Ruston George STEPHENSON
New South Wales Police Force
Constable 1st Class
Joined NSW Police Force on 9 July 1912
Stationed at Newtown Police Station
Motor Vehicle Accident – Pedestrian
Died 9 April, 1933
Funeral 13 April 1933
Buried in Rookwood Cemetery
On 8 April, 1933 Constable George Stephenson of the Newtown Police Station travelled with a group of other police to the Newtown Stadium. They parked the police vehicle in Erskineville Road and as the constable stepped out from behind the car he was hit by a passing motor cycle outfit. Constable Stephenson sustained severe injuries and died in hospital the following morning. An 18 month old child passenger of the motor cycle outfit, Fay Joyce Moon, was also killed in the accident.
The Northern Standard newspaper dated 13 April, 1933 reported that “Constable Stephenson who was killed by a motorist while on duty, was a famous athlete, and had a distinguished war record, winning the D.S.O and Military Medal. Five hundred uninformed men spontaneously attended his funeral [in Sydney] today.”
The constable was born in 1886 and joined the New South Wales Police Force on 9 July, 1912. At the time of his death he was stationed at Newtown. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal during World War 1.
Ruston joined the NSW Police Force in 1912 and in 1916 enlisted in the army, later joining the fight in France during the First World War. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous gallantry in rescuing injured soldiers while under fire. Remarkably, when he returned home, he rejoined the Police Force and continued to serve until his death at the then Newtown Stadium while performing general duties policing.
NEWTOWN LOCAL AREA COMMAND POLICE COMMEMORATION SERVICE
Ms CARMEL TEBBUTT (Marrickville) [7.07 p.m. 8 May 2013]: Recently at Rookwood Cemetery I attended a memorial service to commemorate police officers from the Newtown local area command killed in the line of duty. The moving service was attended by Deputy Police Commissioner Nick Kaldis, Superintendent Simon Hardman, the commander of the Newtown Area Local Command, many other police representatives, and relatives and descendants of the police officers. Those attendees included Ms Avona Wallace, Mr and Mrs Norman Stephenson, Mrs Lynette Everton and Ms Edna Stevenson. Representatives from the emergency services and community members were also in attendance. The member for Campbelltown, Bryan Doyle, attended representing the Premier.
The five officers being remembered at the ceremony gave their lives to protect the community. They were Constable First Class John Wallace, Constable First Class Ruston Stephenson, Constable Lionel Guise, Detective Inspector Reginald Stevenson and Constable Pashalis Katsivelas. The ceremony to mark the sacrifice of these officers reflected on the enormity of their contribution to the community, as well as the impact of their death on their families. It is often said, and it is true, that police officers leave their homes for each shift uncertain of what any day may bring and whether they will return at the end of the day. We owe these men and women our deepest gratitude for the risks they face and take every day in their job. At Rookwood Cemetery we visited each of the graves of those officers who lost their lives in the line of duty and behind each individual was an illuminating life story.
We began at the grave of Constable First Class Ruston Stephenson, who died 80 years almost to the day of the commemoration. Constable Stephenson joined the Police Force in 1912, and four years later enlisted in the army, later joining the fight in France during the First World War. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for conspicuous gallantry in rescuing injured soldiers while under fire. Remarkably, when he returned he rejoined the Police Force and continued to serve until his death on 9 April 1933 after a tragic accident involving a motorcycle at the then Newtown Stadium while performing general duties policing.
We were also told the story of Detective Inspector Reginald Hugh Stevenson—I was honoured on the day to meet his widow, Ms Edna Stevenson, who still had strong memories of the incident that led to Inspector Stevenson’s death. Detective Inspector Stevenson joined the NSW Police Force as a cadet in 1943 at the age of 17. In an act of extraordinary selflessness, Detective Inspector Stevenson was on annual leave on 9 December 1974 when he decided to go to work to assist in the planned arrest of a dangerous offender in Newtown, at the time telling his wife, “I don’t want my boys doing this on their own.” During the operation he was shot in the chest after leading his team in pursuit of the offender.
Detective Inspector Stevenson partially recovered and was awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Brave Conduct and the Queen’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service. However, he died in 1980 of a heart attack, deemed to be the result of the injuries he sustained on duty in 1974. These officers are just a few of many across New South Wales whose lives have been cut short as they have gone about performing their duty. I pay tribute to them all. They will not be forgotten and local events such as this are a powerful reminder of their sacrifice.
I also take this opportunity to acknowledge two Marrickville police officers, Sergeant Stewart and Constable Steele, who on Monday of this week rescued an intellectually disabled person from a house fire in Marrickville. Thankfully, those two officers who took huge risks survived and are quite rightly being hailed as heroes by their colleagues and the community. It is yet another example of the risk our police men and women take every day in order to keep the community safe. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to them.