Royal Commission report day 26 page 16

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The Royal Commission evidence for 7/6/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 26)

Mr John McWhirter giving evidence

10338 From the position you were standing in could you see that boy or man coming from the hotel?— I could, and did.

10339 Were you then stationed at a point further removed from the hotel, or nearer the drain where Mr. O'Connor was?— I was further from the hotel.

10340 And you could see from your position this boy or man coming out of the house?— Yes, as I say I saw them.

10341 You were further from the hotel than Steele was?— Yes

10342 Do I understand you that you were between the station and the hotel?— I was between the station and the hotel. You will see the station has a raised platform, and on the side of that platform, between the station and the hotel, we took up our position, and sat on or lay down on some police saddles It was very cold at the time.

10343 You had a full view of the house from there?— Yes. When the Benalla and Wangaratta police came, the firing at the hotel was more rapid than it had been for the three hours prior to that.

10344 Would that be about five o'clock ?— It would be hard to fix the time. I did fix it pretty near at the time.

10345 Was it before daylight?— It was. I think it was not daylight till about seven o'clock . Nothing of any great moment occurred till after daylight, when I noticed the figure of a man coming through the woods from the direction of Morgan's Look-out. He walked straight towards the hotel, and when within twenty yards of Constable Arthur, who was lighting his pipe at a log, he raised his revolver and fired in the direction of Arthur, who fired three shots at the man. Of course the man was Ned Kelly and as Kelly still continued to advance, he (Arthur) ran in a circle for cover to a tree—that is in the direction of the railway station. I believe the shots hit the outlaw, because I could see him stagger distinctly and almost step backwards to recover his position again. Senior‑Constable Kelly and Guard Dowsett closed in on Ned Kelly and both fired at him.

10346 From the back?— I saw Dowsett the first approaching Kelly from the railway station, and Senior Constable Kelly came from Kelly's rear. Ned Kelly got between two trees, and several shots were fired at him there by Guard Dowsett and Senior-Constable Kelly.

10347 Did you see Senior Constable Kelly retreating from the figure or advancing?— Always advancing.

10348 It would not be true to say he retreated?— It would be absolutely untrue.

10349 What distance would Arthur have to retreat to the tree?— I suppose about forty yards from, the position in which he was. He ran towards the station to a tree, got behind the tree, and I saw Constable Phillips, Constable Healey, and Constable Montford come up and take part in the fight, each selecting a tree. Montford stood at the side, and I saw Constable Healey standing down in open ground, and firing at Ned Kelly, and before the shots had been exchanged, Senior Constable Kelly and Dowsett being the closest to the outlaw. Dowsett was particularly close to him. There was only the log which Kelly came back to and stood at in a curve, and another log about ten or twelve yards distance shelter Dowsett, and both exchanged shots with their revolvers at one another. I saw a man coming rapidly down the side of the hill—that is from the direction of Mrs. Jones's house and Sherritt's to within about ten yards of Kelly, near the stump. He fired in rapid succession two shots, and Kelly disappeared, suppose he fell. I could see his head before that, but immediately after those shots were fired I disappeared behind the log as if hit by the man. The police at once ran towards the outlaw. I ran with Mr. Melvin and Mr. Allen, and when wo got to the log whore Kelly was I saw Sergeant Steele kneeling and holding one arm. Guard Dowsett was holding another arm.

10350 Do you know which Dowsett was holding?— The left arm, the one nearest the log. Kelly was lying with his feet towards the railway station; Dowsett was partly across his body, but he appeared to have his arm on the man's shoulder and across his legs, so to speak. Steele was on the other side of him, that is on the right‑hand side of him. Senior‑Constable Kelly was sitting across his head. They pulled the helmet off Kelly between his legs.

10351 Did you see that?— I saw them take the helmet off, and Sergeant Steele exclaimed, “It is Ned Kelly”; and, with that, I heard a man approach and give went to something like a war whoop, and kick Ned Kelly on the side.

10352 Did you hear any other remark made by Steele?— No.

10353 Did you hear him afterwards say, “I swore I would be in at your death, you b— wretch”?— No. I noticed the man who kicked him was Constable Dwyer. Somebody warned him not to do that— that he had done wrong, and, a few minutes after wards, Dwyer ran back to where Superintendent Sadleir was, on the other side of the hotel, and expressed sorrow for what he had done. I believe Kelly was taken to the railway station then, and while we were assisting him to the platform, there were several shots fired from the hotel in the direction in which we were. We heard them whistling over our heads.....

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