Royal Commission report day 23 page 2

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The Royal Commission evidence for 31/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 23)

Sgt Steele giving evidence

8815 For one Kelly or both?— I think against Dan Kelly and Jack Lloyd, but the other information was laid by, I think, Detective Brown against Ned Kelly. I am not quite certain who laid that information against him.

8816 Can you say there was an information against Ned Kelly at all?— I believe there was.

8817 Are you sure–of your own knowledge?— I do not think I ever saw it, but it was notified to me that there was a warrant. The next thing I heard about was–I made several efforts to arrest Ned Kelly and Dan, but was unsuccessful–I received a report, by telegram, on the 16th of April 1878 , that Constable Fitzpatrick had been shot at the Eleven-mile Creek by Edward Kelly, when effecting the arrest of Dan Kelly. I received this telegram about nine o'clock in the morning. Mr. Nicolson, then the inspecting superintendent, was at Wangaratta the same morning, and I waited until twelve o'clock for instructions from Benalla, but I received no instructions, and I started with Constable Brown. I was informed in this telegram I received that warrants had issued for the arrest of Edward and Dan Kelly, Skillian, Williamson, and Mrs. Kelly.

8818 Why did you mention Mr. Nicolson?— I showed him the telegram. At the time we were just talking about the Kellys, and some conversation passed about Edward Kelly, and I told him I thought he would take the bush. He had just walked out of the office when this telegram came, and I showed him it when he returned.

8819 Could he not have given you instructions then?— He was not in charge of the district at the time. He was travelling at the time.

8820 Was Mr. Nicolson then the officer in charge of the district?— No. He was on his way to Bright, to make investigations as inspecting superintendent.

8821 Did he inspect your barracks on that occasion?— Yes, I think he did, and made an entry in the book–I would not be sure on that point–I could tell by examining the occurrence book of the station. I started with Constable Brown for the Eleven-mile Creek. We watched Mrs. Kelly's place for some considerable time from the hill opposite the house. At nine o'clock in the evening we arrested William Williamson. I went to Skillian's place, but could not find him then, so I took Williamson into Greta, and returned again, at about one o'clock in the morning, in company with Senior-Constable Strahan and Brown, and arrested Skillian. We also arrested Mrs. Kelly. She had not been in her bed at all during that night. I was there on three occasions, and she had not been to bed. Jim Quin was in the house.

8822 What was the charge on which they were arrested?— For aiding and abetting Ned Kelly in shooting with intent to murder Constable Fitzpatrick. That was the only occasion on which I visited Mrs. Kelly's place at night, or disturbed her in any way during the night. We took Williamson, Skillian, and Mrs. Kelly to Greta, and then brought them on to Benalla in a dray. They were remanded from time to time, and committed for the offence with which they were charged.

8823 And convicted?— Yes, and subsequently convicted. I was called upon by Superintendent Sadleir to go to Benalla to make up a party to meet Sergeant Kennedy in the ranges to try and effect the arrest of Edward Kelly.

8824 Had Mrs. Kelly an infant with her when you arrested her?— I do not think so. I think not at the time. I think she had a child in gaol, if I recollect rightly.

8825 Was she a married woman to your knowledge?— Her husband has been dead for some time. I did not know of her being married again lately.

8826 When did her husband die?— Before I went to Wangaratta. I had been about eighteen months or two years there then.

8827 Was he dead five years before?— I could not say. I never made any enquiry about that, but he was dead sometime before I was there.

8828 Had she a young family in the house?— There were some girls, the youngest, I should think, about ten or twelve years of age.

8829 Proceed with your narrative?— I was unable to go in the ranges, in consequence of being subsequently served with a subpoena to attend the equity court. On the 28th of October I received information of the murder of the police at Stringy Bark, Wombat.

8830 Did you make any search between that time and the murder of the constables at Wombat?— Yes, repeatedly. I was continually knocking about those parts.

8831 Between the time of the arrest and the time of the murders you were continually searching?— Yes; generally about the Eleven-mile Creek and the section paddocks. We made several efforts to try and capture them. The principal reason for my going about at the time was the inefficiency of the constable stationed at the Greta station–Constable Thom–which I complained of.

8832 It was his duty to arrest them, if possible?— Yes; it was about fifteen miles from my station. I think they could have been arrested if he had exercised proper discretion and made proper endeavors to capture them. On the other hand, I could not show about the neighborhood at all but there was a message sent by a boy in the neighborhood, or some of the little girls ran off in different directions in and about the neighborhood of Mrs. Kelly's, and made the fact known. I reported to Mr. Brook Smith about Thom's inefficiency.

8833 In writing?— I think, both in writing and verbally. Thom was removed from there.....

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