Royal Commission report day 13 page 3

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The Royal Commission evidence for 14/4/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 13)

Superintendent John Sadleir evidence

2773 Could you see figures forty-five yards off? I do not know that I could. I thought I saw them. I heard the noise.

2774 Was the moon very bright?— No, the moon was not bright; there was a hazy sky. You could not see the moon's edges clearly, though you could see the moon itself; it shone through a fog, as it were, or through a cloud, not enough to hide the moon; and the moon stood behind the building, was descending towards the west. The building faced the east.

2775 Going down towards the Warby ranges?— Yes, and the house is with its back to the Warby ranges. In fact, to judge by the calls of the police in different points, the outlaws were frequently coming out in that way.

2776 What were the calls of the police?— Challenging.

2777 To show the place was surrounded?— No; the outlaws, to judge from the noise of the police about, appeared to come out frequently, even oftener than I saw.

2778 That intimated that the police were surrounding the place?— I knew the police were round the place.

2779 For the means of escape did they come?— No, at first to defy the police.

2780 Did all four come out?— That I could not tell. I could see one with certainty. Whenever the outlaws showed they were fired upon, and so all through the morning, whenever they showed either at the door or the window or on the open ground they were fired upon by the police.

2781 Was that fire returned?— They were constantly firing from the house.

2782 The prisoners were still in the house?— Yes.

2783 Was the fire returned by the outlaws?— Frequently. I did not see them firing from the open ground, but there were frequent shots came from the house all the morning.

2784 Can you fix the time “all the morning”?— They were firing from the house I think up to one or two o'clock in the afternoon.

2785 They did not show themselves outside after daylight?— They showed themselves at the windows, and were reported as befor seen up to two or three in the afternoon, showing themselves at the windows. Now, to return to the time before daylight. After considering with Mr. O'Connor what was best to be done I went around to see the outposts.

2786 That was before daylight?— Yes. The first man I saw was a young constable named Cascoigne. He was on the south-east end of the building, quite close in at a tree.

2787 That would he more towards Benalla?— In the direction of the schoolhouse.

2788 Then you passed right in front of the house in going to him?— No, I went down a continuation of this gully where it breaks into the railway and crossed. I was under cover the whole time up to that point. He informed me that he was certain he had hit one of the outlaws several times, and that he was sure he was in armour, otherwise he would have killed him.

2789 Can you tell about how far that was from the front of the hotel?— About 25 or 30 yards. I did not believe this. I thought Gascoigne, being a young man, he was rather scared; and I did not wish to encourage the supposition that they were invulnerable. He also told me that he had seen one of the outlaws (it must have been Ned Kelly, if his supposition was at all correct), after the first fire when Mr. Hare was wounded, going into the yard amongst the horses, trying apparently to catch a horse, but the horses moved away as he approached them; and that he called out then to the police on the other side to look out for them, that they were trying to escape; and I think it followed on that that those police who heard Gascoigne say that shot the horses. At this time, that is, going on towards daybreak, I was anxious about seeing every point.

2790 Did he intimate how long it was that this had occurred and the horses were shot before you had seen him?— I think he meant it was soon after Mr. Hare's accident.

2791 Shortly after the commencement of the fight?— I think so. I would not be sure about that.

2792 It has been stated that Kelly escaped immediately after that—got away?— According to Gascoigne's account Kelly, instead of going straight into the bush, went to the horses in the yard. Cascoigne at that time could not be sure it was Kelly, but he described the figure as Kelly was afterwards found, with a loose cloak on, and I believe he was the only one dressed in that way. It was a very difficult matter, I found, to get round myself from post to post. You had to run the gauntlet of the outlaws' fire from the building, and there was danger too from the cross fire of the police. Constable Dwyer, an active zealous fellow, seeing me going round myself, asked for any messages I had to give, and I gave him some messages to the different points, and to ascertain for me particulars of how the thing stood at all sides, and he ran round from place to place where I directed. As he went along I saw him jumping and skipping as sheep will, apparently over nothing. These were the bullets passing, as he reported afterwards.....

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