THE SHOOTING OF JOHN GREVILLE

The front cover of the Perth ‘Mirror’ newspaper on June 5, 1926.

THE FOLLOWING IS A REPRODUCTION OF THE ARTICLE IN THE 1926 JUNE 5TH EDITION OF THE PERTH 'MIRROR'

SHOT WITHOUT A CHANCE!     GUNMAN’s CRIME!   Not Even a “Money-or-your-life!” warning - How Jack Greville Was Done to Death!

With the horror of the Kalgoorlie outrage still fresh in the public mind, the city was horrified to learn on Thursday of another determined and desperate act involving the death of a bright young man [1].  It almost seems as if these terrible events run in cycles, for within the last few weeks three men have met their death at the hands of callous murderers.

The dreadful happening of Thursday is a terrible instance of the wilful taking of human life that has become so prevalent in the West of late.  It was unjustified, unexpected and unprovoked.

And it has stirred the people deeply with horror at its callousness and with sorrow for the unfortunate victim.

THE STORY OF THE CRIME

The events that led up to the murder can be very briefly told. John Roger Greville was agency officer for the William-street branch of the National Bank, which necessitated his visiting the Leederville branch in the morning and the Maylands branch in the afternoon, the latter at the bank's closing time.

On Thursday afternoon Greville left the Maylands bank at 3 p.m. with his junior officer, Douglas Favas. He carried with him a handbag containing £174/11/- in notes and coin, to be delivered to the head office [2]. It is alleged that a young man engaged the two bank clerks in conversation on the railway station and entered the carriage with them. What happened thereafter can partly be told by Favas and the rest must be surmised to complete the story.

It was a first class carriage. Favas and Greville sat with their faces to the engine, Favas being the nearer to the platform. The third man sat opposite Greville. Apparently they engaged in desultory conversation until the train was well on its trip.

Then came tragedy, and it can be only told through

THE CONFUSED RECOLLECTIONS

of young Favas, still naturally suffering shock from his terrible experience. “'I had been looking out of the window. I think the train was passing Millar's in East Perth when I heard a shot. I swung round and saw the other passenger with a revolver in his hand, and Greville was falling” said Favas.  “I only remember one shot.  Then the man came at me and I grappled with him. I got a blow on the head from a revolver, another on the ear, and as I put up my arm I was struck there too. Then I think I must have lost consciousness.”

The next scene of the tragedy is of Favas, bleeding and half dazed, staggering from the carriage and telling the first two men on the platform of the horror he had witnessed. Assistance was speedily at hand and poor Greville, with a bullet wound in his head and another in his stomach and obviously beyond human aid, was lifted from the carriage and with Favas was hurried to the hospital. Here the elder man died within an hour and the younger one, badly bruised and shocked but not dangerously hurt, was detained for treatment.

THE FUGITIVE

Surprise is the element of every successful attack, criminal or otherwise, and it was the daring of this daylight murder and robbery that enabled the miscreant to make such a complete getaway. He was not in the carriage when Favas brought assistance and it almost looked as if he had effected a complete disappearance.  Enquiry however proved otherwise, and though there are varying accounts of the details of his movements, it now seems pretty plain that he carried out his escape with coolness and deliberation.  Apparently he alighted from the carriage on the wrong side directly the train stopped at Perth, and the accompanying photograph gives an idea of his way out. It is thought that he ran across till he got to the Roe-street side of the railway property, then

WALKED BRISKLY ALONG

through various railway buildings for about half a mile and made his way out into Roe-street at Melbourne-road. He was seen by a number of employees and showed no alarm at their presence. The fact that he was wearing an oilskin led them to believe that he was a working man and no attempt was made to interfere with him.

THE CHASE

Within a couple of hours of the tragedy Commissioner Connell assembled the detective staff and a complete plan of the chase was arranged. A good description of the man was first obtained from Favas, and it gave the C.I.D. something tangible to work on.

