Royal Commission report day 6 page 1

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The Royal Commission evidence for 31/3/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 6 )

Stanhope O'Connor giving evidence.


HON. F. LONGMORE, in the Chair;

E. J. Dixon, Esq., J.P., J. Gibb, Esq., M.L.A.,

W. Anderson, Esq., M.LA., G. R. Fincham, Esq., M.L.A.,

J. H. Graves, Esq., M.L.A.

1235 The Witness. -I forgot to mention in my evidence yesterday-I said in my evidence I was to be at the railway station at Essendon at ten o'clock. I arrived there at a quarter to ten, and at ten o'clock the stationmaster at Essendon sent for me-I was a little way down the platform-to ask me if I knew anything about the starting of the special train from Melbourne. He said the train was there but there were no orders. I told him I know nothing; I could not give any opinion. About ten minutes after ten he sent for me again. He said, "Can you tell the officials in Melbourne if there are any police coming up, or even Captain Standish, because they do not know what to do." I replied, "All I know is that Captain Standish informed me that the special train would be at Essendon at ten o'clock." The second remark I wish to make is, one of the members of the Commission asked me yesterday in my evidence as to who gave Senior-Constable Kelly the information as to the number of prisoners, and whether they were in the house. I forgot at the time. I said I believed it was Constable Bracken, but since looking at my notes I find and I believe it to have been a woman, who came out of the house, because Constable Bracken, I find from hearsay evidence afterwards, had gone immediately after the telegram. The third remark I wish to make is, when I mentioned about the delay in sending the Governor's letter by Captain Standish, one member of the Commission suggested that Sunday might have intervened. Well, the 27th, we all know, was Sunday, and the 30th was Wednesday, and was the date of the Governor's letter, and I received it from Captain Standish on the 2nd; so that Sunday did not intervene.

1236 After one of the children was wounded in the house did you see a man rush out with a child in his arms-a man named Neil McHugh?- No, I did not.

1237 It is stated he brought out one of the wounded children; did you see that man that day?- I cannot remember seeing him; in fact, I saw none to speak to, none of the women, or any of the people that came out at all, to my knowledge, to speak to the whole time. I only knew of their passing by. The witness withdrew.

Francis Augustus Hare sworn and examined.

1238 The Witness. -I joined the police force as lieutenant of police on the 1st January 1854. My salary then was £300 a year, with all the allowances I now have, and in addition rations. I now, after twenty-seven and a quarter years' service, receive £375 per annum and without rations. I was promoted to the rank of superintendent in November 1866, which rank I now hold. I had nothing to do with the Kelly business until the murders at the Wombat. On the 26th October 1878, the morning after the intelligence reached Melbourne that Sergeant Kennedy's party had been shot, Captain Standish came to me to the depot, and ordered me to get ready as many mounted men as possible from the depot and Bourke district men, and to pick out the best men I had.

1239 Kennedy's party was shot on the 26th?- Yes, on the morning after the intelligence reached I had-

1240 I want you to fix the date of that?- That would be the 27th. It was a Monday morning. I think he was shot on the Sunday.

1241 I want you to fix the date for certain?- Monday must have been the 28th. I was ordered to pick out the best men in the district; also to get ready all the available arms out of the store, and select as many horses as I could get out of the paddocks that were fit for work. I sent several mounted men that day to Benalla. For some weeks afterwards I was busily engaged getting in horses, buying arms, and instructing men how to use them.

1242 That was in Melbourne?- Yes. Every day men and horses were arriving at the depot en route to Benalla. It appeared to me that the picked men in the colony had been selected for this duty, and they were all splendidly mounted. From the time Kennedy was shot up to the time of the Euroa bank robbery my time was fully taken up sending supplies of horses to the North-Eastern District. On the 26th of November 1878 Captain Standish sent for me, and told me that Mr. Nicolson had informed him that he had obtained reliable information that the Kelly gang intended sticking up a bank in some part of the district, and that Mr. Nicolson had requested Captain Standish to tell me to take the necessary precautions at the stations in my district. I was all this time in Melbourne.

1243 Was this statement of Captain Standish's verbal?- Verbally. Captain Standish frequently used to send for me on occasions of that kind. He consulted me in that way, and spoke to me. I think the Seymour bank was specially mentioned as likely to be stuck up. I issued orders on the subject, which I will read to the Commission. The order is dated 26th November. This was to the men, telling them to instruct the banks. I will tell you what I did first. On the 30th November 1878 I informed Sergeant Purcell, at Seymour, that the Kellys contemplated sticking up one of the Seymour banks, and that three men would be sent up there for duty, and that I wished their duty to be kept quiet. I did not wish him to let the public know they were policemen.

1244 A kind of secret service?- Yes; and the banks were also to be informed.

1245 Were those men to stay in plain clothes?- Yes. On the 27th December, three constables arrived at Seymour. There would then be five men at Seymour, that is the three I sent up, a sergeant, and a mounted constable. On the 4th December 1878 I sent a memo. to Avenel to the following effect, and a foot constable armed with a revolver would be sent to Avenel. A constable should be placed on duty in plain clothes, and should never lose sight of the bank during office hours." The next day Constable Kelly arrived at Avenel for that duty. ...

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