Royal Commission report day 15 page 10

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The Royal Commission evidence for 4/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 15)

Constable Duross giving evidence

3685 Did you never see any of the parties that were outside?— No.

3686 Was it so dark that with careful watching you could not have distinguished an object moving about?— There was a careful watch kept, and we could not distinguish any. The fire was burning very brightly, and the two doors were facing each other, and they opened towards the partition.

3687 Were both doors open?— Yes. One of the outlaws, Byrne, made Mrs. Sherritt open the two doors wide. It was about one o'clock , I should think, when Armstrong got into Beechworth with the message. He did not return; nobody came to as until about five or six that evening.

3688 How far had he to go?— About seven miles.

3689 Was he in uniform?— No, plain clothes.

3690 Did you form any opinion at all on the conduct of the force that night?— Well, we knew the public would be criticising our conduct afterwards, but at the same time it would be foolishness for us to come out of the bedroom in the kitchen because, the way it was lighted up, we would have been shot before we got out.

3691 Could you not get out by the window?— No, Dan Kelly was at the front watching the window; Byrne told him to.

3692 Did Byrne call him by name?— He said, “Who fired that shot?” and the answer was, “I did.” He said “That is all right.”

3693 Where was Byrne when he said, “ Who fired that shot”?— At the back of the house.

3694 Apparently then you think they were watching the two doors?— Yes.

3695 Looking through into the house by them?— Yes.

3696 Was there no outlet from the bedroom but the door?— Only the window—a small window in the bedroom.

3697 Was the chimney slab or brick?— Slab.

3698 How high?— I should think about twelve or fourteen feet to the top of it.

3699 Was it a glass window in the bedroom?— A glass window.

3700 Did you knock the panes out, or anything?— No.

3701 You did not attempt to open it?— No.

3702 Was there any axe or tomahawk in the house?— There was an axe outside.

3703 What was the roof covered with?— Shingle, hardwood.

3704 It was not a bark roof?— No, no bark in the place.

3705 What were the other three members of the force doing from daylight in the morning till six in the evening?— They were inside in the hut.

3706 They did not come out till six in the evening, when some one came from Beechworth?— Yes, we went out in our turns round the place.

3707 What were you doing?— Just at a call of nature, on one or two occasions.

3708 You did not go to look for the tracks?— No, the place was crowded with people.

3709 What time did the crowd commence to come?— About two o'clock .

3710 You had remained inside all that time?— Yes.

3711 Did Armstrong instruct you what to do on the evening of the 26th, after you went in the bedroom and that shot was fired that killed Sherritt. Did Armstrong take the command and instruct?— He was the recognised leader all along.

3712 I understand that; but did he tell you how to act?— We advised one another at the time what to do

3713 What did Armstrong advise?— I think he first at one time said, “Will we get out?” meaning the whole four of us.

3714 What time was that?— I should say about eleven o'clock .

3715 How long before that time had you ceased to hear voices outside?— We heard the voices outside until about four or five o'clock .

3716 Did Armstrong, about eleven, leave the bedroom and go to the kitchen?— He went out, and I think Alexander went out and dragged Sherritt further over into the kitchen and covered him up.

3717 Did he put the fire out?— No; the fire was not and the candle was out.

3718 Did he close the doors?— Yes.

3719 You did not go outside then?— No.

3720 Did the women remain in the bedroom all night with you?— Yes.....

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