Constable John Francis Power & Constable Patrick William Cahill Print Page Print this page

The memorial stone commemorates Constable John Francis Power and Constable Patrick William Cahill who were murdered in the line of duty in 1867. The site is near where the two constables were murdered. Headstones for the two murdered police officers were also unveiled in the Rockhampton Cemetery. 

Senior Constable Donna Gilliland was responsible for initiating the memorials along with erecting a tourist information sign at Blackwater Weir.  

In November 1867 an escort left Rockhampton by horse back comprising of three men, Constable John Francis Power (25yrs), Patrick William Cahill (27) and Gold Commissioner Thomas John Griffin (about 35yrs). They were transporting £4000 to Clermont.

Griffin had offered to join the escort on the pretence that the constables were young and inexperienced and they would need his assistance.  Griffin’s real plan was to ride as far as Mackenzie River, steal the money and make it look like bush rangers had attacked the escort. 

In the early morning of November 5 the party reached the banks of the Mackenzie River crossing and set up camp near a spot where Bedford Weir is today. Throughout the day and early evening the two constables and Griffin frequented a nearby bush pub. It was alleged during Griffin’s trial that he poisoned the two officer’s drinks that night and in the early hours of November 6 he shot them. Griffin then rode back to Rockhampton burying most of the £4000 on the journey. 

The bodies of the two officers were later found in a decomposed state. Native police wrapped the bodies in paperbark and buried them on the banks of the Mackenzie River. It was not long before Griffin was suspected of the murders. The suspicion was revealed when Griffin passed bank notes in Rockhampton and the serial numbers matched those stolen from the gold escort. The bodies of the two officers were later relocated for burial at the Rockhampton Cemetery. Griffin was sentenced and hung at the Rockhampton jail on 1st June 1868.

The tale of Constables Patrick Cahill and John Power, who were murdered by Gold Commissioner Thomas Griffin in 1867, would never be lost thanks to Childers Senior Constable Donna Gilliland's efforts. Snr Const Gilliland pushed to have memorial stones put up at Blackwater Weir and the Rockhampton Cemetery for the officers, who were murdered on the banks of the MacKenzie River.

Snr Const Gilliland said she was prompted to have headstones put up for the officers because members of the public kept asking if Cahill and Power were buried at an unmarked site in Blackwater. They are believed to be buried at Rockhampton Cemetery.

A headstone for the officers was unveiled yesterday at Rockhampton Cemetery. The memorials were built with the help of Queensland Police and the Rockhampton Regional Council.
The Courier Mail, (Qld), 17 July 2013. 


Address:Blackwater - Cooroorah Road, Bedford Weir, Blackwater, 4717
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -23.372938
Long: 148.838147
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:People


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Tuesday 16th July, 2013
Front Inscription
            IN MEMORY OF
Patrick William CAHILL Born 1840
First Queensland Police Officers killed on duty.

     Murdered while on gold escort duty by
   Thomas Griffin, Acting Gold Commissioner
at this spot on the Mackenzie River Crossing
              on the 6th November, 1867.
     Dedicated by the Queensland Police Service 2013

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au