Royal Commission report day 15 page 14

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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

3786 At what time did you leave Sherritt's house for Byrne's?— About eight o'clock .

3787 And, on Saturday night, later?— Yes.

3788 And return about four in the morning?— Yes, and sometimes a good deal before that, as we could not keep near the house for the dogs barking.

3789 About what distance from the house did you get to watch?— We used to go round about three miles.

3790 No; I mean, what distance from Byrne's house?— About a hundred yards; sometimes more and sometimes less.

3791 Were there any children?— No, I never saw them, only going to school in the day-time—a little boy and girl going to school. Only once I saw Paddy, a boy of nineteen, next to Joe. We saw him watching Sherritt's house one day—watching the hut for an hour.

3792 How long was that before Sherritt was shot?— On the Sunday before exactly.

3793 Had you any suspicion he would give any information of that to Mrs. Byrne?— That was her son Paddy.

3794 So that his mother could communicate to the Kellys?— Yes. He had a well-bred horse, stable-fed, locked up of a night, that we suspected he used to be scouting about on of a night—that is, Paddy Byrne. A couple of days after this Sunday he was watching, Mrs. Sherritt got him at the back of the house in the scrub. There is a thick scrub at the foot of the range, what they call the Sugarloaf.

3795 Did you find out afterwards that the public knew you were in that house all the time?— No.

3796 You never had any information that Byrne knew you were there?— No.

3797 Had you any suspicion that anybody in Byrne's family or anybody knew?— We thought it strange Paddy Byrne watching the house this Sunday, and a couple of days after in the back.

3798 Then in fact you considered that you were being watched by the Kelly friends?— I consider we were only in a trap all the time; and I would request that you would ask any constable that has been doing duty previous to me about that.

3799 What did you think of Sherritt not giving you information all the time that you were in a trap?— I do not think he knew it, because if he knew it he would not have got shot himself.

3800 Are you not aware that Sherritt upon many occasions gave information about the movements of the Kellys?— He said he mentioned one case that he met them after they came from Jerilderie—met Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly.

3801 Are you aware whether he said on any occasion that he could tell where the police were?— Yes.

3802 In consequence of his intimacy with the Kellys?— Yes; he told us that the Kellys could see the police, the way they were galloping round the country in search parties.

3803 Did not he pretend to be in constant communication with the Kellys and their sympathisers as-an agent—did he ever tell you that?— Yes; that he was doing the police good service all the time by speaking to them. He said he had communication with Kate Kelly—that he was over at Greta, where she was, and spoke to her on different occasions.

3804 Was Sherritt with you all the time you were there, or did he go away?— No; on the day he was shot he went to Chiltern, twelve miles away.

3805 How long was he gone?— Gone about three hours. He rode away.

3806 Did he tell you what he was going for?— He said he was going to look for some cattle of his mother-in-law's in pound.

3807 Did he tell you anything?— No, only he saw the police going about.

3808 Do you know Jack Sherritt?— Not Jack, but his brother Bill. I saw Jack in Beechworth and in Glenrowan.

3809 You do not know why the outlaws did not set fire to the hut?— They tried to. It was a damp night; because we found some bark broken up at one side of the hut and some leaves up against it, and the leaves were damp.

3810 Did you hear them threaten to set fire to the hut?— Yes.

3811 Did you expect they were going to carry it into execution?— Yes.

3812 What action were you going to take if that were the case?— To remain as long as we could, and then make a rush when we could not do anything else.

3813 Would it not be better to make a rush while they were making preparations?— I do not suppose they would all be doing it.....

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