Royal Commission report day 21 page 8

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The Royal Commission evidence for 17/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 21)

Const Barry giving evidence

7774.7457 Have you noticed any scarcity of arms in the force?— I have never seen any scarcity when I required them; I always got a rifle when I required it.

7774.7458 Any scarcity in the allowance of ammunition?— Well, we were told to use it carefully.

7774.7459 By that you inferred you could not go and practise when you pleased?— Not practise as we pleased, but I never suffered; for myself, I bought revolver ammunition at my own expense.

7774.7460 As regards the officer in command of your party, will you tell the Commission how often you received an order from the time that you came on the platform until the house was fired?— The last order given by Mr. Hare was to surround the house. The next one was by senior-Constable Kelly to remain in the position I was at, as it was a good one.

7774.7461 What time do you fix for that?— Perhaps half-past three in the morning.

7774.7462 When did you get another order from an officer or from your superior?— The next order was from Senior-Constable Mullane, about half-an-hour before the house was fired, about half-past two, I think I had no record of time.

7774.7463 Then do you recollect did you receive any orders as to your conduct—what you were to do from the time. Senior-Constable Kelly gave the order till Senior-Constable Mullane gave the order?— No, not during that time.

7774.7464 You were acting on your own responsibility all that time without instructions?— I consider that I was.

7774.7465 Were you not acting on the first order you had from your superior officer?— Yes, certainly, I bore that in mind. The last order you always act on till you receive another.

7774.7466 It is not customary to receive periodical orders; did you continue at that tree?— I did, but not all day.

7774.7467 Did you consider yourself bound to remain at that tree?— Not if I saw the outlaws trying to get away; by no means.

7774.7468 Did you remove from that tree any time?— The first time I did was when the prisoners rushed out of the house.

7774.7469 Where did you go to then?— I went right to the end of the house.

7774.7470 You considered you were doing that on your own responsibility?— Yes. I was not ordered to leave it, but I was doing it for the best to capture the outlaws.

7774.7471 Then every constable would be doing what he did for the best in the absence of an order?— Yes, I would think so.

7774.7472 Some were moving about during the day?— Yes, one or two, not a great many.

7774.7473 They were often moving?— They seemed so to me.

7774.7474 Were you on duty from the time Mr. Hare gave the order till Senior-Constable Kelly gave the order—you understood the order was to remain at your post, and to keep the outlaws from escaping?— Yes, to get them as best we could.

7774.7475 You got no orders except those you have mentioned?— No.

7774.7476 Did any constable or officer, or your superior officer of any grade, come round to you after the train with Mr. Sadleir arrived with any orders or instructions?— No, I think not.

7774.7477 Did Mr. Sadleir or any of the senior-constables that came with him, or anyone, go round and ascertain if you were at your posts, or to give any order?— No.

7774.7478 There was a chimney at each end of the house?— Yes.

7774.7479 In your opinion, from the recollection of the place, would it have been safer to have approached behind that chimney, close to it, on either end?— No, it would not be safe.

7774.7480 Was there any opening from which they could have fired?— The place was riddled with bullets, and they could see through.

7774.7481 It was boarded up close at the end; no window?— There was no window at the end.

7774.7482 Could a man have approached from either side to those chimneys without any danger?— No, not without any danger.

7774.7483 From what point could they see them approaching?— Through the holes made by the firing in the darkness of the night.

7774.7484 It was dark for a long time, and they would not see them; then they would not be watching so carefully then—it struck me those chimneys were fired at frequently, and it struck me the police could have approached it without much danger, and put a rope round and pulled it down?— I do not think it.

7774.7485 You think they were too strong, or was it too dangerous an experiment?— I fancy it was too dangerous an experiment.....

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