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CYRUS HALEY.

(Bjr 3; J. UOTLSG, of 6y«rne(y.) The etory of Cyras Heley, co fttr as I know, has never been wholly tojd. One day a respectable, not to wy an. honoured member of the community, he was the next, comparatively speaking, oonfcricted on several charges of arson and one of attempted murder. Oα precisely how many charges of ineendiaxism hp -was arraigned I do not now remember—for these things occurred dose onj forty years ago, and I have no notes or/ memoranda to refresh my memory affcer that long lapse of time. But on eachj of three of these charges of incendiarism he was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment, to be "cumulative." These (twenty years, ■by extremely good foeiiavionr, unigiit be reduced to ten, or thirty in Sail. But in addition to this he was eenftenoed for the attempted murder to "penal servitude for life," which 4>y exemjplary conduct might also be reduced to tern years, as twenty was the ordinary Bsngfii of a life sentence. Thus he stood, a£ liae best for forty years' imprisonment. There were also, I think, some "conrtarrent" sentences, but these did not coaat. So that his chances of ever being freetd at all were extremely remote. As a xnM&er ot fact, he was dead in less, than fonr years from the time of his oosvictioiiu He made two attempts to escape, thfe eeeond proving fatal to him. iij .profession of journalist brought mc oat various occasions in contact with ihisf man prior to hie appearance before ttfe world as * first-class criminal. I Uad Also an opportunity of learning eoriieUring of his prison life afterwards, ek well as of his terribly tragic death. Bit to my story.

A SOreETODS KBW ZEALAND CKQtDCAIw OAiKEER. AKD TRAGIC TneATTT r

The etory of Cyrus Haley, co fersa I know, has never been -wholly tcjd. One •day a respectaJble, not to Sty an honoured member of the community, he was the next, comparatively speaking, conirieted on several charges of arson and one of attempted murder. Ota precisely how many charges of ineeudiariam hp -was arraigned I do not now remember—for these things occurred close on) forty years ago, and I have no notes or/ memoranda to refresh my memory affcer that long lapee of time. Bat on eachi at three of these charges of incendiarisrft. he was sentenced to twenty years' imprisonment, to 'he "cumulative." Theee ftwe».ty years, by extremely good behaviour, injgiit be reduced to ten, or thirty in Sail. But in addition to this he was eeiitenood for the attempted murder to "penal servitude for life," which 4>y exemjplary conduct might also be reduced to tern years, as twenty was the ordinary tengfii of a life sentence. Thus he stood ..at Ijhe best for forty years' imprisonment. There were also, I think, some "conttarrent" sentences, but these did not cooat. So that his chances of ever being freetd at all were extremely remote. As a mMter of fact, he was dead in less, thsji fottr years from vhe time of his oosvictioiiu He made two attempts to escape, the second proving fatal to him. iij .profession of journalist brought mc on: various occasions in contact with ihisf man prior to hie appearance before ttfe world as a first-class criminal. I Wad Also an opportunity of learning eocbeUnng of his prison life afterwards, ek well as of bis terribly tragic death. Bat to my story.

