Royal Commission report day 1 page 11

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The Royal Commission evidence for 23/3/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 1 ) Captain Standish giving evidence

77 How long was this after the 26th of June?- This was early in May. The following day a telegram marked "urgent" was addressed to Mr. Nicolson at the detective office. I thought he had returned, so it was brought to me. I opened it, and I found by that he could not possibly have returned, so on chance I went down to the railway station to see it he was going off by the afternoon train that day. I waited there for a few minutes, and just as the train was starting in tumbled Mr Nicolson. I only had time to hand him the telegram and to give him a bit of my mind. In fact I may say that on that occasion, and subsequently when he was relieved, he behaved to me in a most discourteous, insolent, and ungentlemanly manner; and if I had not been a man who is gifted with not a very bad temper, I should not only have given him a bit of my mind but I would have suspended him from duty; but I had no animosity against anybody in the department. Thought I had a great contempt for the man, I had no ill feeling against him. On Sunday the 27th of June 1880 I left my residence about a quarter past two. A few minutes after I had left a telegram arrived from Mr Hare. I did not return to my abode till half past four, when I found this telegram. It was announcing the murder of Sherritt by some of the outlaws. Mr. Hare requested me to communicate with Mr. O'Connor, who had come down to Melbourne on his way back to Queensland with the trackers, and to request him and urge upon him the propriety of assisting the department by returning at once to Beechworth. On the receipt of this telegram I at once sent a letter out to Mr. O'Connor, who, I heard, was staying at Essendon; sent him it by a hansom, and immediately wrote a letter to Mr. Ramsay to inform him of this. In my letter I said I had written to Mr. O'Connor; that I was not certain whether he would consent to go or not, but that if he did I should either send them up by the early morning train or by a special train if necessary. Shortly after Mr. Ramsay received this letter. In the meantime I had been down at the telegraph office to communicate with Mr. Hare, and I returned to the club I found; Mr. Ramsay just arrived, and I talked the matter over with him; and I had not seen Mr. O'Connor, and l was not certain whether he would go back; but he took me up to Mr. Gillies' place, which was near Mr. Ramsay's, and got for me an order for a special train. I returned to the club with this in my pocket, and just about this time Mr. O'Connor turned up. I told him, if and asked him if he was willing to go up; said it was a matter of great urgency; and he, in a rather haw haw way, said he did not see any objection, and said he would go; and I asked when he would be ready to go, and he said he would go this evening. I told him I had an order for a special train and I would get it at once. He asked me to get the train to meet him at Essendon, as his black trackers were at the late John Thomas Smith's place. I went down to the station and ordered the special train, and he left about half past nine or ten; I do not know the time exactly. About twenty minutes to six the following morning, Monday the 28th of June, I was asleep in bed when I was knocked up. A telegram was handed to me, saying that Superintendent Hare and his party would join Mr. O'Connor at Benalla. Had encountered the outlaws at Glenrowan; that Superintendent Hare in the early part of the encounter had been shot through the wrist by the first shot. It was too late. I could not have possibly caught the early train, so I communicated at once with Mr. Ramsay, and got an order for a special train to take me up about nine o'clock. An hour before I was going to start I got a telegram announcing that Ned Kelly had been taken alive. A few minutes afterwards I went down to the railway station, and there I heard that Joe Byrne had been shot dead. I started by special train, and got to Benalla about two o'clock. There was an encumbrance on the line, and the special train could not go on. I went to the hotel at Benalla to see Superintendent Hare. I sat with him a short time, and then went back to the railway station, and was detained there till four o'clock. Just before the train left a telegram came down to say that the whole thing was over; the house had been burned, and the charred remains of Steve Hart and Dan Kelly had been found in the house. I went on the special train, and when I got there everything was over. I instructed Mr. Sadleir not to hand over the charred remains of the outlaws. It is just possible he may have misunderstood me, but I certainly did say that to him; but it seems that possible there was a misapprehension. He allowed the friends of the outlaws to take away those two charred stumps, as you may call them. I saw Ned Kelly lying severely wounded, and the body of Byrne. I ordered Ned Kelly to be brought down to Benalla at once, where he was put in the lock-up and attended to. Byrne's body was also brought down, and photographed there the next morning without my knowledge. An inquest was held on Byrne, and I instructed him to be buried straight off in the Benalla cemetery. After inviting medical opinion. I found it was perfectly safe and advisable to send Ned Kelly down to Melbourne. Having ascertained that there was no risk in having Ned Kelly sent down to the Melbourne gaol, I ordered him to be taken down in a special carriage by the afternoon train, I think it was. I stayed at Benalla that day, and had an interview with Mr. Curnow, the schoolmaster, to whom certainly we are indebted for saving the lives of all the police, and for putting us on the track of the Kellys. I returned to Melbourne the following day.

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