Several men were detailed to watch possible city haunts and exits. Following on certain information Detectives Gee and Blight boarded the Great Western at 9 o'clock on Thursday evening and Detectives Maingay and Pusey left Perth by motor car for Northam, while Detective-Sergt Cameron probed certain persons about the deed.

The city trail led Defectives Cameron and Parker to Bassendean, where reside some former ‘Karoola’ fellow-passengers of Rennie. Between here and the branch of the bank at Maylands, where a man answering to Rennie’s description had called on more than one occasion, the chase began to take definite shape.

While the train was stopped at Midland Detectives Gee and Cameron were in conversation by telephone, the substance of it being that a certain man in disguise had been found by Perth enquiries to be on the train.

Action followed very quickly. Quietly, and without attracting undue attention, the detectives

SOUGHT OUT ROYSTON RENNIE

who was in a first class compartment in the train. He answered their questions calmly. Just as calmly he agreed to a search of his property, but his expression seemed to change when the searchers discovered cash to the value of £148/3/1 ½ among his belongings and also a small unloaded automatic revolver.

Just before the train reached Chidlows he was placed under arrest and at Northam quietly detrained by the detectives. Here the party joined Detectives Maingay and Pusey, who had come by car and with Rennie handcuffed to one of the detectives, the return journey to Perth was made about midnight.

The journey back town was delayed by encountering a burning motor lorry, which blocked the road at Greenmount, and dawn was greying the city when the police motor car drew up at Roe-street and Rennie was placed in the cells and charged with having wilfully murdered John Roger Greville.

Each of the events of the awful affair had moved with lightning-like action. Without eight hours of the commission of the crime the suspect was under arrest: within 12 hours he was in the cells after having travelled 130 miles in the meantime.

Every detective associated with the case deserves the public's thanks and congratulations for the splendid work of that crowded few hours.

WHO IS ROYSTON RENNIE? (Click here to read about his true identity)

Who is Royston Rennie now in the cells under a dreadful indictment of wilful murder? Strangely enough, though he has only been in the State about a month, there are many people who know him and quite a number of them go out of their way to speak well of him, while all express astonishment that he could be associated in any way with such a desperate act.

Royston Rennie is 26 years of age on his own statement and looks even a littler older. He is dark and tanned, with a thin line of a mouth and a fairly prominent Roman-shaped nose. He has black, close-cropped hair with a tendency to curl. He is about 5ft 9in. in height, thick set, and active and athletic-looking.  There is nothing about him that would occasion a second look.  He seems just the

ORDINARY TYPE OF YOUNG MAN

and would give the impression more of a mechanic than a clerk, and under other circumstances than seen on Friday his appearance might be said to be pleasant and prepossessing.

Royston Rennie was a passenger to Fremantle by the last trip of the ‘Karoola’ about a month ago, having joined the steamer at Adelaide in the second saloon. He was one of the moving spirits of the voyage, according to several of his fellow-passengers. He was a good talker and a good mixer and foremost in the sports and dances.

Rennie spoke frequently of his travels and conveyed the impression that he was an engineer of considerably high qualifications. He said he was just recently returned from San Francisco and had spent two years in Mauritius. On arrival in Perth he took up residence at the Norwood Hotel and made himself as pleasant there as he had been on the boat. He frequently told people that he was holidaying, pending the confirmation of

A BIG APPOINTMENT

in Queensland as an engineer at £1,200 per annum. Several of those whom he met on the boat met Rennie socially in Perth during the last two or three weeks and he was present at several parties. He drank in a convivial way but was never drunk; he never borrowed money and did not appear to be short.

Last Tuesday he stated that he was not sure about the job, and on Wednesday he said he had a message that it was all fixed at £1,200 a year and he told those at the hotel that he was leaving by the Trans, on Thursday evening. And it appears he really did pencil a berth early in the week.

