AS Tamworth police paid homage to their predecessors last week recently at a Retired Police Day ceremony, one former officer who attended came with a story about murder, an explosion and a motorbike.
Former Senior Sergeant Barry Skinner now lives in Somerton but first served at the Bega district station in the Public Safety Bureau, now known as the Highway Patrol.
Mr Skinner’s mode of transport was a standard issue 1957 Triumph Thunderbird motorcycle, which was the point of his discussion with The Leader.
The bike, according to Mr Skinner, survived a bomb blast that killed its police officer owner, Kenneth Cousins, his wife and their child in 1958.
The bike had been stored under their house when a convicted murderer – who, according to Mr Skinner, “had a gripe with Constable Cousins” over speeding fines – placed explosives packed into a can on their front porch.
Mr Skinner was told the blast blew the house to pieces and even smashed the windows in the hospital across the valley.
The Thunderbird and Constable Cousin’s nine-year-old stepson were the only survivors.
Mr Skinner said the bike only had one bit of damage, a dent to the front brake drum, and it became his when he joined the police force at Bega, where the slain officer served.
“It was still mostly dirt roads back then and the only bitumen we saw was on the Princes Highway,” he said.
Mr Skinner said he took over the Public Safety Bureau role but didn’t have to worry about the killer, Kelly, who had been locked up by that stage.
After working at the Bega station, he moved onto Quirindi where he served for 10 years, then to other stations around the New England and North West, including Boggabri and Tenterfield.
All up, he spent 35 years serving in the NSW Police Force before finishing up at Cessnock as a Senior Sergeant nearly 25 years ago.
Mr Skinner attended the Oxley Local Area Command Retired Police Day ceremony at the Tamworth Town Hall with 115 other former officers, who received special commemorative pins for their service.