Royal Commission report day 24 page 9

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The Royal Commission evidence for 1/6/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 24)

Const James Dwyer sworn and examined

9373 By the Commission— What are you?— A constable stationed in Melbourne . I joined the police force on the 14th January 1873 .

9374 Were you engaged in the North-Eastern District in the search for the Kellys?— Yes; a few days after the murders of the police by the Kellys in the ranges I made application to Captain Standish to give me permission to go in pursuit of them. I stated in that application that I would do my best to search for and capture them or die in the attempt, and now I can truthfully tell you that I faithfully kept my word.

9375 Was it single-handed you went?— No, joined in search parties.

9376 Were you out in search parties?— I was in the search parties through the Strathbogie Ranges and other places.

9377 Did you, at any time, have information so far as you believed that you were considered to be near upon the track of the Kellys?— I got information, but it was not reliable; like all others, it was untruthful.

9378 Do you consider the information was given for the purpose of capturing the Kellys, or deceiving the police?— I believe at the time it was for the purpose of capturing the Kellys, but when it is hunted up it was found not to be truthful

9379 Do you mean it was given too late?— Too late; there was no truth in it at all.

9380 Do you think any of that supposed information was given for the purpose of deceiving the police?— Yes; at the time of the Jerilderie bank robbery we were out in Strathbogie, and the informant who led us to go there stated he saw Ned Kelly on a Friday night a fortnight previous. We were there when we got the account of the sticking-up of the bank.

9381 Might they not have been in the ranges at the time?— We never found the slightest trace of them there; and this informant, when questioned, we found was a man who had served a sentence for horse-stealing, and was a sympathizer with the gang.

9382 You consider he gave false information?— Afterwards we did.

9383 Was he paid by the Government?— I never heard so. He gave the information voluntarily, to lead the police out there while the outlaws were committing this depredation upon the bank.

9384 Do you consider that any of those that were paid by the Government were not true men?— I believe some of them did act with truthfulness, and did try to assist the police.

9385 Were you in a position to know who was employed?— I know Sherritt was.

9386 Were you impressed with the truthfulness of Sherritt?— I was at that time.

9387 Were you afterwards?— No. I was at Bethanga at the time when I mistrusted him.

9388 What led to that?— People that lived near him, in conversation with them, telling me that Sherritt leading the police astray and was a sympathizer with the Kellys, and I questioned those people, and they gave me the reasons.

9389 Did you believe them?— I believed them at the time; I believed, too, at that time the Kelly gang were not in the country.

9390 Were you one of the cave party at any time?— No, I never was round there.

9391 Were you in Sherritt’s house watching?— No.

9392 In what part of the country were you principally stationed?— Benalla, Eldorado, Bethanga, on the borders of the Murray, Murchison, on the Goulburn.

9393 Where were you when the information came that Sherritt was shot?— In Wangaratta.

9394 Were you one of those who went down in the train from Wangaratta to Glenrowan?— Yes.

9395 What time did you arrive?— It was twenty minutes to five when we arrived at the place where the rails were torn up.

9396 How long did you take then to get in?— Mr. Rawlins, who volunteered to go with Mr. Hare, when the engine-driver was approaching this place where the rails were torn up, struck a match, and the engine-driver pulled up, and we got down and went to Rawlins, who told us then how Mr. Hare was shot and what was done up to that time.

9397 Did you hear what he said?— He said, in approaching the house, accompanying Mr. Hare and Mr.O'Connor, the verandah lit up with a volley from the Kelly gang on the police, and Mr. Hare was shot, and said, “Oh! I am shot in the first volley,” and Mr. O’Connor said, “Where?” Mr. Hare said, “In the wrist, get your men,” and, turning to Rawlins and the men, said, “At your peril, men, do not let them escape.” Mr. Hare stood in the open fire and holding the gun in his hand the blood gushed out, and holding his hand up in his button-hole he fired again. Mr. Rawlins described how he got shot and what was done after.

9398 What did you do when Mr. Rawlins told you that?— He told us, too, Mr. O’Connor was with his men and directing the men to take their positions, and he saw Mr. O'Connor waving his hand to his men to go round the house and saw himself get into the trench.

9399 What did you do as soon as you got this information?— Mr. Rawlins was talking very affectionately of Mr. Hare, saying, “Poor fellow, he had to go back for loss of blood;” and I said, “My God,-you do not infer by that he is dead.” Mr. Rawlins said, “I hope to heaven no.”

9400 Did you come on from the place?— A volley had been fired from the house, I had heard. We ran to the house, and down to the railway station.....

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