On several occasions he showed people a revolver that was in his possession and even last week called on a military friend and, it was stated, pressed him to examine the revolver. This he did and noticed that the pin was broken in two pieces, which made the revolver liable to jam. That day he had a practice at a miniature range.

Rennie is known to be an athlete and a

PARTICULARLY GOOD RUNNER,

and he was introduced to most of the members of the East Perth Football club, all of whom with hardly an exception took to him at once. Only one member of the club openly expressed dislike for him.

On the fatal evening Royston Rennie arrived home for tea at the hotel as usual and took his accustomed place in the dining-room and ate his meal with his usual composure. News of the tragedy had just filtered through and it was discussed. After dinner it was noted he was without his false teeth, and somebody passed joking comment on it.  He left to catch the train, timing it so that he would not have to wait at the station. And he was seen off by four people, two of whom had met him on the ‘Karoola’ and the other two since his arrival in Perth.

It is stated that on boarding the train Rennie was disguised to the extent of being without his teeth, having his cap pulled over his eyes and walking with a slight limp. And if that was so it did not appear to be of such a nature as to cause any comment among those there to see him off.

THE VICTIM

“A good sport, a good looker and a good liver,” is how one of his most intimate friends summed up poor Jack Greville.

His was one of those magnetic personalities that inspires friends, and not only his own office but every bank had its group of mourners when the news of his death was made known.  He was a single man, only 28 years of age and had a fine record in the Bank's service. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Greville, formerly resided at Geraldton but some years ago took up residence at Darlington.

He has a sister younger than himself and no brothers.

DOUG FAVAS

Douglas Kenneth Favas counts himself a very fortunate young man today. He is only fifteen years of age and has been in the Bank's service for three months. He is inclined to agree with the theory that but for the revolver jamming he would have shared the same fate as the senior officer. He is a member of a large family and resides with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Victor E. Favas, at Ethel-street, Guildford.

MANAGER TIVEY’S TRIBUTE

“The deceased officer,” said Mr. Wm. Tivey, the general manager, of the National Bank, “was a particularly fine type of young man. We counted him among our most promising officers and we all felt that he would rise to a high position in the service of the Bank. In all his ways he was conscientious, methodical and efficient. In all my long experience I do not think that I have met a finer member on any of the Bank staffs in any part of Australia.”

To Mr. Tivey, who, like other members of the banking staff, was overcome by the sudden fate which overtook young Greville, fell the dread task of breaking the news to the parents of the unfortunate man.

The arrangements for the funeral were made under the direction of the National Bank.

IN COURT

Royston Rennie was in court for less than two minutes yesterday morning. It was a court packed with sightseers and crowds thronged the approaches, a special guard of probationary constables were deemed necessary to keep back the curious sightseers.

There was a hush reminiscent of the first curtain of a drama when the man's name was called and he entered the dock.

“You are charged with having at Perth on June 3 wilfully murdered one John Roger Greville,” said the Magistrate.

Rennie kept his eyes averted and his lips moved nervously.

“I ask for a remand of eight days,” said Sergt. Leen.  “The remand is granted,” the Magistrate announced and Rennie followed his guards out of court. The crowd surged after him. The drama for the day was over.

REPORTED CONFESSION

Information has been received that Rennie has made and signed a written statement to the detectives. The substance of this is said to be that he did not intend to shoot Greville and he thought the bullets were in the magazine and not in the barrel.

FINDING OF WATCH

Yesterday a watch with the initials J.R.G. was found on the railway near the West end of the island platform. It was apparently taken from Greville by his assailant and dropped during his getaway.

LITTLE TRACE OF TRAGEDY

An inspection of the compartment yesterday showed little traces of the terrible happening. It was the first compartment of the second coach from the engine, of the modern Rocky Bay type, and there were a couple of spots of blood on the mat and a smear of blood on one of the door handles as if somebody had grabbed it with a blood-stained hand.

