Royal Commission report day 23 page 12
The Royal Commission evidence for 31/5/1881
(see also introduction to day 23)
Sgt Steele giving evidence
8999 Wounded?— Yes. When I found from Bracken that the line had been torn up, I got all the available men; those that could ride I got horses for them, and sent two foot constables on the engine and told them where the line was torn up, and told them to be careful' and I proceeded with five men myself to Glenrowan.
9000 You rode to Glenrowan?— Yes.
9002 What occurred?— We rode very fast down to Glenrowan, as hard as the horses could carry us, and hung them up just in sight of Mrs. Jones's hotel. We came down on foot. We were challenged by the police down on the north-east side of the hotel. There were two, Senior-Constable Kelly and Constable Arthur, were lying behind a log and they challenged us. Kelly recognized my voice when I answered, and I went up to him. I asked him “ Were they still in?” meaning the outlaws. He said he did not know, that he picked up a rifle all covered with blood, that there was somebody shot. Then he related all about Mr. Hare getting wounded and the first affair.
9003 What did he tell you?— That Mr. Hare was wounded at the first volley. He said they were going up to the house; that he was fired at and wounded in the wrist. I then told him I thought we were too far away from the house to keep them in, and that if they had not gone they would be gone before daylight, and I would go up to a big tree by that fence. Kelly thought it was dangerous to go there. He said I would be shot before I got there. However, I made three cuts across and got to the tree.
9004 Were you fired at getting there?— No, not a shot had been fired from the time we got within hearing of the house. There did not seem to be a soul moving about. I was at the tree about five minutes and enquired from Kelly were there any men stationed at the back, and he said he did not think so. I told the men at Wangaratta. I said “Two of you men scatter round the back.” Constables Caussey and Moore went round. On each cut I made, going to the tree, I remained for three or four minutes and took a good look to see if there was any person about before I made another run. There was no move then. I had been ten or fifteen minutes at the tree then when I heard the train coming in from Benalla–saw it passing up in front.
9006 Why do you say you saw the train?— It was a beautiful, bright, moonlight night, a very bright light. Just as the train stopped at the station, I heard the sound of iron and of people moving about within in the house. It seemed as if they had the armour, and were throwing one piece on the top of the other.
9007 Did you know it was iron then?— I recollected what Mr. Nicolson had told me then. I thought it would be cuirasses, I did not think it would be complete armour
9008 Then you, when you came to the tree, formed the opinion that the cuirasse statement was correct?— Yes, I called out to the men to look out and shoot low, they were putting on their cuirasses. Just at that moment a woman came to the door, and she screamed out, “For God's sake let me go.” I called to her to come on quick, and she seemed to go back. She ran into the house. The screams seemed to come from the house, and she came out again and said, “For God's sake let me and my child go out,” and I said, “Come,” and she ran on and got past my left. Just as she passed the fence the outlaws came on the Wangaratta side of the verandah, and they fired. There were some men talking, coming down the line, and I think they fired at them. Mr. Sadleir’s men were coming from the station at the time.
9010 Was there any firing whilst she was coming out?— Yes. The outlaws fired and it was answered. She had got to the fence; before she got through the fence, and the outlaws fired; and then the police replied at once, and I fired at a man coming out, at a man who followed her out on his hands and knees, and I called on him to hold up his hands.
9011 Would it be the truth that you fired at her?— No. It is false. I got the woman away. She ran past me quite close, and if I had fired I must have shot her dead.
9012 What were you armed with?— A gun with slugs.
9013 Then it would not be true that the bullet went through the woman's shawl?— Certainly not. I had no bullet. As Mrs. Riordan ran away there was a man came crawling on his hands and knees, and I called to him two or three times to throw up his hands, or I would fire at him.
9014 Did you fire at him?— I did, just as he came in a line with the chimney. I fired, and, just as I fired, there was a tremendous volley from the police all round me from the drain in front of the place, and also the opposite side. I was obliged to lie down from the fire myself. The bullets were coming round me from all sides.....
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