lib the very early sevejrrtiee the city of Auckland became notorious throughout the colony on account of £he large mmibex of tmexplaioed fives that occurred there. Among these ."were the destruction, of a large keroasne bond in Mechanics' Bay, of a large hall for pofclie assemblage in Symoada-street (known as the Choral Hall, principally intended for musical festivities of a high-class character, balls, public meetings, etcj, and the partial destruction of the fine English «hrp (nearly new) CSty of Anckland, while lying alongside the Queen-street wharf. After a !whole day's fighting ■with the flames she bad to be towed out from the .wharf and ecottled in order to extinguish, them. I The amount of damage done wae immense, for the ship was fully loaded -with flbx, kauri gum, tallow, and other inflammable materials, while the cost of repairing the vessel iwae also extremely large. There -were various, other mysterious fires, the particulars o€ which I have forgotten, but fhe most important "was the partial destruction of the New Zealand Insurance Company* premises in Queen-street. This .'uras a remarkably fine wfifira, having a hifjh central dock tower, and was at that time one of the toomt notable bandings in Anckland. ;■» iKiKK AT THE ifcZ. ESSUR&SCB BUILDINGS. It Tpas in connection wif3i this tin? > that Haley's name was first introduced to public notice to any extent. He had leased a large suite of rooms In the ■building, and furnished them lavishly, not to say' luxuriantly, as first-tiass dining; Teadfaig , , and news rooms." JTbey were to have been thrown open t» the •pubEc -on tbe following Monday. Bat on .the Saturday, about midnight, a. fire broke ont in the place, and, spreading with alarming rapidity, the building wae completely gutted in a very shorti space of time. Though I ihave mentioned tme fire last but one, it iwas, I think, tie first of the series of mysterious burnings. In those days there was no Auckland Tire Brigade worthy of the name, or? at all events there was no water enppty in the city sufficient to check a blaze ifJit" once gained anything like a hold. How different from the preseiit condition of affairs, when there is a splendid water supply, and the fire brigade i» afcid to be equal to anything in Wie Southern Hemisphere for its size. In my capacity of newspaper , reporter, I i.ad on the Saturday morning been courteously shown over the fining and reading rooms and their appurtenances and appointments by " "the genial proprietor," Mr. Cyrus Haley. He was enthcidastic in their praises, and "more than sanguine of the success that wu bound to attend their opening." But my article on his "energy, enterprise, and sound good judgment" never appeared. Before the compositors of the newspaper on which I was engaged were called upon to "take op copy" the <wfaole building, including its magnificent new features, had been reduced to a heap of ruins. SEKSATIOJfAL SHOOTING. The culmination of these mysterious fires was of a highly sensational character. It was not only attended by attempted murder, but brought to light its perpetrator while attempting to escape. The scene was the- Pah Farm, a few miles out of Auckland, occupied by the Hon. Thomas Russell, a well-known politician, and at one time a leading member of the Naw Zealknd Ministry—a very wealthy man, largely and financially interested in many of the monetary institutions not only ot the city, but of New Zealand generally. The Pah Farm was occupied hj him and his family at this particular time. Again it was on Saturday night that fhe fire occurred— this unmistakable case of incendiarism, attended by a. diabolical attempt to kill; and again it was about midnight. The house was a large one, with a wide verandah running all round it. The rooms facing this verandah opened on to it by means of Erench windows, and were, several of them, bedrooms in which the members of the family slept. Suddenly, while the inmates were wrapped in slumber, a pistol shot rang out clear in the midnight air, and apparently close to the house. It <was followed by another, and still another, in quick succession. There was more than ono narrow escape from death that night. One of the bullets, after crashing through the glass of a window, flew past ifche heads of two children nestling

close together, while anotiier was eridentJy meant for Mr. Bnssell himself, as it passed close to the head of his bed in an adjoining, room,, opening on to the same verandah. It was a marvellous escape from death iy Me,' Bussell and hath the children, as well as others ia other bedrooms, for there seemed to be a perfect fusillade going on all round the house at once.

