Royal Commission report day 15 page 9

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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

3662 By name?— No, he said, “Come out here, out of that house.”

3663 You understood he thought there was only one man in?— No, because at that time when he said to go down and see, she said “they.” She put it in the plural that time. I do not think he thought there was more than one, previous to that.

3664 Did you afterwards?— Just through her making use of that expression “they”; if he had his ears open he might have known too. He then said, “I will soon make them come out,” and he commenced whistling. We heard the whistle. Mrs. Barry said, “You come out, Mary.” I think she said—I forget the name. “Come out, they are going to burn the house down,” so we would not let her go out, and Mrs. Barry came in, and we would not let her return.

3665 Who was “we”?— The constables in the bedroom at the time.

3666 Were you one who would not let her go out again?— Yes. We heard voices outside; and Byrne sang out, “Look out for the window in the bedroom,” to Dan Kelly—Dan Kelly we thought it was. There was a shot fired from the front end of the bedroom, and Byrne said, “Who fired that shot”; and Kelly said, “It was me”; end he said, “All right, look out for the window in front”; end Byrne said, “That is all right, I have my eye on it.” Constable Armstrong picked up one of the slugs in the bedroom that went near Constable Dowling.

3667 A slug?— It might have been a bullet.

3668 Was there nearly enough lead in it to make a bullet?— It was a very large one.

3669 What happened next?— There were several shots fired in, about seven altogether, I think.

3670 Was that counting those you spoke of before?— Yes, seven altogether; about five after the women were in there.

3671 How did you manage to protect yourselves from those shots?— At the first, Armstrong was kneeling at one side of the partition—one side of the bedroom—guarding the entrance into the kitchen; and Alexander and the other constable, Dowling, were looking to the partition. There was a sack of flour there, and Constable Dowling looked over off this to see; and it was the shot that was fired in then of which he said, “That was close then.”

3672 Were any of you under the bed?— Not a soul, except the women.

3673 Not at this time?— Or any other time.

3674 You were prepared to fire if you could have seen any object to fire at?— Yes. At the time there was a wooden log fire burning in the kitchen. We used to put three or four logs on. It was very cold and frosty, and we used to have to wade through the creek every night going to Mrs. Byrne's house.

3675 How long from the time that Aaron was shot till the women came into the bedroom?— I think about between half an hour and an hour. They were talking to them outside.

3676 Talking to whom?— To Byrne, outside at the back of the house.

3677 You just now said Dan Kelly was there?— He fired from the front of the house. They were talking to Byrne and Weekes. That was the man that Byrne got to come to the back. Dan Kelly was at the front.

3678 Was Weekes the man who was supposed to lose his way?— Yes, a German.

3679 What happened after you refused to let the women go out?— There were other shots fired into the room, and we heard conversation at the back of the house until about four o'clock or five o'clock in the morning. But about half an hour after the women came in we could not distinguish any voices who they were, but we could tell there was somebody there, and the dog was howling all night at the house.

3680 What then?— We all remained very quiet in the room until morning. Constable Alexander was the first man to go out and go round the place.

3681 What time?— Daylight; and the first one then we saw was a Chinaman, and we called the Chinaman and asked him would he take a message into the police in Beechworth, and we would pay him for doing so. He was horrified at the sight of Sherritt lying on the floor, and said he would not. We asked him then if he would go and take a message to the schoolmaster, who lived about a couple of miles away from there. He went, and the schoolmaster came back. We asked him if he would take a message into Beechworth. He said certainly he would, and he went and he returned in about an hour's time, or an hour and a half, and said his wife would not allow him to go in, afraid he would be shot on the road taking the message in. Then there was another man; he volunteered to go through the bush around and take it in.

3682 A constable?— No, a civilian.

3683 Who was he?— He was introduced by the schoolmaster as a man who would do it. He was gone about half an hour, and then the four of as came to the conclusion that one of us had better go in, and Armstrong decided to go in.

3684 Did that not strike you before?— We had nothing to do with that. Armstrong was in charge of the whole movements. We were supposed to obey him.....

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