Royal Commission report day 13 page 10

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The Royal Commission evidence for 14/4/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 13)

Superintendent Sadeir giving evidence

2881 Is that a copy of the despatch that is in the department?— The original of that is my despatch to the Government.

2882 That will be in the Government department?— Yes.

2883 Do you remember if a party of civilians offered, before the burning of the place, to rush it themselves?— One did—not to rush it. A man named Dixon , a man I have already spoken of, said, “If you will allow me, I will go to- the end building and bring out Cherry.”

2884 Was that before the fire?— Yes.

2885 Do you remember a Frenchman, named Amidie, offering to go and rush the building with a party?— I never heard of it and never heard of the man; I think it is somebody's dream.

2886 He told me?— Well, he is dreaming or romancing. I never saw the man to my knowledge.

2887 That was reported?— I never heard that report, though I read the Benalla papers very steadily, and I am certain there is no foundation for it in fact, that Amidie or any person else hinted at such a thing.

2888 You do not remember a number of them saying they would take down the hoardings from the railway station, and go up to the place as if they were armed?— I never heard of that till this minute.

2889 It was reported in the paper that Mrs. Skillian wanted to go into the building?— I have stated that, and that we stopped her and the priest. My objection was lest the fire should not take, and we should have those two people, who were innocent, as a further difficulty in our final rush. My determination was to defer the rush, as I knew it was a most dangerous undertaking, until the very last thing before night set in. It would not have been safe to have left the outlaws there another night, even with all our men to guard them. We knew that the outlaws, as I have stated in my report, had a large quantity of ammunition; Bracken reported this in the building.

2890 Before the fire?— Before the fire; and we heard a proof of this—the ammunition exploding continuously while the fire was going on. On the next day the usual arrangements were made for a magiserial enquiry. Mr. Wyatt was also seen, but I think that was the next day after. On the Tuesday or Wednesday Mr. Wyatt was seen, and an understanding was arrived at that he should held an inquest on the body of Byrne.

2891 He was the coroner of the district?— Yes. Something transpired—I think it was desired to get rid of the business —

2892 You have broken off. You told the commission on the platform you offered to give up the bodies to the relations, you have not told what became of them?— The bodies were given up to the relations.

2893 Where was the inquest to be held?— Those were not the same bodies.

2894 Of course, the two bodies you gave up were Hart and Dan Kelly?— Yes. Joe Byrne's body we brought to Benalla, and there was Cherry's body also. I was anxious that there should have been a coroner's inquest on both those bodies—Cherry's and Byrne's—and some difficulties arose that I cannot call to mind to prevent, and magisterial enquiries were held instead.

2895 Was not the arrangement before you gave the bodies to the relations that they were to allow an inquest to be held?— No, there was no formal arrangement. They were not to be buried without a magisterial order. I looked upon the bodies as the bodies of outlaws, and that we might have done what we liked with them.

2896 Did it not come into your calculation that the nearest relations were close upon the spot and their home close adjacent?— Yes, they were on the spot, and their homes within three miles or four miles at the very farthest.

2897 Well, you say Captain Standish did not interfere when you asked him not to?— The bodies were thereupon given up—those of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart.

2898 Captain Standish said in his evidence (question 77), “I instructed Mr. Sadleir not to hand over the charred remains of the outlaws. It is just possible he may have misunderstood me, but I certainly did say that to him; but seems that possibly there was a misapprehension”?— It must be a misapprehension on Captain Standish's part, because he was in my company the whole of the next day, and there was not the smallest allusion made to the subject. If Captain Standish had given any orders, I should have been very careful to have obeyed them on the spot or persuaded him to alter them, but there was no question at all......

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