Royal Commission report day 51 page 12

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The Royal Commission evidence for 8/9/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 51)

Insp Brooke Smith giving evidence

17292 How long was that before you went out?— The same morning, I think; but I did not put any trust in the matter at all.

17293 Did you go out the same day?— Oh, no; there were no police at Wangaratta at that time. There was one, I think, that was all.

17294 How long did you hear of the supposed outlaws before you went out?— Only a very short time. I admit the date; I do not remember dates.

17295 How long?— I cannot tell exactly, it is two years and a half ago.

17296 Was it more than a day?— No.

17297 Do you remember Sergeant Steele being in Wangaratta, on his way to Rats' Castle?— Steele was in charge at Wangaratta at this time.

17298 Do you remember his being in Wangaratta under orders to go Rats' Castle a number of men?— I never heard of it.

17299 Did you receive information from Steele of the appearance of four men?— I have no recollection of that.

17300 Before you went with Johnson had you information that a party had crossed under the bridge, supposed to be the outlaws?— No.

17301 You have accepted the 6th as the date. Had you any information from any source that a number of men, supposed to be the outlaws, had passed under the railway bridge prior to that morning?— The only person I ever received any information about it from was Walsh, and he said he believed they had gone across; and from enquiries I made I did not believe they had.

17302 If Steele says he sent you information on the 3rd or 4th November that a party of men supposed to be the outlaws had passed under the bridge, would his statement be correct or otherwise?— How could he send me information?

17303 If he states so, would it be correct or otherwise?— All I can say is that this is the first time I ever heard of it, except when I saw it in print. I was not in charge of Wangaratta at that time.

17304 Was Steele in Wangaratta that day?— I cannot tell.

17305 How long were you in Wangaratta before you went out on that search party?— I think it would be three or four days.

17306 Did Steele give you any information upon the supposed appearance of the outlaws near Wangaratta on the 3rd or 4th November?— I have not the slightest recollection of it. I never received any communication of the sort from him, either written or verbal.

17307 Do you think the statement is correct?— I do not think so. I have no reason to think it is. I especially wish to mention about Constable Patrick Walsh , to give him the credit for what he did. He came to my rooms and told me what he had heard. He came and said that he had learned from an old woman, living near the bridge, that four mounted men had crossed, and he thought it was the outlaws; and when I sent him back I said, “Go and find out who it is and what it is,” and they could not tell which way they went over the bridge.

17308 Did you go afterwards to see this old woman?— No, indeed I did not; I should want something more than that to go.

17309 This is a telegram from you, on the 4th November 1878 , to Superintendent Sadleir , from Wangaratta, “I can neither verify nor controvert Delany 's statement (that is the old woman) after further enquiry. They are respectable people, easily frightened. Have ascertained from a friend, who crossed Mulwalla punt yesterday to Yarrawonga, that four New South Wales constables are actively patrolling banks of Murray, near punt; also, that although crossings might be made higher up by fishermen's boats, lagoons and creeks on other side so bad, no escape could be made that way, so that Warby ranges could be the only resort for hiding, perhaps on to Ryan's at Lake Rowan,” [the Witness —It has come true.] “No horses reported missing. Constables Hayes and Twomey on Thom's horse are awaiting duty with me when ordered; but such party is too small, and is not well armed, the sight off only Spencer rifle. Constables Davison and Healy misconducted themselves so much on my search party I would never take either again, as it would be risking other men's lives. Send rifles and ammunition, if you can spare such. Weather increasingly worse. Floods rising.” That is the 4th, at 5.40 p.m. ?— I have not got a copy of the telegram, and have not seen it since it was sent.

17310 Then at 10.50 p.m. the same day, “A youth, Delany , states his mother called him up at 4 a.m. yesterday morning to see if his horse was being taken away. He looked out and saw four mounted men with hobbles, one saddler driving several horses at a rapid pace through One-mile Creek, towards Peechelba road. No description can be given; may have gone to Warby ranges”?— That finishes up that no description could be given. It was a very unsatisfactory enquiry that was, and I do not believe it was the people at all. The telegram you read there, addressed to Mr. Sadleir , is as true from start to finish as it possibly can be, and I had had a very painful and arduous journey. Twice we crossed the river, and had to get a man who knew it well to tell us whether we dare cross it or not. I remember also that, on the same occasion, one of the constables went a little over the mark and had to be dealt with.....

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