Royal Commission report day 2 page 2

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The Royal Commission evidence for 24/3/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 2 )

Assistant Commissioner Nicolson giving evidence

338 They went out at the same time as Kennedy went out?- Yes, and there was considerable anxiety about them. When Mr.Sadleir went up to Mansfield there was another officer there, Mr. Pewtress. It is the custom, I may say, and the duty of an officer in charge of the district, to proceed to the spot as soon as possible, when any very serious crime occurs.

339 What was Mr. Pewtress?- A sub inspector. Those two parties that I allude to, I cannot give the days, but they turned up in a day or two, one of them coming into Benalla. I formed a search party, and sent out parties on the 29th-parties of men that I could muster together to look those men up-to search for them.

340 In charge of whom?- One party in charge of Senior Constable James, and the other party I cannot say in whose command-I do not recollect.

341 How many in each party?- Not above four or five in each party at that time.

342 Those started from where?- From Benalla. On the 30th instant by the last train I went to Wangaratta to see the state of things there. I then went on alone down to Myrtleford, through that country. On the 29th-I must go back again to that date-I had by correspondence, not being on the spot, organized, with Sub Inspector Smith and Sergeant Steele, and despatched two search parties from Wangaratta. All those parties came in in a few days.

343 How long after-within a week?- Yes, within a week, they having scoured the Kelly country away behind on the south of the north eastern and Beechworth road one way and another. Before coming in they had got news of those other two missing parties having turned up, and further particulars of the murders-the two parties that went from Wangaratta and the two parties from Benalla. At this time it was not known who the two murderers were beyond the two Kellys. It was not known who the third and fourth murderers were. Do you wish me to go on from day to day?

344 Just as shortly as you can put it?- I quite understand. The next incident of any importance that occurred was the rumor, about the 1st November, of a man having been stuck up by the gang on the Murray flats near the Baumgarten's place. On hearing that, I and Mr. Sadleir consulted together, and I had a great deal of experience in police matters of this sort, particularly through having had charge of the detective force for fourteen years; we were hearing wild rumors every day, but there was something in this that struck me as correct. We thought there was something in it. l despatched a party that same night to Wodonga, with orders to make their way to this spot, find out this man, and to enquire into it.

345 Who had charge of that party?- Detective Kennedy, now Sub Inspector Kennedy. The following day I was very anxious, Mr. Sadleir and I did not hear from them. Hearing nothing from this party and no further news Wodonga, I took the train to Wodonga myself and met the party. They reported to me they had seen the man, found him out. He was a farmer down there, and they were very doubtful about the truth of his statement. He had been drinking, and his statements were wild and doubtful.

346 What was the name of the man?- Margery.

347 Are you quite sure it was at Baumgarten's that the sticking up was?- It was by the river side, about a mile or two from the Baumgartens'. I was not satisfied, and I went myself with the party back the next day, went back to the spot to see the man Margery who said he was stuck up. I found the man was not then raving or anything of that kind. He evidently had been drinking, but it appeared to me to drown his fright, and when I saw him he was clean and cool and able to give a coherent account, and from the account he gave to me I had no doubt he had seen the outlaws. We ran down the river calling at huts and examining many places till I came to Baumgarten's. I went to Mrs. Baumgarten's house, the wife of a man convicted of horse stealing-a man who was connected with the Kelly lot. I learned that on the previous day the outlaws had come out from the lagoons, off the island right under her house, about one o'clock, camped till sunset about 200 yards off. I found that they had camped there and had disappeared at sunset.

348 Did you find their camp?- Yes, found their Camp.

349 What date was that?- I will tell you exactly-[examining a pocket book]-2nd November, Saturday...

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