Royal Commission report day 14 page 12

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The Royal Commission evidence for 3/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 14)

Inspector Montfort giving evidence

3253 Do you know that some one or other members of this family were continually up for trial at those sessions?— Well, I have heard of it many times. I did not know of my own knowledge.

3254 Detective Ward has given evidence of that?— He was much later than I was. That was the first time they were caught when I arrested them, and we were looking out for them a very long time. That was their first conviction to my knowledge. They were known to be cattle-stealing of course, but we could not get at them.

3255 The Kellys must have been young then?— Yes, quite boys. Their mother kept a grog-shop on the Eleven-mile Creek.

3256 Was Kelly's father alive then—Red Kelly, as they call him?— No; I never saw him.

3257 We have had it in evidence that there were serious differences of opinion between the heads of the Police department—did anything of the sort come within your own knowledge?— No.

3258 None whatever?— None. Nothing of that sort came under my observation. In fact, the present enquiry was the first intimation that I had of it to a great extent.

3259 When did you leave the North-Eastern district?— Finally in 1872—March 1872.

3260 Had you, during that time, prior to your leaving the North-Eastern district, drawn the attention of your superior officers to the necessity of greater police protection in that place?— That would not have been my province.

3261 Whose would it have been?— The superintendent of the police—Superintendent Barclay.

3262 You are not aware whether he did at any time do so?— No. I was in charge of Wangaratta, and he in Beechworth. I had nothing to do there, except to look after the stations he instructed me to visit

3263 At the time you left you were of the opinion that it was necessary to have an unusual number of police there, on account of the crime there?— The stations should have been kept up—that was all.

3264 Had Senior-Constable Hall any man stationed with him when he was attacked?— That I cannot very well remember without the occurrence-book. I think he had two mounted men.

3265 Is it your opinion that, if the police stations which were dispensed with had been kept up and the same watchfulness observed, that the Kelly difficulties which afterwards occurred would have been prevented?— It would certainly have had that effect no doubt, the same stations and proper men in charge. I have heard that the man placed in charge of Glenmore station was utterly unfit. I did not think of that just now, when you were asking about the abolition of the station. There was a constable named McInerney; this I heard afterwards—

3266 Was that the man dismissed?— He died in the Lunatic Asylum I think, or got killed—I am not certain. He was placed in charge of Glenmore station, and I was told by a settler of that neighborhood who met me down in town here. He complained of the want of police protection, sending a man like that to be in charge of Glenmore station. Of course that is the effect, that it would be no use having a station there without a good man.

3267 The criminals would soon find out that?— Yes.

3268 Was that man McInerney the man who was afterwards dismissed at the recommendation of Judge Barry?— I heard he was sent to the Lunatic Asylum and died there.

3269 That observation of yours with reference to the unfitness of policemen at those stations would seem to imply that there is not proper supervision of the police force—is that to be inferred from your remarks, because if such unfitness existed for any lengthened period, would it not be very soon discovered if there was a proper system of discipline and supervision maintained over the force—I mean as regards every locality?— I think his immediate superior ought to have known the character of the man. I would have, had I been there at the time.

3270 Is it not a fact that the police, as a body, should be more effective in preventing crime than in capturing criminals after the crime has been committed?— That is a recognized dogma of the force.

3271 Do you believe that?— I believe prevention is better than cure in any case.

3272 Do you believe that is the duty of the police?— Yes, no doubt.

3273 How far towards the Mansfield district did your district go?— Nominally the boundaries of the sub-district are half-way between stations—about twenty miles from Mansfield .

3274 Did you know Sergeant Kennedy, who was murdered?— I cannot remember him, but I know he was stationed under me in the escort at one time.

3275 Did you know Scanlan?— Yes.

3276 Did you know they were specially selected to keep the mountain portions there free from those characters?— No

3277 Did you know that Flood and Steele, and those men, acted as a cordon there?— No, I had nothing to do with that then.

3278 How often would those out-stations be visited by the inspecting officer?— The order is once a month. I visited them every month, sometimes twice and three times a month.....

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