Royal Commission report day 12 page 1

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The Royal Commission evidence for 13/4/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 12)

Alfred Wyatt, P M giving evidence


The Hon. F. LONGMORE, M. L.A., in the Chair;

J. H. Graves , Esq., M.L.A., W. Anderson , Esq., M.L.A.,

G. R. Fincham, Esq., M.L.A., E. J. Dixon, Esq., J.P.,

J. Gibb, Esq., M.L.A.

The Witness . —I found yesterday night in a pocket-book of 1878, at the end of that pocket-book, a separate memorandum by myself, which I have no doubt was made about the time of the Kelly bank robbery at Euroa— “Luggage train from Violet Town to Euroa at 4.4 —from Euroa at 4.37.” I find also this memorandum added to the end, in pencil—”Watt dropped about 4.30—had not appeared at Euroa at 6.50.” That gives the accurate times, no doubt, taken from the time-table at the time. 2245 Then 6.50 would be the time you came back to the railway station from Hart's hotel?— Yes.

2246 After being in the lane?— Yes; when I got back to the railway station. I find I have a little correction to make there. I think I stated yesterday the train was due. That might lead to a mis-apprehension. I meant “overdue.” I remember speaking to Mr. Gorman for a quarter of an hour, and it was during that time that Mr. Benjamin Gould made that threat, of which you are no doubt aware, to Mr. Scott, the bank manager. .Mr. Gorman at that interview informed me that he knew that Gould was supplying sausages and food of a permanent character to the outlaws, but he did not know where the outlaws were.

2247 Did you communicate that to the police officers?— Yes, I did.

2248 That Gould at this time, prior to the bank robbery at Euroa, was supplying provisions to the outlaws?— That he was said to be buying up large quantities of sausage, and supplying it to the outlaws. That is, I believe, one of the reasons why the police preferred the information against Gould of having harboured— I forget the exact charge, but it was under the Outlawry Act that has expired.

2249 I thought it was for threatening Scott, the bank manager?— No. I will now refer to question No. 494 to same witness:— “Captain Standish stated that Mr. Wyatt told you a bank was to be stuck up, and so on?” The witness answered, “I do not know on what ground Captain Standish says that.” I did not give any such information as that to Captain Standish; and upon looking back to the questions—reading all the questions before it on which that is based, with great deference to the Commission, I do not think that Captain Standish said that exactly; but, whether he did or not, I never gave such information, for I never had such information to give I now have to refer to two matters, one with reference to the inquest on Byrne's body. When I left Benalla, in the same train which brought Edward Kelly down, whom I had committed, and resolved to see delivered into gaol safely myself, I arranged with Mr. Sadleir and Captain Standish that the day after to-morrow (on the Thursday) I would return again and hold the inquest on the body of Byrne.

2250 Where was the body then?— Lying in a police cell at Benalla, next to the same cell in which Edward Kelly had been imprisoned. On the following day, Wednesday, when conversing with Mr. Harriman in the Crown Law Offices on these matters, he received and put into my hands a telegram, I think from Mr. Sadleir (I may be wrong in that), to this effect—that it had been arranged to hold a magisterial enquiry upon Byrne's body, and it was then proceeding at the time that telegram came.

2251 On the Wednesday?— Yes. I was vexed that the arrangement I had made had been overruled, I did not know by whom or for what reasons. I may state that, since that, Mr. Sadleir has told me what I deem quite sufficient reasons for the course he took; but at that time I was vexed, and contemplated reversing the proceedings, and ordering that the body should not be buried till I came up, when I would hold the inquest instead of the magisterial enquiry.

2252 Were you a coroner?— Yes.

2253 You were the coroner of the district?— Yes.

2254 Where the coroner is available, is it not against the usage and law for a magisterial enquiry to be held?— That is too wide a proposition.

2255 Do you consider there was anything improper in a magisterial enquiry being held in the matter?— In that case I did; I thought it so important.

2256 Are not coronial enquiries held in preference to magisterial, where the coroner is present, and it is only when the coroner is not present that a magisterial enquiry is held?— I cannot go so far as that. With regard to the arrest of the sympathizers—with reference to what I deem an error in that, I wish to refer to one thing. I can give reasons why I consider it an error, both general and specific reasons with regard to their arrest.

2257 Were they before you?— Yes.

2258 One of the remands was before you?— Five, or six, or seven, or eight of them were before me.

2259 You were not the police magistrate at Beechworth?— No.

2260 You did duty for Mr. Foster; how was that?— It was the sheer accident of contiguity. I was there, and Mr. Foster's family were at Sale , Gippsland, and he wished to bring them to Beechworth, and he obtained leave to go to Sale to see about removing to Beechworth; and it was because of my being on friendly terms with him that I took his work. My view was then that the arrest was a mistake—all those arrests—and it prolonged itself as a mistake. It caused bad feeling, alienated a number of persons who were hovering between a disposition to help the police and a disposition to befriend their fellows, so that we lost their help—the opportunity of getting their help—and of a few persons whom I had reason to believe might have been relied upon for help before the murders, and up to the time of the murders.....

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