Royal Commission report day 26 page 17

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The Royal Commission evidence for 7/6/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 26)

Mr John McWhirter giving evidence

10354 Were you under the impression that the other outlaws knew that Ned was caught?— Yes. When we first got to the log, I saw the smoke come from the side of the kitchen, and heard a ball whistle over our heads, and Senior Constable Kelly called on me to pick up his rifle—he had dropped it on the other side of the log on which Kelly was prisoner. I picked it up, and Mr. Allen was told to keep a look out to see that none of the outlaws came out again to fire.

10355 Did Senior Constable Kelly advance when he picked up his rifle?— I think he attended the party. We took the outlaw to the station, some had to carry the armour, and it took four or five of us to lift him over the railway fence. The other men carried this weighty armour down to the railway platform, and Kelly was then placed in the guard's van.

10356 Did Kelly appear to be drunk?— I did not think he was drunk, but he appeared to be ill, and had a wild look on his face—a wasted look. I then saw Superintendent Sadleir.

10357 Where?— On the railway platform. He came in and questioned the outlaw.

10358 Was that the first time you had seen Mr. Sadleir?— That was.

10359 How long was that after Kelly was taken?— It must have been about fifteen minutes, I should think. Kelly was stripped of the armour at the log, and he had to be partly carried to the station, and he had been placed in the guard's van when Mr. Sadleir came in and questioned him.

10360 Was Mr. O'Connor there then?— I did not see Mr. O'Connor. He may have been, but I did not see him at that time. I was particularly interested in taking notes of what Kelly himself said. Of course it is possible Mr. O'Connor may have been present, but I did not see him.

10361 Where did you first see Mr. O'Connor after you had seen him at the drain?— When the I prisoners came out of the hotel.

10362 Where was he then?— On the Wangaratta side of the hotel, standing close to Mr. Sadleir.

10363 Did you see any officer give orders to the men after Mr. Hare left in the morning?— No; except Senior-Constable Kelly.

10364 You never saw Mr. Sadleir give any orders?— I did not. I can tell you where I first saw Mr. Sadleir taking any active. After the escape of the prisoners, I saw Mr. Sadleir take up a position on the Benalla side of the hotel.

10365 What o'clock was that?— After ten o'clock ; in the morning.

10366 What position did he take?— He stood behind a tree. I could see him distinctly.

10367 There is a very large tree on that side pointed out to the Commission—would that be the tree directly in a line with the front of the hotel on the Wangaratta side?— It was on the Benalla side I saw him—between seven and about ten o'clock, there was nothing very much occurred.

10368 Was there much firing from the hotel between seven and ten?— There was a considerable amount of shots came from the hotel soon after Kelly was caught.

10369 Were there any shots fired from the hotel in the direction where Kelly was captured at or about the time of his capture?— When he was captured I heard the shots. In fact the shots stripped the leaves off the bush close to where we were assisting Kelly' over the railway fence.

10370 Do you know those came from the hotel of your own knowledge, or from those stationed in the gully or from those stationed on the Benalla side of the hotel?— They may have come from the people stationed on the Benalla side, but it is my impression that those shots I refer to came from the hotel, because, when the first shot was fired, I saw the smoke from the hotel.

10371 Then that must have come from?— One of the outlaws.

10372 What portion of the hotel ?— Between the kitchen and the hotel it seemed to come from.

10373 At the back?— Yes.

10374 Was there much firing from the time of the first volley in which Mr. Hare was wounded until seven o'clock—from the hotel?— Occasionally I could see the flash of a gun from the hotel, and it was generally followed by two or three shots from the police. The police fired about three shots for every shot fired by the outlaws. It appeared to me that the outlaws had taken up a position in a room at the back of the hotel, from the door of which they fired through the windows—that is some considerable distance from the windows.

10375 Then your impression is that the outlaws fired most of their shots from the back window of the hotel?— Yes.

10376 Between that and the kitchen?— Yes.

10377 Did you see much firing after early in the morning from the front windows of the hotel?— I saw the flashes back in the centre of the house.

10378 I ask did you see much firing after early in the morning from the front windows of the hotel?— No, I think they very seldom exposed themselves near the windows.

10379 That would be the heavy fire drove them into the back?— Yes, and their being more secure in the inside room.....

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