As the men of the household mshed into the open -within a few moments of the firing, they -were startled by a glare of light and flames rising to the sky. Two of the hayricks at same little distance from the house fiercely ablaze. These must' have s>een fired before the would-be assassin h:»d 'begun the attack on the house witih murder in his heart. By the time the -was fully aroused, her" had vaiashed out of eight, and the stacks were ii big volume of flame, quite.' beyond all hope of extinction. The first .thing tlie master of ( house did was to order an instant search lor the miscreant within the immediate surroundings. This proving fruitless, he dispatched a mounted messenger into town to give information of the outrage, and to bring back a police officer with Mm. I think it was in January, -Hie -very height of summer, that this last and ■worst of the many mysterious fires was lighted by this arch-enemy of society. Surprise was subsequently expressed that lie bad not also attempted to fire the dwelling-house as well as the haystacks. Probably he considered it •Would he aO-enfßdent to kill Mr. Russell, and having fired the stacks, and discharged his revolver into the various bedrooms, was content to rest awhile, as he dashed away into the bush, thence to get clear away into the coontry, o» to return to the city. •i-hk POLICE FDBSUEE. About two o'clock on the Sunday morning Inspector Broham, of the Auckland Constabulary, was somewhat abruptly awakened from his sleep by his .barrack orderly, who informed him there had been another mysterious fire, ihie time at Alie Hon. 'Thomas Russell's farm; that there hod been shooting, too, into the horns©; end that a mounted ger had been diepatched into town for the police. "Where is her aaked the inspector. "Waiting below, sir." "Send him in at once!" And the inspector jumped from his bed and began dressing in bsete; as the messenger was uehered into tire room hia etory <was soon told. The inspector thereupon ordered half a dozen mounted troopers (who lived in the ihanacks) to be called, and directed them to proceed to the Pah Farm at once by different routes, and to interrogate or arrest' any supicioue characters they might encounter, ene of the sub-inspec-tors to take the - messenger along with him and go out ix> the farm, -wliither he (the inspector) would himself follow at a slower pace. The criminal might be mounted or on foot—if 4fte latter, and he was coning into Auckland, it was hardly likely they would meet him till they got eosne distance on their way, for the "Pah" was a good stretch from town. And they must keep a good look-out on the fields, for the criminal would be sure to avoid trie roads if he aeaxd them coming. ; Aβ the inspector himeelf, mounted on Ins favourite chestnut, drew out from rthe city, he went at little more than a 'walking pace, not iwishing to alarm any persons who miffot be coming from the opposite direction by the sound of galloping hoofs, end bo give them an opportunity of hiding themselves in the hedges or other cover before they couM be eeen. The inspector was only armed with a short hunting "crop," but he carried a pair of handcuffs --with him. He had dispensed with his revolver at the last moment by changing Kβ regulation saddle for bis ordinary riding saddle of private life, which was much lighter, and, of courae, had no holsters. But he did not give a second thought to this, not for a ■m" mmti - expecting he would be in actual conflict with. 42ie enemy. As a matter of fact, be very seldom carried firearms at all. DESPERATE STEOGPGIB WITH INSPECTOR BROHAM. Proceeding along the Ky*er Pass road, a thoroughfare (at its city end) near the Mount Eden stockade (the Auckland gaol), he could see a considerable distance ahead, for the road is a long and wide one, miming in a perfectly straight line as far as Newmarket, about four miles from the city. The moon irae at the full, end high in the sky, wirich was without a cloud. Almost immediately he observed coming towards him, at the distance of about a quarter of a mile, a figure walking quickly. The inspector did not Attempt to quicken hia pace. When the distance between them had been lessened one-half the figure halted, then seemed to hesitate, and then edged, off *he road and concealed itself in ; the deep shadow of a ecoria -wall some five feet high. miia separated the road from the adjacent field. At once the inspector was on the alert. He broke into a trot. Simultaneously the figure of a man climbed over the wall, and. began running in the direction of Mount Eden. To spring from his horse was, with the inspector, now the wdrk of an jT>afraiifr- Hitching the anrrod's reins round a projection in the waDfi, he likewise leapt over it, and pursued the flying figure. Feeling certain it ■was bis man he put on his beat epeed. The fugitive ran like a hare, bat he was hardly a match for the trained member of the semi-military force *o which Inspector Broham. belonged, atnd the latter gained upon him. 'When •within three paces of him he called on him to stop, whereupon the fugitive, who wore a soft felt bat dragged down over his forehead, faced about, and presented a revolver point Wang at </he inspector's head, but before he could.- pufl the trigger, as he certainly intended to do, Broham was on him. Seizing him by the wrist with a grip of eteel, he turned the direction of the pistiol upwards. In the struggle the hat fell from the man's head, and his face stood fully revealed in the moonlight. "My God!" cried Br»ham, "if 3 Haley!" Yes, in his opponent be recognise** Cyrus Haley, one of the best-known mci. about town, and an acquaintance, if not actually a friend, of his own. But he lost no time expressing his feelings. It was a question of life or death between them. 'Both redoubled their efforts for possession of the revolver —struggled more desperately now than ever—for Haley knew that unless he shot the inspector dead and made his escape the game was up, and his own neck in deadly peril. Broham, still held by its thong, twisted over his wrist, his short hunting whip, with ats heavy "crop."" But he got no chance of using it, for both his hands had shifted from the wrist to Haley's hands that held the pistol as in a vice. Both men fought to a finish for the mastery. Brohani was a strong, clean-limbed, clean-living man, trained to athletics; Haley slightly shorter, and much less robust, as might

