Constable Richard JohnstonPrint Page Print this page

The monument erected over the grave, commemorates Constable Richard Johnston who was killed in the line of duty while trying to apprehend a suspected criminal.

The constable was at home when a neighbour sought assistance after an attempted assault of her eight year old daughter. The constable on his bicycle went in search of the offender and pulled up alongside a man who produced a revolver and shot him. The constable remounted his bicycle and went off in pursuit of the offender but lost control of his bicycle and died.

The criminal stabbed and shot himself before he could be arrested. He was George Shaw, who was a suspect in the shooting of Constable Denis Guilfoyle at Redfern in New South Wales in July 1902.

The monument to Constable Johnston was paid for by his police comrades, and unveiled by the Chief Commissioner in 1903.

Last Sunday a very large crowd assembled at the St. Kilda cemetery to witness the unveiling of a marble monument erected by members of the police force over the grave of Constable Richard Johnston, who was, on the 12th October last, shot dead by a notorious criminal named Shaw. The ceremony of unveiling was performed by the Chief Commissioner of Police, Mr. O'Callaghan, and the Mayor of St. Kilda,  Cr. O'Donnell, presided. Amongst those present were Mr. McCutcheon M.L.A., Inspector Hillard, officer in charge of the district, Inspector Crampton, Sergeants Davidson, Rogerson, and Dalchin, the widow with her children and her mother, and many members of the force. Mr. O'Callaghan made a splendid address. He is a fine speaker, and spoke to the point for his heart was full. He retold the story of Constable Johnston's death. On a Sunday morning, when off duty, he was told that a ruffian had just been tampering with child. He mounted his bicycle, and rode after the man who, when overtaken, turned and shot him through the heart. Remaining erect on his machine he rode nearly 100 yards, then his muscles relaxed, and he dropped dead. No more tragic occurrence saddened the record of the Victoria police force.

Constable Johnston had upheld the best traditions of the force, and taught a lesson that every member should lay to his heart. The event gave rise to the question why the State should go on feeding and pampering human tigers like the murderer of Constable Johnston, and letting them free again to pray upon the public. Why had a penal system been tolerated for so many years, under which such brutes, instead of being kept in confinement, were allowed to march at large to the detriment of all respectable people? In 1881 he had arrested the murderer of Constable Johnston. He was then known as a man who would "shoot at sight" and though taken by surprise, had found time to grasp a pistol. A few years later he was set at large in the community. It was high time the public raised a protest against the liberation of such bloodthirsty brutes. Drastic legislation should be introduced, and introduced quickly, to amend our penal system. Through the action of a generous public, and a just Government, the widow and children have had their material wants provided for.  Mr. McCutcheon followed, and stated he quite agreed with what had been said. He considered that every member of the force in both town and country should be armed with a revolver. Inspector Hillard said that as far as he had been able to ascertain, not a single instance could be recalled in which a member of the Victorian police force had played the part of a coward. Several hymns, including one written by Mr. Daniels, for the occasion, were sung before and after the ceremony.

The monument was well designed and faithfully erected by the Adamant Company Dandenong-road. The memorial stone takes the form of a square marble monument, standing about 9 feet high, on a bluestone base, with a pediment of marble. The die has four raised panels, the frontal panel bearing the inscription. A draped shroud, edged with embroidery and tassels is at each corner dominated by a draped urn, handsomely carved, The enclosure has a blue stone base on which rests a marble moulded kerb.
Prahran Telegraph (Vic), 28 March 1903.


Address:Dandenong Road & Hotham Street, St Kilda Cemetery, St Kilda East, 3183
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.861039
Long: 145.002343
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People
Monument Manufacturer:Mr T. A. Broadbent (Adamant Monumental Works)


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Sunday 22nd March, 1903
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au