Royal Commission report day 37 page 10
The Royal Commission evidence for 20/7/1881
(see also introduction to day 37)
Mrs. Sherritt, senior, further examined
13176 Have you got any proof of that at all?— Only that she said so. I owed a draper in Beechworth a bill . I hope my evidence will not be published in the papers.
The room was cleared.
The Witness continued as follows:–
And the next afternoon after what I have mentioned Wallace chanced to come to the place, and previously to this he used to come to my place at very unreasonable hours, but this afternoon I gave Detective Ward a cup of tea, and Wallace also, and the draper. The next day or two my daughter went down to Mrs. Byrne's and she asked how it was we were so friendly with Ward, the detective, to give him tea, and that Jimmy Wallace had been there and told her so; and Wallace used to come to the place and used to tell my son he was writing a book, and for my son to give him all that he knew–the particulars of what the police were doing –and that when he sold this book, if he got good sale for it, that Aaron should have half the profits. And one night in particular he came, and my son had been out and had a pair of blue blankets–he used to take them in the bush with him. He laid them down on the hearth, and Wallace came about two o’clock in the morning. Then I heard he told Mrs. Byrne he could not make out what the Sherritts were doing, as he found Aaron in the ash corner. But he was not there, he was lying on the hearth. He was trying to make little of my poor son, I suppose.
13177 What further occurred to lead you to know that they knew about helping the police?—–Only that.
13178 Did Wallace , from what you heard, in your opinion, lead Miss Byrne to understand that he was helping the police?— Yes, I do believe he did.
13179 Have you any reason to think that?— No; the only reason I had is that Byrne the outlaw came, and he met the children going to school, and he told them to tell their mother to tell Aaron not to sleep inside for a fortnight, because that Kelly was coming in to shoot him, and I thought it was Wallace. I only suspected it myself that it was Wallace .
13180 Byrne and Sherritt were very friendly?— Yes, and Wallace , too, was an intimate friend. But my son was an innocent follow, and easily led astray. If you asked him a question, he would tell it to an intimate acquaintance like Wallace .
13181 Then from all that you have heard you consider that Wallace acted as an enemy?— I do believe he did, but nobody told me, I only think so myself.
13182 Do you know anything of what occurred about the time that Byrne shot him–did you hear anything of their movements?— I heard what I told Mr. Superintendent Hare. I heard a short time before my son's death that they were going to do something that would astonish not only Australia , but the whole world. It was from Byrne's sister I heard that.
13183 And they gave no notice at all other than that he should not sleep in the hut?— No.
13184 Until they came upon him?— Yes, Byrne came to me at Miss Byrne 's. My John , he came to Beechworth, and he was doing a bit of ploughing at home. He came to Beechworth, and did not come home that night; and I got up very early in the morning, and I went out to his room to see if he had come, and l saw his bed had not been disturbed; and then I went out to listen if I could hear the horse-bells of the horses ploughing; and I went along my own paddock fence, and I could hear the bells still further on. It was the horses had got into a paddock belonging to a man named Murphy that my husband had bought, and I went to bring the horses home; and it seemed to me that Byrne was waiting to see who would come over for the horses. But when I went over there there was an old calf pen, and three or four old sheds. And I saw the man first, and then a man with a horse's bridle on his arm, and this was Joe Byrne . And as soon as he saw me he got up and came over and spoke friendly enough to me; and he said he had come to take my son Aaron's life, and also Detective Ward's. He said, “Those two had them starved to death.” And he said that Ward went about the hills like a black tracker; and that if he had them two out of the way, and also Senior-Constable Mullane, he said he could go where he liked. And I begged him not take Aaron 's life. I said, “he has no harm; he would not hurt you.” And he said, “You need not try to impress that on my mind, because I tell you now that there was Ward and him and Mr. Hare very nearly twice catching us, and that tells you whether they will hurt me or not.” Then I strove with him–I don't know what I said–not to take poor Aaron 's life. So when he had done I said to myself in the first place when he went away, “I will run down and tell Aaron . I do not know where his hut is; I think I can find it out on the Woolshed.” Then in place of that I brought the horses home, and came to Beechworth; and on my way I met my son John . He was on horseback, coming home; and I told him to go back and tell Ward what Byrne had said. Then when I had sent the message into Beechworth I got frightened myself, and got my horse to come in, and told Detective Ward. A few days after that Mr. Nicolson sent down for me, and I came up and told him just what passed; and said that my son would lose his life if he was not removed from where he was.....
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