Royal Commission report day 12 page 12

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The Royal Commission evidence for 13/4/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 12)

Superintendent Sadeir giving evidence

2470 Then from your own knowledge of the Kellys did they remain in the district all the time except when at Jerilderie?— I have no doubt they did, within the limits I spoke of in my previous evidence.

2471 There was a statement made in the papers, amongst the other untrue statements, that they paid a visit to the Western district, and that some information got into the papers, and they came back; have you any knowledge of that?— I cannot speak from memory. There were reports even that they had got to South Australia and to Western Australia ; but they were idle reports, and showed it on the face of them.

2472 Was it an idle report that they were to rob a bank in the Western district, and that a letter had been intercepted from their friends before the robbery-some bank at Colac?— Some bank at Warnambool is what was spoken of.

2473 You do not know whether it was authentic?— No, we were not interested in it at that distance; we knew they were too near for that. I was a good deal engaged about my own district duties all the time I have been speaking of, and to the end of this business. I think it has been stated there were a number of reductions made in police, very considerable reductions. The last reductions were of the Artillery; they were finally withdrawn at the beginning of the year 1880, 1st January or thereabouts.

2474 Were the Artillery of any value whatever towards the capture of the Kellys?— No; except only rendering the banks safe and giving more police at our disposal. About May 1880 I heard that Mr. Hare was coming again to relieve Mr. Nicolson. I wrote to him about it privately as a friend, and tried to dissuade him from coming. I think I spoke to Captain Standish to the same effect; and I know for a certainty that I had spoken to Captain Standish as soon as I beard that he contemplated removing the Queensland black trackers.

2475 You protested against the removal?— Yes. I urged and advised him not to remove them.

2476 What time was that?— It was somewhere about the beginning or end of March of that year that I spoke about the trackers. I was on my way either to or from Tasmania where I had a few weeks' leave that year. I urged all I knew to dissuade him from removing them.

2477 Did you know at that time that other black trackers were to take their place?— I knew that was contemplated.

2478 Had Mr. Chomley then gone to recruit?— No, not for months afterwards.

2479 Why did you try to dissuade Mr. Hare from coming to the district?— I disapproved of Mr. Hare's way of searching for the Kellys.

2480 Was that the reason you assigned to him?— Yes, in the private letter-there is a letter I dare say. At any rate I had so fully explained at all times to Mr. Hare my disapproval of his operations as they were taking place that he must have understood what I meant.

2481 Then your letter was dictated altogether by your desire for the public interest?— Solely and entirely.

2482 Not as a matter of feeling between two officers?— No, that had nothing to do with it.

2483 You thought it would be more efficient if the arrangements then going on were carried through?— I was perfectly satisfied that the arrangements then going on under Mr. Nicolson, myself, and Mr. O'Connor, who were all in perfect confidence with each other, were leading steadily to a good result at very little expense, no noise or trouble, and that we were stepping forward most surely towards the capture of the Kellys-that is a matter of opinion only.

2484 Is this a matter of opinion: I think Captain Standish stated that when Mr. Hare went away from duty about the previous July and Mr. Nicolson came back, he (Mr. Nicolson) gave in evidence the way he found the police inefficient —he had them out shooting and all that —and I think he said that he found the force very much reduced in numbers, that the force was weakened about the time he received charge?— It was very much reduced.

2485 Did you ever think it was too weakened, or were they withdrawn with your full consent. In other words did Captain Standish take upon himself to withdraw the men without your advice, or contrary to your advice, as the responsible officer (as you were then, the same as now)—did you think that that weakening damaged the efficiency of the force of the district, and was it with your sanction, or did you advise it, or the reverse?— I did not advise it, I was against it. I thought it very dangerous.

2486 Did you inform Captain Standish of that?— Yes. I had several conferences with him on the subject for the purpose-he asked me to come to Melbourne .

2487 Did you inform your superior officer on the ground—Mr. Nicolson—did you say to him that the men had been weakened during this short interval?— Mr. Nicolson understood perfectly what I was doing. I do not think the actual reductions took place until immediately after he came up.

2488 There was a full body with Mr. Hare?— There had been odd drafts away while Mr. Hare was there-about May or June......

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