The Policeman That Sam Poo Killed

Senior-Constable John Ward was born in England and he joined the Old Police on 1st February 1858. He transferred to New Police as a mounted trooper in 1862. He was described as 29 years old, 5’ 10 ½” tall, had brown hair and blue eyes, and his complexion was fair. Ward was promoted to Senior-Constable on 1st May 1863.

In early 1865 a Chinese gold miner, Sam Poo, thought to be mentally unbalanced, started sticking up people on the road to Mudgee. He also kidnapped and raped a young woman. Ward went looking for the Chinaman, who upon spotting the trooper ran into the surrounding bush. Ward rode after him and when he caught up called on him to stand and drop his weapon (a cut down shotgun). Sam Poo aimed at the trooper and said “You policeman – me fire”.

The trooper leapt from his horse and tried to use the animal as cover as he drew his Colt navy revolver. Ward’s hesitancy in shooting the Chinaman proved to be fatal for him, for Sam Poo fired, hitting the policeman in the pelvic area. Ward fell to the ground, discharging one shot from his Colt in the process. He them fired twice more at the Chinaman, who was running away through the bush.

The trooper lay bleeding on the ground until he was found by Mr M J F Plunkett, the squatter on whose run the shoot out had taken place. Plunkett arranged for Ward to be taken to his homestead, and sent for the doctor who lived 50 miles away. The doctor arrived the next day, but examination showed that Ward was beyond medical help.

The trooper told Mr Plunkett that he knew he was dying and asked what would become of his wife and family. Later he dictated a full statement about his encounter with Sam Poo to the squatter. Ward said he was a member of the Church of England, and asked Plunkett to pray for him. This the squatter did using a book of Common Prayer. The trooper then asked the squatter to send for his wife and family. However, John Ward died shortly after giving his request, passing away on 4th February 1865. His family arrived at the homestead after he had been buried.

A meeting was held in Mudgee, where a large sum of money was raised for Senior-Constable John Ward’s widow and children. This support acknowledged the supreme sacrifice the trooper had made in the performance of this duty.