Royal Commission report day 39 page 1
The Royal Commission evidence for 22/7/1881
(see also introduction to day 39)
[[../../people/peL_M/laingR.html|Mr Henry Laing]] sworn and examined
The Hon. F. LONGMORE:, M.L.A., in the Chair
J. Gibb , Esq. , M.L.A., W. Anderson , Esq., M.L.A.
13956 How long would it take the train to go?— About twenty-five minutes.
13957 Do you remember how many passengers were in it?— I remember three, but I am not very sure about the fourth. There were two constables; Walsh was one. I know the appearance of the man very welt but I did not know the other. I think Mr. Marsden , the clerk of courts here, was one. There were three passengers and twelve constables and Mr. Marsden .
13958 Do you know whether the mounted troopers had gone away with their horses, any of them?— None had gone. I did not know until those constables came to go with the engine. I expected more, but in asking for the sergeant and the others, they answered me that they had gone by road, on horseback.
13959 Did they say how long before?— They may have done so, but my attention was taken up with the engine and train, and I cannot say.
13960 It has been stated that you gave notice that you saw the outlaws at one time?— No, that is a mistake. Information was given me by one of our employee that they had been seen by two young men named Delaney , living close by the station. The story given by the platelayer was that that morning, at four o'clock, the outlaws, instead of going through the railway gate, had swam the One-mile Creek, and crossed by the back of the hospital, behind Delaney's house; and that these young men, who knew them and Steve Hart, looked at and recognized the outlaws, and that they were armed. I asked if this information had been conveyed to the police, and the answer was no, and he did not think it was likely to be, from the source it had come. I came down and gave the information to Constable Walsh myself. Then, on returning to the station, I thought I would have a conversation with the station master at Benalla, and I switched on the instrument for that purpose. To my great surprise, he was calling me, and proceeded to send me a message to the effect that a special train of constables was to leave that night for Beechworth, and to be on the look-out. Before he came to the word “Beechworth,” I made sure that the police had conveyed the information I had given them to Benalla, and that they were already acting upon it; but of course when the message said “to Beechworth,” I saw then it had nothing to do with my information.
13961 You know nothing personally about them?— No. When he was done with his message, I then asked him to listen to what I was going to tell him, and I gave the story to him, and his answer was that Mr. Sadleir Sergeant Steele were beside him then, and would he give them the information, and I said, “Certainly,” and to add that by the time they reached Wangaratta I would have obtained further information. So I went out in the middle of the night with a constable, and we saw a ganger and the young man who got it from the Delaneys . After the constable heard these two persons make their statement, I asked him if he would go to Delaney 's with me, and he said he did not think it necessary; indeed he thought it better to leave them alone, as they had been so quiet in the matter. When the special train arrived, I told the story and all about it to Sergeant Steele , and he seemed to attach considerable importance to it, but thought he had better carry out his instructions. I remember that he was very pointed in telling the constable to be there on his return into the camp, to have the thing acted on, and it seemed to him that it called for immediate attention. I remember that very well, but away went the special at all events, and the Kellys were down the other way.
13962 Were you aware of the strength of the station here at that time?— No, I could not say.
13963 This was after the murders of the constables?— It was the second Sunday, I think, after the murders— Sunday the 3rd November 1878 .
13964 Then Sergeant Steele did not take any measure himself?— No.
13965 Did he give any reasonable excuse to your mind for not doing so?— Nothing, except that he had received his instructions to go on to Beechworth.
13966 Was there any special necessity for the train to have gone on—could it have been delayed an hour?— It could have been delayed one, or two, or three hours, as long as they liked.
13967 How long would the special train remain that morning before they started?— I should say they took fifteen minutes quite.
13968 Is there anything particular that you know about the affair that you desire to speak of?— Nothing. I had a little to do with the police all through, but nothing of very great importance. When the Glenrowan affair commenced, it was I, in fact, that set the wires in motion when the information was sent down from Beechworth of the murder of Sherritt, as to telegraphing about it to the police authorities.
The witness withdrew. .......
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