Royal Commission report day 16 page 5

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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

4264 By the Commission (to the witness). —What is about the length of one of those guns; stand up and show where it would reach to?— (the witness stood up and indicated that it would reach up to his waist.)

4265 Standing on that bag of flour with a gun in your hand, could you have reached to touch the doors?— Yes, I could.

4266 You could have done that at any time?— Yes.

4267 Did it not strike you at any time?— No.

4268 Nor any of your comrades?— No.

4269 Was it that you were expecting them to come in every moment?— Yes, and I could hear them talking outside.

4270 If they had come opposite the door you would have tried to shoot them. Did you try to see them?— Yes, all we could.

4271 Were you ready to fire at any moment up to the time of the shutting of the doors?— Yes.

4272 That was what was in your mind?— Yes.

4273 That they might come to close quarters at any moment?— Yes.

4274 How many men could get in such a position as to fire at the door?— If they were coming in at both kitchen doors, only two could see them. If they came into the kitchen, any of us could see them.

4275 You would have to stand on the bag of flour?— No, we could have seen them from the door and one could have got on the bag.

4276 And shot over the partition?— Yes.

4277 Did they send Weekes in?— No.

4278 Were you quite satisfied with your arms—the gun?— Yes, I was satisfied with them. On the night I was told to go out there I was going to bring my Spencer rifle; and I was told by the sub-officer in charge of the Beechworth station that I was not to bring any arms but the revolver, and that I was to take the arms and ammunition from the man I was going to relieve at the hut.

4279 Was the gun, do you think, preferable to the Spencer ride—the way it was loaded—for shooting in the dark?— It would he better outside, perhaps, but not inside.

4280 What do you mean by that: for shooting at an object in the dark, which would be the best, the rifle or that gun—the most certain to hit at short range?— If we were to fire at random, I dare say the guns would be better, but, firing at an object, I would rather have the rifle.

4281 Had you been used to firearms before being sent to Sherritt's?— Yes, I was.

4282 In what particular instance?— In shot guns.

4283 So that you did not object to the shot gun?— No, I did not.

4284 You believe they were likely to be just as effective as any weapon you could have?— No, I would have preferred the rifle, as I was more accustomed to it since I joined the police.

4285 But you were quite competent to use the shot gun?— Yes.

4286 Were you told your duties when you went there; what was your supposed object in being sent there; did you not know that?— Yes, I was told by Aaron.

4287 What?— To watch Byrne's house, to see if the outlaws came there at any time.

4288 And any further instructions, in the event of your seeing them?— No, he never told me any more.

4289 No instructions that, in the event of seeing one of the outlaws—as to what you would do, and you being at a distance from your other comrades—what course of action you were to take then?— No.

4290 You were told simply you were there to watch, and report afterwards?— Yes.

4291 Supposing, during the time you were watching Byrne’s place, you had seen one of the outlaws moving from Byrne's place, what course would you have adopted—acting on your own responsibility?— If I knew for a fact it was one of the outlaws I would fire.

4292 Were you instructed to do so?— No.

4293 You had no other instructions than to watch Byrne's place?— No other instructions.

4294 As a matter of opinion, do you consider as to those four men who were together if any of them had seen one of the outlaws would he have considered himself justified in shooting without any orders?— Yes, I would.

4295 Was that the feeling among the men themselves?— Yes, it was.

4296 What experience had you of that particular duty before going to Sherritt's place?— I had no experience. I was on bank duty at Mooroopna, doing mounted duty there.....

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