Royal Commission report day 38 page 4

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The Royal Commission evidence for 21/7/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 38)

[[../../people/peU_Z/wardPdet.html|Det Michael Edward Ward]] further examined.

The Witness — In my previous evidence I had got as far as the 5th November 1878, when I returned to Wangaratta Wodonga. I there made enquiries, and found that four horsemen had crossed the bridge of the Ovens, going in the direction of the Warby Ranges, under the One-mile Bridge. I informed Mr. Smith , who was in Wangaratta, and proceeded on my journey to Oxley and the Upper King, where I met a man who had promised to give me information and work for us. I made an appointment with him to meet Mr. Nicolson in a few days' time. Then, on the 10th, I accompanied Mr. Nicolson and Senior-Constable Strachan to meet another informant in Greta . On the 15th, a report came in from Mr. Turnbull's, of the Springs, that on the 12th and 13th November four horsemen were seen, believed to be the Kellys. I proceeded there and made enquiries, and found it to be false, and reported the matter to my officer. On the 24th I went to Oxley, and there met an informant from the Black Range , Upper King.

13841 Have you got the names of those informants?— I can give the names.

13842 You can do so privately?— Yes.

13843 Had you full authority to arrange for the payment of those men?— Full authority to submit and arrange for paying any person that would, as I thought, be able to supply us with information. On the 28th I received information and recovered two of the horses of the police that were shot in the Stringy Bark Creek. I found them in the Warby Ranges , about eight miles from Wangaratta, and took them to Wangaratta. Then I continued my enquiries from day to day without much result until the 10th of December 1878 . I left Beechworth in the morning by train for Wangaratta, from there to Benalla, and at ten o'clock on that night I received information that the Euroa bank was stuck up.

13844 Where did you receive that?— I was at a private house in Benalla at the time when the constable came for me to say I was wanted.

13845 What is the good of that information to us—it is not worth a penny to us—you did nothing at all to receive that information; nothing in any way; you simply heard what another man had to say?— Well, that is all—that is the first notification I had of it.

13846 Give us evidence of some value?— I proceeded at once and took charge of a party of police at Euroa. There is reference made to me in this portion of the evidence. Between twelve and one o'clock, in company with nine constables and the Police Magistrate, Mr. Wyatt, I proceeded to Younghusband's station. We there got a statement from Mr. McCauley . We got as far as Euroa and took out horses, made arrangements with Mr. Wyatt , Police Magistrate, to return to Benalla to inform Mr. Nicolson . I proceeded to Younghusband's station with the police and black trackers, and there made search until Mr. Nicolson arrived. He took charge of the police then, and directed me to go to Benalla to circulate reports to the stations, to telegraph to the surrounding stations. Then there is nothing very particular for some time until December and the latter end of January 1879. I called on Aaron Sherritt , and I asked him to work for me, having known him before. I called several times before he would, and he afterwards consented.

13847 He had not been employed previous to this?— Never employed before. For some time I was dubious of his acting straight for me, as I had previously given himself and Joe Byrne a sentence; but in January or February I was in the hospital, suffering from an injury I received at the telegraph office. He came to me and told me that he was speaking to two of the outlaws, and that they wanted him to go to New South Wales with them. He said if I came with him that we would be able to get them before they crossed the river. I said I was ill, my ribs were fractured and my knee bad, and could not ride, but I would send two good men with him—Detectives Brown and Eason. He said he would go with no other person than myself. I asked him if he would take a telegram down to the telegraph office for Captain Standish , and he did so. He told me he did; and I sent him down the following morning to Benalla, and I believe that the officer in charge then took steps to communicate with the New South Wales police.

13848 Then you take credit for employing Sherritt altogether?— Yes; no other person had anything to do with employing Sherritt at the first commencement. Then the next information I received was from a Chinaman named Ah Man. He told me that he saw the four outlaws at Gundowring. I asked him how he knew they were the outlaws. He said he knew, Joe Byrne very well, as he often had rice with him, which I knew to be true. I immediately communicated by telegram to Benalla, and two parties of police were sent up to Gundowring, and I received instructions to send a constable in charge of Ah Man to point out the place where he saw the outlaws,

13849 Had they black trackers at this time?— I do not know whether they had. They had trackers, but not the Queensland trackers. Then the next occurrence would be after I came out of the hospital. About the 12th February I received information from a storekeeper in Beechworth that one of the outlaws had been seen in Bowman's Forest by a men named David Rae . This man came into town and stayed about all day in several public-houses, and told them all he had met Dan Kelly , and distinctly stated that he knew Dan Kelly . That night I started with two constables, and got to Rae 's, and saw him. He still said it was Dan Kelly , that he met him about a mile and a half from the Gap, and that he was riding a well-bred brown mare, that he had a valise before him, and that he could not be mistaken. From enquiries I made, I found that a constable left Beechworth on that morning riding a horse similar— a dark-complexioned man named Dungey—and I came to the conclusion that Rae was mistaken, that that information was false. There were several times then that I received information in which I would have to refer to my reports at the time, relating to duty I had to perform at that time and different people I had to meet. I never kept any books or records, only when I received information I would go down to the telegraph office and write reports, and if it was urgent send a telegram to the officer in Benalla. Then I received reports on several occasions of the appearance of the outlaws in and about Sebastopol the Woolshed, reports which are all filed and I believe in the possession of the Commission at the present time. I always consulted with the officers I was stationed under, and whatever they thought best I always complied with their instructions and did as I was told. There were threatening letters sent to me.....

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