When word spread through Warrnambool that Kevin Knowles had been murdered, more than a few locals wanted to buy his killer a beer.
Situated 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 lot despite it not coming with beetroot.
Knowles had tormented the town for much of his wretched 49 years above ground.
Kevin Knowles was among two shot dead in Kirkstall on Friday. He is pictured arriving at the Coroners Court in June 2019
Travis Cashmore, 45, armed himself with a shotgun and blasted Knowles and his associate
Emergency services on Kirkstall-Koroit Road, Kirkstall after Travis Cashmore shot dead Knowles and Ben Ray
On July 22, he and his acquaintance Benjamin Ray were gunned down in broad daylight a few kilometres from Knowles’ home in Kirkstall, north-west of Warrnambool.
The reasons why Travis Cashmore, 45, did what he did that day died with him.
His body was found at his nearby home after he turned his gun upon himself after dispatching the pair.
Days later a sign erected outside his Kirkstall home indicated Cashmore had fallen prey to Knowles’ wicked games.
‘Free,’ the sign boldly stated.
‘Trav! You and the Kirkstall community are now free from Kevin Knowles. RIP.’
In the hours after the double murder suicide, locals interviewed by roaming television reporters expressed shock at the killings.
Behind closed doors, no-one was really that surprised about how it was Knowles came to meet his end.
Knowles had long been both loathed and feared in the community.
At the time of his death his rap sheet stretched on for more than 50 pages.
He was also suspected of committing at least two murders, including that of his long suffering partner Amanda Bourke, 44.
While some might say it’s in poor taste to speak ill of the dead, not many who spent time in Knowles’ company would cast such aspersions.
Exactly what drove Cashmore to pull the trigger on Knowles, and his unfortunate mate, will be covered in a police report to the coroner.
What is publicly known is that ‘Benny’ Ray was most likely taken out by Cashmore in the heat of the moment.
The 48-year old Dubbo man, in New South Wales, hadn’t been in Victoria all that long and had reportedly only recently met Knowles at the bus stop.
Wong place, wrong time: Benjamin Ray was run down and then shot by Travis Cashmore
Cashman was found dead at a property nearby on Chamberlain Street shortly after the shooting (pictured, emergency services on Kirkstall-Koroit Road)
He had been planning to return home up north to visit when he advised a mate he needed to attend to something, The Age reported.
‘Hey mate, still coming to Dubbo. I won’t be there on Monday, sorry mate. But will be there next week. Something’s come up that I have to attend. See you mate when I get there. Bye,’ the message read.
The father of three would be run down on Scotts North Road by Cashmore’s car before being blasted at near point blank range with a shotgun.
The local paper, The Standard, claimed Knowles was shot in the back of the head execution style.
Like Knowles, Ray was due in court at the time of his death.
Unlike Knowles, it had only been for driving matters.
Knowles, a self-confessed ice addict, was up on drug charges.
He had already spent time in jail this year after threatening to stab to death another local.
Knowles had lobbed up to his victim’s home with a dog and a knife.
Few that knew Knowles doubted he had the capacity to use it.
Victorian Coroner Simon McGregor put it in writing in 2019 when he bluntly stated Knowles was a killer.
Amanda Bourke drowned while swimming with her partner, Knowles, in 2018. She had been 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
The coroner had been looking into the suspicious death of Warnnambool man Stephen Johnston, who was last seen alive getting drunk with Knowles on December 8, 2016.
The 57-year old’s death was suspicious due to the fact that he appeared to have been bludgeoned 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 had been furiously boozing with him in his backyard the night before his mangled body was found.
A witness told police he saw Mr Johnston chase the pair out of his yard that night while wielding a hammer.
The pair claimed they returned that morning to find Mr Johnston naked and battered on his front lawn.
They took him inside for a rest and then used his credit cards to go on a Maccas run, they told police.
With no CCTV, no witnesses and no real evidence to pin the murder on him, Knowles walked free.
The only witness to what happened that night, his partner, would die 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 speeding off shortly before the grim discovery (pictured, police vehicle on Kirkstall-Koroit Road)
Coroner McGregor had heard Knowles had been worried his partner would eventually dob on him.
He had been shown letters from Knowles urging Ms Bourke not to be a ‘dog’ and squeal on him to the ‘jacks’.
Despite Ms Bourke being the only person who could link Knowles to Mr Johnston’s murder, a coronial inquest into her death was never held.
Instead, the coroner simply found Ms Bourke had agreed to go on a swim with Knowles in a notorious stretch of water halfway between Warrnambool and Port Fairy.
Knowles told police she was swept away from him and drowned.
A witness backed-up Knowles’ claims that he had tried to help her.
While Deputy State Coroner Caitlin English heard Knowles had a history of bashing Ms Bourke, the coroner found she was simply a tragic victim of the sea.
Back in Kirkstall, a small town 275km south-west of Melbourne with a population of less than 400 people, Cashmore’s neighbours still talk about what happened last month.
Neighbours described Knowles’ killer as a nice bloke, who lived an ‘alternate’ lifestyle.
‘We never ever had cross words; we would talk over the fence about pets and stuff he was doing … he’s a lovely guy,’ a neighbour told The Age.
‘I don’t know what to think of it. I don’t know what could have possibly driven him to do that.’
Others no doubt have a few ideas.