The Argus at KellyGang 5/5/1881

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Pending the settlement of the reward question, the Chief Secretary has decided that the allowance of 10s per week now made to the widow of the murdered man Aaron Sherritt shall be increased to £1 per week. The subject was brought before the Assembly by Mr Fincham


Mr FINCHAM asked the Chief Secretary if he would make any addition to the paltry allowance given to the widow of Aaron Sherritt'

Mr BERRY said 10s a week was no doubt small, but it was the allowance recom- mended by the reward board. It was too smal, and he would, therefore direct that it should be increased to £1 a week.

The Police Commission sat again yesterday, and devoted a considerable amount of time to the examination of Constable Duross one of the four constables who were in Sherritt's hut at the time of the murder of Aaron Sherritt. His narration of the circumstances preceding and at- tending that tragedy differed little from those that have been given in the press. He said that before going to Sherritt's the constables had their own rifles taken from them by the senior constable at Beechworth, and arms to which they were not accustomed were given to them. The witness did not think that the police could with safety have ventured from the hut while the outlaws were in the vicinity of it, and he declared that the constables were watching for an opportunity of observing and firing on the outlaws from within the hut.


Wednesday, May 4.

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

Inspector Montfort, in reply to Mr Nicolson, said that from his own experience he was under the impression that the stations in the country were not inspected at night or early in the morning, but he could not say what Mr Nicolson's system was. It was at Mr Nicolson's instigation that he protested against the withdrawal of the police from Glenmore, as mentioned in his previous evidence. Knew that the Power reward was offered to the informer. Mr Nicolson and witness could not take it.

Mr Nicolson, to Mr Graves, said that he would not have accepted the reward for the capture of Power. It was usual for officers to do their duty without reward, and he considered that it was prejudicial to the officers to accept rewards.

Inspector Montfort, to Mr Sadleir, said that the Government should strongly resist the settlement of persons of criminal tendencies or sympathies in the Kelly country or other mountainous districts. John Quinn was a man who had never been convicted, but was a dangerous character. The aggregation of criminal families in the district had caused the mischief, and the breaking up of them would be the greatest blow that could be struck at the lawlessness of the district. It would be desirable to prevent selection by suspected persons whom there is good ground for suspecting, such as known horse-stealers.This applied particularly to the North- Eastern district. He thought there might be an extension of the law under which owners of premises could be prosecuted for harbouring felons, &.c. The bad characters always settled on the verge of settlement, whence they could fall back on ranges or other haunts. Hence the difficulty of getting at them. He had heard that there were names in the Lands office to which land would be refused on those persons applying for it. He thought the police should give good reasons for objecting to any persons selecting land.

Mr Sadleir said that he believed the settlement of the criminal classes to extend all along the Dividing Ranges to the Omeo, and even to New South Wales , and believed that unless great care were taken there would be a recurrence of the past troubles.

Mr Montfort, at Mr Graves's suggestion, read a letter sent by the Crown Lands department to a settler stating that his application had been refused because unfavourably reported upon by the police. In his (Mr Montfort's) opinion, the power to refuse application for land should be used with great caution, and it was not desirable to mention to the persons so refused that the police objected to their application. He considered an article in the Age of that day most improper and inopportune. It would appear that the publication of that article was most prejudicial, and likely to precipitate the events it was desired to prevent.

Mr Sadleir also said that it was not advantageous to publish the facts mentioned, though they were the common property of the district and were generally known there.

Constable Duross gave evidence to the effect that he was by himself in Violet Town when the Euroa bank was stuck up, and he went to the bank with a civilian. He was sent down to Mooroopna, and thence to Beechworth. He was in Sherritt's hut when Sherritt was shot. Before going to the hut he and the other constables had their Spencer rifles, to which they were accustomed, taken from them, and other double-barrelled guns which they had never seen before, were given to them. This was done by Senior-constable Moline , of Beechworth. They were in the hut ten days before the murder. They went every night with Sherritt to Byrne's hut; sometimes they could not get near it for dogs.

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