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Story of the KellyGang - the Royal Commission evidence

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The Royal Commission evidence for 5/4/1881


full text

(see also introduction to day 8)

Francis Augustus Hare giving evidence

1476 That was simply to communicate the information to you, not to wait for a reply?— Of course they would wait for an answer. Undoubtedly I would allow nobody to go out, or rather, if there was a telegram I would expect them to let me know, and while their horses were being saddled I could give them the necessary information. There is always an officer at Benalla, and the telegraph office is within 100 yards of the police station. For instance, there was a party at Yarrawonga and there was no telegraph station, and those men got permission to go whenever they got information. After a few days I returned to Benalla and started off two or three parties of men, who had been taken on specially in the police force in consequence of their knowledge of the country and the outlaws.

1477 Are they in the service now?— Yes, I will mention them in a minute. I directed them to obtain private horses and to go into the country they knew best, and knock about amongst their friends and relatives in order to see if they could get any information concerning the outlaws; they might go where they liked and remain out as long as they thought fit. There was a man of the name of McHenry, a constable, who had been taken on especially for his knowledge of a certain part of the King River country, that is to say by Dedongadale. He had relations in that district, and I thought I would endeavor to work the district as Aaron Sherritt had worked his district when he was the agent for the Kellys. I gave this man his discharge so that he could show it to anybody that doubted he had left the service, and he went away into this country to find out what information he could get, and communicate under an assumed name to me through the post office anything that he heard. I received several communications from him, perhaps three or four. I also sent a man of the name of Constable Canny and Constable Falkner into the country that Canny was thoroughly acquainted with. They went to a squatter's station, borrowed horses from him, left their own at the squatter's place, and they went about the country that was known to Canny seeking for information, and from time to time they communicated with me also. About three days before Sherritt was shot, they returned to Benalla with some important information they had picked up from a Chinaman. I wanted further information on the subject, and sent Falkner back, and during the time that he was away Sherritt was murdered and the Glenrowan affair came off. He subsequently told me that he obtained full information of what I required. If you wish it I can tell you what it was. It was that a Chinaman (not aware that those men were police) they got into conversation with, and the subject of the outlaws was brought forward. The constable said, “Oh, the outlaws are out of the country, they are gone away to California .” The Chinaman said, “No fear; Kelly up at Buckland; get supplies from Chinamen.” He said, “They come down frequently from the mountains with pack horses and take back their supplies. But you do not tell policeman about it. If you do, Chinaman's store get burnt, my garden destroyed and everything, you are not to say a word about it.” These men were not quite certain as to whether it was the Buckland or some other locality he referred to, and I sent Falkner back again. I received information also that the Kellys were dependent in a great measure upon their blood relations. I should say not the Kellys, but the outlaws; I mean, when I say Kellys, the gang altogether—on their blood relations for their provisions. I sent a party of police into Aaron Sherritt's house; that was the first party that was put there. I sent a party of police from Wangaratta to watch Mrs. Hart's house. They live within a mile and a half of Wangaratta. And I placed four men at the Glenrowan police station to watch Kelly's house. The orders given to the three parties were that they should never leave the houses—that is to say, Sherritt's house and Glenrowan police station—during the day, and of a night on leaving, if they were to go away singly and meet at some appointed place, and they were not to go until an hour or so after dark, that they were to endeavor to keep at such a distance from those houses, so that they should not be observed; and on returning in the mowing to the different places, they were to return singly, and at intervals between each of them, before daybreak. The four men, as you know, were in the house of Aaron Sherritt up to the time that he was shot. The Wangaratta party kept watching up to the very morning that we met the outlaws at Glenrowan. They, on returning, heard the shooting, which was nine miles away—the shooting at Glenrowan. The Glenrowan party removed the Saturday previous to the Glenrowan affair, in consequence of Constable Bracken coming in to me and telling me that the weather was so desperately cold and wet that, unless the men were taken off duty, the four of them would have to go into the hospital. You see the very places that I had those watch parties were the two very places the outlaws came to. Unfortunately the police at Sherritt's behaved as they did; and if the other party had not been removed the previous day, the outlaws would have found four more men there too.

1478 Is it not possible the Kellys came in consequence of the police not being there?: No, they were not aware, from what took place at Sherritt's house, that the police were in the house; but when they heard people moving in the house, they asked Mrs. Sherritt, . Who are those people; is that Jack and Willie.I think those are the names of Sherritt's two brothers and she said,'No, it is a party of police in there'.

1479 You have just made use of the expression that I drew your attention to. You said, " If the police had not behaved as they did at Sherritt's.' Captain Standish referred to that portion of the evidence. My opinion is different from Captain Standish's. My view is that those men ought to have either died or shot the Kellys, one or the other. By the way, I will describe the house to you when I came to it, how the house was situated....

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