George Joseph DUNCAN

New South Wales Police Force

Regd. # ?

Rank:  Mounted Constable

Stations:  Forbes, Bogan Gate, Grenfell, Tottenham

Service:  From  4 January 1913  to  26 September 1916


Born:  1891

Died on:  26 September 1916

Cause:  Shot – murdered at Tottenham

Age: 25

Funeral date?

Funeral location?

Buried at?

   George IS mentioned on the Police Wall of Remembrance[/alert_green ]


The constable was shot at the Tottenham Police Station by offenders Roland Kennedy (20) and Frank Franz (28). The offenders were members of the “Industrial Workers of the World” organisation during World War 1 and were incensed at the constable’s arrest of one of their members the previous day. While the constable was sitting typing at his desk in the station the offenders crept up to a small window behind him, aimed their rifles and shot him from close range. He died a few minutes later. Both offenders were arrested and hanged at Bathurst Gaol. A third accused, Michael Kennedy, was acquitted.


The Kalgoorlie Western Argus of 3 October, 1916 printed the following brief account.

A CONSTABLE MURDERED – Sydney, Sept. 27.

Confirmation has been received by the Inspector-General of Police, that Constable George Joseph Duncan, stationed at Tottenham about fifty miles from Trangie, was shot dead last night. Yesterday afternoon, Duncan was at Dandaloc and there arrested a German whom he lodged in the lockup there. After his return last evening, two shots were heard by the neighbours and Duncan was found lying dead in his office. He had apparently been working at a typewriter when the shots were fired. Detectives have been sent from Sydney to make investigations. Duncan was 25 years of age.


The constable was born in 1891 and joined the New South Wales Police Force on 4 April, 1913. At the time of his death he was stationed at Tottenham.

Tottenham Police Station  26 September 1916

Tottenham Police Station 26 September 1916

Information sheet which was on display for the NSWPF 150th anniversary in 2014

Information sheet which was on display for the NSWPF 150th anniversary in 2014


The Sydney Morning Herald        Thursday  28 September 1916    page 8 of 12



The Inspector-General of Police M.G. Mitchell, received a telegram yesterday evening stating that Constable George Joseph Duncan was found dead in the office of the Tottenham Police station at about 9 o’clock on Tuesday night. The information was communicated to headquarters by Constable McIntosh, who is stationed at Trangie, about 45 miles from Tottenham.

According to the telegram, two neighbours made the discovery. They heard a couple of shots fired, and on entering the lockup found Duncan dead. The position of the body made it apparent he had been using a typewriter when the shots were fired.

On Tuesday afternoon Duncan arrested a man whom he took to the Dandaloo Police Station, a distance of about 1 1/2 miles. After lodging the prisoner in the cell he returned to Tottenham.

Up to the present no clue has been found ; and yesterday morning two detectives were sent from Sydney to make investigations.

Duncan, who was 25 years of age joined the Service in 1913. He had previously been stationed at Forbes, Bogan Gate, and Grenfell.


National Advocate ( Bathurst )           Monday  2 October 1916   page 1 of 6


REWARD OF £200 SYDNEY, Sunday.

The Inspector-General of Police (Mr. Mitchell) has authorised the issue of a reward of £200 for information leading to the discovery of the murderer of Mounted-constable George Joseph Duncan, whose dead body was found in his office at Tottenham on Tuesday.


National Advocate ( Bathurst )   Thursday  19 October 1916  page 1 of 4

Tottenham Murder



Roland Nicholas Kennedy and Frank Franz were arranged before the Chief Justice (Sir William Cullen) and a jury at the Bathurst Circuit Court yesterday charged with having at Tottenham on September 26 last murdered Constable George Joss Duncan. Both accused are comparatively young men. Kennedy is sturdily built, dark complexioned (he had about a week’s growth of beard), and intelligent looking. As he entered the dock his eyes wandered around the court room and there was indications that he realised the gravity of the situation. In fact there was a trace of a smile as he stood up preparatory to answering the charge. The other accused, Franz, is fair complexioned, and the usual bushworker type. He is about 5ft in height, of medium build, and a demeanor that by no means indicated the strong will power of the alleged partner in crime.

The court room throughout the day was thronged with interested spectators, whilst during the morning two young women occupied seats in the body of the court, both of whom appeared to be little concerned about the fact that perhaps on the issue of the proceedings depended the livesof two — perhaps three — men.

