"It is a sad and a mad and a bad thing for a man or men to murder anyone -
even a policeman... But what about the hangman who committed two murders
for nothing at all but his blood money"
Roland Kennedy and Frank Franz, two Australian I.W.W. members were executed at Bathurst Gaol in 1916 for the murder of a Tottenham police officer. Although there had been no executions in New South Wales for over a decade the government was hell bent on hanging them. On the 30th of November 1916, just two weeks before the first conscription referendum in December 1916, the New South Wales Executive Council decided that the men must hang.
Interestingly Frank Franz had turned Kings evidence and no one who had turned Kings evidence had ever been executed before. Roland Kennedy's brother had been acquitted at a separate trial of the murder of the same constable. Roland Kennedy himself was only twenty and would normally have been sentenced to life imprisonment because of his age. Roland Kennedy and Frank Franz were hanged together 20 December 1916. It was customary to pay the Sheriff's officer 5 pound 5 shillings for the hanging "in view of the very disagreeable nature of the duties involved." In the case of Roland Kennedy and Frank Franz, the hangman applied for 5 pound 5 shillings per noose. The Attorney Generals department refused the request "when two or more criminals are hanged on the same day they are expected simultaneously. They stand on the platform together and fall at the same time."
The Public Service Board disagreed in their opinion. If one corpse was worth five guinea's two should be worth ten. The Attorney Generals under secretary said it was "an extravagant waste of money" to pay double for a twin execution. The Minister agreed and the hangman had to be content with two for the price of one.
Source of Article - SYDNEY'S BURNING (An Australian Political Conspiracy) by Ian Turner 1969 Edition National Library of Australia Registry No Aus 67-751 Published by Alpha Books Sydney.
Born 8 January 1888, Wellington, N.S.W., Australia
Executed 9am, 20 December 1916, Bathurst Gaol, N.S.W., Australia
Frank Franz was a Labourer and a member of the Tottenham branch of the I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World).
He was married, had lived in Tottenham for over 12 years and had two small children, when he, Roland Nicholas Kennedy and his brother Michael Herbert Kennedy were on the 4th of October 1916, charged with the murder of Constable Duncan who had been shot dead on the 26th September 1916. Frank Franz turned King's evidence and claimed Roland and Michael Kennedy forced him to become involved in the murder. He claimed, although he was present when the constable was shot through the window of the Tottenham Police Station, he shot his gun at the window sash not at the Constable. The bullet that killed the Constable was a 32 calibre Winchester. Although Frank Franz had four rifles in his house, a 22 calibre, 32 calibre 38 calibre and 44 calibre Winchester only the 38 calibre rifle had been fired in the previous few weeks.
Frank Franz may have turned King's evidence because the police offered to help him beat the charge of murder if he implicated the Kennedy's in the crime. Irrespective of why he turned King's evidence, he was found guilty of the murder of Constable Duncan and was executed with Roland Kennedy on the 24th December 1916, barely 3 months after Constable Duncan was killed. The charge of murder against Michael Kennedy was dismissed by the judge because of lack of evidence. Considering there was little, if any scientific evidence to link Franz with the murder of Constable Duncan and considering that people who turn King's evidence are normally not executed (why would an accused implicate other people in a murder, if they are going to be executed whether they help or don't help the police).
It's strange, very strange, that Frank Franz was executed for the murder of Constable Duncan. Frank Franz was executed as a consequence of the anti I.W.W. hysteria that accompanied the first Australian conscription referendum in December 1916. Frank Franz was also a victim of the anti German hysteria that was part of the Australian governments war policy in 1916. Unfortunately for Frank, although he was born in New South Wales his father was German.
Born 18 April 1896, Peak Hill, N.S.W., Australia.
Executed 9am, 20 December 1916, Bathurst Gaol, N.S.W., Australia.
Roland Nicholas Kennedy, a Tottenham copper miner, was hung at Bathurst Goal in New South Wales at 9 am on the 20th December 1916 for the murder of constable George Joss Duncan on the 26th. September, 1916.
Roland, his brother Michael Herbert Kennedy and Frank Franz were charged with the murder of Constable Duncan on the 4 October, 1916. three were members of the Tottenham branch of the Industrial Workers of the World. Michael Kennedy was the I.W.W. organiser for Tottenham. Neither of the men had any previous convictions. Michael Kennedy had been a policeman in New Zealand in 1911 and 1912.
They were accused of shooting Constable Duncan while he sat in his office at Tottenham Police Station. Frank Franz turned King's evidence and said the two brothers shot the police officer. Roland Kennedy said although he was present at the shooting Frank Franz the officer. He stated his brother Michael Kennedy knew nothing about the shooting. Although there were no other witnesses, no substantial motive, (the primary motive the Crown could come up with was that they were all members of the I.W.W. and the I.W.W. literature they had read had poisoned their minds), and no scientific evidence, Frank Franz and Roland Kennedy were found guilty of the murder of Constable Duncan. They were both sentenced to death.
The case against Michael Herbert Kennedy was so weak, he did not stand trial with his brother and Frank Franz. When he appeared in court a few days later the Judge dismissed the charge because of lack of evidence. Although real doubt existed about whether Roland Kennedy was involved in the shooting, he was executed by the New South Wales government barely three months after he was charged and four months before his 21st birthday. He paid with his life for the I.W.W. hysteria that accompanied the anti-conscription referendum in late 1916.