Royal Commission report day 42 page 6

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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

14638 “He said that there was a dark stain on the case and a sovereign pendent to the chain.” There is a very important clause here:— “He had an interview with Ward after this, and I fancy he was put on his guard by that gentleman.” What is the meaning of that?— That refers to Aaron Sherritt.

14639 What was your meaning?— Aaron Sherritt told me that Ward had told him (I know he told others—several) that I was assisting the police and endeavoring to capture the outlaws, that I was giving them information; and I had an idea that from his character if he knew I was making enquiries about the outlaws he would put them on their guard, so as to prevent them giving me any information.

14640 Did others inform you as well as Aaron Sherritt that Ward had said so?— Yes. I was informed that he had stated so publicly in Gardner 's hotel, at Milawa, on the evening of the ploughing match.

14641 We come to a later letter dated 19th September 1879 :— “Since writing the rest I met Doig.” Who was he?— James Doig, a farmer.

14642 “He says that Ward publicly stated that I was a detective in Gardner 's hotel, Milawa, in the presence of Colin Gardner , J.P. ; James Kelly , teacher; John Burry , farmer; A. McCormick , farmer; and others.” That is what you refer to?— Yes.

14643 Did you consider that Ward was attempting to destroy your usefulness to the police for the purpose?— I did certainly. What other effect could it have?

14644 And you informed Mr. Nicolson of that?— I did.

14645 For that purpose?— For that purpose.

14646 In this letter of the 19th September you say:— “Since coming home I have met a large number of people who were at the ploughing match on the 16th. If there had been such a rumor current as you told me of, I would be sure to have heard it by this time. Rumors of that kind soon travel. I do not believe that Ward heard anything of the kind”?— That refers to a conversation I had with Mr. Nicolson. Mr. Nicolson stated that he had heard through Ward that I had gone down on a mission to Melbourne to endeavor to obtain Byrne's pardon. I think it was some tale of that sort.

14647 “If he did, he alone is responsible for it. It has turned out as I feared. I knew well that if he found out what relations existed between you and me, he would do his best to spoil my chance of being useful to you.” That refers to Mr. Ward?— Yes.

14648 How did you come to know all those things. “I have it on the very best authority from two different sources that he stated at the ploughing match that I ‘was a detective,’ that he ‘was certain of it,’ that he ‘had seen my name on the list,’” and so on—that was your letter?— Yes.

14649 What led you to suppose Ward had that feeling towards you?— Well, just from my personal impression of the man and conversations that have been reported to me—expressions he had uttered in Beechworth and elsewhere conveyed to me by others.

14650 That he was attempting by all means in his power to destroy your usefulness in the attempt to catch the Kellys?— Yes; I will not say all means in his power, but he was trying to do it in various ways.

14651 The object, according to your view, is that he was trying to let it be known that you were so in order that you could not carry out your wishes to find out the outlaws?— That was my impression.

14652 What object would he have?— Jealousy of his position, I suppose; that he, being the detective in charge, should effect the capture himself—esprit de corps I suppose you would call it.

14653 You would not attribute it to any desire on his part to capture the Kellys through your means or any other?— No.

14654 But the opposite?— I believe he was earnest in his desire to capture them, but he wanted to do it himself.

14655 We have your letters here continually speaking against Ward . What object could he have in giving this information to others other than to prevent you getting information?— That was the only object he could have had.

14656 To turn all those who could possibly give you information against you?— Yes.

14657 To make them suspicious of you if you spoke?— Yes, exactly.

14658 We will pass on to the 12th November 1879 . There are a lot of letters between, but there is really nothing that I can see of importance in them. On 12th November 1879 there is this:— “On last Sunday week I met Aaron Sherritt on the Woolshed, and had a long conversation with him. He said the police were going to have another mustering match, and run in all the sympathizers again. He taxed me with having let out something about Kennedy 's watch, and said that you had been persecuting him about it.” What was the nature of the information that he gave you then about Kennedy's watch?— The information already referred to—he stated that he had it, and in reference to the inscription......

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