Mr. Wilfrid Blackett, K.C. and Mr. D. S. Edwards, instructed by Mr. E. A. Withey, of the Crown Law Office, appeared for the Crown. Kennedy was defended by Mr. N. Pilcher, of Sydney, whilst Mr. E. R. Abigail appeared in the interests of the accused Franz.

The first to be called upon to plead was Franz, who replied ” Not guilty ” in a firm voice. Then Kennedy created somewhat of a sensation by pleading guilty in a firm voice and with a broad smile. Immediately Mr. Pilcher asked his Honor not to accept the plea of guilty, and Sir William Cullen then explained to the accused that the charge was a serious one and that the only way in which it could be properly investigated was by a plea of not guilty. Then all the circumstances would be brought out.

Kennedy: I can hardly hear what your Honor is saying.

The Chief Justice repeated his advice, whereupon Kennedy said: And if I plead guilty all the circumstances will not be brought out.

The Chief Justice: That is so.

Kennedy: Then I’ll withdraw my plea and plead not guilty.

The jury were then empanelled, the first to be called being Mr. W. Boyd. Franz freely exercised his right to challenge, and ordered six jurors to stand aside. Kennedy, on the other hand, accepted all the jurymen as they were called without demur.


Mr. Blackett outlined the case for the Crown. He said that Tottenham was situated about 52 miles from Trangie. On September 25 last Constable Duncan arrested a man, a member of the I. W.W., for having used abusive language. A crowd collected and there was some hooting and general disorder. However, he arrested the man and took him to Dandaloo, about 13 miles. On his return he interviewed accused Kennedy and told him that he would take proceedings , against him for having used abusive language on the next night, September 26, Constable Duncan’s dead body was found near a wire fence just outside the police station door with two bullets in the back. A third bullet was found in a panel of the wall of the room. The Crown theory was that the two accused and another, man, Herbert Kennedy, agreed to shoot the constable at a given signal. Two were to fire, whilst a third was to reserve his shot in the event of the shots not having the desired effect. The three stood outside the window of the police station, where Constable Duncan was sitting with his back towards them engaged at the typewriter.   When the shots were fired the constable rose and staggered towards the door. This was when the third shot was fired, and the Crown contended that the third shot was fired as arranged, but missed Duncan and entered the wall just above his head. The chief evidence against the accused was statements made by each.   Franz said that he was terrorised into participating in the shooting by the Kennedys, who threatened to shoot him. Kennedy, in his statement, stated that Franz planned the murder and threatened to shoot him if he did not go with him. He made no reference at all to his brother being present. However, the Crown would contend that all were equally guilty of the crime.

‘The Crown does not suggest, added Mr. Blackett, ” that this foul murder was committed out of revenge for the arrest or threatened arrest. Such would be too trivial. It does suggest, however, that these men were members of the I.W.W. and had their minds inflamed and saturated by the pernicious literature of that body and which was found at their residences. Boys, after reading   Deadwood Dick stories, commit crime, and in the same manner this murder was committed by men after reading the pennicious literature regarding the objects and methods of an organisation to which no law abiding citizen would attach himself. ”

Mr. Blackett also pointed out that the two bullets found in Duncan’s body were 32 calibre, similar to those from the rifle found at Kennedy’s, whilst the bullet in the panel was of 38 caliber, and used in rifles similar to that owned by Franz.


Detective Patrick Joseph Downey, of Sydney, stated that he went to Tottenham shortly after the murder.  During his investigations he interrogated Ronald Kennedy, who denied any connection with the murder. He admitted he had a 32 caliber Winchester rifle and that he and his brother were members of the I.W.W. He stated, however, that they did not advocate the destruction of life and property. He took Kennedy to the inspector of police and had Franz’s statement read to him. Kennedy laughed during, the first part of the statement, but became white and broke out into a perspiration when the circumstances of the actual shooting were being read. In reply to witness, Kennedy said it was. ” all a lie. ” Franz, at his (witness’s) request, then recognised Ronald Kennedy as the man mentioned in his statement. When he formally charged Kennedy with the present charge the latter said, ” Well, fix me up : I wish you would take me out and shoot me. ” He put Kennedy in the cell and afterwards heard him crying.   Later he heard a man named Martin, who also occupied the cell, say to Kennedy, ” I always knew that you were a headstrong young man, but I did not think you would take up a rifle and shoot a man down like this. ” Afterwards, in company with Inspector Whitfield, he took the accused to the window of the lockup and asked him to mark the positions where he considered that the three men stood. He then took Franz to the lockup and asked him to do likewise. While Franz was present Kennedy pointed out the hole in the window which, he said, had been caused by his bullet. He (witness) then examined the window and performed experiments ( in company with Inspector Whitfield ) which went to show that Franz’s statement, that three men were present when the murder took place, was correct.

