Who Shot “Spider” Raper? 1926

Truth 26th December 1926


Who Shot “Spider” Raper?


Jealousy or Vengeance the Motive?


 What is the secret behind the callous slaying of “Spider” Raper, who was shot down by an unknown attacker in front of a house in Blakeney-street, Highgate Hill, on Saturday night? Was it an enraged lover’s hand which dispatched the life of Raper? Or was the killing the result of a sinister vengeance born among certain members of Brisbane’s underworld?

 In all the quiet out-of-the-way thoroughfares in that scattered, rambling locality known as Highgate Hill, there is perhaps no more dreary street than Blakeney-street. When, at the mystical hour of midnight on Saturday, a man known as “Spider” Raper was shot dead at the door of his home, the curtain fell on a drama, the first set of which was played many years ago and concerning which “Truth” here presents some little known facts.

Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 - 1954), Sunday 26 December 1926, p

The Truth newspaper commenced publication in Brisbane in 1900, as an offshoot of the Sydney Truth founded by William Nicholas Willis ten years earlier.  Melbourne and Perth editions were also published.  Ownership of the Truth group eventually passed to Murdoch’s News Ltd. The Truth was from its outset mainly a scandal sheet with a focus on topics such as murder, divorce, prostitution, and assorted scandals. Publication ceased in 1954.

Blakeney Street Highgate Hill murder

Article image from the National Library of Australia’s Newspaper Digitisation Program

Truth  Sunday 27th February 1927


 “Spider” Raper’s Journey Into the Great Beyond

An Epilogue of the Highgate Hill Shooting

 A sea of flushed and anxious faces peering down from the musty galleries of the Central Criminal Court; a mixed mob, motionless, breathless, waiting for the fateful words that, by a jury sworn, would for years entomb a man within a gloomy gaol or set him free.

 The jury, filing into court, returns the verdict. “Not Guilty”, and the prisoner in the dock turns and waves an excited hand to the crowd above him, from whom a sudden peal of joyous approbation is emitted.

It transpired that Raper’s girlfriend Vera Meskell had left him and moved to a house in Highgate Hill. He had come to the house to ask for money from Meskell and when she refused he became violent, attempting to strangle her.  A man called George Ward who was also boarding at the house intervened but Raper, a powerful man, ripped off a fence paling and beat Ward with it. Raper dragged Meskell back into the house. Ward, seeing the door ajar, slipped his hand through the crack and fired a warning shot with his revolver down the hallway, as you would. As the article put it “But as the poet somewhat ruefully tells us,  Full many a shaft at random sent finds many a mark that ne’er was meant”. The bullet passed straight through the chest of Raper.

Blakeney street house Highgate Hill murder

The Blakeney Street House in 2015

Articles Referenced :

SECRET WHICH LIES BEHIND THE HIGHGATE HILL SLAYING (1926, December 26). Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 – 1954), p. 9. Retrieved February 3, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article199286711


IT WAS NOT MURDER (1927, February 27). Truth (Brisbane, Qld. : 1900 – 1954), p. 14. Retrieved February 3, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article199291441


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