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JOHN LYNCH: THE BERRIMA AXE MURDERER

By Paul B. Kidd   

New South Wales, Australia: 1840-41


Situated on the southern highlands of New South Wales in eastern Australia, about an hour and a half drive from Sydney, the historic village of Berrima, population 284, is a welcome sight for the travelers seeking to relax over a cup of tea and country-style scones before resuming their journey.

Map of Australia, with Berrima marked
Map of Australia, with Berrima marked

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Lush, laid-back Berrima is steeped in history, and has many arts and crafts shops, a museum, an old courthouse, and Australia's oldest hotel, The Surveyor General.

Map of the Berrima district
Map of the Berrima district

It was also home to Australia's worst serial killer.

Entrance to the Berrima Gaol (jail)
Entrance to the Berrima Gaol (jail)

He roamed the Berrima district almost a century and a half before the term serial killer was coined, murdering at will until he was finally brought to justice, tried at the Berrima Courthouse and put to death on the gallows in the Berrima Gaol (jail).

The extraordinary story of the Berrima Axe Murders — and the ultimate capture of John Lynch, convict, bush ranger and serial killer — began on the morning of February 19, 1841. Drover Hugh Tinney on his way to Sydney with a team of bullocks, stopped near the Ironstone Bridge just outside Berrima and noticed a dingo rummaging around a pile of brush and trying to get at what ever was concealed beneath.

Closer inspection revealed the body of a man whose skull had been pulverized at the back, suggesting that he had been bashed to death with a heavy blunt instrument. The man was lying on his back with a smile on his face, indicating that he had been in good humor when attacked from behind and had no idea what hit him.

From items found on the body, he was identified as a local farmhand named Kearns Landregan who was last seen in the company of a farmer named Dunleavy when the pair had dinner two nights earlier at the Woolpack Inn at Nattai not far from where Landregan's body was discovered.

The trail led to a nearby farm once owned by the Mulligan family but now owned by John Dunleavy, who had allegedly bought it from the Mulligans for 700 before the family of Mr. and Mrs. Mulligan and their teenage son and daughter had mysteriously packed up and left town without telling a soul.

Sketch of John Lynch
Sketch of John Lynch

The barmaid from the Woolpack Inn identified the mysterious farmer Dunleavy as a local whose real name was John Lynch. With that and other irrefutable evidence gathered by police, on February 21, 1841, John Lynch was charged with the murder of Kearns Landregan.

Even in the light of the overwhelming evidence against him, Lynch steadfastly maintained his innocence in the belief that he would be exonerated and freed.







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CHAPTERS
1. New South Wales,
Australia:
1840-41


2. Lead by God Himself

3. Confession

4. Return to a
Life of Crime


5. Visitors

6. A Close Call

7. "Miraculous" Escape

8. Dispatching
the Frasers


9. Mr. & Mrs. Mulligan

10. A Cunning Plan

11. Squire Dunleavy

12. The Author

- Books

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Crump & Baker
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The Thorne Kidnapping
The Truro Murders


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