Bruce Maitland Pryor Methodist Section 1 Row 5 Plot 8
28 January 1949
SYDNEY, Thursday. – In a bedside court at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital late this afternoon, William Thomas, 19, who doctors say will never walk again, was charged with having murdered Bruce Maitland Pryor, 24, of Lisarow, near Gosford, on November 25.
Pryor, returning from a visit to his fiancee on the night of November 25, saw an intruder on the verandah of his father’s house. Pryor challenged – the man and pursued him when he ran. The man turned and shot Pryor in the chest.
Pryor died in hospital three days later-the day before he was to have been married.
The morning after the shooting, Thomas was found lying under the railway bridge at Ourimbah.. His back was broken and a rifle was lying nearby. He has been in Prince Alfred Hospital under police guard since. Doctors say he will never walk again. He is paralysed from the waist down.
Thomas was remanded till February 23rd 1943, when the inquest will be held. To-night he was taken to the infirmary at Long Bay Gaol.
31 May, 1949
Fettler Unfit to Plead!
SYDNEY, Monday. -. Charged with murder, a l9-year-old fettler, whose spine was fractured, was ordered by Mr. Justice Dwyer, in the Central Criminal Court to-day, to be kept in strict custody till he had been dealt with under the Lunacy Act. : Without leaving the box the jury found that the prisoner, Robert Mathew Thomas, was insane and not fit to plead.
Thomas was carried into Court on a stretcher.
A male nurse sat by him throughout the proceedings. Thomas been bedridden since his arrest: on November 26. Thomas was charged with having murdered Bruce ‘Maitland Pryor. The Crown said Pryor was shot at his home at Lisarow, near Gosford, on November 25, anti died in hospital on December 1; A few hours after Prior was found wounded, Thomas, according to. the Crown, was discovered some distance away, having apparently fallen from a railway viaduct, and had broken his back.
25th February 1949
Lisarow Murder: Youth Committed For Trial
At Sydney Criminal Court Sessions
Swathed In Plaster He Is Brought Into Court On A Stretcher
Women Weep As Details Of ‘Felonious And Malicious’ Slaying Are Revealed By Witnesses
Robert Matthew Thomas, a 19-year-old railway construction worker, will stand trial on March 7 at the Sydney Criminal Court on a charge of murdering Bruce Maitland Pryor, 24-year-old Wyong Shire Council employee and returned soldier, of Lisarow, who was found shot outside his father’s home on November 25 last.
The City Coroner (Mr M. J. D. Austin) committed Thomas for trial at the conclusion of an inquiry on Wednesday when he found that Pryor had died from a wound1 in the abdomen arid that Thomas’ had ‘feloniously and maliciously murdered him’.
Thomas, swathed from head to foot in*plaster, was brought to the court in an ambulance from hospital where he has been since he was found with a broken back under a railway bridge the day after Pryor was shot.
He listened to evidence from a special bed in court. When Thomas was being carried into court an elderly woman became hysterical and was led away by police officers. Throughout the hearing two women who sat beside Thomas wept frequently.
Frank Maitland Pryor, store keeper, of Lisarow, father of the dead man, said that his son left home about 9.50 pm on November 25 to take his fiancee, Miss Gladys May Peck, home.
Pryor said he went to bed and was reading when he heard his son cry out, ‘I have been shot’.
‘I jumped out of bed (and ran to the part of the house where the cry came from’ said Pryor.
He said he found his son lying on the front lawn with both bands across his chest. He was bleeding from a bullet wound in the chest, witness said.
When he asked hid son who shot him ho replied ‘1 don’t know, dad, but ho went the station way. I’ve had it, dad’. In the hospital his son said, ‘You always look after Glad, won’t you, dad?’
Pryor said his son and Miss Peck were to have been married on Saturday, November 27.
In the ambulance on November 26 Pryor said to his son, ‘They have got the bird. Do you know a chap named Bobbie Thomas?’
