Friday, 20 September 2013

You won’t take me, dead or alive. The life and shooting of " Charles Thomas Aiken" 1929 at Rooty Hill.

I have compiled a number of ' news story's' in my many years of research in to my family History, I hope you find them as interesting as I do, I have been surprised at the many events in my tree and I will share many with you as time permits.

lets start with the story of  Thomas Charles Aiken   such a short yet eventful life, you decide for your self what really happened with the news story's I present here.

Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW: 1888 - 1954)
Wednesday 25 September 1929 

Sydney, Wednesday.

Thomas Charles Aiken and George Norman Niass, who escaped from the “Lithgow lockup” yesterday, are still at large.

They were located by the police from Lithgow and Katoomba shortly after 4 p.m. yesterday near Bulwarra, but after a chase they escaped into the bush. Organised parties of police are to-day searching the mountains for them.

The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954)

Shooting of Escapee.



The Parramatta District Coroner (Mr. H. Richardson Clark) held yesterday that Constable Bartlett, of Rooty Hill, was Justified In shooting Charles Thomas Aiken at Rooty Hill on the night of September 25.

The Coroner said that the law was definite on the subject. If a police officer attempted to arrest a felon, and such person fled, knowing that he was to be arrested, then he could be lawfully shot if he could not otherwise be apprehended. "In this case it is a fair assumption that if Aiken was not shot he would have got away," said the Coroner.

Charles Andrew Aiken, the father of the deceased, broke down several times during the inquiry.
Charles Andrew Aiken said that his son had always been a good boy at home. He left Pennant Hills about six weeks before his death to look for work.

Sergeant Purdon, of Lithgow, gave evidence of Aiken's arrest on September 22, in company with a man named Niass, at Mt. Victoria Pass on a charge of horse-stealing.

George Norman Niass, 18, described his escape from the lock-up with Aiken, who had said that the police would never take him alive.

The father of the deceased at this stage interposed: "This man (pointing to Niass)
"Is a thoroughly bad person. He used to come out to my place and coax my boy away with the horses.
Then he blamed everything on to my boy. Last May I caught him sleeping on my premises, and when I told him to go away he pointed a rifle at me.

"Susan Aiken said that her nephew came to her house on the night of September 25. When Constable Bartlett walked into the place Aiken hid under the table, but eventually emerged.

The constable said: "Put up your hands and surrender," but Charles made a move with one hand to his pocket, where upon the constable drew his revolver and covered him.

Later, the constable put his weapon away, and then the two struggled on the floor, gradually working towards the door. Aiken was getting the better of matters.

Outside she heard a shot and saw the constable fire into the air, and then she heard another shot.

Constable William Edward Bartlett said that when arrested Aiken said: "You won't take me alive." When witness put his revolver away Aiken rushed him and punched him.

They closed and struggled, first on the floor and then in the yard, and Aiken tore at witness's mouth with his fingers, and said "I'll knock your brains out." "He broke away from my grasp by slipping out of his overcoat, and I fell, said Bartlett.” Then he rushed back, kicked at my face and injured my finger. He then ran away.

I called out twice: 'Stop, or I'll shoot.' He did not stop, and I fired into the air from where I was lying. He ran on and passed out of sight. I got up and fired in the direction in which he went.

I searched for him, and found him 242 feet away from where I fired. He was a powerful man, and too strong for me.

No one regrets it more than I do." "I have a good deal of sympathy for the parents of the dead man, and just as much sympathy for the constable, who is apparently such a decent fellow, and who would rather have forfeited his position than have shot Aiken," said the Coroner. 
"There is no doubt that Aiken was a violent, resentful, and excited man when the constable arrived."

Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)
Thursday 24 October 1929


An absolute accident' was how Constable Bartlett, at Parramatta Coroner's Court, to-day, described the shooting of Charles Thomas Aiken, the escapee from ' Lithgow lock-up, at Rooty Hill on September 26.

