Royal Commission report day 37 page 28

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The Royal Commission evidence for 20/7/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 37)

SConst Patrick Mullane giving evidence

13532 Did you go out during the time Captain Standish was up?— I did. Captain Standish was in Benalla during the time that the search parties were out.

13533 He continued acting upon the system of Mr. Hare ; in fact, they were together at Benalla at the time?— Yes.

13534 Were you one of Mr. Brook Smith 's party?— The only party I was with that he had charge of was one that started from Wangaratta one afternoon and went to Peechelba. There were fourteen or sixteen men, and the party divided there. We started from Wangaratta about three or four o'clock in the afternoon of, I think, the 6th November 1878 .

13535 Will you describe how you proceeded, as nearly as you can?— We left Wangaratta; we were prepared to leave early in the day, but did not leave till three o'clock .

13536 How did you come to remain till three?— I did not know the cause of the delay, but we were waiting for Mr. Smith to start; and I believe he was in consultation with some other officer in Wangaratta at the time, but of that I would not be certain.

13537 Did you find any tracks?— We divided at Peechelba, and our party went to Lake Rowan and Mr. Smith 's party to Yarrawonga.

13538 So that you had nothing further to do with that party?— No. Some time after I was with another party that started from Wangaratta with Mr. Brook Smith , and on that occasion Mr. Nicolson was with it, and we went to Warby Ranges . We joined Mr. Sadleir with another party from Benalla, and some tracks were pointed out to the black trackers. The tracks were followed for a short distance by the trackers; they then left off and went into a spring that was there, and, like the other occasion, they did not seem inclined to follow the tracks, and the tracks were dropped.

13539 Were they new tracks?— Perhaps a day or two old, or perhaps older.

13540 Could you have followed the tracks without the trackers?— We could not.

13541 Then, unless you have anything of exceptional interest, we will come to the cave party?— The first party left Beechworth for the cave on the 3rd of December 1879 .

13542 How many were there in the cave?— Four went down— Alexander , Barry , Cox, and Canny.

13543 What was to be their special duty?,—They were to remain in the cave during the day, and when night came on they were to watch Mrs. Byrne 's house.

13544 How far was the cave from Mrs. Byrne 's house?— About a mile or a mile and a half.

13545 Under what instructions were they?— Constable Alexander was in charge of that party. We were under the impression that Byrne used to visit his mother's house, and Alexander was instructed that, if Byrne was found coming to the house, he was to secure him, if possible; if the other outlaws and himself were in company, they were to fire at and shoot them—Ned Kelly in particular, the tallest of the men. They were to be on their guard, not to allow themselves to be surprised on any account; also, to keep away from observation, so that neither Mrs. Byrne nor any person else would be aware of their presence there. They got arms, and they were to keep them and be always ready in case any attack should be made on them.

13546 By Mr. Nicolson — was there a sentry to be kept at the cave?— I never heard of any instructions to keep one.

13547 Was there one kept?— I did not know of it.

13548 Do you not recollect that?— No.

13549 By the Commission— Those were the whole instructions?— Yes.

13550 Did they adhere to those pretty carefully?— For two hours the man in charge was instructed to set by Mr. Nicolson and Mr. O'Connor, myself and Detective Ward, I believe, and the other men were called afterwards, before they started out, and all received those instructions.

13551 Did they carry out those instructions?— I am not aware whether they did or not. I never visited them in the cave afterwards; Detective Ward did so.

13552 Did you ever hear it was just possible they might have been found out there?— It was possible that they could be found out, but I never heard that they were until afterwards.

13553 What was the first notice that you got?— Some person telling either Captain Standish or Mr. Hare at the depot that the party were there watching.....

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