His son said, ‘No’.
Pryor said he told his son Thomas was one of the men camped at the Ourimbah (Railway Construction camp but his son said he did not know any one from the camp.
Sgt Brownette (Police Prosecuting staff assisting the coroner) :
‘Do you know Thomas, the man in court?’
Pryor: ‘I have never seen him in my life and do not want to see him again’.
Gladys May Peck, machinist, of Pacific Highway, Niagara Park, said she had known the dead man all his life and had been keeping company with him since 1947.
She said she was engaged to him and they were to have been married two days after he was shot.
She said that her fiancée had never spoken to her about a fight with a footballer, or anyone. He was not of a quarrelsome nature.
He was in good spirits when he left her the night he was shot. Glenda Merle Pryor, trainee nurse, at the Royal Alexander Hospital, Sydney, sister of the dead man, said she saw her brother when he was about to enter the operating theatre on November 26. She was present when he died at 4.25 am on December 1.
John Henry Cooper, fettler, of Bailey’s Road, Ourimbah, said that at 7.10 am on November 26
he was walking alongside the railway line about half a mile from Ourimbah.
‘I heard a cry for help. I I looked down through the railway bridge but couldn’t see anyone so I sang out ‘Where are you?’
‘I heard another faint cry for help. I looked over the edge of the bridge and saw a rifle’, said Cooper.
A man (Thomas) was lying about 6ft away from the rifle, witness said.
‘When I asked him if he was hurt, he said, Yes, both my legs are broken and my back’ Cooper said. Thomas told him he had been there all night.
Det-Cons table William Allen (Gosford I said that, at the Gosford District Hospital on November 25, Bruce Maitland Pryor told him, ‘I was coming home from Gladys’s place when I saw a man standing on the verandah in the darkness. I thought it was dad but when he saw me he jumped over the verandah on to the lawn.
‘I realised then that it was not dad and I ran to the gate to cut him off. Then he let me have it’. Constable Allen said the dead man told him he saw the barrel of a rifle. He thought it was a .22 rifle.
Pryor had said he was shot at a couple of yards range and that he did not have a chance, Allen told the coroner. When asked if he could describe the man, Pryor said, ‘All I know is that he was the same build as dad. He was a stranger to me.
I don’t think I know him. I am feeling tired’.
Constable Allen said that Pryor said he knew of no reason why any person would want to shoot him. About 7.20 am, Constable Allen said, he went to a railway viaduct about hall a mile south of the Ourimbah railway construction camp.
There he saw Thomas lying on his stomach with his right arm extended at right angles to his body. About 2ft from his out stretched arm was a .32 Winchester repeating rifle. Constable Allen said Thomas had a handkerchief tied around his neck and folded diagonally with the flap under his chin.
Witness said that when he asked Thomas what he was doing under the bridge, Thomas said. ‘I shot a bloke at Lisarow last night He picked a fight with me a month ago and hit me. ‘I had a couple of plonks in me last night and I went to town to see if I could find him. I don’t know his name. I was out of my mind last night after a drink or two of wine.
I shot him once. This is the rifle’. Thomas allegedly volunteered.
Allen said Thomas told him his name and said -he was 19 on October 26, 1948.
Thomas said ‘I can’t move my legs and I am stiff,I think they are broken.”
He said he was wearing motor cycle gauntlets so as not to leave fingerprints on the rifle if he dropped it. Witness said, ‘What is the handkerchief around your neck for?’
Thomas replied, ‘I was using it or a mask’.
Coroner: ‘Did you ask him how he came to be under the viaduct?’
Coroner: ‘Apparently no one asked him’.
Sgt E. A. Albury (Gosford) corroborated Constable Allen’s evidence.
Ralph Anthony Walker, railway fettler stationed at Mount Colah, said that he lived with Thomas in a railway camp at Ourimbah at ‘the time of the shooting.
