Royal Commission report day 42 page 12

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The Royal Commission evidence for 3/8/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 42)

Mr James Wallace giving evidence

14775 Were you in company with Sherritt?— Yes.

14776 Can you tell us in what respects you say this report is concocted.?— In respect to the conversation at least. It is stated Sherritt made this report to Ward . I state that is altogether untrue; I never had any such conversation with him.

14777 Sherritt might make those statements to Ward ?— Well, it is untrue that that conversation occurred between Ward and me.

14778 Might not that occur between Sherritt and Ward ?— That might occur, because on that evening Sherritt was sent for by Ward . It is a fact that I was with Sherritt there, and I drove home and called at the Sherritts.

14779 Had you any conversation with him then?— I did, but not like that.

14780 In what are the circumstances incorrect?— That part which states that I wanted him to do certain things for the outlaws, and that I was a friend of the outlaws, and other things. Of course I had to assume the role of sympathizer, and was advised to do so by Mr. Nicolson , in order to carry it out.

14781 Did you ever say that Byrne was in your place?— I never did.

14782 Was he, as a matter of fact, ever there?— Not since they were outlaws; previously he was

14783 Can you inform the Commission on or about the date of the last conversation you had with Byrne?— I cannot, it is so very long ago. It was shortly after his release from Beechworth prison, where he had been for some sentence or other.

14784 Do you swear that you never saw Byrne or never spoke to him after the date of the committal of the murders?— Only on that one occasion I have mentioned I never had any conversation with him.

14785 By Mr. Nicolson (to the Commission) — You asked did he ever say to anyone that Byrne had been in his house, and he said no. ( To the witness.)—Did you ever say that to the Sherritts?— I may have done. I was instructed by Mr. Nicolson to lead them to believe I was a friend of the outlaws, and in communication with them. I may have made that statement to Sherritt.

14786 By the Commission— The fact is, you wish us to understand that you, as a schoolmaster occupied in the Government service at this time, were willing to engage in a position of this kind, regardless of truth or anything else, to assist in capturing those men?— To a certain extent truth had to be sacrificed.

14787 It was merely a question of degree then?— Merely a question of degree.

14788 Do you mean to say you were prepared to lie?— I do not.

14789 If you made this statement to Sherritt, would that not be untrue after the statement you have now made?— It would be untrue, but I do not think I would have made that statement. I may have led him to believe it to a certain degree; but I am almost sure I never made that statement.

14790 Did you not make the same statement to Captain Standish. ?— Not that I remember; no, I am positive I did not. He was not misled by me in any way.

Mr. Nicolson — When I went to see this witness first in July, he denied that they had ever been at his house.

The Witness — I deny it still.

14791 By the Commission— This is a report of Detective Ward's, a month later, dated September 4th 1879.—[The same was read, as follows]—”North-Eastern District, Beechworth Police Station, September 4th 1879.—Memo.—Confidential.—I have the honor to report, for the information of the Assistant Commissioner of Police, I have seen Tommy this morning, and he has very little news. He gives his reasons for stopping so long at Wallace's is to try if Joe would call there, as he was expected; but he did not call; but he states that he is certain Wallace knows their whereabouts, and can find them when he likes, but he will not sell Joe Byrne. Wallace and Tommy have made an appointment to go to Chiltern on Friday evening to try to meet a person who knows where Joe can be seen. I asked him if he would have any objection for me to be in Chiltern to see if Wallace would be there. He said, ‘No; you can come, and you might then get the gold when we are in the act of selling it.’ Tommy states that the gang told Wallace they would not try the Oxley bank now, as there is too many police there— two troopers every morning when the bank opens; and another drawback, the ground is too soft. They are not going to do anything until the ground gets harder; they are frightened of the black boys. The gang were at Richardson 's shanty, on the Chiltern and Wodonga road, about three weeks ago. Joe Byrne told Wallace that Grace Quinn had Sergeant Kennedy's watch and chain, as Byrne wanted to get the watch to return it to Mrs. Kennedy . They are very sorry for the shooting of Kennedy . Tommy says by the description of the person who gave him the threatening letter it must be a man named Jack Fox , a particular friend of the Byrnes . He received a sentence of nine months, some six years ago, for stealing a horse from Mr. Kennedy , of the Woolshed. I am not at all satisfied with Tommy 's tale. I am of opinion that he has seen Joe Byrne himself, and most likely he is the identical person who gave the letter to Jack to post, and kept out of the way until yesterday himself. However, he assures me that we will get them, and that before long. I am giving him money to go to Chiltern to keep the appointment with Wallace . If you would advise, I would like to go and be somewhere concealed, and watch the movements of those two, as, if they are there, there is some move on the board.—M. E. WARD, Det. 2358.”—You have heard that report read?— I say it is totally untrue so far as I am connected with it.....

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