Royal Commission report day 52 page 1

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The Royal Commission evidence for 9/9/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 52)


G. R. FINCHAM, Esq., M.L.A., in the Chair;

J. Gibb, Esq., M.L.A., The Hon F. Longmore, M.L.A.

E. J. Dixon, Esq., J.P.,

[[../../people/peB/brookeSmithPinsp.html|Insp Brooke Smith]] giving evidence

The Witness . —I am suffering so severely from inflamed eyes that I can positively hardly see; and I wish to ask for an adjournment of my examination. I will get a certificate from Dr. Bowen to day. Since I came to Melbourne, the suffering has greatly increased.

The Chairman mentioned that Mr. Smith had had long notice of the intention of the Commission to examine him.

17454 By the Commission. –And to-day was fixed specially, in order to have the opportunity of taking your evidence and then considering the mass of evidence which has been given up to the present time. Therefore, you will see, it is extremely inconvenient?— I am very sorry for that; but I am in actual pain, and can produce a certificate to show I am not fit to give evidence.

17455 The adjournment yesterday was to give you an opportunity of clearing up the points referred to yesterday.

The Witness . –Then I will withdraw my application, in deference to the wish of the Commission. Will you allow me to look at that return, quoted from yesterday, of the 9th November —Wangaratta. — [ The same was handed to the witness.]-I am not able to controvert that return.

17456 By the Commission. –You accept that return as true?— Yes, I do.

17457 Then the statement you made last night-that the reason the party did not start in pursuit of the Kellys before the middle of the day was in consequence of your exhaustion and fatigue, caused by forty eight hours' work-must have been a statement that was untrue?— No; I do not say that at all. The exact date of this occurrence was on the 27th, when I got the news; and I went down to Wangaratta, as I mentioned.

17458 Do you adhere to the statement you made, last night, to the Commission, that the reason you did not start at an earlier hour was in consequence of your inability through the exhaustion of forty eight hours previous?— That is my recollection. I can say no more than that.

17459 Now you say you accept those sheets as the correct report of the occupation of those days?— For the simple reason that I know the persons who signed them; and, I presume, they must be straight-forward. Part of this one is written by Mullane. How he got writing Wangaratta sheets from Beechworth I cannot make out.

17460 Do you take exception to the return?— No. My evidence to the Commission is as far as my recollection goes.

17461 As a matter of fact those records prove that you were in Wangaratta four or five consecutive days, and had not been subject to any special fatigue, and apparently there was no excuse for not starting at the earliest moment?— I believe the exact time I lost was one whole day.

17462 How can you reconcile that with the statement that those records are true-which prove you were there for the five days?— I have not the book, and I know I went up once as far as Chiltern.

17463 That is admitted, that on the first of those days you went as far as Chiltern and back?— Yes, I was ordered back.

17464 Irrespective of that there are four other days that you can give no account of how they were occupied?— I confess I do not remember.

17465 Then the only inference the Commission can derive is that you, from circumstances best known to yourself, neglected to proceed with that despatch which you as an officer should have displayed?— I am under a very unfortunate position with regard to one thing—the time I said I was so knocked up. The gentleman I consulted was Dr. Hutton, and he is in England now. His instructions to me were to lie down and keep still. Those were his very instructions.

17466 You made the statement yesterday that you yourself went down to the bridge, and that you could not discover any traces of the tracks?— I went down to both bridges and could not see any sign of the tracks, and I did not believe they went under there.

17467 I will just read you a little bit of Sergeant Steele's evidence— “Mr. Sadleir told me that Mr. Brooke Smith was at Wangaratta with a party of men, and that if there was anything in it I could send word to him and then go on. I arrived at Wangaratta at one a.m. In the morning I saw Constable Twomey; he met me at the railway platform at Wangaratta. I asked him if this rumour was true that I heard about the men passing through. He said that they had seen the tracks; he had just been down at the back of the hospital to the One-mile bridge, and there were the tracks of the horses right enough there, and that the boy saw the men driving pack-horses at four o'clock in the morning-just at grey in the morning.” You see that Sergeant Steele here gives the impression to the Commission that you had a conversation with him on this particular subject, and your information was that you had been down and seen the tracks?— That must have been subsequent to anything at the time, but I do not remember what occurred to me in the middle of the night. If Twomey came to me then I can only say I do not remember it. I see here Mr. Nicolson authorizes me on 9th November by instructions to proceed

17468 In question No. 8863— “Had there not been a party of police at Wangaratta I would have taken the responsibility on myself, but Mr. Smith was there with a large party of men at the time, and I sent up word by a constable to tell him that it was undoubtedly the outlaws, that Steve Hart had piloted them over the bridge, and I added, ‘Start at four in the morning and you are bound to catch them on the Warby Ranges”?— All I can say is I never heard a word of it, and those are things a man could not forget, he would be too anxious. ....

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