Royal Commission report day 37 page 19
The Royal Commission evidence for 20/7/1881
(see also introduction to day 37)
[[../../people/peD_G/fosterMag.html|Mr William Henry Foster]] 'giving evidence'
13366 Did it suggest itself to you that constables placed in that position ought to have a sentry in the dark outside?— I think it would have been better.
13367 We have it in evidence that they usually had a sentry, but they were forbidden in this case?— I was informed that the men had strict instructions to remain secreted, and not to let their presence be known; that would perhaps account for the sentry not being employed.
13368 Did you get any further information?— I was going to finish. Before I left, after asking whether they wanted anything, the crowd, somewhat over one hundred, were somewhat clamorous to get in; and I asked the police what they were going to do about these men, and they said it would be better to keep them out; and I said, “Yes.” I said, “Keep them out, I am in charge of the body as coroner”; and I announced to the crowd, “There are four armed police inside; they have my orders not to let anyone enter, so you had better go home”; and fully half of them started before I left. I then started for Beechworth, and about a mile from the hut I met the police from Beechworth—Senior-Constable Mullane and Constable McColl , and others I forget. I do not know that I could give any further information about the proceedings that day. I came back to Beechworth, and about, I think, twenty minutes to six the following morning I was in bed, and I heard a very loud rap at my door, and, before I had time to think about anything, a second and then a third. I jumped to the conclusion that the house had taken fire, and ran down stairs just as I was, and there met, in my own room, Mullane and Ward, who told me of the Kellys being at Glenrowan. Their principal object in coming to me was to ask whether the four men down at Sherritt's hut, who might be wanted to attend the inquest near Beechworth that day, would have to remain, or whether they should go down to Glenrowan. I said, “Send them to Glenrowan; the inquest can be adjourned, and the fight cannot.” I think those were the words I made use of. Had it been in my power to have gone, I certainly should have gone down also; but while we were talking I heard the whistle of the engine, so I concluded the police would ride down, and I had not the means of riding—afterwards, I learned they had gone by train.
13369 You could not form any opinion upon any point that could have been better carried out than what it was with reference to the hut?— If the approach of those men had been anticipated, of course they could have made better arrangements; but, as I take it, this was called a watch party, and I understood their proceedings were to keep under cover in the day time, and proceed at night to watch Byrne's hut, and certainly that was a very wise measure.
13370 I suppose you did not hear anybody saying that their presence was discovered—that it was known there were police there?— I did not hear it; there were all sorts of rumours about in those days.
13372 You have acted as police magistrate in the Gippsland district and this district for several years, where I was in charge of police?— That is the case—four or five years in one place, and about three in the other.
13373 Does your position enable you to form an opinion as to my ability and conduct as a police officer?— I have had during the periods I have been in those districts with Mr. Sadleir every opportunity of observing the mode in which he has discharged his duty. I look upon Mr. Sadleir as a man of high integrity, and a thoroughly conscientious officer, and I am satisfied his duties have been always discharged to the best of his ability. I have a very high opinion of Mr. Sadleir .
The witness withdrew. ....
Previous page / Next page
|!||The text has been retyped from a microfiche copy of the original.
We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged.
The previous day / next day . . . Royal Commission index