NEVER DREAMED OF TROUBLE

The possibility of attack by robbers is naturally a common subject of conversation among bank officials entrusted with the carrying of money to and fro.

Greville, it is understood, though a particularly alert and painstaking officer, never had any fears about being molested. And what is more if he had been given half a chance by his attacker he would have given a splendid account of himself in a struggle.

NO GIRL IN CASE

A report has been current that Rennie's movements were easily traced because of a girl who had told her friends that she was to meet him in Sydney to a week's time. This seems however to be just one of the usual canards. Rennie had three or four men acquaintances in Perth who saw him pretty frequently and he was in the habit of visiting a certain dance occasionally. He was known of course among the girls there but as one man who saw most of him said, 'Rennie is not a ladies man”.

He appeared to be a fairly quiet liver and though he kept late hours and was given to speak a little boastfully of his jollifications no one ever seems to have seen him under the influence of liquor.

‘GOOD GOD IS HE DEAD?  STORY OF ARREST  -  Kalgoorlie. Today

Passengers who arrived here yesterday by the train on which Rennie was travelling gave a dramatic account of the arrest. It appears that Det. Manning, who was on the train with the other C.I.D. men, was attracted by the action of a man who was apparently endeavouring to hide himself behind a newspaper. The conductor was requested to call him out saying 'A gentleman wishes to speak to you'. Rennie came out and the

DETECTIVE QUESTIONED HIM

as to his residence in this State. Rennie said that he had been here a few weeks, had come by boat and stayed at the Norwood Hotel. Asked what money he had he first said £15 and then £22. Then the luggage was searched and the money was found, it is alleged done up in bags as is the custom in the bank. 'Where did you get this stuff?” asked the C.I.D. men and Rennie is alleged to have replied “You have got the goods; the revolver is there too.”

At the words “I arrest you for the murder of John Greville” it is said Rennie murmured “Good God is he dead?”  He was formally cautioned and handed over at Northam.

THE FINDING OF THE BAG

What is presumed to be the bag which contained the money stolen from Greville was found by two boys in Newcastle-street, near Russell Square, this morning.

FLAGS HALF-MAST

The funeral of the late Mr. John Greville, victim of yesterday's tragedy, took place this afternoon. All the banks were represented and there was a large gathering of mourners. The flags on the various city banks were half-masted throughout the day as a mark of respect.

 

IS RENNIE HOPE?   SENSATIONAL CONJECTURE BY VICTORIAN DETECTIVES

Melbourne, Today.

Defectives are eagerly awaiting the arrival from Perth of photographs and fingerprints of Royston Rennie, alas Hope.  They are wondering if he is identical with Arthur Pope, alias Hayward, who is a native of Geelong and about the same age as the Perth suspect.

Hope, alias Hayward, was arrested in 1916 by Det. Sergt. Mulfahey and Det. A. L. Lee, after a dramatic escape from the Beechworth Gaol. He is described as a rough burglar. He was seen by Mulfahey and Lee in Middle Park and after a chase took refuge on the roof of a terrace of two-storeyed houses in Page-street. It took two detectives and several uniformed police upwards of two hours to locate him and bring him down.

On another occasion he was picked up on a burglary charge by Detective Milne. The suspect was driving a horse and jinker in Carlton and Milne climbed into the conveyance and secured his captive. The latter began a desperate struggle for freedom and the two men fought as the jinker travelled along the street. After nearly half a mile both men fell out on the roadway.  Milne stuck to his man and finally succeeded in handcuffing him.

Several other members of the C.I.B. have stories to tell of occasions on which they arrested Hope and of the stiff fight which always accompanied such action.

 

 

[1] The 'Kalgoorlie outrage' is referring to the murders of Det. Walsh and Sgt. Pitman in the Goldfields. Their bodies were discovered down a mineshaft in May, 1926.

[2] Today that is worth $ 13,713. Not a large amount of money given a young man lost his life.

 
 
 

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