Royal Commission report day 2 page 10

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The Royal Commission evidence for 24/3/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 2 )

Assistant Commissioner Nicholson giving evidence

448 Were any particular instructions given to those parties in writing or verbal?- Mostly verbal. I was out with one party, and Steele was out with one party and James with one, and Shoobridge (Senior-Constable) with one; and those at a distance would be written to. Those at hand would get the instructions verbally, and they would put that down

449 Would they give a written report on their return?- Yes.

450 Those reports are in existence?- I should think so.

451 They should be in existence at Benalla?- Yes

452 Was the Constable Flood that you have now spoken of as in charge of one of the parties the constable that originally was in charge at Greta?- I believe so.

453 Whose name has been connected with this from the first?- He went out with me from the first,

454 Did you give sectional plans of the country they were to cover?- No; because they knew the country; but they got a description of the country, hills, and creeks.

455 Officially, did you give them any sectional plan or written instructions?- Yes, written; and of course, the men who were with me down at Benalla got verbal instructions. I went over the matter with Sergeant Steele himself.

456 In visiting the station you would be aware of the instructions issued by the Commissioner Police?- What instructions?

457 To the police officers, if they received any information about the Kelly party?- The Chief Commissioner of Police had really nothing to do with that. I was in charge of the district, and the men received full authority to act upon their discretion, and representations to the contrary are not correct.

458 Then it is not true that the officers had to delay matters till they had telegraphed to the Chief Commissioner before they acted?- No.

459 Not from the commencement?- No, not from the commencement, never. When I took any important step, of course I communicated with the Chief Commissioner in writing or telegram.

460 They were to follow up anything?- To use their own discretion. When they were out in those parts of the country they were allowed to do anything they chose.

461 Was your plan of operations ever interfered with by an order from your superior?- Not at that time.

462 Not up to the period you are describing?- No. On coming in one morning from a search party, on Monday, 9th December 1878, I arrived at Benalla; and from the statements and reports of the other parties, I was satisfied that the Kelly gang were not in the Kelly country.

463 What do you mean by the Kelly country?- That back country behind Greta, extending up on the east side behind Mansfield and Benalla, right down nearly to Omeo, and from there right across east. The country had been so thoroughly searched, and none of the search parties had obtained any traces whatever. After the murders we found their old tracks, and Senior Constable James discovered their camp, and recovered a number of horses there-the camp they occupied before the murders.

464 At what place?- Called the Germans' Creek.

465 In the Mansfield district?- Yes, Mansfield sub district; there were no traces discovered after.

466 In giving that evidence, is your reason for concluding they were not in the country because you got no traces of them, or from your knowledge that they were elsewhere?- No, because there were no traces....

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