Royal Commission report day 5 page 9

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The Royal Commission evidence for 30/3/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 5 )

Stanhope O'Connor giving evidence.

1201 This private quarrel in no way interfered with the discharge of your public duties?- In no way at all. Resuming my narrative-I saw Mr. Hare, and he then in conversation said to me-I cannot remember the words, but something about "I sent up to Mr. Sadleir to tell him or advise him to burn the house;" that was the effect of it, that he had been either cognizant of the burning or had sent instructions; I do not know which it was. I only bring this in because Captain Standish's evidence states something about it. Next morning, after never receiving a word of thanks from Captain Standish at all, I left Benalla for Melbourne. Mr. Hare was in the same train, and also Ned Kelly. Mr. Hare was in a separate carriage to me when I arrived at Euroa, where the trains meet. I received the Age newspaper, and, upon reading the report, I saw that my name was not mentioned; in fact, I might have been in Queensland. I waited till I got to Seymour, where the train waits for a quarter of an hour, and went into Mr. Hare's carriage. I said- "Hello Hare, how is this, look at this report, why you have been doing; everything by it, and I am not mentioned; how do you account for that?" Mr. Hare replied- "Oh, wait a bit, wait till you see the Argus, that will make it all right; the Argus is all right; the Argus is here, you can have it," and he handed me the Argus. I took that with me into my own carriage. The Argus report mentioned we were at the place, and that was all. When I met my friends, they wanted to know what I had been doing at this fight-why did not I accompany Mr. Hare in the first rush, why not help him in some way, and would not be satisfied until I told them the whole story, and actually had to go down and publish in the Argus a short resume of what occurred. In Mr. Hare's report he stated, after omitting my name, you might say altogether, he publishes a short paragraph on page 7, at the top of the page- "Since writing the above, I have seen a statement made by Mr. O'Connor to the press, and, after reading it, I can have no doubt his statement is perfectly correct; but in my report I have merely stated facts that are within my remembrance, and, no doubt, in the darkness of the morning and the excitement of the time, I may have omitted many incidents that occurred". Well, I say that if Mr. Hare acknowledged that to be true he should have mentioned it before. This is the report:- "I went down by the special train on Sunday night, at the request of Captain Standish. I collected my troopers, and started three hours after I received notice. I agreed to go on condition that the Government of Victoria would see me held blameless, as we were under orders to leave for Queensland. On our arrival at Glenrowan, we heard that the rails had been taken up some distance further on. We thought the best course would be to get the horses and proceed to the spot. Bracken then appeared, and informed us that the Kellys were at Jones' public house. Superintendent Hare, myself, and four or five men rushed up to the house. When we got within 25 yards we were received with a single shot, and then a volley. We returned the fire. Hare said, 'O'Connor, I am wounded, I am shot in the arm, I must go back.' He left immediately. We remained, and our incessant fire drove the outlaws into the house, which we heard them barricade. Mr. Hare returned to the station, remained a short time there, and then went to Benalla. I stood at my post until half past ten in the forenoon, when I was sent for by Superintendent Sadleir. I was within 25 yards of the house the whole time. At daybreak I got behind shelter. One of my troopers was shot alongside of me-cut across the eyebrows. He jumped on the bank, fired five shots into the house, and said, 'Take that, Ned Kelly.' It seemed to afford him great relief, but rather amused me. I was left in charge of the men from the time Mr. Hare left until Mr. Sadleir arrived on the ground." I had not seen Mr Hare's report at this time. I never thought that officially it would be the same as the newspapers, and it was after I reached Queensland that I got the Argus with this report published in it. My Government met me on the steamer when I went to Queensland. A report was handed me by the constable, and I did not get this till five or six days after I arrived there. I had not seen this one then, calling upon me to explain how it was I had not done my duty; in fact, the whole of it was so strong that that day I wrote an account, and that same day sent in my resignation.

1202 What do you mean, "Not doing your duty"?- I consider it was not doing my cut, when they said, "Why did I not do this and that." Judging from the reports that went up, they thought I had not been there, and that Mr. Hare had done everything.

1203 Had you heard that Captain Standish had written to the Queensland Government respecting your delay in the colony as permitted?- There was nothing about that in the report; but I refer to the account of the Glenrowan affair, and they did not consider I had acted as an officer, and called upon me to explain, and I was so annoyed that I sent in my resignation the same evening and gave a full statement, as I am giving now. The following morning I called at the Commissioner of Police's office. The Commissioner of Police was very hurt at my sending in my resignation. He begged of me to withdraw it, and represented to me that it was not his fault this report had come to me, it was the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Palmer. After a couple of hours' talk I agreed to withdraw my resignation. The Governor subsequently sent for me, and with the Chief Secretary spoke to me about the whole occurrence, asked my opinion upon several incidents in it, for instance, the burning of the house, and I gave my opinion; and then they asked me what steps I intended to pursue; my reply was, "I must return to Victoria to demand an enquiry into Mr. Hare's report about what occurred at Glenrowan." They quite agreed with me that I should have one, and upon that understanding I came over to Victoria again, as you can see by the date of my application for the enquiry, 7th September 1880, and now the date when this enquiry began, the 18th of this month. My Government most kindly gave me leave, and I think for nearly five months I was on leave, but still I could not satisfy them that I was going to have the enquiry. I could get no answer. So at last they wrote and told me that they could not give me unlimited leave, and my reply was, "I beg to resign," and was sorry they did not see it was for their own interests that I should still remain in the Queensland force to attend any enquiry that might be called for. It was very shortly after this the Kelly Reward Board was appointed. The Queensland Government telegraphed to me in a great state to represent them officially at that board for fear that I would not do so. I agreed to do so. So you see that I actually resigned my appointment to get this enquiry, although I did not mean to infer that I would have stayed for a very long time in the Queensland police, but I mean it was really the cause of my resigning my appointment in Queensland not being able to get the enquiry into this. I have been laboring under that ever since the Glenrowan affair, most people believing that Mr. Hare's statement was true. After I arrived in town I never received a communication from Captain Standish, never so much as "Thank-you Mr. O'Connor," or anything whatever until I received this....

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