How a cop warned there would be murder

QUEENSLAND Police hierarchy "destroyed three lives" by not intervening in a bitter vendetta that spilt over into bloodshed, gunshots, murder and a missing body in outback Cape York, a retired bush cop says.

Ex-senior constable Bob Haydon has made the explosive claims in a bombshell interview about at least 20 instances of violent stand-over tactics by two convicted killers on an isolated cattle station for a new book Murder on the River of Gold.


The former Laura police station officer-in-charge, also a gold fossicker, said he warned senior police about "a time bomb waiting to explode" in escalating tensions between prospectors and cattle station owners on the Palmer River.

The cover of Robert Reid's book Murder on the River of Gold.
The cover of Robert Reid's book Murder on the River of Gold.


Former crime journalist Robert Reid. Picture: Grace Mason
Former crime journalist Robert Reid. Picture: Grace Mason

Father-of-two Bruce Schuler, 48, was hunted down and killed in an execution-style shooting by husband-and-wife graziers Stephen Struber and Dianne Wilson-Struber near the ghost town of Maytown on Palmerville Station in 2012.

His body has never been found. His widow Fiona led the campaign for the "no body, no parole laws" introduced in Queensland in 2017.

The two killers, who both protest their innocence, are serving a life sentence in prison while their 134,000 hectare Palmerville Station, a grazing and mining property, is listed for sale for an estimated $4 million with offers closing next Thursday.

"I told the department somebody was going to get killed,'' ex-Senior Constable Haydon said, in the book.

"They didn't want the truth."

"Unfortunately, things did get out of hand, and you cannot whistle a bullet back once it is on its way.''

Murder victim Bruce Schuler.
Murder victim Bruce Schuler.

He said if police had acted to contain the escalating violence, Bruce Schuler would still be alive and Struber and his wife would not be in jail for murder.

Widow Fiona Splitt told The Courier-Mail yesterday the fresh allegations showed "police did not do their job" and it had cost the life of her husband.

"Police did not want to deal with it. It was too hard, too far away. It's like something out of the movie Deliverance."