Royal Commission report day 19 page 48
The Royal Commission evidence for 13/5/1881
(see also introduction to day 19)
'SConst Charles Johnston giving evidence'
7210 Do you think there would have been much chance of men being killed in the attempt?— There might have been some of us wounded.
7211 After all it was the most merciful proceeding not to run the risk of their lives?— No doubt it was.
7212 You did not arrive there till eleven o'clock ?— About half-past eleven.
7213 Then you were perfectly cool and collected at that time?—I was.
7214 You had not been hurried up early in the morning?— I had been up previously the whole night.
7215 You were not like those who came in the first rush in the morning?— No.
7216 You stated there were three shots after you arrived fired from the hotel?— There were three shots fired at about a quarter to twelve, and two about one.
7217 Do you think you were in a position to judge whether any shots were fired after that time from the hotel?— I know there were no shots. I do not believe after one there were shots fired.
7218 Was it possible, from the way in which the police surrounded the hotel, that shots could have been fired and some of the members of the police have been under the impression that they came from the hotel, before or after that time?— The shots I heard, I am satisfied were fired from the hotel, from the report.
7219 I am asking was it possible for the shots fired by some members of the police to have been mistaken by other members to have come from the hotel?— It might have been so.
7220 After one o'clock ?— Not after one o'clock .
7221 At what time did you see one of the supposed outlaws come from the hotel, on the last occasion. at the back door?— As near as I can fix the time it was about two o'clock, it was after that that we heard a noise as if they were taking off the armour, or putting up a barricade. We heard that noise, and I believe it was then they were taking off armour.
7222 At what time did you propose to Mr. Sadleir to allow you and others to rush the hotel?— Some time after I arrived on the ground, for I had gone round to see the position of the men.
7223 Was it after the last shot was fired?— Before the last shot was fired.
7224 Will you tell the reply that Mr. Sadleir made to you?— The reply was, “Wait a while, Johnston , we will have them without any risk.”
7225 Do you know whether you or any other member of the police proposed to Mr. Sadleir to be allowed to rush the hotel before the fire was proposed?— I did it, and I was told others did it too.
7226 Was that the second time or only once?— It was before the shots were fired at one o'clock ,
7227 Did you propose it a second time before the house was fired?— Not when I saw him about the firing.
7228 Did you and other members of the police engage in conversation as to the advisability of rushing the hotel, outside of the officers?— I did, I had conversation with several of the men about it.
7229 Were they of the same opinion?— There were several said they would go if I would.
7230 And you were prepared to go even before the last shot was fired?— I was.
7231 Did you know at the time it was proposed to fire the hotel that Mr. Sadleir had sent for a cannon?— I did not know Mr. Sadleir had sent for a cannon until I proposed the firing of the hotel.
7232 And then Mr. Sadleir would not consent at that time for you to set fire—about what time did you propose to set fire to it?— I think about a quarter to three. He consulted with Mr. O'Connor. I did not hear what the conversation was.
7233 And at that time they were standing at the tree?— Yes.
7234 You set fire to the hotel on the side nearest Benalla, was that so?— Yes.
7235 Is that the opposite side of the hotel from where the chimney was situated?— There is a chimney at each side.
7236 A chimney at the end you set fire to?— Yes.
7237 After setting fire you remained at some distance?— After setting fire I went back to Mr. Sadleir where he was, against the tree.....
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