Royal Commission report day 16 page 3

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The Royal Commission evidence for 5/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 16)

Constable Thomas Patrick Dowling giving evidence

4209 Did you know who those men were?— I thought it was the outlaws directly I heard Mrs. Sherritt shout “Joe.” He asked them, and they said, “Yes.” Armstrong then said we would remain in the hut till daylight in the morning, as he believed the outlaws would remain until then, as they had done so in other places they had stuck up, and that then we would be on equal terms with them. He also said if they were gone at daylight we would go and search Byrne's house. Mrs. Sherritt then came running in, and said that Byrne sent her in to tell Duross and his mates to come out.

4210 “And his mates”?— Yes; and that he would not shoot us. I told her to keep quiet and not be running in and out of doors. My mates also told her. I believe we also told her mother not to be running in and out of the doors, as they were apt to be shot. I then heard a voice at the rear of the hut saying, “Come outside here, Mrs. Sherritt ”; and she immediately ran outside. I then kneeled down on the floor, and was leaning against the wall, when there were two more shots fired from the rear of the hut into the wall that I was leaning against. The effect of the shots was knocking some of the mortar down my neck and back.

4211 Were the walls plastered?— Yes.

4212 Between the slabs or how?— It was a slab hut, plastered inside.

4213 Lath and plaster?— I am not sure whether there were laths or not. It was lined with some sort of bags and paper also.

4214 Was it slabs with plaster between the joints?— I cannot say about between the joints. There was papering—covering of some sort, and dirt fell down anyhow. They were calling on us to come out and surrender.

4215 Up to that time did Mrs. Sherritt present the appearance of being very much frightened, or did she what would be commonly called “take it easy”?— She seemed very much frightened. I heard her ask Byrne several times not to shoot her. They were calling on us to surrender, and saying, “Come outside here, and I will shoot you down like b— dogs. If you don't come out I will riddle the b— hut, for I have any amount of ammunition.” Immediately the two shots went I jumped on a bag of flour that was leaning against the partition that divided the room from the kitchen, and I leaned on the partition and looked out through both kitchen doors, and could see nothing outside but darkness.

4216 In looking outside could you see in this sitting-room?— Yes.

4217 You could see what took place in there?— When I looked over I could.

4218 Did you look at all when you heard persons inside?— Yes; we went to the door and kept a sharp look out.

4219 Did you look out while they were there?— Yes; we looked in from the bedroom door.

4220 While the outlaws were in there?— No, they were not in the kitchen at all; they were outside.

4221 They had not come in at that time?— No.

4222 Were they ever in the kitchen?— No, they did not enter the house at all. They could not come in without our seeing them.

4223 You would have shot them?— If they had come in we would have shot them. I would have fired at random, at that particular time, had it not been for the women being outside. I was afraid of shooting one of them if I fired. Armstrong then said, “Look out for that window,” and I got on the bed and pulled the blind on one side. I could not see outside, it being so dark. I then heard the outlaws call on us to come outside again and saying, “You are a long time about coming out”; and I heard one of them say, “I will b — soon make you come out “; and I heard him strike a match and set fire to some scrub at the end of the hut.

4224 Will you point out which end—[showing a plan]?— The bedroom end.

4225 Were they aware at the time there were police inside?— They were. I believe the women told them. I heard them ask, “Is that b — Dixon inside?”

4226 Was he one of them?— No. I heard Mrs. Sherritt say he was not one of the men that was inside.

4227 Is there a policeman of that name?— Yes.

4228 Do you know him?— No. I believe I have seen him once.

4229 Was he up in that district.?— Yes.

4230 He must have referred to a policeman in asking if Dixon was there?— Yes. Up till nearly daylight in the morning I could hear some one talking outside the hut every now and again.....

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