Royal Commission report day 15 page 16

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The Royal Commission evidence for 4/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 15)

Constable Duross giving evidence

3846 What did they say about burning the house?— Joe Byrne said, “We will soon make them come out, we will burn the house;” and Mrs. Barry said, “Joe, don't burn the house;” and he said, “You go in, I will consider over it.”

3847 Was it to prevent them burning the house you kept the women inside?— No.

3848 Did you not consider it would be the more honorable course to rush out than be burnt out?— We would have had to if it had come to that, but, otherwise, I am certain we could not have got further than the door without being shot.

3849 It would be the same if the house was being burnt?— It would be the same then.

3850 I was under the impression that you stated you had come to the conclusion from something that occurred that the outlaws were going to burn the house, and called on you to come out?— Yes.

3851 You would not go?— No.

3852 Then you said the women went out, and there was a talk amongst them about burning the house?— Yes.

3853 You then stated you prevented the women going out again?— Yes.

3854 Did it come into your mind that they were going to burn you out?— When they whistled they said they were going to burn us out.

3855 Did you come to that conclusion?— I cannot say.

3856 You stated that the outlaws heard, or you believe they heard, you loading your guns?— I know they spoke about it. Byrne said, “Look out, they are loading their rifles.”

3857 Were your rifles loaded?— Yes.

3858 Were your guns loaded when Aaron Sherritt was shot?— Yes.

3859 How long had they been loaded?— Mine was loaded from the time I went there, except to clean it.

3860 Were you in the habit of unloading when you came from duty?— Just took the charge out and put it in again at once, after cleaning.

3861 In what place was Sherritt shot?— On the left breast.

3862 And the second shot brought him down in the house?— Yes.

3863 Where was the first?— Close to the same place.

3864 How near was Joe Byrne to him when he shot him?— Joe Byrne was close behind Weekes; he stood one side of the door.

3865 How near to Aaron Sherritt?— About two yards from him, because Mrs. Barry told us that Byrne had his rifle in his two hands swinging like this—[explaining his meaning by gesture].

3866 Were there marks of powder on Aaron Sherritt's clothes?— I did not see any.

3867 How long would it have taken you to have got your arms and immediately rushed out?— Our arms were inside the room. It took me a considerable time to get my gun, for we were feeling for it in the dark.

3868 You had no light in the inside room?— No.

3869 Where did you keep them inside the room?— Up against the wall.

3870 How long was the room?— A very small room—not much more than room for five or six to stand in, with the bed.

3871 Were your arms stacked together?— Along together, and the cartridge pouches hanging alongside of them.

3872 When Aaron Sherritt was shot and fell on the floor, did his mother-in-law or wife go to see if he was shot to death—to see whether it was fatal or not?— I cannot say.

3873 Did any of the constables?— Not till afterwards.

3874 How long?— When they brought him inside from the door.

3875 How long?— About eleven or twelve o'clock that night.

3876 In the morning you said that the people in the neighborhood came round?— Yes.

3877 What hour?— The Chinaman was the first.

3878 And when did the people come?— About two o'clock ;—that is, the people from Beechworth, in traps, and there were people before that.

3879 Did any constable there or officer propose you should rush out?— On one occasion one of the men proposed it; I think it was Armstrong.

3880 He was in charge?— Yes.

3881 Is it a fact that one of the constables in the place, when they heard that the Kelly party were going to burn the house down, said, “Let us keep the women in, and while they are here they will not burn the house down”?— That was never said.....

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