Royal Commission report day 26 page 20

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The Royal Commission evidence for 7/6/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 26)

Mr John McWhirter giving evidence

10415 Their whole aim was then to carry out the orders given by Mr. Hare not to let them escape?— Not to let them escape.

10416 You went round the hotel later on in the day?— Yes.

10417 About what time did you first make the attempt to go round any portion of the hotel. You went to the scene where Kelly was captured?— Yes.

10418 Did you run considerable risk in going to that spot?— I do not know. I did not feel the risk at the time.

10419 Later on in the day did you go round the other sides of the hotel?— I was on the Benalla side.

10420 Round the back?— Yes, about one o'clock , and got a view of the horses

10421 From seven in the morning until the time that the place was set on fire, was there any very great risk in any one going from point to point if they were at a respectable distance from the hotel?— No, I think not.

10422 Suppose an officer of police having men under him there, he would not run any very great risk in going round to see if the men were properly stationed, and giving instructions himself?— No, he would not.

10423 Did you see any of the police moving from point to point during the day except Senior-Constable Kelly?— Yes, I did.

10424 Did you see Dwyer?— I did.

10425 Did you see him going from one point to another?— Yes.

10426 Do you think he ran any unnecessary risk in doing so?— Yes, I think he did.

10427 That he was rash?— Yes, foolhardy.

10428 That the same work could have been performed quite as effectively with safety?— Yes, quite as effectively. I do not believe the man has any sense of fear at all, that is my idea of him.

10429 Was there any considerable risk in a careful man going round to give orders and so on?— No. At the same time, if an officer had taken up his position on the station, he could very nearly see the men were at their positions. He had only to walk to the Benalla side of the house and he would know the position of all the men from those points of view.

10430 Did you see Mr. Sadleir going about at all?— Well, with the exception of the times I have stated, that is when he came to the elation, when I saw him with the prisoners, and when I saw him round the Benalla side of the house, that is the only time I saw him.

10431 Would it astonish you if an officer of police gave this evidence:—Mr. Sadleir says, in answer to question No. 2792, “It was a very difficult matter, I found, to get round, myself, from post to post. You had to run the gauntlet of the outlaws' fire from the building, and there was danger too from the cross- fire of the police. Constable Dwyer, an active, zealous fellow, seeing me going round myself, asked for any messages I had to give, and I gave him some messages to the different points, and to ascertain for me particulars of how the thing stood at all sides, and he ran round from place to place where I directed. As he went along, I saw him jumping and skipping as sheep will, apparently over nothing.” Then he says that he went back to Mr. O'Connor in the drain. Do you think that was the position for a superintendent of police to place himself in?— It certainly was not a good place to observe the encounter in, to take up in order to watch the progress of the fight, or to meet any emergency that might arise.

10432 Were you in that drain when you saw Mr. O'Connor?— Yes.

10433 What was your impression of the position of Mr. O'Connor for the purpose for which he was there?— I did not think it was a good position.

10434 What do you mean by good?— Not good to take up in order to observe what was done by the Kelly gang. For instance, I may point out that when Kelly made his appearance, I did not believe that any person in that drain either knew what was going on or anything else.

10435 Was it a good position for an officer to take up to prevent any person escaping from the hotel?— No, it was not.

10436 Why do you say “good,” was it not safe?— Yes.

10437 Was it not good in that respect?— Yes; but it was not good for observation.

10438 But for preservation?— Yes, for preservation.

10439 It would not be likely to prevent the Kellys from escaping from the front?— The men would be in a good position, supposing the Kellys ran in that direction towards the drain, to give them a surprise when they were crossing the drain; but it would be very unlikely, because, if they attempted to escape at all, I imagine they would have made for the woods at the rear of the building, and towards Morgan's Look- out. The way Kelly did make his escape was at the rear towards Morgan's Look out.....

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