Royal Commission report day 10 page 9

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The Royal Commission evidence for 7/4/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 10)

Sup John Sadleir giving evidence

1831 Not more than forty?— I do not think more than forty. I am merely guessing roughly after this lapse of time. I remember seeing several diggers. After we camped at Mrs. Byrne's house we saw the game was up, and she and her children were about; and the diggers and different people about came down, seeing the crowd of men, and sat down, some of them amongst the police.

1832 Was the arrangement with Sherritt made before the general outside public were present or after?— Well, upon my word, I cannot tell you that. It was made the moment as soon as I heard who he was.

1833 About what time did you arrive at Sherritt's hut?— I would have to look and see what hour daylight was on that day. The sun had not risen though there was an early dawn.

1834 Then in all probability the arrangement made with Aaron Sherritt was made before seven in the morning?— I fancy that it would be before that.

1835 Had the general public arrived before that?— The “general public” would include two women and children and perhaps three or four men.

1836 Would they be all?— I think they would be.

1837 A portion of the Byrne family would have been likely to have been amongst the spectators when you were talking to Aaron Sherritt?— It is likely they may have observed him; they were observing what the men were doing. I do not suppose Mrs. Byrne knew Captain Standish from any of the other officers.

1838 She knew Aaron Sherritt?— Yes; but he was not the only man spoken to by the police. Aaron Sherritt was not seen till we got to Mrs. Byrne's.

1839 Were there any of the public present except the police at the time when Captain Standish and Mr. Nicolson and yourself were in conversation with Aaron Sherritt?— Mrs. Byrne.

1840 And who else did you see?— Some reporters and some diggers.

1841 Would this arrangement made with Aaron Sherritt be known to the public, that is, Mrs. Byrne and the miners who were there?— No. How could they, unless they had ears to hear a long way off?— Certainly not.

1842 Did you or Captain Standish to your knowledge endeavor to make any arrangement with any other individual except Aaron Sherritt?— Yes.

1843 Would it be a breach of faith to mention it?— No; I am at liberty to do so. We tried Mrs. Byrne. Whether I was the principal speaker or not, I was there when it was done. We pointed out to her that here her son had got his neck into a halter, and that she could save him if she liked; and her answer was “He has made his own bed, let him lie on it;” and there was a good deal of persuasion of that sort used with her.

1844 Were there any of the diggers about?— I do not think so; but I would have spoken to her in that way before fifty people.

1845 Because you knew she was the mother of Byrne?— Yes; and I tried to work on her mother's feelings.

1846 Would you have spoken so to an, other person not connected with Byrne “before fifty people”?— No; certainly not.

1847 They were not outlaws then?— No; they were not proclaimed. That was not, I think, until December.

1848 Since you have given part of the arrangements entered into with this man Sherritt, I would like to know the remainder?— The substance of the understanding was this: it was proposed that he should have an understanding that Captain Standish would recommend to the Government that Joe Byrne's life should be saved, not his liberty, and that he should be tempted through Aaron Sherritt to lead the police on to the other three.

1849 What were the terms?— Only Joe Byrne's life.

1850 Was there no agreement made as to his reward and so forth?— I cannot say. Of course if there was any reward out he would have got it. I believe there was at the time.

1851 Was Sherritt to be engaged as the servant of the police at any stipulated pay?— No, not at that time; I do not think he had a farthing from us at that time.

1852 Will you go on with your narrative?— Yes. There was information coming in about that time of such a confused sort that my papers would show that it was impossible to make anything of it. I see—[looking at a paper]—that we had had information that the Kellys were seen about that time at Kerang, near Echuca; that they were seen near Gaffney's Creek; that they were seen on the Strathbogie; that they were seen at Oxley, Myrtleford, Hedi; and it is impossible to say where not......

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