Inspector Whitfield stated that he saw Franz at the police station on September 28, when the accused said that he was born in Wellington ; that his mother was a Scotchwoman and his father of German descent. In regard to the arrest of Wann, accused said that he had not become excited when Wann was arrested. On the day after the murder Franz approached him, telling him that he had something to tell him and that he could not refrain from doing so any longer. Continuing, Franz said; ” The Kennedys shot the constable ; I was there also and fired a shot. ” He took the accused to the lockup, where he made a statement.

Constable Stewart. L. McIntosh, stationed at Trangie, stated that he examined the police station at Tottenham on September the 28th and described the condition in which he found the room in which the Constable was murdered.

William Henry, a tinsmith residing about 15yds from the police station at Tottenham stated that at about ? o’clock on the evening of September  26th. he was lying in bed when he heard two shots, as if from a double barreled gun. The first shot was much the louder. Only a second lapsed between the reports of the two shots. It was impossible to reload the rifle during the interval between the shots.

Thomas Johnson, dentist of Peak Hill, said that on the evening of September 26th. he was sitting at his table in Tottenham when he heard two shots. He walked outside and thought he heard moanings, which he thought was caused by cows. The first of the two shots was much louder than the second.

To Mr. Abigail : He was engaged in mechanical work when he heard the shots. There were two distinct shots.

Augustus Loftus Travers Smelter, residing at Tottenham also heard the report of the two shots when he was occupied at his home. It would have been absolutely impossible for anyone to reload a rifle during the interval between the two shots.

Annie Woods, who resides with her parents in Tottenham, corroborated the evidence of the previous witnesses regarding the quick succession of the two shots.

Herbert Oswald Rudd, a laborer, of Tottenham, stated that on the night of the murder he met Franz, who told him that the policeman had been shot and added, ” We shot him. ” Franz also told him that there had been three shots, to which he (witness) only replied, ” Did you? ” Franz replied, ” Yes ; but don’t you tell the Kennedys. ”

Mr. Abigail : Although you had heard from Franz that the Kennedys and he had shot the constable you did not inform the authorities ? — No. When did you tell them ?— When they asked me. You robbed a drunken man, didn’t you? — He wasn’t drunk; I just picked the money up from the ground. And divided it amongst your friends ?- Yes.

You used to live in the same house   as one of mates at Tottenham, didn’t you? — Yes. And in a lapse of forgetfulness you walked off with his clothes?— Yes. What did that cost you?— £3 at the Police Court.

Stephen Horton, laborer; and photographer residing at Tottenham gave formal evidence in connection with photographs taken at the Tottenham Police Station.

George Fishpool, mining manager of Tottenham, stated he saw Constable Duncan arresting a man in front of Beach’s hotel on the evening of September 25. A crowd assembled on the occasion and hooted. The constable returned, spoke to the Kennedy’s and Roland Kennedy laughed. He did not hear the conversation between the constable and the Kennedys.

Margaret Eva Traters, married woman, residing at Tottenham gave evidence of having last seen, the deceased early on the evening of September 26.

Dr. Thomas D. Betram of Tottenham stated that on September 27 he made a post mortem examination of the body of the deceased and found two bullet wounds in the back and one on the front of the body. The organs were in a healthy condition. He found in one of the lungs fragments of glass and ribs.

To Mr. Abigail : He believed that the two bullets that entered the body were of 32 calibre and the one that struck the sash of the window, of 38 calibre. He knew a 32 calibre bullet, at sight.

Dr. William Boazmam of Parkes also gave formal evidence.

Constable James Sykes, stationed at Nevertire, stated that he arrived at the Tottenham Police Station on September 27 and saw the body of constable Duncan lying there and he removed garments from the body 0f the deceased and obtained pieces of glass and bone from Dr. Bertram.

