Royal Commission report day 10 page 3

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The Royal Commission evidence for 7/4/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 10)

John Sadleir giving evidence

1741 The warrants were out for whom?— I cannot speak from memory. I believe there were warrants out against half-a-dozen, and some of them executed. On the 16th of August 1878 , Sergeant Kennedy answered as follows:— “I beg to report, for the Superintendent's information, that I am of opinion that the offender Kelly could be routed from his hiding place if the arrangements proposed by the Superintendent were properly carried out. The distance from Mansfield to the King River is so great, and the country impenetrable that a party of men from here would, in my opinion, require to establish a kind of depot at some distance beyond the Wombat—say Stringybark Creek, seven miles beyond Monk's. By forming a camp there, it would enable the party to keep up a continuous search between there and the flat country towards the King River , Fifteen-mile Creek, Holland 's Creek. While the Mansfield men would be doing the ranges and creeks in that neighborhood, the men forming the Greta party could be operating on the flat country, along the rivers and creeks above mentioned. I feel sure, by efficiently carrying out this plan, Kelly would soon be disturbed, if not captured. I believe Kelly has secreted himself in some isolated part of that country, lying between the Wombat and King River, in a similar way to which Power did; and seeing he was a mate of Power, I think it is reasonable to conclude he would imitate his example in this respect, seeing it was the means of keeping Power in comparative safety so long. I am not aware if Mounted-constable Michael Scanlan,2118, of Mooroopna, is personally acquainted with Kelly, but I am sure there is no man could render more service in the proposed expedition than he could, as he knows every part of that country lying between here and the King River . I am of opinion Constable Scanlan, Constable McIntyre, and myself would be quite sufficient to undertake the working of that country, without any more assistance. I should like to have a personal interview with the sub-officer taking charge of the party starting from Greta.” The place where Sergeant Kennedy proposed his camp was where he was murdered—Stringybark Creek. The place he mentioned as the place likely for the Kellys to be hiding was a good deal east of where they were actually found to be, and I was not satisfied with starting three, especially as none of them knew the Kellys to a certainty, and that is why I chose Constable Lonigan. The expedition was delayed through various causes. I think the mother's trial was coming on, Sergeant Kennedy was a witness in some case in Beechworth, and I was looking for more particular information before sending them out, and I delayed it till October.

1742 What part of October?— I then revived the matter on the 18th of October. On the 18th of October I wrote to the officer in charge of Mansfield, Sub-Inspector Pewtress — “It has been decided to carry out the plan proposed by me on 10th August last, but which has unavoidedly been delayed. I wish the party to start work early on Tuesday next from each end, i.e., from Mansfield and Greta. As I have already informed Sergeant Kennedy by telegraph, he will be required here to consult with the other sub-officers engaged in this matter; let him come by to-morrow's coach, bringing a plain saddle with him, as I wish him to take back a horse specially fitted for this expedition. Constable Scanlan and Constable McIntyre will also form two of the party from the Mansfield end.” The rest is immaterial, and then there is a postscript, “This matter must be dealt with by every one concerned as strictly confidential.” That horse that Sergeant Kennedy was to ride was a very remarkable white horse, and I did not think he was suitable for work of this sort, and I gave him another quiet handy horse—that was the horse that McIntyre afterwards escaped on. Then I gave him final instructions on the 21st October:—“A party which will consist of Sergeant Kennedy, Constables McIntyre, Scanlan, and Lonigan, will start from Mansfield on Friday next”—(there was some alteration, and I cannot remember the cause, unless it was because of being wanted as witnesses in cases at Beechworth. I think he was a witness in some case of horse-stealing there) —”commencing the search for offenders Kelly from the Wombat end. Constable Lonigan is ordered to report at Mansfield on Wednesday next, but should he not arrive in time the party must start without him. Both Constables Scanlan and Lonigan can recognize Kelly should they be so successful as to come upon him. The other party start from this end on Friday morning; the men forming it are Sergeant Steele”— (that is a clerical error, it should have been Senior-constable Shoebridge)— “Senior-constable Strahan, Constables Baird, Thom, and Ryan.” Baird's name is also inserted by mistake.

1743 Is that the original document?— Yes. I suppose I had given the clerk instructions to repeat finally previous instructions.

1744 How would those mistakes read when Sergeant Kennedy got it?— I do not know what he could have made of it; however, it did not affect him. It was merely the list of men who started from the other end, he would not concern himself about that. There was no mistake in the instructions to the men at the other side, for they went just as they were told.

1745 Was there any instruction as to how they were to act when they were out?— I had several conversations with them. Of course you could only deal with that, leaving it to their own discretion— every one was a good bushman, whom you could rely on to do his best—to do his duty.

1746 Good horsemen?— Yes.

1747 Well provided with arms and ammunition?— As Captain Standish said, the regulation weapon was a revolver, but this (Sergeant Kennedy's) party had beside that a Spencer repeating rifle, and a double shot gun.

1748 Were there any special instructions about fires?— You talk with the men for an hour or two, perhaps longer or shorter, and every one of the necessary circumstances is put before them. They had no written instructions but those I am reading now. Of course every man concerned had his own life to look after, and if I tied them down strictly to any particular line I might be responsible for the circumstances if anything happened to them in consequence......

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