Royal Commission report day 18 page 9

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The Royal Commission evidence for 11/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 18)

'Constable Alfred John Faulkiner' giving evidence

5482 Did you or Canny know the appearance of the Kellys?— Canny did; he knew them from their childhood.

5483 Did he identify them among this number of men as being the Kellys?— No; he identified one as a friend of his own. We then went to the Chinamen’s camp, and employed some of them to come and wash sheep. We asked them if they were not frightened of the Kellys. One of them replied that they were too far away; he said that they were getting their provisions from the Chinese store at the Buckland Gap, and had pack-horses to carry it away. He said they came down from the ranges, two at a time; this, he stated, they did frequently. I asked him why he did not tell the police. He replied that the police were too frightened to go near them. He asked me not to tell the police; that they had been threatened if they told the police they would be shot and then burnt. We told the Chinamen that we were living on the sheep station. We then returned to Wangaratta, and, on the 25th, I sent a telegram to Mr. Hare, from Wangaratta, slating that Constable Canny and I would be back to Benalla in the evening, and wished to see him, as we had made arrangements for Mr. Hare to see these Chinamen.

5484 Did they specify any time that they had been by; was it about the time you were speaking to them that they spoke of?— We did not cross-question them too much, and through that Mr. Hare sent me back a second time. We then made arrangements by buying 100 cabbage plants for him. The information was that good that we wanted Mr. Hare to see the Chinaman himself. On our arrival at Benalla, we informed Mr. Hare of the information we had received, and the arrangements we had made for him to see the Chinamen. Mr. Hare replied then that it was the been information he had received, and he was well satisfied with our trip. We were away seventeen days, and travelled about 500 miles. On the morning of the 26th June 1880 , Mr. Hare ordered me to his office, and told me that he would not be able to go and see the Chinamen, and, as I had gone so far, I could finish it. He said I would have to return to this place and get the name of the Chinaman keeping the store, and when the Chinaman who gave the information was at the store last. Mr. Hare said, “Constable Canny can go with you, if you choose.” I said I thought it did not want two of us. I left Benalla at eleven a.m. on the morning of the 26th, and went by myself to see the Chinaman, to the Chinaman’s place, on the 27th, and got all the information I required, and was returning to Benalla on the morning of the 28th, when I was informed of the fight with the police and the Kellys at Glenrowan. I reached Glenrowan that evening, and returned to Benalla in the same train that the same train that Ned Kelly and the body of Byrne were brought to Benalla in. On the receipt of this information (I believe that the Kellys were seen frequently coming home), Mr. Hare placed men in such positions as to prevent their being able to visit their friends, or their friends being able to supply them with any information.

5485 How do you know that?— The evening we were returning from being out on the 26th we passed two of the police parties. We called at Wangaratta and Glenrowan, and two of the police parties were there, thereby cutting off their communication, through which means, I believe, the gang were compelled to come out, and use some means to evade the vigilance of the police, which finally resulted in their own capture.

5486 That is your opinion?— That is my opinion.

5487 That they were fairly driven out?— Yes, I think so. I returned to Benalla then, and was in Benalla until such time as I returned to my station at Oakleigh; that was some time in August, I think. I was then told off to escort Edward Kelly from the Melbourne Gaol to Beechworth, on his trial. Would you like hie statement on the way up?

5488 You had better give it?— On his way up he expressed himself with reference to the police and the officers; he said if he had a tail (that is, a Chinaman's tail) he would go home to China, as one Chinaman was worth all the Europeans, and he would rather trust his life to them than any European living. From the manner in which he expressed himself with reference to the Chinamen, he clearly showed he had received some sympathy or assistance from them. He then began to speak with reference to the officers.

5489 About the Chinamen: did you hear, when you were up in that district, that Byrne and Kelly were supplied with provisions by the Chinese storekeeper at Sebastopol?— Yes, I heard of that. He said, “The idea of Hare, being a picked man, being sent up to catch me. I can tell you every place his party camped in the Warby ranges, and who used to get up the horses.”

5490 That is in the morning?— Yes.

5491 There was a man sent out to bring in the horses?— Yes, Lawless and I were sent off for that.

5492 Were the horses hobbled?— Yes. He said, “I would have liked to have caught the fat —” He said, “What was Nicolson doing at Benalla, pulling my friends into his office, and giving them money to do your lazy’s work.”

5493 Meaning the spies?— Yes. He said, “The Government could have given them all the money they possess, and then they would not have sold me.”

5494 To whom did he allude; the agents?— Yes, I suppose that was it, that was all.....

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