Royal Commission report day 49 page 4

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Story of the KellyGang - the Royal Commission Report

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The Royal Commission evidence for 6/9/1881

(full text transcription)

(see introduction to day 49)

Sup John Sadleir giving evidence

16683 You cannot connect anything to show that Mr. Brooke-Smith went out before the 6th?— No, but if you like I will go over the papers with the Secretary and hunt the matter up, I am merely guessing now.

16684 Were you at Wangaratta?— I got up late on the 5th, after Mr. Nicolson arrived. He arrived about four, and I did not arrive till half-past nine.

16685 Then there were three days lost before a start was made?— Certainly there were three days lost, but whether anybody was to blame I cannot say. Those reports and telegrams ought certainly to be found to put that matter right.

16686 Do you know whether Mr. Brooke-Smith went out on the 6th?— No, I left Wangaratta that morning before he started.

16687 Were they preparing to go out ?— I think it was understood they were, but that is only a matter of faint recollection.

16688 You did not consider that information worth anything yourself?— At Wangaratta?

16689 Yes?— I did not know that.

16690 What was the date of your attack upon the hut at Sebastopol , where you expected the Kellys?— On the morning of the 7th. It is a matter I cannot explain to this day why we should have remained in ignorance about all this matter—about the One-mile bridge; I was going on about the second search in Warby Ranges . I understood, when I arrived at Glenrowan (but I may be mistaken after so long a time), that a railway laborer named McEvoy had seen one or more horsemen galloping across the line close to Glenrowan. Senior-Constable Johnson says in his evidence that the tracks were three days old, and that the information amounted only to this, that some person saw three horsemen standing on the road whom no one identified. If I had known this I could easily have foretold that the trip would be a failure. l have already told, and Sergeant Steele and others have given similar evidence, how these Corranderk trackers failed as they did on every occasion, and how Sergeant Steele, by an accident separated from the rest of the party, taking with him Constable Dixon, the only man that could take us through the country we wanted to go to. Before Sergeant Steele left us the tracks we started on had been completely given up, and I am certain that Senior-constable Johnson , in giving his evidence of this affair, has been mixing up matters that were quite separate. The next note in my index is, “Food supposed to be prepared for outlaws by sisters, and step taken by police in the early part of 1878.” I have been unable to find anything in the papers or in my own notes to throw any more light on this subject. The only persons that would probably be able to give the Commission information would be Senior-Constable Strahan or perhaps Constables Mullane or Flood. Then I come to another point that I think has been absolutely cleared up—that is the hollow log referred to in prisoner Williamson ’s information, and steps taken. The search for and discovery of this log have been fully explained by Senior-Constables Mullane and Flood in their evidence. The log was found. The cobwebs and dust across the opening were the best possible proof that it was not used by the Kelly friends. Senior-Constable Mullane shows that the search was made within a day or two after the 30th October, and certainly within a week. Probably the reason that my memory was at fault (and I stated all through that I was speaking from memory only) was that this information was handed to these constables in Melbourne by Captain Standish himself. My statement that the log was, I thought, not found is explained by this. The search for this log was subsequently renewed, and it was stated it could not then be found, that it was burned by a bush fire. This is only from hearsay, for I can find no reference to it in the records.

16691 Were there search parties in that particular locality at the time?— Yes; and we had some men at Greta. The next subject I have to deal with is the information that induced Mr. Nicolson and myself to go to Albury, taken in connection with Mr. Wyatt's report of the telegraph wires being cut on 10th December 1878 —the day of the Euroa Bank robbery. This is a matter in which I acted to some extent on my own authority. The fact is that before Mr. Nicolson returned from Fern Hills, where he was when I received the information about the probable crossing of the Kellys near Howlong, I had made up my mind to go to the spot with Sergeant Harkin in daylight and place him there with a party of police. I had arranged all the necessary preliminaries when Mr. Nicolson returned from Fern Hills on the 9 th December. He approved of them and said he would go up too to Albury. Arrangements were made with Mr Medley , the New South Wales police officer at Albury, to meet us on the arrival of the train. This information, though at the time I expressed myself (as will be seen in the correspondence) as not having full confidence in it, seemed very plausible the more one considered it. It was addressed by a member of the criminal class, a needy man, to Jack Quin , an uncle of the Kellys , and the man of all others in the district at whose door most of the crime there was laid. I believe what made me suspicious of the information was the precision with which the localities and some other particulars were given, but then, on the other hand, if the police had omitted to use the information, and that it afterwards turned out to be genuine, a very serious responsibility would have been incurred. It appeared so easy to arrange a plan to intercept the Kellys crossing at this place, the prospect appeared too good to lose, and at the time I speak of the matter was becoming urgent. Mr. Nicolson in his evidence shows that Foote , who was a most intimate friend of the Kellys , and promised to help the police (and had done so in the case of Power), informed him that the Kellys were then at the head of the Wonangatta, one of their known haunts, over eighty miles from Benalla. Besides this, Mr. Nicolson (as he states in his evidence) returned from his last trip fully convinced that the Kellys were nowhere in the neighborhood.....

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