Royal Commission report day 33 page 5

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The Royal Commission evidence for 28/6/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 33)

The Reverend Matthew Gibney giving evidence

12341 But they could have found you?— Yes. I think I might say too, with your permission, that in order that it may not appear strange why I should be so far away from my own place; that my object in visiting Victoria has been collecting for the orphan institution, of which I am the certified manager myself in my own colony. It might appear a strange thing for me to be away so far from my own duties.

12342 Did you tender any advice or suggestion to the police officers during the day in any way?— Well, I did not find or see any of them. I exposed myself very considerably in trying to find one of them, because in going from tree to tree if the parties had been alive inside, as was supposed, they might have said, “He is one making himself very busy giving general directions, going from place to place, from one officer of police to another.” They might have picked me off; but still I was very intent on trying to have the sister go there, seeing no one else would be safe to go, and it was then I sought for the officer in charge.

12343 You did not find him on the scene of the fight?— He was with the party at the opposite end.

12344 Did you notice the black tackers there?— Well, as I was passing along in the front of the house, along by the railway line like–I was questioning myself afterwards about that –I think I saw some of them lift their heads and look up to me from a kind of gulf or hole they were in. I could not say for positive now, I did not pay any particular attention to that.

12345 You did not notice whether there was any particularly heavy shooting from there or not?— No.

12346 Is there anything further you wish to add?— I do not think there is anything further. There is one thing, which is hardly relevant to the matter. There was a report spread at the time, after I had been attending to Ned Kelly. Of course I was a very considerable time with him before I moved out at all, trying to prepare him for his last, because I thought he was in a dying state, the doctor could not give a decided opinion as to the result. After that I came out and heard there was a report he was cursing and swearing just soon after I came out. I said, “My labor is lost if that is the case," and I made my way back, and asked the policeman in charge of him to tell me was he making use of any bad language or was he disturbed. He said “No,” and l asked Kelly myself, and he said “No.” Then I came out and challenged the parties, and said the man was bad enough, and not to tell lies about him, and afterwards I found it had been telegraphed, but these are points that are of no importance. I forgot to mention anything about Cherry, the man that was taken out of the house. I was aware that he was wounded in the house almost from my going there. Some parties met me and told me this man, a platelayer, was shot by the fire of the police upon the house, and he was wounded, and I knew that from their information that he could not possibly come out, that he was inside incapable of moving himself, and yet they said he had not died. Well I did not find him in any of those three rooms. I came to where the bodies of the outlaws were, and I had already parsed through the house, and it was a party that had been bailed up with him that knew where he was, ran and took him out. (JJK)

12347 From an outhouse?— I fancy so. I believe he would have been burned; that he is the only one that would have been burned alive if I had not come up.

12348 You mean he was the only one whose life would have been sacrificed by the effects of the fire?— Yes.

12349 You saw him when he was brought out?— Yes; I attended to him as well as I could, administered the sacrament of my own church to him as far as I could.

12350 He made some remarks?— Not to me. He seemed to be conscious, but not able to speak.

12351 You said you went in at the front, and not at the back; did you not afterwards appear at the front door, and hold up your hands in this manner–[explaining by gesture]?— No; it was at the back. When I was going in I held up my hands, and kept my hands in such a position going into the house, so that the parties observing me might perhaps be justified in saying that I came back, from the fact that I turned back from the room I first entered, because I was standing between the people and the blaze, and every movement of mine, I believe, they could see with the strong light that was beyond me. They might, in the excitement of the time, think I came out. I did not come out of the house at the front.

12352 Did you appear at the door?— No.

12353 What intimation had the police from the front that it was all over, that caused them to go up to the house?— When I saw the others running to the other side, I suppose I called out to the police. They were on my right hand as I went up. After I came out, I turned to them then and called out. I dare say they were watching anxiously, and the first of that party then came running, and they all rushed after. I did not come outside the house until I came out of the back.

The witness withdrew. ....

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