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Inside the shocking double murder-suicide that has rocked Warrnambool

When the news through Warrnambool that Kevin Knowles had been murdered, more than a few locals wanted to buy a beer for his killer.

Located on the west coast of Victoria, Warrnambool is largely known for its rugged coastline and Kermond’s Burgers, which has a national profile for its burger with the party despite not coming with beetroot.

Knowles had tormented the city for much of his miserable 49 years above the ground.

Kevin Knowles was one of two shot dead in Kirkstall on Friday.  He is pictured arriving at Coroners Court in June 2019

Kevin Knowles was one of two shot dead in Kirkstall on Friday. He is pictured arriving at Coroners Court in June 2019

Travis Cashmore, 45, armed herself with a shotgun and shot Knowles and his associate

Travis Cashmore, 45, armed herself with a shotgun and shot Knowles and his associate

Travis Cashmore, 45, armed herself with a shotgun and shot Knowles and his associate

Emergency services on Kirkstall-Koroit Road, Kirkstall after Travis Cashmore Knowles and Ben Ray.  shot dead

Emergency services on Kirkstall-Koroit Road, Kirkstall after Travis Cashmore Knowles and Ben Ray.  shot dead

Emergency services on Kirkstall-Koroit Road, Kirkstall after Travis Cashmore Knowles and Ben Ray. shot dead

On July 22, he and his acquaintance Benjamin Ray were shot in broad daylight a few miles from Knowles’ home in Kirkstall, northwest of Warrnambool.

The reasons Travis Cashmore, 45, did what he did that day died with him.

His body was found in his nearby home after he turned his gun on himself after sending the couple.

Days later, a sign outside his Kirkstall home indicated that Cashmore had fallen prey to Knowles’ bad spells.

“Free,” the sign said boldly.

‘Trav! You and the Kirkstall community are now free of Kevin Knowles. REST IN PEACE.’

In the hours following the double suicide, locals interviewed by roving television reporters expressed shock at the killings.

Behind closed doors, no one was really that surprised by the way Knowles met his end.

Knowles has long been both loathed and feared in the community.

At the time of his death, his rap sheet stretched over 50 pages.

He was also suspected of committing at least two murders, including that of his long-suffering partner Amanda Bourke, 44.

While some may say it is bad taste to speak ill of the dead, not many who spent time in the company of Knowles would utter such slander.

Exactly what prompted Cashmore to pull the trigger on Knowles, and his unlucky mate, will be covered in a police report to the coroner.

What is publicly known is that “Benny” Ray was most likely knocked out in the heat by Cashmore.

The 48-year-old Dubbo man from New South Wales had not been in Victoria very long and had reportedly only recently met Knowles at the bus stop.

Wong place, wrong time: Benjamin Ray was knocked down and then shot by Travis Cashmore

Wong place, wrong time: Benjamin Ray was knocked down and then shot by Travis Cashmore

Wong place, wrong time: Benjamin Ray was knocked down and then shot by Travis Cashmore

Cashman was found dead in a nearby home on Chamberlain Street shortly after the shooting (photo, emergency services on Kirkstall-Koroit Road)

Cashman was found dead in a nearby home on Chamberlain Street shortly after the shooting (photo, emergency services on Kirkstall-Koroit Road)

Cashman was found dead in a nearby home on Chamberlain Street shortly after the shooting (photo, emergency services on Kirkstall-Koroit Road)

He was planning to return north to pay a visit, when he advised a partner that he should arrange something, The age reported.

“Hey mate, I’m still coming to Dubbo. I won’t be there on Monday, sorry mate. But will be there next week. Something has come up that I must attend. I’ll see your mate when I get there. Goodbye,” the message read.

The father of three was said to be hit by Cashmore’s car on Scotts North Road before being shot at close range with a shotgun.

the local newspaper, The standardclaimed that Knowles was shot execution style.

Like Knowles, Ray was due to appear in court at the time of his death.

Unlike Knowles, it had only been for driving.

Knowles, a self-confessed ice cream addict, was charged with drugs.

He had already spent some time in jail this year after threatening to stab another resident to death.

Knowles had lobbied for his victim’s home with a dog and a knife.

Few who knew Knowles doubted that he had the ability to use it.

Victorian coroner Simon McGregor put it in writing in 2019 when he bluntly stated that Knowles was a murderer.

Amanda Bourke drowned while swimming with her partner, Knowles, in 2018. She was with him when a coroner believes he beat a man to death

Amanda Bourke drowned while swimming with her partner, Knowles, in 2018. She was with him when a coroner believes he beat a man to death

Amanda Bourke drowned while swimming with her partner, Knowles, in 2018. She was with him when a coroner believes he beat a man to death

Amanda Bourke was the only living person who knew what Knowles had done to Mr Johnston when she drowned

Amanda Bourke was the only living person who knew what Knowles had done to Mr Johnston when she drowned

Amanda Bourke was the only living person who knew what Knowles had done to Mr Johnston when she drowned

The coroner had been investigating the suspicious death of Stephen Johnston of Warnnambool, who was last seen alive on December 8, 2016 while getting drunk with Knowles.

The 57-year-old’s death was suspicious due to the fact that he appeared to have been clubbed to death.

When police found him, he was still clinging to life, but with 101 separate injuries, he died in hospital before he could tell them what had happened.

What is known is that Knowles and his partner Amanda Bourke were furious with him drunk in his backyard the night before his mutilated body was found.

A witness told police he saw Mr Johnston chasing the couple out of his garden that night while wielding a hammer.

The couple claimed they returned that morning to find Mr Johnston naked and battered in his front yard.

They took him inside to rest, then used his credit cards to make a Maccas run, they told police.

With no CCTV, no witnesses, and no real evidence to pin down his murder, Knowles walked free.

The only witness to what happened that night, his partner, was said to have died under mysterious circumstances in January 2018 while Knowles was still under investigation.

A witness told police she heard at least two gunshots and the sound of a vehicle driving away shortly before the grim discovery (photo, police vehicle on Kirkstall-Koroit Road)

A witness told police she heard at least two gunshots and the sound of a vehicle driving away shortly before the grim discovery (photo, police vehicle on Kirkstall-Koroit Road)

A witness told police she heard at least two gunshots and the sound of a vehicle driving away shortly before the grim discovery (photo, police vehicle on Kirkstall-Koroit Road)

Coroner McGregor had heard that Knowles feared that his partner would eventually give birth to him.

He had received letters from Knowles urging Mrs Bourke not to be a ‘dog’ and yelling at him at the ‘jacks’.

Despite Mrs Bourke being the only person who could link Knowles to Mr Johnston’s murder, there was never an inquest into her death.

Instead, the coroner simply found that Mrs. Bourke had agreed to go swimming with Knowles in an infamous stretch of water halfway between Warrnambool and Port Fairy.

Knowles told police she was swept away from him and drowned.

A witness supported Knowles’ claims that he had tried to help her.

While deputy coroner Caitlin English learned that Knowles had a history of bashing Ms Bourke, the coroner discovered she was simply a tragic victim of the sea.

Back in Kirkstall, a small town 275km southwest of Melbourne with a population of less than 400 people, Cashmore’s neighbors are still talking about what happened last month.

Neighbors described Knowles’ killer as a nice guy, who led an “alternative” lifestyle.

‘We never had crosswords; we would talk over the fence about pets and things he was doing…he’s a nice guy,” a neighbor told The Age.

‘I don’t know what to think. I don’t know what could have driven him to do that.’

Others no doubt have some ideas.

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