Royal Commission report day 14 page 6

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The Royal Commission evidence for 3/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 14)

Detective Ward giving evidence

3103 On the day of the capture where were you?— At Beechworth.

3104 Were you, as detective, cognizant of all that was known as to the Kellys movements?— No, not of all.

3105 Were you solely employed in pursuit of the Kellys, or did you do other detective duty?— No other duty.

3106 Then your duty from week's end to week's end was to keep yourself acquainted with the movements of the Kellys?— Yes.

3107 Are you aware of any chance being lost, or not being made available, for the capture of the Kellys on any information you received?— I am not.

3108 Some time ago, a man named Sherritt made a disclosure that on a certain day the Kellys were to visit him at a place?— I must refer to my report on that.

3109 You were saying about going to Bullocky Creek—will you go on from there?— On the 29 th August 1878, I received information in Melbourne. I furnished the report then to Beechworth, and this is a copy of it:— “I have the honor to report, for the information of the officer in charge, I have received information that the above-named offender, Edward Kelly, was seen about three weeks ago between the Woolshed and Sebastopol, in the Ovens district, by a Mr.—, a blacksmith at the Woolshed; he was riding and carried a gun under his arm, and had a revolver strapped on his saddle. Kelly is well known to —. If Kelly was seen there, he would be most likely making for Joe Byrne's mother's place, as she lives at the Sebastopol . I would respectfully suggest this report be forwarded to Mr. Inspector Smith for careful enquiries. Mr. — is a very respectable man, and will give every information to the police, providing it is kept secret. The person who makes the enquiry would do well to call on of the Woolshed before calling on —, as he may be able to give some information on the subject, has a good many cattle running on the common, between the Woolshed and Sebastopol, and if it was known by Byrne or Sherritt that he would give any information relative to Kelly's whereabouts, his cattle would not be safe.”

3110 Did it appear that a report sent in three weeks after the time would be of much value?— Yes, it did; this was after the murders—it would show I was aware they were in communication. On the 9 th September, I left Melbourne and reported myself at Benalla to Superintendent Sadleir.

3111 That was in 1878?— Yes; from Benalla I went to Glenrowan—Glenrowan to Oxley, and made search then until about the 15th of October, when I received information that Dan Kelly was on the Fifteen-mile Creek, working with a man there.

3112 Is it a fact that you had information that Ned Kelly, prior to the murders, was going about armed?— Yes, there was a report there of that.

3113 Before you proceed, I would like to know how you learned that—what information did you usually get that you could rely upon?— Direct information; in fact, I had a secret service man with me, as well as myself.

3114 Do you doubt now that they were armed prior to the murders, and going round the country?— No; my opinion is that Ned Kelly had a revolver, I do not know whether he had a gun.

3115 You say that you were there from the 9th September to the 15th October, five weeks—how would you employ yourself for five weeks in the district?— I will tell you where I was every day. On Monday, 9th September, at 2.30 p.m. , I left Melbourne . I will read the distances and the places I went to. —[ The witness read his diary, giving in detail the places he was at every day.]

3116 In what character did you go round those places?— In disguise, sometimes as a butcher, sometimes as a splitter, and as a swagman—every sort of disguise.

3117 On foot or horseback?— I had a horse; I sometimes walked and sometimes rode, as I best could disguise myself.

3118 Now proceed with your narrative?— On the 15th of October, I then wrote a letter to Mr. Secretan, the officer in charge of detectives, suggesting to him that two bodies of police should be sent out to search the Fifteen-mile Creek, the right-hand branch of the King, and thence on to Mansfield.

3119 You said just now that you were placed under the charge of the superintendent of the district. Why did you write to Mr. Secretan?— At that time I was not placed under the superintendent. The conversation that passed between Mr. Sadleir and me was private at the time, and it was not to be known to anybody in the district, to be kept quite private.

3120 Not till after the murders; you were under the officer in the district?— After the murders. Well, I wrote suggesting that two bodies of police should both start at the same time, that I would go to Mansfield , and that the secret service man I had, would go to the head of the King; that if my information was correct the Kellys would be started from their haunts, and we were bound to get them. I specially wished this done, as the public were talking that the police were frightened to catch Ned Kelly.....

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