Royal Commission report Appendix 2 page 2

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The Royal Commission Appendix 2

(full text transcription)

[[../../people/peN_P/oconnorPinsp.html|APPENDIX 2 letters re Insp O’Connor]]

To the Chief Commissioner of Police, Melbourne Assistant Commissioner of Police.

Police Department, Stawell,

24th July 1880 .


With reference to my application for an inquiry into the whole proceedings of the police in re the Kelly gang, forwarded to you on or about the 1st instant, and to which I have received no answer, I have the honor to state that I am aware the Government have since been much occupied with important matters.

But the recent publication of a report from Superintendent Hare, dated the 2nd instant, containing serious charges against me, compels me to bring the said application again under notice.

I have the honor to be, Sir,

Your most obedient servant,



To the Hon. Graham Berry, Sub-Inspector of Queensland Police.

Chief Secretary, Melbourne.

The Farm, Flemington,

7th September 1880 .


I have the honor to apologise for trespassing upon your time, and to express a hope that you will be good enough to peruse the following report:—

In March 1879 I arrived in Victoria from Queensland , and placed myself and men under Captain Standish, Chief Commissioner of Police. He had me sworn in as an officer of the Victorian force. Captain Standish then sent me out in full charge of a party of police in quest of the Kelly outlaws. I requested to be allowed only two Victorian men to accompany my party, but the Chief Commissioner would not allow me to proceed with less than six. In one of our expeditions we received most reliable information in connection with the outlaws, which the Chief Commissioner would not allow us to proceed with, but instantly ordered our return. About May 1879, the Chief Commissioner began to show a degree of jealousy and dislike towards me. He ordered me to send my men to different localities, although my Government had ordered me not to do so. About this period, Captain Standish received some very good information, which, at the time, he only communicated to Superintendent Hare, who, some time after, told me that the information was that some men had been seen, whom the informer was confident were the Kellys, had gone to a hut, and if the police were sent they could be surrounded in the hut. I begged of the Chief Commissioner to allow myself and men to accompany the party going out, as the outlaws might get away before the police had time to reach the hut. Captain Standish said—“No; I will endeavour to got the Kellys without your assistance.” Mr. Hare, who went out in charge of the party, returned unsuccessful, as a man, having met the party on their way to the hut, rode on and warned the outlaws, and was ready to receive the police when they arrived some time after. This, you will see, was a certainty thrown away, as my men could have easily picked up the outlaws' tracks.

Upon the Lancefield bank robbery occurring, my men and myself proceeded there, and were mainly instrumental in having the robbers arrested. Sub-Inspector Baber, of your force, can testify to this. Captain Standish never in any way acknowledged this service.

A private quarrel occurred between Mr. Hare and myself, altogether unconnected with official business, in which Captain Standish, who was not in any way concerned, took part against me, and carried it into official matters. He made a series of communications to the Queensland Government, tending to depreciate me, and to remove the men from my control and supervision. This was done without my knowledge, and consequently I had no opportunity of explanation to my commissioner. My Government ultimately acceded to the request of Captain Standish, and informed him that he was at liberty to have one of my men for permanent service in Victoria . Upon this, Captain Standish had the man taken out of my party and attached to his police, although he (Captain Standish) still required our services. For the discourteous manner in which this was done, my Government requested our immediate return; and, upon this being conveyed to me, I left Benalla for Essendon on the morning of 25th June 1880 . On the Sunday following, the 27th of June, at 7.30 p.m., I received a note (attached below) from Captain Standish, containing information of Sherritt's murder near Beechworth. Now, although I had received but scant courtesy, having received no communication from the Victorian authorities beyond the order to leave Benalla and return to Queensland as soon as convenient, I acceded to the Chief Commissioner's request, and waited upon him and arranged to leave Essendon at 10 o'clock that evening, with my men, for Beechworth. We left Essendon at 10.15 p.m. , arriving at Benalla about 1 a.m. , and at Glenrowan about 3 a.m. Mr. Hare and myself were considering the best course to adopt when Constable Bracken rushed down on the platform and gave us the information that the outlaws were in Jones's public-house. Mr. Hare and I ran up towards the house, he talking to me, and when at a short distance from the front of the place were stopped by a volley of bullets from its verandah. Almost simultaneously with the firing, Mr. Hare said, “O'Connor, I am wounded—shot in the arm; I must go back.” This Mr. Hare did, not having been five minutes on the field. It was I who told the men to take cover, also the order to cease firing and to let the women out. Mr. Hare's statement as to having fired several shots is untrue, also his statement of having returned to the front, as he never left the railway platform after he returned there. Again, his statement is untrue when he states he saw me running up a drain, as I did not take cover for fully ten minutes after Mr. Hare disappeared. I remained at my post (immediately in front of the house) under heavy fire until 10 30 a.m., having held it for upwards of seven and a half hours, and only left when a superior officer arrived and took command. The Chief Commissioner arrived at Glenrowan at about 5.30 p.m. , after the whole fight was over, and when he saw me he hardly condescended to recognise me. I returned next day to Melbourne , but never received a word of recognition for the services of my men or myself until Lord Normanby officially thanked me through Captain Standish. In conclusion, I must say that Mr. Ramsay, the then Chief Secretary, subsequently sent for me, and thanked me most cordially on behalf of the Government of the colony, and stated that my services should be rewarded in the most substantial manner. After a little time he wrote a very complimentary letter to my Government. In conclusion, I have to point out, as a Queensland officer of police, voluntarily serving in Victoria, assisting in searching for the Kelly gang, I have been treated in an ungentlemanly, ungenerous, and discourteous manner by the Commissioner of Police throughout the whole sixteen months I was under his command; and subsequently by Superintendent Hare, in his official report of the Glenrowan episode, which contains false and colored statements, calculated to make my services slightly esteemed, and to injure me seriously in my position as an officer of police. I submit that my voluntary action in proceeding to Glenrowan on the night of the 27th June, after my services had been dispersed with by Captain Standish, makes the injustice of Mr. Hare's report greater; and I again appeal to you to grant me the inquiry, for which I have returned from Queensland.

I have the honor to be,

Your obedient servant,


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