Royal Commission report day 38 page 9

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The Royal Commission evidence for 21/7/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 38)

Det Ward giving evidence

13870 Then if Dowling swears he was standing by when you gave that order he swears falsely too?— Yes.

13871 The statement is this — “Did he suggest to you then that having told that to Mr. Hare was absolutely necessary for you to go on?— Yes, he told us to clear out. I told him there was no necessity to tell Mr. Hare a lie, and to tell the truth. He then said to me, ‘ —— it! go on, and do as I tell you.’ I and Armstrong then left, and had taken up our posts some three or four minutes previous to Mr. Hare coming along. You obeyed that command?— Yes; when I saw Mr. Hare I was going to stand up, but he made a sign to me to remain where I was, and passed on to Constable Armstrong. I do not know what took place between Mr. Hare and Armstrong.” Then that narrative, so far as you are concerned, is false?— I never spoke to Dowling. I spoke to Constable Armstrong, who was in charge.

13872 Why did you hurry them down when Mr. Hare had gone?— Simply to be careful that Mr. Hare would not shoot them if Mr. Hare got there first.

13873 Had you any idea that they were to be on the ground before Mr. Hare?— No, not the slightest. I told them to hurry down.

13874 Was Duross supposed to know the way as well as those other men?— They were supposed to be there every night.

13875 As a matter of fact, they should have been down before Armstrong and Dowling were down if they had not missed the way?— Yes, they would. Alexander ought to know his way, because he was there the longest. I think Duross was the shortest. They were asked the question by Mr. Hare if they could take him.

13876 Did Duross distinctly tell you when you went in that the men were watching?— Yes.

13877 How did you find out they were not watching?— After Mr. Hare left Mrs. Sherritt told me.

13878 Dowling says that Mrs. Sherritt came up with instructions from you to them to hurry on and get across?— That would be inconsistent. After Mrs. Sherritt told me this, I said, “Where are their arms?” and the arms were in the room. I saw them there. If they told the truth, there was no blame whatever to the men, because they were acting according to instructions, and I had nothing to gain in the world by those men, whether they were in or out; it did not matter to me as long as I obeyed instructions from Mr. Hare.

13879 Were those men thoroughly acquainted with the road; are you under the impression that they led Mr. Hare purposely astray, so as to let the other men get down before them?— No; I do not think those men would do that.

13880 They would do anything if they would tell a lie in the barefaced way they did, and charge you with suggesting the falsehood to them?— Well, I should have had some motive in order to tell this lie, and you plainly see, and Mr. Hare will tell you, that I had no motive in it, and it is my opinion that it was only when those men were caught in the hole, and finding I was always willing to be kind to them, that they bring this in as something to screen themselves. Duross was the man I spoke to; Alexander was in the room at the time; Mrs. Sherritt was in the kitchen. I had nothing to gain by it.

13881 Did you ever go round there in the daytime?— No.

13882 Not along that road?— I might ride past. I did ride past in the daytime sometimes. I went down and inspected a couple of times in the daytime. I bought three or four yards of calico, and nailed it up to make a screen, so that if any person came they would not be seen, and gave strict instructions for them to remain in the room.

13883 Did you ever hear whether they were out during the day at any time?— No, not at that time.

13884 Did they remain secret in the house all day?— They remained there — I never found them out when I was down — they did as far as I know; I could not know. I was frightened to go near the cave party for fear, because everybody had an eye out, and saw if Ward was going down there must be something up. In fact, I had to take three or four greyhounds with me anywhere I went, as if for sport, because everywhere Ward was going there was something up they said. I specially asked for two secret-service men to come from Benalla to the Woolshed, Sebastopol, Reed's Creek, and the Woolshed, to remain there for a few days to try and ascertain if there was any knowledge of the police being in the locality, and not to allow those men to know what duty they were on, but to go to the residents about there, so that if there was any danger of the police being discovered I would withdraw them.

13885 Does that refer to the hut?— No, to the cave.

13886 We had information given to us to-day, swam, that those men were out cutting wood during the day, and hallooing out as if they were horses or bullocks, and wheeling it in with a barrow; did you know of this?— No; their instructions were simply to keep in during the day.

13887 What time was it during the night you found them out wood-cutting?— Eight o'clock at night.

13888 Just about the proper time to be leaving?— Yes. They had to cross the creek, and they had to take a towel in their hands to dry their feet; that night Mr. Hare came in wet up to his knees.

13889 You state upon your oath that all that those men state about your suggesting a falsehood to them is all wrong?— Yes, it is.

The witness withdrew. .....

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