Royal Commission report day 4 page 9
The Royal Commission evidence for 29/3/1881
(see also introduction to day 4)
Assistant Commissioner Nicholson giving evidence
1032 Are you aware who his predecessor was?- No.
1033 Do you know whether, it was Flood?- I think it was.
1034 Do you know that he always had four or five of them in gaol?- I know Flood was very efficient.
1035 Was this report before the shooting of Fitzpatrick?- Yes. I took a young constable with me part of the road, Constable Hayes, and I instructed him-similar instructions as those to Thom-and warned him never to go near that house, and to tell the other police that came there never to go near that house alone, always to have a second constable with them.
1036 Then you had an idea they were absolutely dangerous all through?- Oh, I knew it well; and I instructed the police never to go into that house alone, simply because I knew if there were two constables together bad characters are always afraid to proceed to extremities with them, because one constable is a witness and support to the other.
1038 Do you recollect the date of the shooting of Fitzpatrick-April 1878?- Yes, I think it was.
1039 This is previous to that again?- Yes.
1040 This is before Byrne became connected with it?- I believe so. In speaking about the crime report book-that is the book in which reports are made, and in which reports are made of people who make complaints to the police-I may quote the following:- "About six cases to date, in 1877, mostly horsestealing, which horses were ultimately recovered, impounded in New South Wales." This is a form of crime which is said to be common here when the Murray River is low. "The animals are said to be impounded with the view of buying them out cheap" -that is over in New South Wales- "they are frequently recovered, but the offenders, said to be New South Wales men, are never convicted. I can see no difficulty in bringing those offenders to justice, if the Ovens district police make systematic arrangements with the co-operation of the well-known Mr. Singleton, who is in command of the New South Wales police, Albury district."
1041 I suppose, in making that memorandum, you were aware that in New South Wales no man can legally ride another man's horse without either a permit or some notification in his pocket that the horse he is riding belongs to another man?- Yes. This is a communication from Mr. Singleton:- Albury, 14th September. This is to the officer in charge of the Beechworth district, to whom my communication had been sent for his attention. "My dear Sir,-In reply to your confidential note of the 12th instant, I beg to state that I believe that a regular system of horse-stealing is carried on by Victorian thieves, and that the animals are brought across the Murray and impounded in New South Wales, where they are sold for a mere trifle, and vice versa by New South Wales thieves to Victoria; very many horses stolen from Victoria have, I believe, been impounded at Quat Quatta, near Howlong. I would suggest that on a report of horse-stealing being: made within a reasonable distance of the border, that you give instructions to the police in Albury, Howlong, and Corowa be informed as soon as possible." Very soon after this regular system was established, the well-known Baumgartens were discovered receiving a very large number of horses, and Ned Kelly was the man who brought the horses to them.
1042 One of them?- One of the men.
1043 Corowa was opposite the Victorian town of Wahgunyah, Howlong being the nearest place to Chiltern, and the other to Wodonga-the three crossing places?- Yes. Here is a document showing the reduction of strength at a station, done without any reference to me whatever. I do not known whether it is worth taking notice of, but I was in that district, at Stanley, near Beechworth; that is not in the dangerous district.
1044 Whose recommendation was that?- Mr. Brook Smith's.
1045 Were the police taken altogether away from Stanley?- No; but there were two men there. I do not mean the reduction was not a proper one, but I was not made acquainted with it; and that was the usual custom, and that was what I was annoyed with Captain Standish for; they were done by him without consulting me, and without my knowledge, though I was visiting and reporting on the district. Here is another matter that I would like to draw attention to. While inspecting the county of Bourke district, in April 1876, I pointed out some irregularities in the mode in which the constable kept his money books. Shall I read that portion? This is the date- "5/3/75 Murdoch v Murdoch, Hotham. Prisoner delivered at Hotham lock up, by Kalkallo police, but no receipt producible, 23/l2/74. Stephen v Snowden, distress, £7 3s. Donnybrook. Amount collected by constable, who handed same to plaintiff direct, instead of to clerk of petty sessions." And several others of the same kind. I was trying to introduce a uniform system.
1046 What was done on that?- I pointed this out to the Chief Commissioner in this report, and it was referred to Mr Hare by the Chief Commissioner, who referred it to Constable Redding. ..
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