Royal Commission report day 43 page 5

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The Royal Commission evidence for 4/8/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 43)

John Sherritt further examined

15103 By the Commission— You said there were several things you had omitted to mention at the time you had the interview with Joe Byrne at Sandy Creek?— Yes, I have got them put down here, and there may be other things I told Mr. Nicolson.

15104 If you can give dates it will be well?— I never kept any dates. Byrne said that Mr. Hare and search parties very nearly had them once, and that they were well starved out. He told me he would give me money to pay my expenses to spy for him—that is, go to Yackandandah bank—but that he was short of cash at present, but when he got the bank he would give me a hundred or two. That is all about that. I do not know whether I told you yesterday I did get £2 from Byrne for posting up some caricatures that came to me in a letter. I did not get it from himself; he left it with his brother for me.

15105 What were those caricatures?— There were themselves represented on paper shooting police, and all that sort of thing. Ward could describe it better than I can, for it was handed to him.

15106 What else?— I told the police I had got the money and what for.

15107 Did you put up the caricatures?— No, I did not put them up myself, but the outlaws thought I did put them up; in fact, they were sure it was I did it.

Mr Nicolson — Perhaps he will explain all that.

15108 By the Commission— How did they come to think you had put them up?— My getting letters before and answering those letters in reply, they placed that much confidence in me.

15109 They thought you had done it?— Yes, and also there was something in the paper about what was done in Beechworth about posting those papers.

15110 Do you know, as a matter of fact, who did put them up?— I do not know; I could not say whether it was Detective Ward or not, but I believe it was. The outlaws requested me to put them up.

15111 How did they come into Ward's hands?— They came by my sister to me, and then I gave them to Detective Ward.

15112 You handed them yourself to him?— Yes,

15113 You are quite sure of that?— Yes.

15114 Is there anything else you have made a note of?— No, I have not. There is nothing only about myself and my brother's discharge. I did not tell full particulars of that.

15115 You did not hear of any reason at all being assigned?— No, I did not hear any reason assigned for me and my brother being discharged, and we got no reason. On the 19th of October 1880 Sergeant Porter ordered myself and my brother into the head office. Mr. Nicolson there, and he told us. He said, “You two men's services are dispensed with from this day.” I do not know whether he said —I could not be sure whether he said—he recommended our discharge to the Chief Secretary or the Chief Secretary recommended it to him; but after we were discharged to make up our minds immediately to clear out of the colony somewhere—that he would give us a free pass to wherever we would like to go to, and a few pounds in our pocket. The next day Mr. Nicolson had us call to the Police Department in the Treasury buildings, and asked us if we had our minds made up as to where we were going to. I said I was going to remain in Melbourne . My brother said, if Mr. Nicolson would give him a recommendation to join the Queensland force, he would go there; and I believe he did give him a recommendation, but I do not know what kind of one it was; I did not see it—it was in an envelope. He told me he would not give me one on any consideration. I did not ask him for one though; but before this I told him I did not intend, going away anywhere, but to stop about Melbourne . He said, if I stopped about Melbourne , I would get myself into trouble in a very short time. I told him, if I got into trouble, it was my own fault—that I was old enough now to know better. I asked Mr. Nicolson what would the people say in the North-Eastern District when they heard we were discharged, especially the Kelly sympathizers. He said the people would just simply say that Mr. Nicolson was in office and that he was making changes. I told Mr. Nicolson that the people would not believe that—that if we went back home again they would think we were sent up there to watch the movements of some of the Byrnes or the Kelly sympathizers rather; they would think we were still in the force, and very likely shoot us. He asked me, after I said that, what did I ever do for him or the police, and asked me also what did ever Aaron do for the police; we did nothing-that he was aware of. That is all about that. There is another matter. On or about the latter end of May 1880, I think—I will not say it was for certain, but I believe it was—Mr. Nicolson or Ward received information from some person unknown to me that Byrne, the outlaw, was seen some place in the vicinity of Sebastopol. Mr. Nicolson and the black trackers came as far as Everton; Aaron met them there according to appointment. On proceeding to the place where Byrne was seen they came in contact with a man named Batchelor, who lives at Sebastopol , close to Mrs. Byrne 's. This man recognized Aaron as one of the men—I believe he had his face blackened too. He informed Byrne of what he had seen. However, he recognized him as one of the men coming up the Bullock Camp Gully. This was not spoken of till after Aaron was murdered.....

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