John Lynch: The Berrima Axe Murderer

A Close Call

The following morning, blissfully unaware of their narrow escape from death, Lagge and Lee invited Lynch to travel behind them for company, an offer he readily accepted. As they approached Liverpool on the outskirts of southern Sydney, Lynch nearly died of shock when a man cantered his horse alongside the dray that Lynch was driving and asked him what he was doing driving his team. The man was Thomas Cowper. As quick as a flash Lynch smiled at the man and said, "I'm glad I've seen you. I was just wondering whether I'd knock into you. The fact is that your man Ireland was taken ill back there and begged me to take the load to Sydney for you. He said I'd probably meet you somewhere along the way."

When Lynch explained that Ireland was very ill and that he had left the boy to look after him at the camp, Cowper expressed his gratitude that Lynch had taken the load of perishables ahead toward Sydney. He was even more grateful when Lynch agreed to continue to Sydney with the dray and its load while Cowper went back and looked for Ireland. Silently thanking the Lord for looking after him through his close call with Cowper, Lynch arranged to meet Cowper in Sydney in a few days. He pushed on with the bullock team until he caught up with Lagge and Lee. They parted company at the junction of Liverpool Road and Dog Trap Road, when the two men turned in the opposite direction and headed toward Parramatta.

By driving all day and night, Lynch reached Sydney two days before his scheduled time to meet Cowper. He knew he had no time to lose because, when Cowper couldn't find his missing employees, he would come looking for Lynch.

Lynch employed the services of a drunk to sell the produce so that he could not be incriminated at a later date and if questioned by police could stick to his story about Ireland being taken ill, adding that the produce had been stolen from the back of the dray while it was unattended.

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