Royal Commission report day 31 page 8

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The Royal Commission evidence for 16/6/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 31)

[[../../people/peN_P/nicolsonPAC.html|'Charles Hope Nicolson]] ' giving evidence

11997 By Mr. O'Connor— Do you remember taking charge at Benalla?— I do.,

11998 On the occasion I was there?— Yes, July 1879.

11999 Do you remember me telling you that I was afraid that we would not be allowed to be in the taking of the Kellys; that was what I imagined Captain Standish intended?— That “ we”?

12000 Myself and my men—the Queensland police; do you remember any conversation?— Yes.

12001 My complaining about not being allowed to be in at the death, in other words?— You were referring to something that had passed, not that you were afraid you would not be.

12002 Can you recollect any conversation I had about it with you; do you remember my saying to you that Captain Standish seemed disposed to prevent our being in; any good information—being sent out on any good information?— Yes; but you were alluding to what was past.

12003 And then what did you reply to me?— My reply to you was that whilst I was there you should receive every fair play, and that I would consider it a very improper thing—in fact, a discredit to the colony—to treat you otherwise; that is to say, to make any attempt to keep you from being present at the capture.

12004 Do you remember me referring to one case in particular, when Captain Standish received information?— I told you also I did not consider any officer in the police force would act in that way towards you.

12005 Do you not remember me telling you about one particular case?— Yes; you alluded to a case that has been mentioned in evidence about the party going out to a hut.

12006 And about Captain Standish's reply when I asked to go out?— Yes.

12007 That he would endeavour to take the Kellys without our valuable assistance; did I not tell you that?— Yes.

12008 Some time after you were in Benalla there was a horse found which turned out to be one of the police horses from New South Wales?— Yes, I recollect that distinctly; both horses turned up at the same time, the two Jerilderie horses.

12009 But this particular one found on the De Gamera station?— Yes; it was one of the two. I understood it was one that had been described to you and Mr. Sadleir some time previous when out there.

12010 Can you give any information about the Lancefield bank robbery; it happened while you were in charge there?— Yes. I received a telegram announcing the robbery of the bank there, and an order to despatch you with your trackers to Kilmore, and that you would proceed from thence to Lancefield.

12011 You know nothing about the result?— That order came from the Chief Commissioner of Police

12012 Did you ever hear what work was done by the trackers?— Well, I heard it from yourself.

12013 You did not hear it officially from any one?— No; and I heard it from Mr. Baber, I believe. He was subsequently up in the Benalla district, and in the course of conversation he told me of it.

12014 Did he mention how well or how badly the boys worked?— He spoke very highly indeed.

12015 He did not complain their movements were so slow?— Oh no, the very reverse. He could not find any objection. He spoke most highly of the skill of the trackers upon that occasion under great disadvantages. He spoke of the rain that you encountered—that you and he and the party encountered— sweeping away the tracks, and notwithstanding that how well you got on.

12016 In question 1109 of my evidence, after that information which Mr. Sadleir got about the armed men being seen on a certain road?— Yes, I know the circumstance you allude to. I say, “After this we were unable to get any information fresh enough to work upon, as heavy rains always had occurred before we got the news, until one day, I cannot remember the date, at 6 p.m., we had information that the outlaws had been seen on the railway line about Wangaratta, with the telegraph wires broken. We started within two hours of the notice to the scene, but upon arriving at Wangaratta got word that the whole thing was a mistake, and was explained in the press next day. It was a threshing machine pulled down the telegraph wires in passing across the railway line.”

12017 Is that a correct statement?— Yes, with the exception of this about near Wangaratta. It was near Chiltern, on the other side of Wangaratta, and at Wangaratta we were stopped by the news that it was a threshing machine passing the line had broken down the wires.

12018 How long was it before we were ready to start after getting word?— We have reduced the time of starting to something under half-an-hour.

12019 About twenty minutes?— Yes.

12020 I say, “After this appearance of activity on the part of the police, information ceased for some time to come in, as Kellys got a fright that if they showed out we should be after them at once. This we got from their friends; so some time passed before the outlaws began to forget the matter.” Is that correct? Can you recollect that for a long time after that we did not get—when I say “ long time,” I mean some weeks after—we did not hear any further, and we heard from the friends that the Outlaws had got a scare?— The outlaws were aware of that; and I believe the outlaws were aware of that. I would not like to answer that without seeing that return I sent in.....

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