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Walker, Westby Lionel (1874–1927)

BULLET IN HEAD
Bank Manager's Death

SOUTH BEACH TRAGEDY
Evidence at Inquest

On the moraine of March 28 the body of Westby Lionel Walker was found lying at the water's edge at South Beach with a bullet wound in the head. Deceased was well known in commercial circles at the Port as the manager of the Bank of New South Wales, Fremantle, and his death came as a shock to his colleagues and the community generally. At the Fremantle Courthouse this morning Mr. J. R. Geary acting: R.M., conduct ed an inquiry into the tragedy. Detective- Sergeant L. O'Brien assisted the Coroner, and Mr. G. S. James appeared for the Bank of New South Wales and the relatives of the deceased.

Constable Norman said that about 6.30 am. on March 28 he saw the body of a man lying in the sand near the water be tween the Smelters and Robb's Jetty. There was a bullet wound in the head, and the body was fully clothed. After removing the body to the morgue, witness searched unsuccessfully for a revolver.

Thomas J. Corteen, director of Frank Manford and Co., an intimate friend of the deceased, gave evidence of identification. Witness said he saw Walker on the evening of March 26. Deceased was then in his usually good spirits. Walker was reticent at all times, and never discussed with witness his personal affairs or his state of health. Deceased had served at the war.

Emanuel Smith, a jockey, deposed to having discovered Walter's body about half-past 5 on March 28.

Bank Teller's Evidence.

Theodore Reeves, teller employed at the Bank of New South Wales and the W.A. Bank, said, that the amalgamation of the Bank of New South Wales and the W.A. Bank took place on the day following the discovery of Walker's body. Prior to March 29 witness resided at the premises of the Bank of New South Wales. On March 27 he left the bank at 11 a.m., and on returning late that night he noticed an outside light burning:. The switch for that light was inside the building. On examining the interior of the premises witness discovered that a loaded revolver, usually kept beside his desk, was missing. He searched for the revolver, but could not find it, and eventually telephoned to Walker's residence to apprise him of the matter. He was informed by telephone that deceased had cone out. Walker had a key of the bank premises. The revolver had not been found since. Walker's papers and books were in perfect order.

Post-mortem Examination.

Dr. D. E. Williams, who conducted the post-mortem examination, said there was a bullet wound on the right side of the head at the back of the ear, and the hair was scorched, showing that the revolver had been held very close to the skull when discharged. Death was due to a bullet, wound. He was a personal friend of Walker's, who on various occasions seemed to be a little perturbed on account of business worries. Deceased was the type of man likely to brood over trifles, William Thomas Lack, steward at the Commercial Travellers' Club, Fremantle said deceased was a member of the club and witness saw him there on March 27. about 9 p.m. He cashed a cheque for £1 for the deceased, who handed him back £1, to be given to another steward. Walker saying that he was going away for a day or two.

Claude Leslie Hamilton, retired army officer, residing at the Orient Hotel, said he had known deceased, who also resided at the hotel. They went together to the Commercial Travellers' Club on March 27. at 8.30 p.m. and deceased left the premises unaccompanied half an hour later.

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Citation details

'Walker, Westby Lionel (1874–1927)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/walker-westby-lionel-20126/text31230, accessed 25 September 2017.

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