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BOXING DAY, 1898. Three members of the Murphy family - Michael, Ellen and Norah — are returning to the family farm after a trip in to Gatton, a small town west of Brisbane. On a deserted, moonlit road a few miles out of town they are ambushed. Their horse is killed and the three young people are taken to a remote paddock where the women are brutally raped and bludgeoned to death, and Michael is shot. To this day, these murders remain unsolved by the police, and are baffling to the myriad of true crime enthusiasts who seek an answer. What was deemed by the incompetent investigator a random event from an itinerant, was, in Stephanie Bennett’s definitive work, a carefully planned murder of retribution against Michael Murphy and his sisters, plotted by a vicious serial criminal, and fermented by years in jail. To solve the Gatton Murder, Stephanie Bennett has looked into the past of the young colony of Queensland. While Europe was wrestilng with the new concept of socialism, elements in the press were agitating for better conditions for shearers in western Queensland. What resulted was a confrontation between armed shearers and mounted police sent to maintain the status quo. From this dispute would be formed the world’s first Labor Party, but for some, the goal was New Australia, a workers paradise in Paraguay. For others, it was an opportunity to advance in the union movement at any cost. Amongst the combatants were Corporal Michael Murphy of the Moreton Light Mounted Infantry, and the man who would one day end his life, a man with 300 names. Stephanie Bennett has expanded on her earlier work and examined what was known about the victims and the suspects, their affiliations and their pasts. In this new book, Stephanie explains how the lives of two men of widely different worlds collide in the Shearers War in Longreach, western Queensland, and the devastating consequences were seen in a field outside Gatton in 1898.

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