10 May 2023

Cape York police rocked by deaths of southern colleagues

| Matt Nicholls
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THE officers in charge of Cape York’s regional police stations say they have been overwhelmed by support since the tragic deaths of two colleagues at Wieambilla last week.

Weipa-based Senior Sergeant Warren Flegg and long-serving Cooktown Senior Sergeant John McArthur also said the murders had made them reflect on their own careers and situations that could have resulted in a similar outcome.

Constables Matthew Arnold, 26, and Rachel McCrow, 29, along with 58-year-old resident Alan Dare were gunned down in an ambush and siege at a remote property in the Western Downs region last Monday.

“It is not easy to put into words how I feel about the senseless loss of life earlier in the week,” Senior Sergeant McArthur said.

“The civilian has been robbed of time with his wife, grandchildren and other family members because he was being a decent human.

“The two officers will never get to experience a full life which everyone deserves to do so.

“The families of all involved will probably never get over this experience as the manner in which the lives were lost was horrendous.

“The circumstances do make you think a bit and make realise that I may have been too complacent on occasion during the course of my policing career.

“It has had some effect on everyone at Cooktown station as more officers than you realise have had some form of connection with the deceased officers.

“There has been some deep thought and reflection taking place in the days following this tragedy.”

Senior Sergeant Flegg said the Weipa station had received a number of condolence messages and letters from the public, including the Weipa Town Authority.

He said the murders were a chilling reminder of the daily danger police officers were in, whether it was obvious or not.

“Where does it put us now? It was a missing person enquiry and it has resulted in two police officers murdered,” he said.

“A place like Weipa has a high number of weapons, just like a lot of country towns.

“It will be in the back of every police officer’s mind, especially the younger ones.”

Senior Sergeant Flegg said his thoughts were with the Tara Police Station and the family and friends of the officers, as well as the civilian who was killed when trying to assist.

The funeral for the officers will be held tomorrow.

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