Between 8 pm and 10 pm on November 25, said Walker, he saw Thomas appearing to fix up his rifle and putting shells in it.
Thomas went out at 10.50 pm and he went to sleep, said Walker. Walker said he was awakened next morning by a police officer. They went to Thomas’s tent, but he was missing.
Walker said he had been talking to Thomas between 6 and 7 pm. Thomas was then ‘perfectly sober’, said Walker.
To Mr P. W. Vizzard (Public Defender’ for Thomas, Walker said that Thomas went out frequently at night for rabbits. He had brought some home, he said.
Detective Sergeant George James Barnes, No. 1 Division of the Criminal Investigation Branch, said that he took possession of Thomas’s clothing at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown on November 26, at 4 pm. He told Thomas he wanted to ask him some questions and Thomas said he would help all he could.
Thomas said: ‘Where is the other chap now?’
Detective Barnes said he told him Pryor was in the Mater Hospital with a bullet wound in the stomach. Thomas then said to him: ‘I am sorry about that. I am sorry I shot him’.
When questioned, Thomas said, ‘I had a row with him at a dance some months ago and I went to his house to get square. I hope he gets all right!’
On January 27, Barnes said, he told Thomas he was to be charged with the murder of Pryor, who died on December 1. When he asked him if he wanted to say anything Thomas said. ‘I can’t remember anything’.
Barnes said he told Thomas that the bail magistrate -Mr McMullen, JP- would be there in a few minutes and he intended to ask him for a remand until February 23, the date of the coronial inquiry.
Thomas replied: ‘I will not be there. I can’t walk’. Witness said he told him that the doctors said he was fit enough to attend and that he would be taken to court on a stretcher.
When charged he again said he could not remember anything about it and burst into tears.
Detective Constable Leslie Arthur Monk, of North Sydney, said that on November 26 at 7.20 am he saw- Pryor being wheeled on a hospital trolley to the operating theatre. A nurse was giving him a blood transfusion.
Pryor told him he understood that he might die and Monk asked him questions.
Monk said: ‘Thomas stated he I had an argument with you some months ago and he was going to get even with you’. Pryor replied: ‘No, that is !not right. I do not know him I at all, I have not quarrelled with anyone’.
Coroner : ‘Robert Matthew Thomas may give evidence if he desires. Mr Vizzard: ‘He does not wish to give evidence. On my advice he declines to answer any questions which may incriminate him. I have no evidence to offer’.
Coroner: ‘This inquiry is to ascertain how, when, where and by what means Bruce Maitland Pryor met his death. ‘It is clear that he received this bullet wound at Lisarow on November 25 and that he died in the Mater Misericordiae Hospital on December 1.
‘There is the evidence of the Government Medical Officer, Dr Percy, and Dr Joseph, superintendent of the hospital. They state that the cause of death was a bullet wound in the abdomen.
‘On the evidence before me there is only one finding I can come to, that the deceased met his death from a bullet wound inflicted by Thomas’.
And two years later Glays married someone else.
17 October 1950
Cessnock Eagle and Maitland Recorder
A very pretty wedding took place at St, John’s Church of England, Cessnock, between Gladys May, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Peck of Gosford, to Andrew, second youngest of Mrs. E. Carr and: the late Mr. A. Carr of Cessnock on September 30.
The bride entered the church on the. arm of her father. She was frocked in a satin dress trimmed with lace bodice /peplums and panels on skirt and train. She was attended , by Mrs. Nell Carr as Matron of Honour, and Miss Betty Grant arc bridesmaids. Their frocks were lace over taffeta in apple green and rose pink respectively, with matching picture hats.
The groom was attended by Mr. Carr’s best man and Mr. Allan Peck was the groomsman.
The bride wore a blue crepe beaded velvet the guests at the South Cessnock Hall, where a lovely supper was served. Dancing and singing went on till 10’o’clock when the happy, couple left. for Katoomba, where the honey moon was spent.