Royal Commission report day 38 page 1

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The Royal Commission evidence for 21/7/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 38)

Mrs. Barry further examined

Members present:

The Hon. F. LONGMORE, in the Chair

W. Anderson , Esq., M.L.A., J. Gibb , Esq. , M.L.A.

The room was cleared.

  The Witness — As to what has been said about Aaron taking a towel as a signal to the outlaws, I wish to say that the police themselves used to take it on some occasions. Sometimes they did not take the same road as Aaron did, and they used to carry the towel to dry their feet. I have known them do that. Of course they might have given the towel to Aaron to carry for all I know afterwards, and, what is more, the police have never gone out with Aaron on duty except in the night-time, so I do not see how he could make any token with the towel in the night—that is an untruth safe enough.

13783 The next point is about how they were in the bedroom?— I thought yesterday I would have been asked the position of the men in the room when I used to be sent in after Aaron was shot. Byrne sent me in three times, and sent my daughter in three or four times, I am not sure which.

13784 Was there anything particular occurred?— The first time I went into the room the men appeared as if they were bustling about looking for their firearms, and the second time I went into the room Alexander and another man were sitting on the box in front of the door and their 'possum rugs round them, and I could not see the other men; I did not notice them in the room I could not say where they were at that time. The third time I went into the bedroom (they had my daughter kept in this time, this as the last time Byrne sent me in) Alexander was at one side of the room, and the other constables were under the bed. Constable Alexander was at one side of the room where the bed was not, Constable Duross and Constable Dowling were under the bed, and their head and shoulders out at the side of the bed. I went to the two men, and they caught me by the clothes and pulled me to the ground.

13785 And you remained lying on the floor?— Yes; they did not put me underneath the bed. Duross just tried to shove me in slightly, but I remained where I was; in fact, I do not think I could get under the bed. Armstrong was at the foot of the bed, and my daughter was telling me afterwards that they had her between their feet and the wolf, that they had her inside, and their feet were against her.

13786 Did they make enquiries when you went in how many men were out?— No, but I believe they asked my daughter, and she said Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne were outside; they did not ask me, but they just motioned me to go out. They could hear Byrne; he was talking at the top of his voice; and when Byrne came in after be fired the shot outside at Aaron —I did not see him fire it—and then there was another shot fired through the door, and then the man came and put his back against the door, and after he fired at Aaron, on the floor, he put his hands to his side and took something out of his bag or pocket and put it into his gun.

13787 What sort of gun was it?— It was a large gun; I think it must be double-barrelled, because I noticed he always fired two shots and then reloaded it again; and then, at this time, after he reloaded his gun, I stepped over to the other side of Aaron. I was just behind Aaron 's head—he was lying at the time on the floor.

13788 Aaron never spoke?— No, not a word; but my daughter, after the bullet went through the door, came out of the bedroom and saw Aaron lying on the floor, and heard me calling Joe Byrne, when he, said he would put a buller through me and my daughter. I know the poor fellow is wronged in many ways, and would, if alive, contradict them in many ways; and I wanted to speak about the towel. To my knowledge, I have heard them talk about him carrying the police on his back at night through the creek, so that they would not wet their feet. At the time that Byrne was standing at the door, when he told me he would put a ball through me and my daughter if we did not bring them out, my daughter said, “Joe, what made you shoot Aaron?” and he said, “If I did not shoot Aaron, he would shoot me if he got the chance,” and, at the time, I thought every word be was saying would be the last; and after that he gave me orders to open the door, and no doubt if the police had come to the side of the door they could have fired at him right enough. Of course, I know we cannot do without police in the country, for any honest person could not live, but still they ought to speak the truth. My opinion of some of them is they are not particular what they say. On one occasion I was going from my place, and they were wheeling down wood with a barrow in the evening between four and five o'clock , and some of them that were not wheeling were “whoa-ing,” “woa-ing,” “wa-ing,” and “ gee-in up,” and I thought it was some man with a dray. I wondered what noise it was, and when I went down I saw it was the police. I see, in many places, they talk about the little children going to school, but my opinion is that, if the outlaws did discover them at all, it was their own foolishness that made it known. You see in that place the Byrnes could be in those bushes all day watching men coming in and out, and many a time, to my knowledge, the men used to walk in and out during the day. I have often seen them out myself. My daughter has gone through a lot of sickness since her husband's death—she had a very narrow escape of her life, here in Beechworth, with two doctors.

13789 You are quite satisfied the police were under the bed?— I am quite certain about the two men Duross and Dowling, and their heads out, and the guns facing them by the door, and that was when they pulled me down, and Dowling said if I did not keep quiet they would have to shoot me. He said, “You had better stop in, Mrs. Barry , and if you stop in the outlaws will not set fire to the place, while there are women in the place.” That might be about nine o'clock . I heard a dog barking through the night.

13790 What was the latest time you heard persons talking outside?— The first one I heard talking after I went into the bedroom was a German woman out at her wood-heap. I heard no one speaking besides.

13791 After you went in did you hear the outlaws—after Byrne sent you into the room?— No, I never did.

13792 Did you hear them go away?— No, I did not. We thought they were there, and through the night Dowling and Armstrong went out; the fire had burned down; the place was dark, and they closed both doors.

13793 Did they try to set fire to the place when you were outside?— Yes.

13794 We have heard of voices being heard during the night?— Yes, of course, that has been said but I did not hear any, and I can hear as well as anyone. I heard the dog bark a few times during the night. The dog was crying after I was going in, but that, I think, was the dog knew something was up. I think it was after Aaron he was crying.

13795 And they never moved out till morning?— They went out and closed both doors about eleven or twelve, I think. So in the morning they went out into the front room and shifted Aaron in by the wall, and put some blankets over him. He fell just between the fireplace and the window.

13796 It was the back door the man came to him?— Yes, and if the police did fire at Byrne at this time the front door was shut. It was some time after he shot Aaron . He ordered me to open the front door, and I saw the other man with a gun in his hand. Afterwards I heard Byrne call him Kelly . My daughter says that Dan Kelly was inside the front door and leaned his elbow on the kitchen table, and he was looking at Aaron and smiling, and nodded to her and said, “Good evening, ma'am,” and she just passed into the bedroom, and when she came out he was gone. One of the police in the morning asked for some drink, and there was some cold tea, and my daughter said not to drink it, for Dan Kelly was in there, and there might be poison in it.

The witness withdrew. ....

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