Royal Commission report day 32 page 6

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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]] 'giving evidence'

12158 Could you see anything outside?— Not a single thing; inside there was a log fire burning, which was intended to last until morning, also a candle burning. I called out to one of the men to throw me the pillow to knock the candle out. I then said, “Never mind, the fire is showing more light; we will do nothing to attract attention.” The women were in this time. Mrs. Sherritt we told to go under the bed, to keep out of the way. Mrs. Barry came in with a very heavy step, and I said, “Oh, my God ! Mrs. Barry, I was near shooting you; if you go out again you will be shot.” We put her under the bed roughly, but she did not complain. After some time, when it got dark, say about eleven o'clock , I closed the doors

12159 That was when the fire began to get a little low?— Yes; there were no catches for the doors. I had to close them with my gun; they used always to fly back. Then I rolled some of the logs on one side from the fire, and threw what tea I could find on the fire. I shifted the body of Sherritt to one side also; the body had fallen inside. We could hear voices distinctly all night. About four o'clock there was a lot of conversation heard. Mrs. Barry said, “They are there yet.” She spoke first. I said, “It is all right; they are waiting for daylight, when it is getting light.” I had my gun through the back door, and I could see or hear nothing of them. The dog was also lying asleep. Alexander then came from the bedroom, and he said, “They are gone,” and he went to open the door. I said, “Look out from behind the tree.” I had seen a Chinaman standing at the tree. Dowling had lost his ammunition in the early part of the night.

12160 How?— He could not find it. I said, “Wait till Dowling has got his ammunition ready.”

12161 Your ammunition would fit his gun?— I had given him a little of mine the night before. When I went out Alexander went out before me, and we searched about the bush and could see nothing of them. Duross and Dowling remained in reserve; only the two of us remained at that time, thinking to drive the outlaws out, had they been about. I then prepared to start to Beechworth with information.

12162 What time was this?— About a quarter to seven . After consulting with the others we agreed to send all the messengers we could find on the creek and remain on the ground ourselves. They came down so suddenly on us at nightfall, and as I thought without horses, I thought there might have been a possibility of their returning. I thought it would have made matters still worse had the gang shown up during my absence. I wrote out three letters addressed to the Beechworth police; there was a Chinaman passing and I gave him a letter; I gave him some money too. He returned after a while and said he was afraid to go. I then sent him to Mr. O'Donaghue, the school teacher. Mr. O'Donaghue said e would go, that he was not afraid of Joe Byrne. He remained away about an hour and a half, when he returned and said his wife would not allow him to go, besides he heard the outlaws were in the ranges to shoot any person who would go in with word; I then said I would go. I went up to the Sugarloaf Range to look for one of Sherritt's horses, but I could not find any. I started then myself on foot. When I got a mile along the road I saw Paddy Byrne on his grey mare. He came at a fast gallop to meet me. I still thought the outlaws were about. He turned off the road or I would have taken his horse. When I got near Beechworth, three miles from Beechworth, I met a man named Considine. I stopped him and took his horse from him perforce. I knocked the horse up in five minutes. On looking round in the bush I saw the last messenger we had sent, Duckett; he called out to me, and I told him to go back—He ran after me with the letter I had given him and I told him to tear it up. The horse was a very interior animal, and it was near one o'clock when I got to Beechworth. There I reported the occurrence to Senior-Constable Mullane. The last definite information I had heard of the outlaws was when they were at—— at Wangaratta. There were then six armed men in the gang—every officer in the charge of the Kelly search was aware of that. There was a fifth man, described unknown; was also armed with two revolvers. I am in a position to prove that.

12163 Can your evidence be corroborated?— I will give the names of persons who will corroborate it if necessary. It was the general impression that— —was also in the gang.

12164 Had the outlaws, the Kellys, another brother?— Yes.

12165 What name?— Jim.

12166 Where was he during the outrages?— In Wagga gaol, for horsestealing.

12167 After his release the general impression amongst the officers was that he had come over and joined the band?— It was thought so, but there was no direct proof of it.

12168 Can you give the names of men who will give direct evidence on that?— I can. I merely stated it to show that we expected more than four men, to show what deterred us from going out.

12169 You have given very important evidence that there were six in the gang; it will be better to leave out the names of those other two. Did you ever see the six together?— I did not.

12170 In conversation with the Sherritts, who intimately knew all those men, was it the impression of this man and woman, the Sherritts, that there were more than four?— Well Sherritt did not think so. I spoke to him about that, and he said the man alone he believed was a man named —, a horsestealer from Kilmore.....

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