Royal Commission report day 51 page 11

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The Royal Commission evidence for 8/9/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 51)

Insp Brooke Smith examined

17275 By the Commission. –What position do you hold in the police force?— I am a first-class inspector, stationed now at Horsham as the sub-officer of the Wimmera district.

17276 Where were you stationed during the Kelly pursuit?— In half-a-dozen places.

17277 Were you stationed at Wangaratta at the time of the outbreak?— No; I was not in charge of a district at all.

17278 What were you doing in October 1878?— I was occupying the same position in that North-Eastern district that I do now in the Horsham district; that is, inspecting officer.

17279 How long had you been stationed in the North-Eastern district before that?— On and off for about the last twenty-four years.

17280 Have you read Senior-Constable Johnson's evidence?— I have.

17281 If you have a reply to make as to the statements concerning yourself you had better do so now in your own way?— The reflections appear to amount to this, as far as I can judge that I was not there immediately when I was required; that is what they state. Now I had been so much worked for several days before that that I was simply overdone.

17282 How “overdone”?— Overworked.

17283 Exhausted from fatigue?— I was utterly fatigued; I had crossed the Buffalo twice in high flood, and I cannot swim, and I had to go across on a horse with a sergeant and six men. On a certain date (I cannot state exactly when, because I did not keep any books at all at the time—I thought it was too dangerous) I was directed by the Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Nicolson, to proceed to Yarrawonga, and from thence to proceed to make further enquiries; in fact it was what was called a search party, only we were not prepared with things to assist us in the way of food; we had nothing of that sort, we had to stay where we could get it, hotels or anywhere else. I went there with a party in which Senior-Constable Johnson was next to me; he was a senior constable then. I put him in charge of the party, and from there on the following day I went to Lake Rowan. There I met the party that Mr. Nicolson had despatched, under charge of first-class Detective Kennedy, now sub-inspector at Ballarat. After speaking with him I directed that he should take one side of the Glenrowan ranges and I should take the other. On taking the left-hand side of the Glenrowan ranges the men acting under me that was Johnson, party-came across the tracks of four horses.

17284 What date was that?— I cannot give the exact dates. We went on then towards the direction, apparently making for Wangaratta. We lost the tracks a little, and I went into Wangaratta to inform the acting officers there.

17285 How far were you from Wangaratta at that time?— Six or seven miles. I saw Mr. Nicolson on that evening, and he directed that a party should go out the following day. The party did go out without myself, and I believe found a horse, one of the horses stolen from the police in the Mansfield district. I have not got the dates with me, but I believe it was on the following day that I again joined the party. I was shown by Constable Johnson a certain place on the top of the Glenrowan ranges, near where they had discovered the horse. I went on with the party to a station called Taminick, Newcomen's. The tracks were traced within about a mile, or perhaps less than about a mile of that place, and then they turned to the left, and ceased four tracks, and got into two. I then, on the following morning, with the party, went to Glenrowan, and endeavored to follow up those tracks. That was the most likely way of getting hold of the persons who were being followed. I am not sure who they were. I cannot tell that. We did not know who they were.

17286 Had you reason to doubt that they were the outlaws?— I am perfectly certain they were, but I did not know it; I could not swear it; and then, after following the tracks to the neighborhood of Glenrowan (we had got hold of them again a bit through some black trackers), I went back to Wangaratta and reported what had been done to Mr. Nicolson. Mr. Nicolson was very anxious I should go out again almost immediately, but I was very tired, and he was good enough to wait on me himself, and we started a morning or two after. I have not got the dates.

17287 Who?— Mr. Nicolson, Superintendent Sadleir, and one or two men whose names I do not remember—about nineteen of us in the party altogether, as far as I recollect. We went back to this spot with the black trackers.

17288 Then that would be about the third day?— The fourth day-that was in the hands of Mr. Nicolson; I had no command then, my command ceased.

17289 Senior-Constable Johnson was examined here, and he said he was one of your party?— That was one party.

17290 One that he was with from Wangaratta to Yarrawonga, on the 6th November 1878 ?— I will. ....

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