Royal Commission report day 26 page 18

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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

10380 Did you hear that Byrne had been shot in the hotel?— Yes

1038l About what time?— Early in the morning. I do not know how I heard of it, but I did hear it. It came as a rumour at first that he had been shot whilst drinking with some one else in the bar of the hotel.

10382 Can you fix the time?— About the time Kelly was caught—before the prisoners escaped.

10383 Did you hear Ned Kelly say anything about now his best man was shot, and so on?— No, I did not. He was told that Byrne was shot, I recollect, at a later hour in the day.

10384 Did he say anything?— He said something about his being a good man or something of that sort.

10385 Did you remain with Kelly after he was taken to the railway station?— I remained in the guard's van for some time, trying to hear what I could.

10386 Did you see any one putting warm bottles to his feet?— Not in the van. I think he received some treatment of that sort in a room in the station. After he had been in the van some time, by the advice of Dr. Nicholson, he was taken to the station and placed in a bed there. His feet were very cold. I know that because I cut the boots off and assisted the doctor when he was dressing the wounds. His feet land hands were very cold, and he fainted two or three times.

10387 Did you visit Kelly during the day after the first interview?— Yes.

10388 Did you see any one?— Sergeant Steele was with him.

10389 All the time?— All the time.

10390 Did you see Mr. Sadleir any time with Kelly during the day?— I think I saw him there once, he was in the room when I went in. I do not know how long he remained.

10391 You stated you first saw Mr. Sadleir after the capture of Kelly. You next saw him at the time the prisoners were released?— Yes, standing on the Wangaratta side.

10392 After that you saw him stationed on the Benalla side?— Yes.

10393 When next did you see him?— Just prior to the house being fired.

10394 In the interval, between seven o'clock in the morning and just before the house was fired, was Mr. Sadleir particularly engaged giving instructions to the men under his charge?— I did not see him engaged in going round the men, but I saw Constable Dwyer going up to him on several occasions, and going to other parts of the field. I saw Dwyer pass in front of the house on several occasions.

10395 Did you hear about the cannon?— I heard of it in the evening for the first time.

10396 It has been said that the advice to send for that was tendered by some of the reporters?— I think Mr. Sadleir was mistaken in that.

10397 Did you tender that advice?— Certainly not.

10398 Did you hear any one volunteer to rush the place prior to setting it on fire?— I did not hear them offer; but I was told that Constable Armstrong had done so, and Constable Dwyer, and some other constable—it may have been Johnson. I cannot say, but I heard of three.

10399 Did you hear of that previous to burning the hotel?— Yes, some considerable time before the burning of the hotel.

10400 Did you that day form any opinion yourself as to the best means to adopt for the purpose of capturing the two outlaws?— I did not that day; but, on thinking the matter over since, I have arrived at an opinion.

10401 Did you believe it was a good thing to set fire to it?— There is only one thing that would prevent my saying it was the best thing, and that is that it was known that the wounded man Cherry was in the hotel.

10402 That would have deterred you from taking that course?— Yes.

10403 Was that fact known?— Yes, I knew of it; and I am sure if I did that Mr. Sadleir knew it.

10404 Did you hear any one report that to Mr. Sadleir?— Yes; it was stated when the prisoners made their escape from the hotel, I believe. I will not say positively. I believe it was stated by the prisoners when coming to the station. If you understand, when the prisoners made their escape, at half - past ten in the morning, they were all brought round to where Superintendent Sadleir and Mr. O'Connor were standing, and they were called up one by one, and all but two were allowed to go away—to clear out; and I think, on the way to the station it was stated that Cherry was the only man left in the hotel, and he was wounded, and had been carried back into the back kitchen, and was sitting against some bags of oats. That is what I heard. Anyway it was a well known fact for four or five hours that Martin Cherry was in the place, and was wounded in the groin; we knew the position of the wound.....

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