Royal Commission report day 8 page 13

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The Royal Commission evidence for 5/4/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 8)

Francis Augustus Hare giving evidence

1569 Did you get information, from Mr. Sadleir, that on a certain day, of notes bearing those consecutive numbers, and that those offered in Wangaratta were the very notes bearing consecutive numbers—do you remember hearing that?— I do not remember. Yes, I think I did, that they were all consecutive notes. I am somewhat mixed up in my recollection of that, I was out so much, but all those things were told me.

1570 Are you aware whether any action was taken for convicting those persons for having such notes in their possession?— No, because we could not prove that they did not pay them over the counter.

1571 Would you say the bank was desirous to go on with it, or that the police dropped it?— I most certainly think that the bank did not care about going on with it; but I think Mr. Sadleir will know more about that.

1572 As a matter of fact, do you know that—paid in Bank of New South Wales notes, similar to those from Jerilderie?— Yes.

1573 Do you know that provisions were bought to any extent, when you were on duty at Benalla, such as the Kellys would be likely to require?— Yes, from time to time, by Kate Kelly, tobacco and such things.

1574 They would be things such as would suit the outlaws?— Yes, in large quantities; and when a load of things was taken out from Benalla, we used to send a party of men, at night, to watch Mrs. Skillion's house; and, whilst watching, they were invariably discovered by Mrs. Skillion, with her dogs. She used to take a circuit round, extending about a quarter of a mile, working round to see if there were any police secreted near the house; and many and many a night have the police been found by her. That was a frequent occurrence.

1575 Have you been to Kelly's house?— Yes.

1576 Have you any information how many people were resident in the house?— I do not know— principally Tom Lloyd.

1577 Lloyd had a house of his own?— Not young Tom. Old Lloyd had. Young Lloyd is, I believe, living now with the Skillions.

1578 There was Mrs. Skillion, Kate Kelly, and another sister—Grace Kelly?— I have not seen Grace Kelly.

1579 And some children?— I have not seen children.

1580 Any men?— I have not seen any men of the Kelly breed

1581 In your opinion, have you any doubt in your mind that the quantity of provisions taken from Benalla was for any other purpose than for the outlaws?— I think they got a great deal of their supplies from Benalla for the outlaws. There was one morning, this woman Skillion happened to know that the constables were watching her house, and they were not aware of it. In the morning, about daybreak, she got upon a horse, and rode up a steep gully at a walking pace. It was a great ascent, at the back of the house, and those men on foot followed, thinking they had a splendid clue. She had a bundle in front of her. When they got h the top, there was Mrs. Skillion, sitting on a log, with her fingers to her nose, making fun of them. On another occasion, something of this sort came out. They followed her, and when they got there, she was behind a rock, with one leg sticking up, and she drinking water. The great difficulty we had to contend with, throughout the whole thing, was planting our men by day. It was all very well, we could put them on the hills by night, but of a day-time what were we to do with the men? —People were scouring the whole country, and they would look for tracks; and I really think a policeman makes a different track from any other man, for they were always found, and the men could not return to Benalla without that, it was too far. On a second occasion, I put men to watch Mrs. Skillion's, by putting them into the police station which Mr. Nicolson had formed in the interval between then and my return.

1582 You stated at the closing scene of the tragedy you heard the cries of persons in the house?— Yes, while the men were shooting at us.

1583 Did you give orders at that time to cease firing?— Certainly not; as long as the men fired at us on the verandah we dared not move from our position; we had to return the firing, but directly the firing ceased I called out “Stop firing.”

1584 Did you hear Mr. O'Connor call out?— No; I do not say he did not; I do not pretend to say Mr. O'Connor was not there; all I say is, I did not see him there. Of the party of men that were there I have seen four out of the seven; they also say they did not see Mr. O'Connor there, in that advanced party. Now, with reference to Power's case, unfortunately for me there are no documents I can find in Captain Standish's office to bear out my statement, because most of my communications of this nature, that is to say of an important nature, Captain Standish used to send up to me to come to his office and he would give me verbal instructions.

1585 Up to what time?— That was all along, up to the present time—it was so with the Kellys also. I had a good deal to do with the search for Power, previous to my being sent up there. I had sent a great many of my Bourke men in search of him.....

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