Royal Commission report day 28 page 1

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The Royal Commission evidence for 9/6/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 28)

Insp William B. Montfort further examined


The Hon. F. LONGMORE , M.L.A., in the Chair;

J. H. Graves , Esq. , M.L.A., J. Gibb , Esq. , ML.A.,

G R. Fincham , Esq. , M.L.A., W. Anderson , Esq.,

M.L.A., E J. Dixon Esq. , J.P. , G. W. Hall , Esq. , M.L.A.

10989 By the Commission— You have been in the North Eastern district now for some time — how long?— I went on the 4th of May last.

10990 Have you acquainted yourself with the condition of the district generally, so far as police protection is concerned?— I have acquainted myself with what I think is required for the purposes of defence.

10991 Should there be another outbreak in the district such as the last do you think you would be prepared in any degree to cope with it with the present force?— Certainly we would be in s position to cope with it to a certain extent, but I think we would be better able to do so if some of my recommendations are carried out.

10992 Are those the recommendations that were brought before the Government by Mr. Superintendent Chomley ?— No, nothing to do with his recommendations at all.

10993 What are the recommendations?— I think I have them included in the report. One point is a foot constable stationed at Oxley, and the formation of a new station on the Fifteen mile Creek.

10994 Will it be better for the public interests that what you are about to say should not be published?— What I am going to say should not, I think, be published. The less that is known about our movements the better.

10995 The question is; are matters looking serious there now, and are the police unprepared for another outbreak?— I am not in a position to give a positive statement that matters are not serious, but to say that we are not prepared for another outbreak is not correct; we would be more prepared if my recommendations were carried out.

The room was cleared

The Commission deliberated.

The witness was again called in, and his examination was continued with closed doors. See Appendix 1

At the request of the Chairman, this evidence was noted by the Government Shorthand Writer the use of the Commission only, not for publication.

Mr. O'Connor was called in.

The Chairman directed that the evidence to follow should be printed in the usual course.

10996 By the Commission (to the witness)— Have you had any experience whatever of their powers of tracking?— Not myself personally, but I provided myself with the information.

10997 From whom?— From Mounted Constable Kirkham. I made him write a report in connection with certain cases in which the black trackers were engaged. That is since they came up. They came up when I was in Benalla.

10998 That is the last batch?— Yes, the present men; they came in July, when I was there. I produce his report [handing in the same]:— “North Eastern Police District, Benalla Station, June 8th 1881 — Report of Mounted Constable Kirkham, 2986, relative to ability of Queensland trackers. — I respectfully report for the information of Inspector Montfort, that during the period I have been in charge of the above trackers and on all occasions when out with them in search of offenders and otherwise, they have worked with alacrity, determination and good will, and are most obedient and attentive, and require very little skill in order to work them. The following is a return of duties performed by them, under my immediate observation:—

Return of Duties performed by Queensland trackers:—

Monkey Brown, Peter Brown—27/9/80—To Violet Town, to track an offender who damaged property of Mr. Judd, station master there, on night of 26th; succeeded in tracking the footprints to Ben. Gould's house; arrested Gould, and proved his boots corresponded with footprints traced; was afterwards tried, convicted, and sentenced to one month's imprisonment.

Moses Bulla , Peter Brown — 14/10/80 to 17/10/80 —In search of jewellery, &c., stolen from Mr. Wallace 's, Pine Lodge, Shepparton. Tracked offenders three miles from Mr. Wallace 's residence, and found jewellery in a hollow log. Two persons arrested, named Brown and Freeman .

“Moses Bulla, Paddy Brown—13/12/80 to 14/12/80—To Euroa, to search for a girl named Mavor Curtin, who was lost in Strathbogie Ranges. Found girl nine miles from her home on 14th.

“Jim Crow, Dick Brown—23/12/80 to 25/12/80— To Euroa, to search for stolen sheep, taken from Mr. Cusack. Tracked sheep nine miles from Mr. Cusack 's residence—straying, not stolen.

“ Jim Crow, Billy Nut—6/1/81 to 8/1/81—To Wahgunyah, to search the Murray River for the body of a man drowned while bathing. After a day and a half searching and diving in the river, the trackers recovered the body three miles from where it was drowned, in 30 feet of water.

Jim Crow, Moses Bulla—5/2/81 to 12/2/81—To Shepparton and Yalca, to trace and track offender Smith, alias Rohan, from the farm house, where he was working with the murdered man 'Shea,' to the well where Shea was found dead. Tracks and traces of blood found by the trackers, and sufficient evidence obtained to have the offender Rohan, alias Smith, arrested, and committed for trial for murder. This offender was tried, convicted, and executed in Beechworth Gaol on 6th 7une 1881

“The above return will show the ability of these men to track during the period they have beer placed in my charge. — THOMAS KIRKHAM , Mounted Constable 2986.”

And there is the sergeant's report upon the back of that. “Forwarded for the inspector’s information. I have examined this report, and find the duties correct, when the trackers were on special duty. This return does not include patrols, where the trackers were sent out to be made acquainted with the district—

WHELAN, Sergeant 130. 5/6/81 .”

In addition to that I sent out Sub—Inspector Baber some days ago, for the purpose of testing what they really could do, and carrying out the system of practice that I intend to continue with regard to them. Not anticipating any questions on the subject, he is away, and I did not get any report. He intended to write, but he hand to go away on duty. He was away for some hours on horseback. He dismounted, and took a course on foot through farms and fences, and along the tops of fences, and pursued a course calculated to puzzle the trackers as much as possible. He then left the following day with three trackers, and accompanied by himself, having no one with him but Kirkham, so that no one should know what the trackers could or could not do, as it would be inadvisable it should be known generally. He reported to me that their ability was unquestionable, that they acted splendidly, and that everything that was expected of them was fulfilled. It was my intention to go out to-day or to-morrow with the other three myself, but, having been summoned here, of course it was not done. These are only instances at present in which I can speak personally of their knowledge and ability to track. Their conduct is exemplary, and they are most attentive and subordinate in every way.....

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