Royal Commission report day 21 page 2

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The Royal Commission evidence for 17/5/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 21)

Const Barry giving evidence

7774.7301 Did you stop in the cave all that time?— It was not properly speaking a cave, but simply a blind gully, and we planted under some rocks.

7774.7302 Did you think you remained there all that time without being observed?— I think three weeks without.

7774.7303 Were you seen after that time?— Mrs. Byrne came down on the cave one day when I was on guard. I presume she knew, as Senior-Constable Mills to her. I saw her approaching the cave, and told Mr. Hare , and he sent Mills to stop her.

7774.7304 Was that at the time that Aaron Sherritt was lying in the camp?— No; I believe that we a few days before that occurrence.

7774.7305 You understood she had been searching for you before?— I believe she was looking for the police before that.

7774.7306 You think she saw Aaron Sherritt some days before that?— There is no certainty about it, as far as I know; but she could scarcely help seeing him.

7774.7307 Have you formed any opinion as to whether it was the circumstance of her seeing him there that led to his being shot?— I formed an opinion about it, but I do not think that had anything to do with it.

7774.7308 What is your impression about it?— About a month before he was shot (this is simply my own opinion) there was a report sent round, and it appeared in the press, and I knew it myself, about a party of police and black trackers being sent to the Woolshed, through information received. This information was not given by Sherritt, from what I have heard, but another informant; and it is my opinion they were lying about at that time, and had seen Sherritt, and thought it was he who gave that information, and shot him, because they thought he wanted to get the reward money, as it was near being done away—the £8,000.

7774.7309 To get the reward before it was withdrawn?—.Yes; I believe they were out that time—that Sherritt knew of it, but did not tell it.

7774.7310 What ground have you for the belief?— For a long time I believed in Sherritt, and after a time I did not.

7774.7311 Why?— From the carelessness he showed in doing his work.

7774.7312 Did he seem indifferent?— Quite listless, and took-no trouble in what he was doing. We had constantly to speak to him to keep him alive in what he was doing. And there was one particular occasion in the cave party: through the night we heard some crackers being let off—at first they seemed like a stock-whip—and heard some voices, and we wanted Sherritt to listen for those voices to see if he would know them. As soon as he heard them he cleared away in the bush from us—ran away in the scrub and planted, and after some search we found him asleep.

7774.7313 Did you form any opinion whose those voices were?— I did not.

7774.7314 You think they were the outlaws?— I did not know. My instructions were not to run any risks

7774.7315 Did he give any explanation of his conduct in running away?— He would not tell me anything.

7774.7316 Did you ask him any questions?— We asked him what the meaning of it was, and he said there was nothing in it and not worth taking notice of.

7774.7317 Then in your opinion, from your own observation, do you think Aaron was untrue to the police from first to last?— I thought for a long time he was true to the police, but latterly not. That was after he got married. He got married on Boxing Day, 1879. I think I was then in the party in charge of the cave when he got married.

7774.7318 And after then you saw carelessness in his manner?— Yes. He remained away from us for three or four days, and we had to get provisions for ourselves—go to his father's place to get them.

7774.7319 You remember the second time you were in that cave party?— Yes.

7774.7320 Did you consider before you left the party you had not been discovered or it was not known you were there?— Well, all the Sherritt family knew we were there.

7774.7321 How many in the Sherritt family?— Three sons and four daughters and the father and the mother when we were there. That is not all the family, but all I know. That includes Aaron Sherritt .

7774.7322 Do you know if the children knew?— The younger children knew, seeing us at the father and mother's place getting provisions.

7774.7323 How many of those young children were there?— I think there were five little ones—I fancy so.....

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