10[Coroner's Inquest (Thomas Darlington), Whim Creek, December 1911. State Records Office of Western Australia, Consignment 3631, Bundle 12: "Case 1 Rex v Seleno", Testimony of Constable F. H. Growden]


The two prisoners are also well known to me.


About ten minutes past ten oclock on night of 23rd Inst I was approaching the Federal Hotel Whim Creek in the usual course of duty. When about 100 yards South of the hotel I heard the alarm of "Fire" given three times. The voice came from a man just in front of Federal Hotel Apparently on the road. Before I heard "Fire" called out I heard the sound of excited voices & the sound of feet apparently rushing around on boards. This could have been on the verandah or in hotel. On hearing the alarm of "fire" given I looked round with view to ascertain if a fire had broken out anywhere. Saw no fire anywhere. Proceeded along road toward hotel. This stamping of feet & sound of excited voices became more pronounced. I paused to take in the situation to see what was really going on. I then heard that which sounded to me to be like two men rushing from front verandah of Federal Hotel. men who run away rushed away in Westerly direction of Whim Creek Hotel. Great excitement prevailed at the hotel. I heard a man call out "Give me a gun and I will shoot some of the Bastards." I was then about fifty yards from the Federal Hotel, & in hurrying on towards the hotel to see what was the matter, a man ran past me followed by a second man who turned out to be George Connolly & on account of what he said to me, I ran to the front bar of the hotel. I there saw a man whom I recognised as the deceased Thos Hy Darlington. He was lying on the bar floor on his back. He was bleeding from a wound in right side of neck. He was then alive. As I bent over him he looked up at me. Whilst stooping over him he gave a slight gasp. I examined the wound, saw it was still bleeding. Wound was from 4 to 4 1/2 inches long. Blood covered the greater portion of the bar floor. I saw deceased was just breating his last. I then took names of all those I could see in the bar at the time. Man who gave his name as Hayman was attending deceased. Previous to taking of names of persons in bar when I approached dying man Hayman pushed me away saying he was a first aid man. I saw the injured man was beyond aid & had only a few seconds to live. I secured cork and handed it to Hayman, directing him to force it down behind collarbone on artery. A few seconds after this I examined man and saw he was dead, this being after I had taken down half a dozen names. I took out my Watch on seeing deceased was dead & time was then 10-15 pm. On account of enquiries hurriedly made and Information received I asked the licensee Thos Hill to take charge of the corpse and not let anyone interfere with it until Dr Shelmerdine arrived, whom I ascertained had been sent for. I then in company with a young man named Matthew Murphy proceeded to arrest two Italians known to me as Joseph Seleno & Lawrence Cappelli alias "Cattellini".

After proceeding in the direction these two men were alleged to have gone I met Dr Shelmerdine who gave me some information respecting the movements of two men whom he had just seen. Shortly after I met Mr. Harry Haile with a sulky. He drove Murphy & me to the Whim Well Copper Mines. Murphy & I alighted, walked up to prisoners Camp situated about 100 yards East of where we alighted. I saw a dim light burning in the camp. His camp was situated about three quarters of a mile from the Federal Hotel. When within about 20 yards of this camp which had a light in it I called out "Are you there Seleno," Voice replied "Yes Who is that" (It was Seleno's voice). I said "Police. Growden." Seleno replied "Alright I know, You want me." We walked up to him and seeing a man just outside the camp who was in the act of washing his hands and face. I said "Is that you Seleno" He said "Yes, I know you want me, I kill that man." Seleno was not cautioned before he said this. I had not yet arrested him. As he spoke he came towards me and I walked towards him. We met well in the light in front of camp. He had trousers only on. No singlet or shirt. Think he had boots on, but did not observe his feet. I arrested him for the murder of Thomas Henry Darlington and cautioned him in very clear tones explained to him that anything he said to me would be used in evidence against him at his trial. He said "Alright I kill him." I could see by light of lamp that this prisoner was smeared all over face, chest and arms with blood. He had a cut on index finger of right hand about inch long and quite deep. He had a slight cut over the left eye. His hair, was simply matted with blood, also all over his head. His back was also smeared with blood. I asked him "What he had done with shirt he had been wearing." He said "Here it is." He then produced singlet produced in court which was wet with blood. Singlet was covered with blood on arms, back & front. Singlet was in torn condition. Singlet was still wet from blood & apparently perspiration. I then questioned him regarding the whereabouts of a knife. That is to say I asked him "Where the knife was he had used. He said "There it is." Stepped into his camp, walked to bed & handed me knife produced. I said "Is this the knife you stabbed the man with" He said "Yes that is the one" I examined it carefully It was wet. Had just been washed in water. It had not been wiped. There were still traces of blood on it. There was also a little congealed blood on point of blade. Knife was of "Joseph Rogers" make, and bore evidence of having recently been sharpened on a smooth stone. Prisoner complained that he had been struck by a man & drew my attention to slight mark on his eyebrow & also to the cut upon his finger. He was wearing pair of khaki trousers "produced" which were splashed with blood just above both knees. He wore no hat. I asked him ^"Seleno" where his mate was. When Seleno handed me the singlet produced I asked him "Is this the singlet you were wearing when you killed the man. He replied "Yes." I next asked him where his mate Cappelli was. He said "He had gone out the back." I called out in a loud voice "Are you there Cattelleni. A voice answered "Yes". I said "Come here I want you." The prisoner Lawrence Cappelli then came through to camp from some hession hanging at back of camp. I immediately arrested him on suspicion of being concerned in the murder of Thos Henry Darlington, & cautioned him. He said "I have not been away from my camp. He was dressed in a dirty colored light singlet & a pair of khaki trousers. I examined him and could find no trace of blood about him at all. I asked him if he had a knife. He said that he had not. I then searched the two prisoners very carefully finding nothing of importance upon them. Capelli had no boots on. He had been lying on bed at back of camp. He procured his boots from under his bed & the two prisoners were removed to the Whim Creek police station. The two accused appeared to be perfectly calm & collected & both perfectly sober. Seleno frequently smiled during the procedure. I have been unable to find any knife similar to the knife described as sailor's clasp knife with copper shackle.

