The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (59)

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Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne left Greta on Friday night to go to Sherritt’s at Sebastopol.  They knew that Sherritt had police protection, and knew the risk they were running in meeting superior numbers.  But somehow the Kellys had formed a very low estimate of the courage and fighting qualities of the police.  Ned Kelly estimated that one Kelly equalled forty policemen.  In the opinion of the Kellys, the attitude of the police change from savage cruelty to arrant cowardice.  Dan and Joe took up their position in the ranges close by, and remained there all day Saturday, June 26, 1880.

They had tea early, and, as darkness set in, they came down and tied their horses up at a convenient distance from Sherritt’s house; they also had a pack horse carrying their armour.  As they issued forth they came across a German named Anton Weekes.  They handcuffed Weekes, and told him as long as he obeyed their instructions he would not be hurt; but if he refused then they would deal with him in a most drastic fashion.  Weekes said he would do what they wanted, but he could not do much.  Joe Byrne told Weekes to go up to Sherritt’s house, knock at the back door, and say that he had lost his way, and ask Aaron Sherritt to show him the way to his hut.  Weekes readily agreed, and was somewhat surprised at the simplicity of the task imposed on him.  He went up to Sherritt’s, but never suspected that Joe Byrne intended to do something to Sherritt.  He and Joe Byrne went to the back door, and Dan Kelly went to the front door.  The house was a two-roomed wooden slab building with kitchen and bedroom only.  Weekes knocked at the back door, and Joe Byrne stood a little distance from him.  They heard a shuffling of feet inside and Aaron Sherritt called out, “Who is there?” Weekes said, “It’s me, I loss my vay.” Mrs Aaron Sherritt came to the door and opening it said, “It’s Anton Weekes, he has lost his way.” Aaron Sherritt then came to the door, the light fell on Anton Weekes, and Joe Byrne stood close by in the darkness.  Aaron Sherritt in a joking way said, “Do you see that tall sapling over there." As he uttered these words Aaron shrank back a little as if surprised at what he saw.  Just then Joe Byrne fired, and stepping quickly into the room fired a second shot, and Sherritt fell and died without uttering a word.

When Weekes first knocked at the door Constable Duross was in the kitchen with Aaron Sherritt, his wife, and his wife’s mother, Mrs Barry, who had arrived about fifteen minutes before Weekes.  Duross immediately went to join the other constables in the bedroom.  That was the shuffling of feet that Joe Byrne had heard.  The four constables were very much scared by the report of Joe Byrne’s gun so close at hand.  They were all armed, but were very much afraid of getting hurt.

Aaron Sherritt’s mother in law — Mrs Ellen Barry — giving evidence before the Royal Commission on July 20, 1881, said:—“I was just about a quarter of an hour inside when a knock came to the door, and Aaron asked who was there.  His wife asked who was there first, and the German answered, and she said, ‘It is Anton Weekes; he has lost his way.’ Aaron went to the door, and Weekes said, ‘Come and show me the way; I have lost my way.’ Aaron opened the door and I went to the door with him, and he mentioned a sapling as he was going out, but that was out of a joke.  I went with him just to the door behind him.  I heard Aaron say, ‘Who is that’ and as he said the words he seemed as if inclined to come in again.  He just had that word out of his mouth when a shot went.  I just stood on one side of Aaron and stepped backwards into the middle of the room, and there was another shot fired through the door, and my daughter was standing just behind the door, and the shot passed her face, and she went back into the bedroom.  Aaron stood on the middle of the floor and I was looking at him, and could see no mark on his face, and I heard no noise.  I turned round, and there was a man standing with his back to the door, and he fired a second shot at Aaron, and he fell on the floor. (RC13386)

He never spoke, not a word.  I did not know at the time who fired the shot.  He (Aaron) stumbled some time before he fell, and then he fell backwards.  I went and stooped down, and knelt down just by his head, and I could see that he was dying.  This man (Joe Byrne) called me by my name, and he said he would put a ball through me and my daughter if we would not tell who was in the room.  Duross was in the sitting room when the knock came to the door, and he walked into the bedroom then, and I was thinking he might have heard the man’s step going into the room, as he asked who was that man that went into the bedroom. 

I asked Byrne would he let me go outside.  He gave me orders to open the front door directly after that, and as I did I saw another man in front of the door with a gun.  Byrne was at the back door, and this other man at the front. 

I asked him (Byrne) to let me outside, and he said, ‘All right.’ So when I went outside I saw Weekes standing by the side of the chimney.  He was handcuffed, but I could not see at the time, it was too dark; but I could see Byrne taking them off.  Byrne said to me outside, “I am satisfied now, I wanted that fellow’ — that was Aaron.  ‘Well, Joe,’ I said, ‘I never heard Aaron say anything against you.’ And he said, ‘He would do me harm if he could; he did his best.’

He (Byrne) told me to go in and bring the man out of the bedroom, for my daughter had told him it was a working man looking for work, and said his name was Duross.

 I went into the bedroom and told the police to come out.  They were looking for their firearms.  When I went in the room was dark; in fact, it would be very hard to know what they were doing; they were stooping looking for firearms, and beckoned me to go outside. 

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This document gives you the text of this book about the KellyGang. The text has been retyped from a copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. JJ Kenneally was one of the first authors to tell this story from the KellyGang's point of view

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