Royal Commission report day 24 page 10

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The Royal Commission evidence for 1/6/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 24)

Const James Dwyer giving evidence

9401 How long did it take?— Five minutes.

9402 What time did you arrive?— Twenty minutes to five–we were, about twenty to five, where the rails were torn up–and Rawlins took five minutes to give his information, and then five minutes to get there. The reporters of the press came forward–Mr.McWhirter of the Age, Mr. Allen of the Telegraph came forward–and, knowing me, said, “By George, Dwyer, we are glad to see you from the city.” They pulled out their books to note the time I arrived; and I said, “As you are going to make honorable mention of it, there is Sergeant Steele, and Constables Moore, Caussey, Welsh, and Montfort.” Mr. Carrington put it down and took out his watch.

9403 Did you tell the reporters in the morning?— This was when we first saw them in the morning.

9404 Were they able to take it down?— They had their books, taking it down.

9405 Was it light at the time for them to write?— It was coming on to dawn of day, but it was before day. Mr. Carrington pulled out his watch, and said, “It is ten minutes to five.”

9406 Was that before you went up to Mrs. Jones's house?— It was. At this, the train conveying Mr. Sadleir and his party whistled coming into Glenrowan, and a gentleman of the press (Mr. Allen) said, “Here is Mr. Sadleir and his reinforcements.”

9407 Where were you then?— On the platform of the railway station. The whole of us walked down the platform–the reporters of the press, and Mr. Marsden, the petty sessions clerk, and all of us. The train came in, and Mr. Sadleir was the first jumped out where I was standing, and asked me, “Where is Mr. O'Connor?” I said, “I do not know, sir; I have just arrived.” At this, Senior-Constable Kelly came running down, and Mr. Sadleir saw him, and turned from me on seeing him, and asked him the same question, “Where is Mr. O'Connor?” Kelly, pointing with his finger, said, “he is up in the drain in the front of the horse.” Mr. Sadleir said, “I want you to show me to him.” At this, Mr. Sadleir turned round to the men, who were all at the train at the time, and standing in a mob on the platform, and said, “Come on, men, spread yourselves round the house, and assist the others, walk three yards apart, so that you will not be a target for the outlaws to fire at you.” He passed, accompanied by Senior-Constable Kelly, and went to Mr. O'Connor; and Kelly turned after showing him where Mr. O'Connor was, and took ground to the right,

9408 What side of the house?— The north side–the Wangaratta side, where I found him afterwards. Mr. Sadleir passed on, after leaving Kelly, into the trench where Mr. O'Connor was. That was about twenty-five or thirty yards from Jones's house. I walked down the line with Sergeant Whelan and some others towards the gate, as Mr. Sadleir was approaching the trench where Mr. O'Connor was. There was a shot passed me to the windward in the direction of Mr. Sadleir. I saw the windows lit up as the volley was fired. It was at Mr. Sadleir, from the two outlaws in the house.

9409 How could you prove it was at Mr. Sadleir?— Because the whiz of the bullets was so near, I could see he narrowly escaped at the time. I heard the whiz of the bullets over the heads of the men at the rear of me; it whizzed over their heads, and they made the remark at the time, some of them, that Mr. Sadleir had a narrow escape.

9410 Where was Mr. O'Connor?— In the trench.

9411 How far was Mr. Sadleir from Mr. O'Connor at the time of the whizzing?— Fifteen or twenty yards.

9412 Nearer the railway station?— Yes; he was in the open. I got up on the road leading through the gate, and Constable Mullane, on the Benalla side of the house, called me, “Where are you going, Dwyer? get under cover or you will be shot.” I looked round to see where I could get under cover, and I could see nowhere only where Mr. Sadleir went in the trench.

9413 How far had you advanced up the road then?— I had just crossed the culvert to where it was metalled and got into the drain.

9414 Had you passed through the railway fence?— No; I got into the trench down with them, and heard Mr. Sadleir express to Mr. O'Connor, “How have you got on, I know nothing.” Mr. O'Connor repeated what he had done up to that time, and spoke about Mr. Hare being shot, and spoke very affectionately about him, and sorry for the mishap he had got. At this same time the women began to scream out and yell. Mr. Sadleir said, “Oh, there are civilians inside.”

9415 Who was in the trench when you were there besides Mr. O'Connor?— There were two trackers and Constable Kirkham. Mr. O'Connor said, “Oh, it is full of them.” Mr. Sadleir then said, “By George, if they are there, we cannot fire into it, we will be only killing innocent people.” The police at this time were firing round at the Benalla side.

9416 Into the house?— Yes.

9417 What police?— The men that came with Mr. Sadleir and Mr. Hare's men that had spread themselves round that side; and Mr. Sadleir said, while talking about the outlaws in the house, that they could not be sure they were all in the house; and I said when we heard in Wangaratta that Mr. Hare had them surrounded, we knew they would not escape, we knew that they were right. My heart was so sure and my mind impressed that wherever Mr. Hare would come on them they would never escape, and I volunteered to Mr. Sadleir, if he had any orders to give to the men, I would take them; that was in the trench. I was armed with a double-barrelled gun and a Colt's revolver, and I knew how to use them well. Here is some of the ammunition I had at the time–[producing the same]. This ammunition was not able to penetrate the house. And I said I am not much use with this gun here, and any orders for the men I will take them. The orders he gave were in these words: “ Tell the men not to fire till they hear a whistle from me, which will be a signal to give a volley, and when they hear two whistles, it will be a signal to cease firing; and whenever they would fire, to fire about the height of a man's head,” so that they would not kill the people inside; and if any of those civilians approach not to molest them. He said, “You will not forget that, Dwyer,” and I said, “No, sir.” I left the trench then.....

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