The Argus at KellyGang 9/11/1881 (2)

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This remark is made of Inspector SMITH, but it is applied in another passage to Sergeant STEELE. Supposing that Sergeant STEELE were to blame for not following the Warby track, how is his conduct rendered "more reprehensible" by the circumstance that the KELLYS never gave another chance ? If they had given a chance and had been captured the next day, how would that circumstance have extenuated the alleged fault ? Why should the wariness of the KELLYS in the future deepen – as the commissioners argued – an alleged error into a crime ? It would be folly to waste words in exposing such nonsense.

A public meeting has been held already at Wangaratta to protest against the injustice proposed to be done to Sergeant STEELE, and a memorial on his behalf is being signed in the district. The gallantry shown by this officer in the capture of EDWARD KELLY has naturally aroused sympathy in his behalf, more especially as the popular idea was that he would be promoted for his services in the search. It is not, therefore, at all probable that the recommendation of the commission will receive effect without the further inquiry which the memorial prays for. If we call attention particularly to the Steele case, it is not so much in the interests of the individual, as to throw light upon the singular in- capacity of the commission. Absurd as they are in this instance – what confidence is to be placed in them and others ?




Sir,-I have refrained from following up my previous letters from a desire not to interfere in a matter that is now sub judice. I venture, however, to make the few following observations :

I would suggest to those who may have to deal with the findings of the commission to examine carefully whether the inquiry so far has been conducted in a fair and intelligent spirit; whether the questions put to witnesses were calculated to extract from them well-considered, and not haphazard replies; whether the officers and constables whose conduct has been condemned were informed of the particular points on which their conduct was called in question, and, if so, whether they were allowed the opportunity that is never denied to the commonest thief of putting their case in the best light they could do for themselves. Besides these simple and fundamental essentials of a fair investigation, the accused persons are entitled to have the difficulties under which they were acting fairly estimated, and whether the errors laid to their charge were such as could have been avoided, or whether they were such that were only to be discovered in the light of later events.

From his long experience as a public prosecutor, and the extensive practice he has had in dealing with evidence, no one should be better qualified than the Premier himself to deal with this matter. And I believe that not only the public, but the condemned officers themselves, would willingly abide by his decision.

If, on the other hand, the Government should be of opinion that the commission has failed in all, or, indeed, in any of those elementary and necessary principles I have mentioned, they will, I hope, have the support of Parliament, as they certainly will have that of the public, in setting aside the report of the commissioners, and in preventing them adding to the mischief already done.


Nov. 5,


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