Constable James Phillip FLYNN


Constable James Phillip FLYNN


Cordeaux Dam

9 March, 1924


On 9 March, 1924 Constable Flynn went to a construction site at Cordeaux Dam (where a temporary police station had been established), south of Appin, where he arrested a man named William Simpson who had broken into the office of the construction site manager and had stolen two pistols. While the offender was being conveyed to Campbelltown Police Station in the victim Mr Guy Clift’s car, the offender suddenly produced a pistol and shot Constable Flynn in the side of the body. Mr Clift stopped the vehicle and took hold of the offender, however after a furious struggle he too was shot in the groin and Simpson escaped.


Mr Clift then drove his vehicle to Appin, however it was found that Constable Flynn had succumbed to his wounds. The brave Guy Clift also died the following day. Simpson was later convicted and hanged at Long Bay Gaol.


The Western Argus dated 18 March, 1924 printed an extensive account of the tragedy, including the following extract.


CORDEAUX TRAGEDY: Sydney, March 10.

Public indignation at the murder of Constable James Flynn, of Cordeaux, on Sunday was intensified to-day when it was learned that Mr. Guy Chalmers Clift who was shot by the man who killed Constable Flynn, had died at the Camden Hospital. Mr. Clift was the engineer in charge of the work at Cordeaux and was held in very high esteem in the Public Works Department. The courage he displayed in attacking the man with the revolver after the constable had been shot, his fight with the armed man and his gallant effort to reach Appin with the dying constable, although he was himself bleeding to death from a wound in the groin, made him a hero in the public eye and his death has stirred many people to very keen feeling against the apparent increasing disregard by desperate men for the sacredness of life.


What drove the man under arrest to shoot the constable is difficult to understand, as he was not regarded as a desperate individual. He had been, employed at the Cordeaux dam, and was so well-known to Constable Flynn that the constable did not deem it necessary to handcuff him. Indeed, he is said to have been friendly with Constable Flynn who, having the unpleasant duty of arresting him, bought him a drink and cigarettes and walked in a friendly manner with him to the motor car, where he was treated more like a respected passenger than a prisoner. As they rode together on the back seat of the motor car, with Mr. Clift driving, towards Campbelltown the constable and the prisoner talked freely. That the constable’s friendly disposition should have been so cruelly abused is regarded as one of the worst features of the tragedy. Although Constable Flynn had been in the police force only two and a half years he was exceedingly popular…


His mother, who lives in Lithgow, New South Wales, travelled all night to see her dead son, and her grief was intense. It was beyond her comprehension why any man should even desire to injure her son, who, she declared, had often said that he did not think he had an enemy in the world. Constable Flynn was aged 25 years.


The constable was born in 1897 and joined the New South Wales Police Force on 4 July, 1921. At the time of his death he was stationed at Cordeaux Dam.

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