August 1791.

Sentenced to seven years in Australia

When in Australia, Joseph proved himself an outstanding citizen and was released from his sentence early in 1996. He married a woman named Ann Chapman in the area known as Parramatta the following year.

He soon went from being a lawbreaker to being a law enforcer when joining the Sydney Foot Police.

On 26 August 1803, Constable Luker patrolled Sydney Town’s Back Row East (now known as Phillip Street) near the road leading to Farm Cove.

His intentions that night were to capture several burglars, who had recently committed several offences on homes in the area. However, in the early hours of the morning, he was patrolling near a Misses Mary Breeze’s dwelling, a property that had been robbed of a desk earlier that night, containing money and legal papers.

WHO KILLED THE POLICEMAN?

Constable Luker was set upon by a group of offenders and beaten to death. 

He was belted with the desk, bashed with a wheelbarrow frame and stabbed multiple times with his weapon. 

He suffered horrific head wounds, Sixteen Stabs and Contusions to the head. The left ear was almost completely severed. On the left side of the head were four injuries and several others on its back.

His dagger had been embedded in his skull to a depth of more than an inch and a half and was stuck there and left.

WHO KILLED THE POLICEMAN?

Witnesses accused five men of the robbery and the death of Luker.

The main suspect, Constable Isaac Simmonds (also known as Hickey Bull, or Isaac), is an ex-convict who also lived on Back Row and was a known associate of the other suspects. Charged with wilful murder but found not guilty. Simmonds tried to clean blood from the stolen desk at the police station. Witnesses also testified that one shirt and three hankies, stained with blood, were found in his house. Despite a career of robbery and violence, Simmonds convinced the court that he had a history of nosebleeds.

Another suspect was Constable William Bladders (also known as Hambridge, or Ambridge). Bladders, an ex-convict, transported for burglary, was also charged with wilful murder. With the support of witnesses, he was found not guilty, despite Surgeon John Harris stating that he saw blood spatters on Bladders’ legs, feet and hat ‘as if they issued from an artery or vein’, even though he had no cuts or wounds. He also noted that he had recently put clean shoes on bloodied feet. Bladders had no explanation for these facts until a bystander reminded him that he had slaughtered a pig that morning. Generating more suspicion against Bladders was the discovery of a bloodied barrow in the yard of Sarah Laurence, who lived opposite the premises in which Bladders lodged.

Another Constable charged

Constable John Russell, yet another ex-convict, was also suspected. Charged with breaking and entering, he was found not guilty due to insufficient evidence.

Richard Jackson, ex-convict and thief, also confessed to the robbery and implicated Samuels as a witness for the Crown. Jackson was declared innocent of wrongdoing.

Joseph Samuels, also an ex-convict and professional thief, was also charged. Samuels confessed to the robbery of the desk but not to the murder of Luker. He was found guilty of the theft, but not of Luker’s murder, and sentenced to death.

WHO KILLED THE POLICEMAN?

Luker’s body was initially buried in the Old Sydney Burial Grounds under the modern-day Sydney Town Hall site.

The Burial Grounds, in operation from 1792 until 1820, represent Sydney’s first permanent cemetery. Luker’s body was exhumed in 1869 and re-interred at Sydney’s Rookwood Cemetery, and the previous cemetery cleared for the new Sydney town hall.

As a footnote to this story,

Would you please listen to the story of THE MAN THEY COULD NOT HANG, which is the incredible story of Joseph Samuels, Three attempts to hang him failed? Then he had his death sentence removed and given life in prison.

the Dawn of Crime
A book about the beginnings of Australia's True Crime history
TRUE CRIME FROM AUSTRALIAS
AUSTRALIA’S TRUE CRIME HISTORY

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