Royal Commission report day 43 page 8

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The Royal Commission evidence for 4/8/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 43)

John Sherritt giving evidence

15169 Saw them preparing the food?— Saw Byrne's family, to my own knowledge; they are small eaters, and I used to see meat there, and plenty of bread, cooked, and everything.

15170 A much larger stock than they would require for themselves?— Yes.

15171 They prepared it?— Yes.

15172 What did they do with it then?— I expect they conveyed it to somewhere.

15173 Do you know how?— I think I do—by Patsy Byrne, and sometimes herself.

15174 Have you any idea of the direction they took to convey those supplies?— I have no idea which direction. There are several they could take, because there are hills all round.

15175 Did you ever hear of the particular spot where they were accustomed to take those supplies for the outlaws to come for them?— I do not think so. On one occasion—the same Saturday about two in the afternoon that Aaron was shot—I saw young Byrne with a parcel of clothes on the range over Mrs. Byrne's on the right-hand side up the gully, and he just went round the creek, and I did not see him any more. I could see him, but I just caught a glimpse of him to see it was him with the clothes.

15176 You had very little doubt he was taking clothes for the men?— Yes.

15177 Can you remember any other instance where the friends of the outlaws were taking either clothes or food for them. Did you ever meet anyone you suspected of that?— No, I do not think so.

15178 By Mr. Hare— Did you ever see me before until you came to the depot to join the force?— No.

15179 Never saw me or spoke to me before?— No.

15180 You were asked by the Commission about the cave party and your brother being seen by Mrs. Byrne—were you aware there were any police in the gully at the time?— No, and I was working in the gully at the time.

15181 When did you discover that I had been in the gully?— I do not think till a day or two afterwards—I went away after the men were shifted. I did not know whether you were there or not.

15182 You were then on intimate terms with Mrs. Byrne?— Yes.

15183 Did she tell you she had seen Aaron in my camp?— No, she did not.

15184 Do you think if she had seen him she would have told you?— I am certain she would.

15185 Were you on intimate terms with Aaron?— Yes, I was. I met him one day—he had some tobacco, and I asked him for some, and he gave me some—I believe he was with some of the police, and I did not know he was engaged with the police then.

15186 Were you aware I was in your straw-shed for two days and nights when you were living at home?— No.

15187 Were you told afterwards?— I was told a considerable time afterwards you were there

15188 What was I there for?— Watching for the Kellys, to see if they would come to our place.

15189 By the Commission— Do you know the date of that?— I was only told of this afterwards.

15190 By Mr. Hare— You did not work for me—you were not one of my agents when I came up the second time?— No, I was not.

15191 You wrote a letter to me which was put in evidence here by somebody?— Yes, I did.

15192 You said you had a great plan for catching them?— Yes. Here is the letter. The question is:— “Was it reported among your comrades that any order for special care had been promulgated among them; was it said among the men that there was to be special caution, or anything?— No, I never heard of it.

Mr. Nicolson — May I ask for D13 to be produced and read?

The Chairman— It is a letter from John Sherritt to Mr. Inspector Hare, Sheepstation, dated June 20th 1880:— ‘Dear Sir,—I would very much like to have seen you yesterday, as the outlaw Byrne does be frequently and sleeps in—’s haystack on Sebastopol. I cannot see how it is that he is not caught before now. His brother Patrick does be out all night and sleeps all day. Mrs. Byrne has their winter flannel and socks all ready to go to them, and she has provisions for six families stored by in her house. Sir, I don't want to dictate to a gentleman of your ability, but the plan I would suggest is this—for Patrick Byrne to be watched minutely day and night, as this is a particular time. As long as Aaron has the men down there, they will never do any good, as to my knowledge he lets too many of his mother-in-law's children to his house, and his mother-in-law herself will go there night after night, and will stop sometimes until two o’clock in the morning, and this will be the means of discovering the police, as the Barry children and the Byrne children go to the same school, and are on friendly terms. Dear sir, the reason I send you these few lines is this— anything I say up here, they will not listen to it; therefore I would like to explain matters to yourself. I am certain before long they are going to make another raid; I have not heard yet what it is. I am very busy now, but if you don’t succeed; sir, I have a grand plan made up that I think will carry through. I remain your. most respectfully, JOHN SHERRITT, junr.’ ”

15193 Was that the first communication you ever had with me?— Yes.

15194 By the Commission— You have been in South Australia ?— Yes.....

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