Royal Commission report day 20 page 9
The Royal Commission evidence for 14/5/1881
(see also introduction to day 20)
James Reardon giving evidence
7612 How many of you?— There might be about twenty at the time, more or less.
7613 Did he keep bringing in fresh prisoners?— Every one that passed by that he got sight of he bailed up. Between that and evening he had 62, which I counted.
7614 I do not suppose he treated you badly in the hotel?— No, he did not teat us badly—not at all.
7616 Did they continue drinking moderately or in any quantity?— I did not see them. I saw some people offer drink to Dan Kelly and Byrne, I believe, and they said “No;” but if Ned Kelly drank I cannot say, for he was in the kitchen at the back. We were locked in when it came night. We were all called in and the doors locked, and we were kept there.
7617 Was there no opportunity of escaping at all—did they keep you there all night?— All night. No opportunity at all—not the slightest. No chance.
7619 They took him prisoner also?— Yes, there was only one constable here at the time.
7620 What occurred during the night before the police came?— Well, they were very jolly, and the people and Mrs. Jones cleared the house out. They would not have it without a dance. She wanted me to dance, and I said, “No, something is troubling me besides dancing.”
7621 Did she speak anything about Ned Kelly?— No; I did not hear it.
7622 Praising him, or anything?— Yes; she said, “We will all be let go very soon, but you may thank me for it,” and my missus asked Dan Kelly to let me go home with my children and family. “We will let you all go directly,” he said.
7623 What o'clock was that?— About an hour before the train came with the police.
7624 Was there a dance got up in the house?— Yes; there was three of the Kellys—Ned, Dan, and Byrne danced, and Mrs. Jones and her daughter, and three or four others I did not know.
7625 Did she praise Ned Kelly during that time?— Yes; she said he was a fine fellow.
7626 Did she say anything about the police?— No; I did not hear her.
7627 What further did she say about them?— Dan Kelly said, “Now you can all go home,” and I stood up and I picked up one of my children in my arms, and we were making to the door when Cherry picked up Ryan's child, and Mrs. Jones stood at the door and said, “You are not to go yet; Kelly is to give you a lecture yet,” so we all turned back into the house again, and Mrs. Jones came in and said, “Kelly will give you all a lecture before you go.” (JJK)
7628 Was that said seriously, or for the purpose of bringing you before Ned Kelly?— Ned Kelly came shortly after, and I was sitting down in a chair, and I was the first he came at, and he said, “Riordan, do not you be so fond of getting out of your bed at night. If you had a good horse, and I wanted it, I would take the horse and shoot you.” He turned from me and turned to Sullivan , who works with me, and said, “Were you ever in New Zealand ?” And Sullivan said he was; and he said, “Are you Sullivan , the murderer?” and he said not. He said, “I would give £1,000 for him if you were, because he was a scoundrel.” Then he turned to Constable Bracken, and said, “You are sworn not to spare father, mother, brother, or sister.” “No,” says Bracken, “our oath is not that; it is to protect life and property, which you or any other man can see in written form.” Byrne came in then and he said, “The train is coming.” That stopped all the discourse. They turned into the back room—the three bushrangers—there was one taking care of Stanfield's family. Then they went into one of the back rooms dressing themselves in their armour. I could hear the armour rattling.
7629 Had you been allowed to go you would have been clear away before the police came, when Dan Kelly said you might go?— Yes; we would have been clear away.
7630 Then Mrs. Jones's interference was the cause of your being delayed?— Yes.
7631 Did Mrs. Jones about that time, or before that, praise Ned Kelly any further?— Not that I heard. If you heard my missus's evidence, she could tell you a great deal more than I can.
7632 Was Mrs. Jones appearing to be very pleased that the outlaws were there?— Yes, Mrs. Jones appeared very pleased, indeed. Bracken saw where they planted the key, and at the time they went to put their armour on, he went and took the key. He put the key in his trousers, and came back to the door and stood there till he got his opportunity, and opened the door, and turned the key in the door.....
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