Royal Commission report day 32 page 1

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The Royal Commission evidence for 21/6/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 32)

[[../../people/peA/armstrongHPC.html|Const Henry Armstrong]] sworn and examined


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

G. W. Hall, Esq., M.L.A., W. Anderson , Esq., M.L.A.,

J. H. Graves, Esq., M.L.A., G. C. Levey, Esq., C.M.G.,

E. J. Dixon, Esq., J P., J. Gibb, Esq., M.L.A.

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

The Chairman read the following letter from Captain Standish to the Secretary of the Commission:—


20th June 1881

In reply to your letter of the 18th instant, I beg to inform you that all official communications which passed between the Commissioner of Police at Brisbane can be utilized, but that I cannot consent to the private communications which passed between him and me being furnished to the Police Commission.

Yours faithfully


Jas. Williams, Esq., Secretary Police Commission.

12080 By the Commission— What are you?— An ex foot constable. I was in the force nine years. I beg to ask that my record sheet be produced. [The same was produced.]

12081 I see that you have a very excellent sheet — do you know the contents of it yourself?— No; constables are not allowed to see their own record sheets.

12082 It is a very good one, at all events. Were you in the North-Eastern district before the Kellys broke out?— Yes; I was stationed at Wangaratta when the gang broke out. I had been there about twelve months. I volunteered my services, and went in search of them along with Sergeant Steele.

12083 Were you out with any of the search parties?— With all the search parties, and with Sergeant Steele till they were captured.

12084 Whom were they under?— Chiefly Sergeant Steele; and on one occasion only Superintendent Furnell was in charge. I was afterwards transferred to Wahgunyah, on the Murray .

12085 Did you form any opinion yourself as to the value of those search parties?— Well, I thought they were almost useless—to a certain extent.

12086 Did you ever on any occasion have the belief or the knowledge that you came close upon the Kellys in any of those parties?— Never in my time.

12087 Did you know anything of the secret service system?— Well, I had a slight knowledge of it.

12088 Did you understand that good information was given at any time by any of those informers?— Sherritt gave good information; that is all I can speak of by my own information.

12089 Was it given in time for you to act upon it, so as to be of any value?— It was not given to me. I cannot say I ever received any while I was in the bush to say that the outlaws were at hand.

12090 How can you say Sherritt gave good information?— He told me he informed Standish that, Joe Byrne was one of the men along with the outlaws; and he afterwards informed me he told Captain Standish when Byrne and Kelly passed through Sebastopol on their way to Jerilderie. Those were the only occasions of importance.

12091 He told you he had informed Captain Standish of those things?— Yes.

12092 In good time for him to have acted?— No, not in sufficient time.

12093 Were you present at any time when Sherritt was able to tell w here the police were, although he was not with them?— I could not say that at all; I do not see how he could.

12094 Did you understand that he was acting on behalf of the outlaws as well as the Government?— I have every reason to believe from my experience of Sherritt that he was true to the police once he was won over.

12095 Had you any reason to believe that he was trusted by the outlaws?— I do not believe it once he was won over. I will state my reasons for saving so The third night I was in the cave party there were only two constables in the cave, and it was time to leave for the first camping ground, and I asked Sherritt to go, and be refused to come. He said, “Two men are not enough to go to Byrne's; you may tell Nicolson that I will not go at all; those men are not bushrangers, they are bloody murderers.” I have every reason to believe that he was true from that. I was very kind to Sherritt; I always gave him tobacco when he came to Beechworth or a few shillings to buy some. I have known petty lies he told, but nothing of importance to mislead the police. I do not believe he ever told me a lie. I felt as safe in his company as with any constable in the force, from my experience; and I was seventy-five nights in his company, watching Byrne's place.

12096 Was he ever sworn in as a constable?— I believe not.

12097 Have you any idea why he was murdered?— I believe it was because it was known he assisted the police in a general way; that is my belief.

12098 It was given in evidence here, in reply to that by a witness, that he believed it was that Sherritt was believed by the outlaws to have given information about their movements which the witness stated did not come from Sherritt, but came from another private individual; and the outlaws, not knowing who had given it, charged Sherritt with it—have you any knowledge of that?— I have heard of it, but I do not think there is any proof of it. I think Sherritt knew very little besides what he told me. I was with him up to the time he was shot.....

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