Royal Commission report day 14 page 10

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The Royal Commission evidence for 3/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 14)

Inspector Montfort giving evidence

3204 The inspecting superintendent, at the time of the first application for its abolishment, I believe to have been Mr. Bookey?— I think so.

3205 He refused to have it abolished. Mr. Nicolson said it was without his own knowledge and without his consent—were you aware it was against the opinions of the really responsible officer who understood it?— I know nothing about Mr. Bookey, but I know Mr. Nicolson was in charge of the city at the time, and he called upon me; he was so much opposed to its abolition, that he pursued the extraordinary course of calling upon me to report upon Mr. Barclay's recommendation, which was then about a week after my transfer from North-Eastern Victoria.

3206 Being the superintendent's clerk, and therefore cognizant of every correspondence that went through, is it your opinion that the abolition of those stations was the cause of those criminals you speak of getting ahead and out of the control of the police?— Not altogether. In addition to that there are various causes—undoubtedly it did affect it to a very great extent.

3207 You know the Greta station?— Yes.

3208 Under whose charge was it?— When I was stationed at Wangaratta, Senior-Constable Hall.

3209 Was he specially selected?— Yes, by the officers immediately over me, Mr. Nicolson and Mr. Hare.

3210 Are you aware that he kept the criminal classes completely, as far as possible, under control?— As far as possible, while he was there.

3211 Under what circumstances did he leave?— He got grievously assaulted there by Pat Quin.

3212 What relation to Kelly is he?— Pat Quin was a cousin to Jimmy Quin, and Jimmy Quin is Kelly's uncle, and Pat Quin is married to Jimmy Quin's sister.

3213 Was there a conviction for Hall's assault?— Pat Quin got three years.

3214 Why was Hall removed?— I think at his own request.

3215 Why?— His wife was in a bad state of health—he got married, and his wife got into a very bad state of health, and I think that is why he made the application—I think so, I am not sure.

3216 Who was sent there after Hall by Mr. Barclay?— I am speaking now altogether from memory and without the aid of the books—that is why I wanted to give my evidence at Benalla—I believe a constable called Montgomery.

3217 Had he any experience of these criminal classes?— None whatever, he came from the Portland district.

3218 Was that considered an unwise step by the officers?— I looked upon it as extremely so.

3219 Is a special knowledge of those criminals indispensable to keep them under?— Yes.

3220 And a knowledge of the country?— Yes.

3221 Did Montgomery have a knowledge of the country?— No. I got him removed. It was my duty to inspect the Greta station, and after he was placed in charge of it, on the first occasion of my inspecting it, I noticed his horse was very fat, and I knew his horse, and I was surprised that this horse should get so very fat.

3222 What time was that?— The latter end of 1871. It attracted my attention, and the next time I went to the station I determined I would overhaul the occurrence-book, because I found him there when I went, and then the next time I found him there in the barracks, not on duty, and he appeared as if he had not been mounted, and I know there is such a thing as doing duty by the occurrence-book, and I questioned him. I saw he had entered “Bush patrol” in his book. That means riding in the bush for a certain number of hours, a certain number of miles, without any terminus being stated.

3223 Is it generally undertaken for special duty or for the exercise of the horse?— No; patrolling the district to see what he could see, to get a knowledge of the country.

3224 What knowledge of the country had he?— Absolutely none, for I asked him about Mason's station, and he did not know about it. That is on the Fifteen-mile Creek.

3225 Would not that be the direct road where those lawless men would go?— Yes, and of course he should know every inch of it.

3226 Was Montgomery removed?— Yes.

3227 Why?— On my report. I reported him to Superintendent Barclay for this, and he removed him to Bright I think.

3228 Who went there then?— I think it was a mounted constable named Flood that went there after him.....

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