be expected from the Hf* lie w»e leading, and with, his dread of discovery it any moment. He now knew be was fighting for his life, or, at least, for bis life-long liberty, lie thought lent him almost superhuman strength. The ages of the men -were nearly the same— about dirty-fire or tMrty-eix. Not *a •word was spoken by either during their 'struggle. When so much depends on the result, men dare not waste breath in words. Neither relaxed his hold on the fatal weapon. On ordinary occasion Broham could probabJy have ewnng Haley over his shoulder, tout to-mghV •with Death looking them both acroau-ely in the eyes, Haley seemed to possess the strength of a demon. A small piece of rock projecting from the ground decided the issue of the combat. One of Haley's heels caught against it, and he fell backward, the inspector wrenching the revolver from bis grasp as he did so. Before Haley could recover, Broham tamed him aver on his face, had his knee in his tack, and his man handcuffed, as he lay with his wrists forged together behind him Then Broham twisted him over on to his hack again, and 'with his face farmed up towards the moon Haley looked ghastly white as he lay perfectly still, bat breathing heavily. , Neither man spoke; it w»s unnecessary. And so ended the battle. Within an hour Cyma Haley lay a prisoner ■within the cells of the Auckland lock-up. Aβ to the charge, or charges— well, they -wore formulated at a latex hoar of. the da;; incendiarism and attempted murder at Mr. Thomas ■Rrw"'" Other charges woold follcrw. It is bettered that Haley had made his way out to the Pah Farm by a circuitous route on foot, but had yi<Hw at least part of the way into town •gain, nJnrartf>TTTTi{T the home before reaching Newmarket, intending to walk the rest of the way into -town. The next day—or, rather, later in the same day, for it must have been past three o'clock before Haley -was secured — the report of his arrest spread throughout the city like lightning, and amazement eat on every face, for no man was less suspected or more respected than he. The members of the Pfcess besieged the inspector for "full details" of the affair, but the reporters of the "New Zealand Herald," the "Southern Cross," and the "Evening Star" were given the barest outline, being told simply that "Haley had -been arrested on certain charges, and that the facts would come oat at the Police Court -examination on tiie following day." 'Subsequently the nature of the charges was given. About six o'clock, as I was getting te* at my own house, I "was sent for, and dispatched to the Pah to interview Mr. RnsselL With come reliytjuice, he told mc the -whole story of the past night's occurrences prerttjy Well as IE have described them, and as they came out at the subsequent trial. He took mc round Ota premises and "to the bedrooms that had been fired into, pointed out the mark of the pistol-shots in the bedding where the enildren had lain, another in the wall of fcia own bedroom near his bed; and, in fbet, gave mc the whole story in an interesting narrative form. He also told nte Inspector Broham's story as he had.' got it from him. I might mention here that Inspector Broham 'was a gentlema*, and a very superior sort of one at that. He .-was a member of the dub in the city. When, on the departure of the ■•English troqigai from/ New Zealand, tho Government *determifeed to have a constabulary force instead of the ordinary police force—tho obfect being to be in a position of defence against the Maoris if necessary—'the police were turned into a. half-m3rtary foody, and Broham—who, I think, had <been an officer in the Imperial Army-—received an appointment in it, and rapidly nose to the rank of inspector.—[Note: Inspector Broham iv never in the Army. He was'originally a mounted constable in Canterbury; afterwards pat in charge of Westland. When the provincial police were taken over by the General Government, Inspector Broham -was given charge of the Auckland district. Mr. Broham got his inspectorship in the old provincial days.—-Kd.] HALEY'S MOTIVE KH^ENGE. When Haley was taougUl to trial he was convicted, and sentenced as described at the a E | *' ! *t"' >T Tfr of frHig artide. And -what was Che reason—tie motive —for all these crimes T It was & motive little dreamed of toy the public in the first instance; a motive that too often. warps the Wninim mind end understanding, and leads to crtanes of the most diabolical character. The motive of Cyras Haley- ih Bevenge! It -was alleged Chat be had suffered in some matter of non-payment of insurance money to which he made claim in one of the public companies in which Mr. Russell -was a director, and that this matter had so preyed upon his 'mind that he determined, if possible, to bring ruin and destruction on that gentleman, him to be the cause of the claim being barred or reduced. I forget at this distance of time exactly -which it was. The 'best means of ecoring off Mr. Russell was, according to his distorted mind, to attack the insurance offices in which that gentleman held large interests. To effectively do this, he determined on a course of destruction of properties that were insured in those offices. As his crimes did not exactly have the effect intended by the criminal, he seems to hare been at last excited to such a pitch that he resolved not only to burn the stacks on the homestead, hoping, perhaps, that the fire might spread to the house itself, but to absolutely murder such of the inmates as came within his reach, especially "Tom" Basse!!, whom he considered his bitterest foe. Fortunately, his bullets were all harmlessly spent, -while he himself was captured and sent to -what promised to be a life-long Imprisonment. Retributive justice was, in his case, singularly srwift, and, as I think, appropriate. The death he had planned and intended for others finally fell upon himself. Other reasons for Haley's hatred to Russell -were assigned by some folks, but nobody paid any attention to these idle and indefinite suggestions.

The Auckland Gaol—always called the "stockade," from its peculiar construction and its wall of taTred, -wooden palisading —was not a very strong one. There had been several escapes from it, and shortly after the conviction of Haley it -was decided to remove some of the most desperate among the prisoners to the gaol in Dunedin —the strongest in New Zealand. Haley was included in the batch. Strangely enough, as the steamer Bangatira, conveying these convicts in irons, was passing out from Auckland down Eangitoto Channel she went within a hundred yards of the sailing step Caduceus, which had on board as passengers the wife and family of Haley, who was doomed never again to look on them. The Caduceus ■was anchored in mid-channel waiting for a fair wind for England, to ■which all who were near and dear to i&e convict were proceeding, it having been decided by ifcheir friends that it was better for them to live with Mrs. Haley's relatives .there rather than bear ihe burden ef

shame and disgrace which -would rest upon them if they remained in Sew. Zealand, .■ -j z'i -■ r.i on.L :., ■(To be Concluded.)

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AS19101217.2.133

Bibliographic details

CYRUS HALEY., Auckland Star, Volume XLL, Issue 299, 17 December 1910

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3,744

CYRUS HALEY. Auckland Star, Volume XLL, Issue 299, 17 December 1910

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