To Mr. Abigail: He was of opinion that the hole in the sash was made by a 38 calibre bullet.

Frank Franz, 23 years old said that he had been employed in the Tottenham district for some considerable time. He was born in Wellington his father was of German descent and his mother was a Scotchwoman, he last saw his father about 10 years ago. He had never been taught the German language. About a month ago he was asked to join the I. W. W. by the Kennedys. They told him that any man who did not belong to the organisation was no good, but a rotter and a —–.

He had had no transactions with any one in connection with joining the I. W. W. , but had given his subscriptions to the Kennedys, in the stated. He had received literature, but did not understand the rules of the organisation. He had received a book of membership tickets, but had not used them. He did not believe in the destruction of life. At the time constable McLean was leaving Tottenham he had a conversation with the Kennedys who, referring to McLeans successor, Duncan stated that he was a —– and would have to be stopped. He did not reply to this remark. He had never fallen out with Duncan. He had never spoken to him with the exception of one occasion when he bade him good-day.   The first conversation he had had, in regard to shooting the policeman, was with the Kennedys, on the day of the murder. He had met the Kennedys on Hudson’s verandah when Roland Kennedy said ” ain’t this constable a —— ; we’ll shoot him.” He the ( accused) had had a few drinks that day, but did not reply. In the evening he again saw Roland Kennedy at the Kennedys house. He had gone there to get some comic papers but he did not have them. Roland Kennedy on this occasion said ” you ought to bring your rifle up ; me and Herb is going to shoot the policeman. ”

As he was going they told him not to forget to bring his rifle up or they would blow his –— head off. He went home and sneaked the rifle through the window, not allowing his wife to see him. The rifle was of 38 calibre. He subsequently left home and went to the Kennedys. Both Roland and Herb Kennedy told him to fire at the constable or they would shoot him. They then left for the police station. When within 20 yards of the station, they stopped, Accused became frightened and lagged behind. The Kennedys whispered something that was, to him, unaudable and they walked on. The Kennedys walked up to the window of the police station and he stood against a post, that was not quite in front of the window. He could see the policeman, who was using his type writer. The Kennedys took aim, and as soon as the constable sat erect they fired simultaneously. The deceased, when shot, fell to his right and disappeared. The accused then fired while the policeman was still out of sight.

He then went home. He put the rifle in the back room an went to bed. Be could not sleep that night. He got up next morning and put the rifle under some bags. He next saw Roland Kennedy at a hotel. Kennedy told him not to get drunk and not to ” split, ” or he would blow his brains out.

On Thursday he stayed at home, and on Friday he saw the Inspector of Police and made the statement. The first statement he made was untrue, and he was     frightened, at first, to alter it. That was why he had to see the Inspector alone. He had never intended to shoot the policeman, and only accompanied the Kennedys because he was frightened that they would shoot him. They had told him they would do so. He did not say to Rudd that they had stopped the policeman.

Mr. Blackett, in his cross-examination of the accused, endeavoured to connect the murder with his association with the I. W. W. but in answer  to Mr. Blackett, the accused said that his connection with the I. W. W. had no bearing on the murder, at all. He had known the Kennedys before he joined the I. W. W. and although he subscribed to the I. W .W paper, he did not read it. He had not paid his subscriptions for three or four months.

He did not believe in the destruction of life. He could not explain why he said the I. W. W. had led him astray, but supposed it was on account of his association to the Kennedys. After a short retirement the jury returned a verdict of ” guilty ” in both cases.

When asked if he had anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon him, Kennedy replied in the negative, and added, ” I must thank the jury for their verdict. ”

Franz asked why Herbert Kennedy had not been tried with Roland Kennedy and himself?   His Honor explained that this was not the time to answer such questions as this.

Franz further stated that the jury had not returned a proper verdict.

The sentence of death was passed by his Honor without comment.


The Braidwood Review & District Advocate

Tuesday  3 January 1928    page 4 of 8


When Constable Ford murdered Mrs. Laws and then shot himself at Leichhardt recently, he completed a tragic triangle of death.   He was the third constable who has served at Grenfell to die by violence.

Constables Claude Bovard and George J. Duncan were the other two.  Over ten years ago Ford and Bovard served together at Grenfell, and Duncan was stationed there soon after they left.