Royal Commission report day 2 page 4

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The Royal Commission evidence for 24/3/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 2 )

Assistant Commissioner Nicholson giving evidence

365 Was it gathering by accident?- No; orders that had been issued. I took up a few police and a black-tracker myself, but l found this large number of police about Beechworth and the place we were going to. They were sent into the district. I merely mean to show that this collection of men was improper, and calculated to defeat the object we had in view.

366 Who was responsible for that?-I cannot say by whom they were collected. It was not by me. It interfered with my arrangements. As we went along we had to cross some very rough country, great ranges of granite, and the rumbling noise that the party made was simply just like thunder, and the people heard us a mile off.

367 Under whose orders were those men at this particular time-under you or Inspector Sadleir?- No. I know nothing about the particulars of this occasion. Mr. Sadleir met Captain Standish and myself. They left together talking, and Mr. Sadleir telling him all as we went along. We gathered all the police, till there were upwards of fifty. I could not tell what Mr. Sadleir was talking about. All those arrangements were made before I arrived.

368 You were not responsible and disapproved of it?- Yes; and I was perfectly ignorant of it.

369 Under whose orders were they?- Of course, when Captain Standish came, he was in command, he being the Chief Commissioner of Police, otherwise I would have been, otherwise Mr. Sadleir.

370 Were those men gathered at this particular point by the order of Captain Standish or any officer you know of?- I do not think they were gathered by Captain Standish.

371 Was it merely by accident-what was the occasion of meeting?- That some import information had reached the police at Beechworth about the Kellys and something likely to come of it.

372 This was not at the time of the sympathisers being arrested?- No, it was on the 7th of November.

373 Nothing came of that gathering of the police?- Well, I will go on to mention about that. Very shortly we came in sight (after we got on some low ground ) of what I was told was the Sherritt's.

374 "On 6th November 1878 I proceeded to Benalla to confer with Mr. Nicolson, arriving there about eight p.m. While we were talking we received an urgent dispatch from Mr. Sadleir, then at Beechworth, that the Kellys had been at Sebastopol." That was given by Captain Standish. Is that what you refer to?- Yes; I have been reflected upon and attacked about this matter, and I wish to speak about it.

375 How near were you to Sebastopol when this meeting of police took place?- We were all gathered within three miles of Beechworth.

376 You do not know by whose orders?- No, I cannot say. I must say about Captain Standish that he had nothing to do with those orders. If anyone had to do with those orders, it would be Superintendent Sadleir. Captain Standish came up and was a stranger in matter, until he was informed by Mr Sadleir.

377 You were the responsible officer?- And I was perfectly ignorant of the matter.

378 You were in charge of the district?- Yes, but Captain Standish came up into the district.

379 You had that district under your special command for the Kelly business?- Yes.

380 I think a misapprehension has arisen: The district was locally under the charge of Mr. Sadleir, and you were superior officer when you arrived to take charge of this particular business, and when Captain Standish came, he took charge of those fifty men?- He did not come to take control on that particular occasion.

381 Did they come without orders?- I cannot say. .

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