Thomas Griffin’s Fall

This is the true story of one of Australia’s most incredible murders––the first Queensland police officers killed while on duty, drugged and shot by their commander, Gold Commissioner and Police Magistrate Thomas Griffin––and the sensational trial that led to his execution in 1868.

The motivation for the murders was common and quite ordinary, but Thomas Griffin’s crime and punishment––and what happened to him after he was hanged––make this story unique in the annals of Australia’s dark past.

+ + +

Behold the man, standing tall in a magisterial pose.

Facing the camera with a straight gaze, his body slightly turned to suggest a confident bearing rather than an arrogant air.

The uniform conveys the sense of his power––the purpose of this studio portrait. His magistrate’s frock coat, buttoned only at the top in 1860s fashion, is decorated with his campaign medals from the Crimea. Braided stripes on his trouser legs, his cap adorning the small table next to him, and his sword held casually in his left hand.

Thomas Griffin is, in 1867, a man climbing towards the peak of Queensland’s power elite––Police Magistrate, Gold Commissioner, and one of the most formidable men on the colonial frontier––he is charming, clever, strong, and carefully proud of his whiskers.

He is also a chronic gambler, and on a short path to ruin.

By the end of that year he has been committed to stand trial for the murder of two police troopers––one of them his closest friend. They are the first Queensland police killed in the line of duty.

Griffin is tried for robbery and murder. His sensational trial ends in a verdict of guilty and a sentence of hanging.

A week after his execution in June 1868, his head is stolen from the grave by three men––a doctor, a bank manager, and a newspaper editor.

+ + +

Thomas Griffin’s Fall is a serial story of creative nonfiction, using meticulous research to unfold this uniquely dramatic story from Queensland’s violent colonial frontier.

AndAlso Books will unveil this story, our first serial, over the next 12 months using original historical documents, reports, and images, as well as short stories taken from the wider narrative, to mark the 150th anniversary of the story’s events.