Penrith police's first fallen remembered

PENRITH police remembered Sergeant James Beatty, the first Penrith police officer killed in the line of duty, in a special ceremony today.

Sergeant Beatty died of stab wounds on January 11, 1890. He was 54.

The previous day, he had been attacked on the corner of High and Evan streets, not far from where he is buried, in the St Stephen’s Anglican Church cemetery.

James Beatty is mentioned in a plaque at the entrance to Penrith’s present-day police station, also not far from where he was stabbed.

Penrith police commander Ben Feszczuk and the NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione spoke at Sergeant Beatty’s graveside.

‘‘I am deeply honoured to speak here today,’’ Superintendent Feszczuk said.

His speech covered Sergeant Beatty’s life, from his birth in Northern Ireland in 1835, to a father who was also a police officer.

The family eventually emigrated to NSW, where James later joined the colonial police, in 1858, four years before all police units were formed into the NSW Police Force.

Commissioner Scipione also made mention of that special anniversary.

‘‘This is also the 150th year of police operations in NSW,’’ he said.

‘‘We have been reflecting on our proud history, with officers like Sergeant Beatty.

‘‘It takes extra calibre to be a police officer; risk is a constant companion.’’

The commissioner gave a brief account of Sergeant Beatty’s death.

His murderer is only known as ‘‘James’’, a 24-year-old man who reportedly threatened to stab a hotelier for refusing to serve him alcohol.

On January 10, Sergeant Beatty approached James in High Street and told him to move on.

James wandered away, with the officer following him, until they scuffled at the corner of High and Evan streets.

Sergeant Beatty was stabbed and James threatened to stab another officer and bystanders who came to assist.

James was shot by police during the encounter and later died of his wound.

Sergeant Beatty’s funeral on January 13 was attended by 1500 people.

He was survived by his widow Margaret, four sons and two daughters.

Sergeant Beatty’s great-great-niece Joan Craymer laid a wreath on his grave.

‘‘It was a great honour for me to do that,’’ Mrs Craymer said.

‘‘My grandfather often sat me on his knee and told me stories of how his father [Daniel Beatty] and uncle [James Beatty] chased bushrangers.

‘‘I think it is important to remember these things and what police did for the community.’’

Superintendent Feszczuk said Sergeant Beatty had made the ultimate sacrifice in policing.

‘‘We should never forget that,’’ he said.

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