Witness tells of finding wounded police officer

A witness has described the most disturbing day of his life when he came across a severely wounded policeman fighting for his life.

Farmer Peter Sandral was 26 when he returned home early on the morning of December 20, 1963 after a day of harvesting with his friend Charlie Packer.

Mr Packer had gone outside to get some fresh air when he heard a car horn blowing intermittently and could see flashing lights in the distance.

The two men set off about 12.30am to investigate, walking two kilometres until they found then-Constable Cyril Howe in his damaged police vehicle, desperately trying to get attention after being shot four hours earlier.

Mr Sandral, who knew the policeman, said he saw his jammed revolver laying on the ground alongside a blood-stained notebook with the words “Little shot me”.

“It was pretty disturbing,” Mr Sandral said yesterday when he attended a ceremony held at Oaklands marking the 50th anniversary of the incident.

“He was waving his arms at us.”

Mr Sandral and Mr Packer, who died a year ago, rushed three kilometres to the nearest neighbour’s house with a phone.

They called the police, telling them to bring a doctor.

Not certain one would arrive, they went to the town to make sure a doctor was notified.

“We were anxious to get him some medical attention,” Mr Sandral said.

They returned to find police and a doctor at the scene.

Cyril Howe died at Wagga hospital that night, aged 31.

Mr Sandral said the whole district was rocked by the event, carrying firearms with them during the six-day manhunt that followed in case they came across the killer.

“It’s incredible how brave some police are,” Mr Sandral said.

“It makes you appreciate how they put their lives on the line.”

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