Coroner. The boots found under Cappelli's bed were perceptibly warm & damp as though they had recently been removed from feet. Cappelli's singlet was also moist from perspiration. When Seleno was arrested he wished to make a statement of the whole stabbing affair to me. I told him "If he wanted to make any further statements I would take them at the police station later on. On arrival at police station the prisoners were again carefully searched & removed to lockup & securely chained. This was about quarter to Eleven.

I then proceeded to the Federal Hotel and took over corpse from licensee whose charge corpse was in & in his presence searched the body. I then removed the clothing. The body was then in a bedroom at Federal Hotel. Shirt produced was one worn at time by deceased. It was saturated with blood & damaged. On removing shirt from deceased I found cut extending over the left shoulder "Not a deep cut" also some smaller cuts on the back lower down. When I was about to remove the trousers I found an opeing on the right leg of trousers. When trousers were removed I found a cut on the inside of right thigh. about two inches long and quite deep. Trousers produced, covered in blood, were pair taken from deceased. Waistcoat produced, also bloodstained, was taken off body of deceased. Deceased's black felt hat "produced" was handed to me by licensee, hat also cut on rim in slanting direction. Brown felt hat "produced" was picked up on verandah of Federal Hotel & handed to me. It was afterward claimed by Seleno the prisoner who said he had lost it at the Federal Hotel on night of 23rd inst. On the morning of the 24th I visited the prisoners in the lockup about eight oclock and asked the prisoner Seleno if he wanted to tell me anything about the murder of Darlington. He said "I dont know I must have gone mad last night" I did not question him further.

Grey coat produced was handed to me by man named Edward Gaynor during morning of 24th inst. I questioned the prisoner Cappelli as to the whereabouts of a grey coat he had been wearing. He said "he had left it near the shower bath when he was going to have a shower. On morning of 30th Inst Constable Reynolds & I interviewed prisoner Cappelli in the lockup and cautioned him that anything he said now would be used against him at the trial. Told him he need not say anything if he wished not to. He said "He quite understood." Seleno said "I understand alright." I asked Cappelli if he knew coat produced. He replied "Yes." I asked him to put the coat on. He did this. I asked him if that was the coat he was wearing at the Federal Hotel on Saturday night last. He said "Yes." I asked him if he could account for the blood stains on the sleeves He said "Yes" "on the way up to my camp on Saturday night I saw a cut on Seleno's eye & went up to him to look at it. He then got blood on his coat off Seleno. He explained tear in back of coat was done some days prevously.

Foreman jury here examined coat with view ascertaining if blood stains were smeared or spots of blood. Jury here examined knife produced."

Cappelli said "When he went to examine Seleno's eye, Seleno placed his hand on me."

"To Coroner" At midnight of 23rd inst I made a careful examination of the verandah of the hotel. I found that immediately in front of front door of Federal Hotel there was large splashes of blood on floor of front verandah. There were also bloodstains on cases stacked on verandah splashes of blood on the door of hotel & on the wall. There were splashes of blood across verandah almost to the outside edge. Alias "Cattelleni" used by Cappelli evidently assumed to hide identification of a convicted man. He had been previously convicted under name of Cappelli. Can find nothing in records against Seleno. On one occasion about a fortnight ago Seleno approached me & said he intended shifting down from his temporary camp on Whim Well mining lease to his original camp near the hall. Also said he was frightened that some of the men might knock him about. I told him if he let me know when he intended to shift down I would see he was not interfered with. Also advised him not to go drinking at hotels with men who had any grudge against him or by whom he was disliked. He said he would let me know when he was shifting down.

[signed] F H Growden PC 135

for [Caton?] Shelmerdine

J.P. D.M.O.

Acting Coroner