Royal Commission Second Report Part XV ( page 23)

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The Royal Commission Second Report -Part XV Cont

"devil," another as the "bunyip." Ned Kelly advanced until within a stone's throw of the hotel, when, in the vernacular of the bush, he defied the police, and called on the other members of the gang to come out of the hotel and assist him. The lower portion of his body being unprotected by armour, the shots soon began to tell. The one that brought him to the ground was fired by Sergeant Steele, who then rushed forward, grappled the outlaw, when both fell to the ground. What followed precisely is confused and indistinct. However, it seems clear that Senior-Constable Kelly, Guard Dowsett, Constable Dwyer, and others, were early in at the capture of Ned Kelly, who, having been overpowered and divested of his armour, was conveyed to the railway station a prisoner, where he remained until the close of the fight. The male prisoners were allowed to escape at ten o'clock . They conveyed the intelligence that Joe Byrne had been shot dead early in the morning, while toasting prosperity to the gang at the bar of the hotel. The other outlaws, Dan Kelly and Steve Hart, had last been seen standing in the passage, both in armour, no doubt in their last extremity, considering as to what should be done. It has been asserted by various witnesses that spasmodic attempts at firing from the hotel were kept up till one o'clock that day; but viewed by the light of surrounding circumstances and subsequent information, it seems probable that there was little, if any, firing on the part of the survivors of the gang after the prisoners left at ten o'clock . In the forenoon, when the police were firing high and firing low, according as they were directed, Superintendent Sadleir appears to have evolved from his own inner consciousness - an idea which he was desirous at first of crediting the reporters and subsequently Dr. Nicolson with, namely, to blow down the hotel. He telegraphed in the forenoon to the Chief Secretary in Melbourne, asking him to send up to assist in the siege a big gun with the necessary ammunition and men to demolish the but. A cannon and the requisite appliances were despatched by train, but owing to a stoppage on the line were detained, as Captain Standish was, until too late to be of any service. Superintendent Sadleir was seen several times during the day - once talking with Mr. O'Connor, the latter leaning against a tree reading a newspaper; again going round to some of the men, again talking to Ned Kelly, and on several occasions smoking his pipe at the railway station. He was pressed by several constables to allow them to rush the hotel, but he refused on the ground that not a single man should lose his life if he could help it in capturing the rest of the gang. The Superintendent was very probably influenced by humane motives in arriving at this decision, but a dispassionate observer could not fall to couple this inactivity with a want of capacity, if not courage, to deal with the difficulty. Of course, if an attack were made, as suggested, the officer in charge was in honor bound to take the lead, so that if there were danger in having recourse to such an expedient, the spectators could not he blamed if they thought more of Mr. Sadleir's discretion than any other quality that he displayed on that very trying occasion. The spectators were clearly not impressed with a very elevated opinion of the police proceedings on that day. The Very Revd. Dean Gibney's evidence upon the point is conclusive. Towards four o'clock , that is, after a state of siege had been maintained by three outlaws against nearly fifty police for about fourteen hours, Superintendent Sadleir consented to allow the hotel to be fired. This was accomplished by Senior-Constable Johnson. The Rev. Father Gibney was the first to enter the burning building. He found the bodies of the three outlaws with life extinct, and judging from appearances, Steve Hart and Dan Kelly, having taken off their armour, committed suicide, knowing death to be inevitable. The body of Joe Byrne was taken out before it was reached by the flames. The unfortunate man Cherry, one of the men bailed up by the outlaws, and who was wounded early in the fight, was taken out also, and died in a few minutes. The place was then abandoned to the flames, and these having done their work the charred remains of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart, with the body of Joe Byrne, were subsequently recovered and handed over to relatives for interment, while Ned Kelly was conveyed to Melbourne, and, some months subsequently, tried, convicted of the Wombat murders, and executed.








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