The Argus at KellyGang 19/5/1881

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Mr BENT moved- "That there be laid before this House a copy of report or reports giving the name or names of the officers who recommonded the appointmont of Mr O'Connor for promotion over the heads of many competent officers in the police force."

The motion was agreed to.


Tuesday, May 17

Present - Messsrs Longmore (chairman), Hall, Graves , Anderson , Gibb, Fincham, and Dixon .

Mr O'Connor directed the attention of the commission to a gross injustice done to him by a paragraph in the Age of Monday last, and particularly by that portion of it which said:-

"The question the commission mainly went to settle was that affecting the special fitness of Mr O'Connor and his claims to be appointed over the heads of other officers In the Victorian force who have seen long and arduous service. It has been found by the investigation that Mr O'Connor was really a volunteer on the occasion, that he occupied a very safe place during the fight, and did not distinguish himself in any way to justify his elevation over the heads of other men."

He desired to know whether the commission had given any authority for that paragraph.

Mr Graves said he knew nothing of it.

Mr O'Connor said the paragraph did him a gross injustice. His case was sub judice, and the paper prejudged it. .

Mr Fincham submitted that Mr O'Connor had no reason to suppose that the commission authorised the paragraph.

Mr Hall said that for his own part he had only stated that the main object of the visit to Benalla was to inquire as to Mr O'Connor's claim to the sub-inspectorship there.

Mr O'Connor pointed out that he had never made a claim to the post. The position was offered to him, and he accepted it. In the evidence that was taken there was nothing to prove that he was cowardly at Glenrowan. He went from the station with Mr Hare, and was in the midst of the fight; and it was most unjust to say that he sought a safe place. He trusted that the secretary would be authorised to contradict the paragraph.

The Chairman - The commission disclaim all responsibility for the paragraph.

Constable Barry gave evidence to the effect that he had been engaged in search parties under Mr Nicolson. At night they used to camp for a time, put out the fires, catch their horses and start off again. Was with the cave party near Mrs Byrne's for 45 days. He was one of the party in Sherritt's hut for a time, but not when Sherritt was shot. It was a very dangerous position for the men inside the hut. They had a very poor show of getting out. The hut was surrounded by scrub.

On a dark night the outlaws would have a great advantage outside the hut. He was at Glenrowan on the day of the affray. He was there from the beginning. Went up from Benalla on the pilot engine. The traffic manager ordered him into the van. Did not know now the train came to a stop. Went from the train, when it stopped, to the pilot engine, a quarter of a mile ahead, which came back and took the train to Glenrowan. There we took off the horses and saddled them. Heard Mr Hare say that he heard the Kellys were at Glenrowan. The police were ordered by Mr Hare not to fire till they were fired upon, and not to stop to pick up those who were shot till afterwards. Before the horses were out Bracken called out that the Kelly's were in Mrs Jones's place. The police all rushed up to the hotel, leaving the horses. (Witness described the shooting at the hotel, and named the men present) Did not see Mr O'Connor till about half-past 2 in the afternoon. During the fire Mr Hare said to Mr O'Connor, “Get your boys and surround the place." The police were also urged to watch the house and not let the outlaws escape. Witness went round the hotel. Gascoigne asked the police to cease firing, as there were women in the place. Mrs Jones came out and abused the police.

Mr Hare was hit the first or second shot, as he said to witness, "Good gracious; I am hit the first shot." He went away then, but subsequently gave orders to the police, telling them not to allow the outlaws to escape. The police did not fire on those coming out of the hotel. The walls and roof of the house were much riddled by the bullets. Witness heard of the arrangement for firing the house. He went round to the front prior to the firing. Fired about 25 rounds of ammunition, and thought that every round went through the house. There was no general order to fire. Witness fired when be was fired upon by the outlaws. He received an order in the train from Mr Hare. Mr Hare's party understood one another, and did not require further orders. Mr Hare's order was that they were not to fire until fired upon. An order was sent round at one time to “fire high." He did not know whether it came from an officer. It was supposed that some of the out- laws were in the roof. Witness did not know what was the special meaning of the order "fire high;" whether it was for the security of the police around the building or of the prisoners within, or to get at the outlaws in the roof.


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