Royal Commission report day 4 page 12

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The Royal Commission evidence for 29/3/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 4)

Stanhope O'Connor giving evidence

1076 What do you call necessaries?- Blanketing and clothing.

1077 Provisions?- We were not supplied sufficiently with those. I consider necessaries everything.

1078 Food and clothing?- Food and bedding would be better. He was so bad, indeed, that I had to send him back to head-quarters on the 15th.

1079 What do you call head-quarters?- Benalla. I always called that head-quarters; and on the morning of the 18th we met Constable Bell, who informed me that my trooper was dying. This man died on the evening of the 19th of congestion of the lungs. I do not attribute any blame to the Victorian authorities in this matter. In fact, Captain Standish showed my men every kindness.

1080 Where did you go?- Mr. Sadleir will know all about that. He knows more about the country.

1081 He was with the party all the time up to the 18th?- Yes. On the 16th April we started out again, the party consisting of about the same number of men.

1082 That would be about sixteen altogether?- About fifteen or sixteen-five of my men, myself, Sadleir, and my senior-constable, and five or six Victorian constables.

1083 Did all those trackers come from Queensland?- Yes, up to this time.

1084 Because you recruited afterwards?- Yes; I will come to that directly. We had no information.

1085 Had you any the first time?- None. We went up the King River, and on the fifth day out, namely, the 21st April, arrived at De Gamaro station. - informed us of his having found on the run, near the Black range, a horse, answering the description of one of the horses ridden away from Jerilderie by one of the outlaws. - offered to show us the horse and its tracks; but just as we were arranging for an early start for the morrow a constable galloped up with a letter from Captain Standish, saying if we were not on anything good perhaps it would be better to return.

1086 "Anything good"?- Any good information. The letter stated that Mr Hare thought he had found some traces in the Warby ranges. Mr. Sadleir and I conferred together, and sent Captain Standish word of what we had been told, and as he had left us to decide, we preferred to follow our own information; but if he (Captain Standish) still thought it advisable for us to return, he was to send us word again, and we would obey. This he did the next day, and we returned to Benalla immediately, on the morning of the 23rd.

1087 Where was Captain Standish?- At Benalla.

1088 At what distance?- I do not know exactly-about thirty miles.

1089 Did you go to De Gamaro station to look after the Kellys?- Certainly. Subsequently, after Mr Nicolson took charge, the above horse was recovered, and was found to have been one of the Jerilderie horses taken away by the outlaws.

1090 A police horse?- A New South Wales police horse.

1091 How long was this after you received information about the horse?- A considerable time- months. Captain Standish, I may say, did not believe anything. When we gave information about it, he laughed at it, and took no more trouble about it. Up to about this time, and a little later, Captain Standish was upon the most intimate terms with me, (in my statement, in my report of 7th September, it ought to be fourteen months he treated me most discourteously, instead of sixteen) and often expressed a wish that I would join the Victorian force after the Kellys were taken. Captain Standish showed a great want of interest in any work in the Kelly pursuit. This was not only observed by myself, but by both Mr. Sadleir and Mr Hare.

1092 Was that verbally, or how?- Repeatedly, day after day. Mr. Sadleir will be ready to prove it, and I suppose Mr Hare will repeat what he has often said to me. In fact, Mr. Sadleir often observed to me that he never could get two minutes' conversation with Captain Standish upon Kelly business; that the moment he began to talk upon the subject Captain Standish would take up a novel and commence to read. Mr Hare also frequently remarked the indifference of the Chief Commissioner to his work. About the beginning of May 1879, Captain Standish, in official matters, began to show his dislike, and wanted to take my men from under my command and place them in different townships. This I could not do on account of my instructions from my Government, which I hand in as follows:- "Telegram from Brisbane, May 13th 1879. To Sub-Inspector O'Connor. The Colonial Secretary desires that you will not separate yourself from your troopers, nor allow any to be detached from you. -C.H. BARRON, pro Commissioner." This telegram I did not show to Captain Standish. I showed it to Mr Hare, who advised me not to show it, as it might cause ill-feeling.

1093 Between the colonies?- I suppose that was what was meant; but I never objected to let my men go out, whenever I was asked, without my accompanying them. I never found any difficulty in working with Mr Hare. He always treated me with the greatest kindness, and frequently remarked the insolent manner of Captain Standish to me. Mr Hare and I, with my men, went out upon two expeditions, and upon those expeditions Captain Standish told me most markedly that Mr Hare was in charge; and upon the last one, which was in the vicinity of the Bald Hills, Mr Hare stated, from what he saw of my men's efficiency at tracking, that he thought we should never go out unless upon the best information, as something good might turn up in our absence. Mr Hare's usual plan of working was to scour the country with large parties of men-not upon any information...

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