The Mount Cook Murder
Unusual circumstances surrounded the violent death at the Hermitage, Mt. Cook, of William Edward Wogan, a barman-porter, who was found shot one November evening in 1931 in his bedroom with a discharged rifle and a spent shell a few feet away. Months later a chef, Whalley, from the hotel was arrested and tried, but he was acquitted, and no one was ever able to say with certainty how the tragedy occurred. Suicide was ruled out on account of the position of the wound and the absence of burning or singeing, and the accidental discharge of the weapon was similarly discounted. It was many months afterwards, in July of the following year, that the police arrested Whalley at Hokitika and put him upon his trial in Timaru. The evidence against him was all circumstantial and the jury refused to accept it, returning a verdict of not guilty. A special circumstance in the case was that Wogan was known to have a horror of firearms and always refused to handle them. But Wogan was undoubtedly shot with the weapon found on the floor. The question the police were unable to answer was how was the shooting done.