Bartlett said  he tried twice to frighten Aiken, who had struggled with him for five minute; and had then run away. 'Nobody regrets this more than I, he added.

The District Coroner. Mr H. Richardson Clark found that the shooting by Constable Bartlett, in the execution of his duty, was justifiable.

AIKEN a laborer, and was 22 years of age. Formal evidence of Identification m given by Constable Coke, who said that Aiken had been convicted previously, and was identified by his finger prints.

Sergeant Burton, of Lithgow, said he arrested Aiken and a man named Niass on a charge of baring stolen a brown gelding valued at £3. They were brought before the Police Court next day.

Grace O. Peck, resident medical officer at Parramatta Hospital, said Aiken was brought to the Institution at 10.30 p.m. on September 35. He was only Just alive, suffering from a bullet wound In his chest. He died a few moments after admission. The cause of death was hemorrhage of the lungs, due to the round.

The Government Medical Officer at Parramatta, Dr. Hall, who made a postmortem examination of the body, said a bullet bad passed right through the right lung. The absence of powder marks on the clothing indicated that Aiken had not been shot at dose range.

Witness bad known Aiken when he was In. gaol at Parramatta some time ago. Aiken gave a great deal of trouble In the gaol and in the hospital, He was only fairly normal mentally. The bullet had entered Aiken's back, the doctor added.

Charles Thomas Aiken, father of deceased, protested that hit son was quite normal He was a good boy and a treat worker. He last saw his son on August 14, when he left home to look for work. Later he heard that he had escaped from the lock-up. He told a constable that if his son came home, he would take him to the police.

Constable Swift, in 'charge or Lithgow lock-up, gave formal evidence that Aiken and Niass were handed into his charge and escaped from custody.
The father of deceased wanted to ask the constable how they got out of gaol, 'because the other boys put it all on to my boy,' he said. The Coroner told him that the constable end not. Witness the actual escape.

Recalled to the witness box to Identify a photograph of his son, the father broke down and wept, He said that the other escapee, George Norman Mass, a laborer, aged 16. Who gave himself up, told him that Aiken removed a brick from the window in the exercise yard, pushed a bar back and then got out, and he followed.

Niass, according to the father, related that they kept together until they reached Springwood. Aiken said the police would never get him alive. They traveled further, and then separated. Two days later Niass heard that Aiken was shot and he then gave himself up.

'You were always at my place coaxing my boy away,' said Aiken senior, turning to Niass,Niass denied It. 

'This boy is a very bad boy. He was always coaxing ray boy away, and when I ordered him off the premises he pointed a rifle at me one day,' the father told the Coroner.

James Clark, of Springwood, said Aiken went to his house and asked for the loan of a rifle. Witness refused, and then Aiken followed him to an outhouse, where there were several rifles belonging to a rifle club, and grabbed one. Witness told him to put It down. Aiken old so and left.
Another resident of Springwood. Mrs Dorothy Carter, said that a man like Aiken went to her house and asked for the loan of a gun.

Dr. Day said he examined Constable Bartlett on September 26. The latter was suffering from a strained finger and contusions to the Jaw— injuries likely to have been caused by a struggle with a prisoner.

 Thomas Henry Aiken, uncle of deceased, told how Aiken came to his house at Rooty Hill on September 25. He knocked at the door, and said, 'Good night, uncle.' He entered the house, and told his aunt he could not kiss her, as he was poisoned. Witness' wife then made him a cup of tea.
Witness said he had been warned by the police against harboring his nephew.
'Almost Immediately after his arrival, I went to the Rooty Hill police station and told Constable Bartlett that Charlie was at home,' he added. 'He left the station, and on my way home I heard two shots and was told by another constable that Charlie had been shot.'

'Couldn't you have sent my boy away? When he came?' asked deceased's father. 'I could not, Charlie. I could not.
I did everything for the best,' replied witness:

Mrs. Susan Aiken, wife of the previous witness, related how Constable Bartlett entered the house when Akien was sitting In the kitchen.

