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A little more on the Crasher Kirwan situation and the scales of justice

January 27, 2011

In the course of writing the post ‘Meet Crasher and Slim’ a few days ago, I discovered the disturbing story of a Richard Kirwan’s court acquittal on a charge of unlawfully wounding the wife of a prisoner of war, in what looks for all the world like a vicious attack on a defenceless woman, for the intended purpose of rape or something similar.

I have Richard Frederick Kirwan’s war service pay book in my possession, and had found a reference to his personnel record on the Australian National Archives index, but other than noting down the index entry details hadn’t taken any further action, as a digitised copy was not available.

I decided last night to order a copy of his record, as it would contain a record of being AWOL as noted in the newspaper report, if indeed the Richard Kirwan in the newspaper report is ‘my’ Richard Kirwan, and confirm or otherwise, his connection with the disturbing court case.

While I was searching for his personnel record to conduct the purchase transaction, I found another entry with the same service number, for a Courtmartial in 1944!  This file has not been ‘examined’ to clear it for public access, so before I can order it, I have had to request that it be examined.  Then the Archives/military will notify me whether or not I can purchase it.  Then, if it is cleared, I will purchase it.  And then, it will be available as a digital copy for anyone to access.

My genealogist self is excited at the prospect of receiving access to these documents.  My family-self is disgusted and saddened by the behaviour described in the newspaper report, and is hoping that what I find will disprove the connection.  Even though Richard Kirwan was acquitted by the jury, his one and only witness for the defence was convicted of perjury, and subsequently imprisoned, sentenced to 12 months hard labour, as his evidence was considered to be contrary to previous voluntary statements he had made.

To the less than casual observer, some 67 years after the fact, it appears that justice was not served on either occasion.  It appears that Pte Gray DID commit perjury, to help his friend.   This was misguided.  It would also appear that he has been a ‘scapegoat’ – when the judge in the original case did not get the verdict he wanted/expected in the first case, he forwarded the perjury accusation for prosecution.  Richard Kirwan on the other hand, it would appear, got off scot-free.  I wonder how the Richard Kirwan involved in this case lived with himself following the imprisonment of his friend, and the subsequent effect this would have had on that man’s life, while he went on presumably to have a reasonably unblemished record.  If the Richard Kirwan in the case is ‘my’ Richard Kirwan, I will be researching his subsequent life meticulously.

Now I’m trying to track down a transcript of the cases.

The other track I’m now trying to follow is Richard’s second marriage, to Grace M.  He divorced her on grounds of adultery with Allen King.  Richard and Grace’s marriage is too recent for the historical BDM index – I may have to visit the Registry (on another floor of the building I work in) and ask them to conduct a search.

In the meantime, though, I found Grace Mercedes King, cremated at Karrakatta, died 9 January 1990 aged 78 years in Embleton WA, on the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board index.  I guess that’s two marriage searches in the Registry 🙂

I’ll post whatever I find out, when I find it out.  Stay tuned!


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