“All their comings and their goings were so closely scrutinised
as the prosecution’s trump card was the evidence they prized.
Though the wily prosecutor gathered facts to build his case,
some old bushmen too were scheming and a plan was put in place.
“They were crafty, artful dodgers, who’d been slipped a quid their way,
and could see to it the evidence might somehow go astray.
The bold band then took advantage of the absence of the guard
for some twenty or so minutes and then broke into the yard.
“In the small hours of that morning they absconded with the stock
and the speed of the audacious theft had left police in shock.
These bold bushmen used a vehicle which, much to their delight,
lured the cattle through the darkened streets and quickly out of sight.
“All available policemen joined the search to find their trail,
but their roadblocks and sheer numbers proved to be of no avail.
Then at sunrise the black constable, a tracker of renown,
traced the mob out to the stockyards on the outskirts of the town.
“All the cattle had been slaughtered and not one ear could be seen
and a piece of hide was missing, where the owner’s brand had been.
Still the heads and hides were proof enough … or so the lawyers thought,
but the judge dismissed the evidence and threw it out of court.
I just sat there flabbergasted as the old bloke rose to go,
‘cause the way he’d told the story he was really in the know.
But he sensed I sought the obvious and said “I need a drink.”
Then he hobbled down the street away … and turned and gave a wink.
In the book Champagne Country, which explores the history of Roma and district, there is
a chapter on Bushranging. In part it discusses how the notorious Harry Redford was tried
in Roma, though found not guilty and also there was another account of an incident which
took place in 1952. A number of head of cattle being held as evidence in a cattle
duffing offence disappeared from the Police yards about two a.m. in the morning while
supposedly being under constant guard. The culprits were never apprehended. Years
later my wife’s dad, who went droving at the age of ten and a well known identity around
Roma, shed a little light on the subject. The above tale tells what took place. Certain
facts have been hidden to protect the guilty.