The constable went to witness grandson, grabbed him, and said, 'I've got you.' Aiken, immediately he saw the constable, ducked beneath the table.
Bartlett called upon Aiken to come from under the table, and witness told him to come out and face the policeman. 

Aiken came out after a while, and Bartlett told him to take his hands out of his pockets.
Aiken said he would not take them out for a constable or anyone else.
The constable drew his revolver, pointed it at Aiken, and said. 'Put up your hands and surrender.' Bartlett put his revolver away and went over to grab Aiken. They struggled for five or ten minutes through the house and out into the backyard.

They continued to struggle in the yard for a while, and then witness heard a shot, and saw some sparks fly upwards. She then beard another shot.
Bartlett came back and said Aiken was not dead. 

Mrs Aiken added that she had known Constable Bartlett, who had been stationed at Rooty Hill, for some time. He was well liked and she had nothing against him.

Constable Bartlett, first-class, said that at 9.30 p.m. on September 25 Mr Aiken came to the police station. Witness changed into plain clothes and arrived at Aiken's home about 9.50 p.m. He entered the back door and heard voices in the kitchen.

'I saw Jack Aiken, grabbed him. And discovered I had made a mistake,' added witness.
 'The lad said, 'He's in the kitchen, constable, I went Into the kitchen and saw Aiken scramble under the table.

I said. -I am Constable Bartlett, of Rooty Hill. I want you.' 'Aiken said, 'You You won’t take me, dead or alive.' At the same time, he put his right hand in the direction of his hip pocket.
Witness said he drew his revolver, but when he saw Aiken was unarmed, put it away.

Aiken then rushed him, and hit him several times on the body.
They struggled for four or five minutes from the kitchen into the yard. Aiken put his fingers in witness' mouth, tore at it and said: 'You, I will knock your brains out.'

Aiken got away by falling out of his overcoat, Witness fell to the ground with the overcoat in his hand.

‘He ran away.' witness proceeded 'and I called out while I was lying on the ground: 'Stand or I shoot!'
I fired well above his head to frighten him. He continued on out of my sight. I fired another shot, low down, in the direction he went 'I rushed over and found him more than 300 feet away lying in the lane, groaning. 'He asked for a drink or water, and I gave it to him. 

About 25 minutes later he was taken by the ambulance to the hospital.
'I intended to frighten him into surrendering, and not to shoot or injure him.' Nobody regrets this more than I do.

I did not have the remotest Intention of Injuring him. It was absolutely an accident I took no aim. I could not see him.'
The constable added that it was the first time in his 14 years' service in the force that he had fired his revolver.'

Constable Gregory related bow some time ago Aiken escaped from witness' custody while being taken to the police station at Parramatta, and was subsequently arrested in his father's house.
Sergeant Williamson said Bartlett had an excellent police record and was a capable officer.

The Coroner found that Aiken died in the Parramatta District Hospital from a bullet wound In the back, Inflicted on him by Constable Bartlett, In the execution of his duty, and that such wound was Justifiably Inflicted by the constable.

'In all my forty years' experience of the law, I've only heard of four or five other cases where a constable has shot a civilian,' said the Coroner. He praised the uncle who gave the information to the police.

'The case,' the Coroner added, 'has raised the question of the constable's power to shoot Shooting by the police could be either murder, manslaughter, or Justifiable homicide. - If a felon escapes arrest, he may be lawfully killed if he cannot be otherwise apprehended.

‘In this case, I think it is quite fair- to assume that If the young fellow had not been, he would have got away. He could not have been otherwise arrested.

One feels for the parents of the young man, but also for ' the constable. An awfully decent fellow like Constable Bartlett would regret this matter very much, and would probably sooner have -forfeited his position than have shot him.

The constable has his future before him, and has to meet the public for the rest of his life.

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