Royal Commission report day 52 page 7 (2)

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The Royal Commission evidence for 4/8/1881

(full text transcription)

(see also introduction to day 53)

[[../../people/peL_M/meehanThomasPc.html|Const Thomas Meehan]] giving evidence

17643 By the Commission— What are you?— I am breaking in horses now.

17644 What were you formerly?— Formerly in the Victorian police force.

17645 You have written to the Commission asking to be called?— Yes.

17646 Have you any statement you would like to make now?— I have.

17647 You can do so?— I was in charge of the Mansfield station when Sergeant Kennedy went out to arrest Ned Kelly. I must, as a preliminary to that, state that I joined the police force in July 1873. I was left in charge at Mansfield, and Kennedy, Scanlan, Lonegan, and McIntyre went out. On the Sunday afternoon, about four o'clock (they were shot on the Saturday previous), McIntyre came into Mansfield. He said to me, “This is hell.” I said, “What is up, McIntyre?” He said, “Poor Scanlan is shot, Lonegan is shot, and I believe Sergeant Kennedy is shot.” Then I went to look for Sub-Inspector Pewtress to tell him about the occurrence. I had an interview with him, and said, “I know all about it, Sir. The best thing I can do is to start for Benalla directly.” He was excited at the time. Sent me up with my horse from the police station to get horses from the paddock to make up a search party to go out to look for the constables that were shot. I must say McIntyre, when he came in, took my revolver from me. There were no firearms in the police station at all. He took it, he said, because Dan Kelly swore at the Wombat that he would come in and roast him in Mansfield.

17648 Had you not each a revolver?— I had none, I gave mine to McIntyre. His was in the tent when Ned Kelly came on them at the Wombat.

17649 You said there were no firearms on the station?— None, only mine. I was despatched to Benalla to give word of the murders. I went as far as Barjarg —a station—and saw two suspicious looking men on the road, and I could not go past them because I had no arms at all, and I was in uniform. I said to myself, “Those men have encountered everything—they have shot the police—and what am I to do. I have no firearms, and I have been despatched on this message.” Then I returned back to Joe Allen's (a farmer that lives about a mile back from Barjarg), going back towards Mansfield again. I went back with the object of getting firearms. Allen was not at home. Then I asked Mrs. Allen how far was it back to Hickson's. I went to Hickson's. He was out, and there was nobody there at all. I must explain that Hickson's place is about a hundred yards off the road, and when I was coming out on to the road again two horsemen were on the road, and I said to myself, “I must do something. I must use my head as I have no firearms,” and I took the mare I was riding back and took the bridle off her, and took the boots off that pinched me. I took them off in the excitement of the moment, and made the best of my way to Broken River, my station. I travelled all night and got there the next day. I did not know the country at the time —I was a stranger.

17650 Did you let the horse go?— I let the horse go.

17651 Were they the same two men you saw before?— That I could not say, because it was dark. Then I came into Benalla, gave information to Mr. Sadleir after that. Mr. Nicolson was in Benalla at the time, and there were five of us despached to catch the Kellys. Senior-Constable James, O'Connor, Bray, who is dead now, and Senior-Constable Kelly. We had one rifle and four revolvers. We went up towards the King River, and we kept the main road all the time—never went into the bush at all, and on the Friday following we started for Bungamera, on the King. I came in to Mansfield. Then we had a consultation to know what was to be done. Sergeant Steele was there. We had no firearms at all, and we dare not make a move. Telegraphed to Benalla, then all were to go to Benalla, and Sub-Inspector Pewtress me, and said, “Meehan, I will never forget you as long as you are in my district for making such a fool of your-self as you did that night when you went out.”

17652 That is in leaving your horse behind?— Yes.

17653 Did you get the horse again?— The next morning Mr. Hickson came out and saw the horse in the paddock, and took it back to Mansfield, and the report was that I was shot, and there was a search party went out after me, and I was in Benalla at the time.

17654 Did they take any arms?— I could not say, but I heard afterwards there were about ten of them came out of Mansfield to search for me. When I came into Benalla and reported the affair to Mr. Sadleir, he was away somewhere inspecting the stations. And there was the great Sebastopol raid. He chose to interview me about this night, and said to me, “Meehan, would not it be better for you then, that you were shot, than to be out all night in the bush?” Of course I differed with him in that. Then he asked me, why did not I challenge those two men, and I told him I had nothing to challenge them with. It is ridiculous now, but my word, at the time it was serious.

17655 Did either of those men, in either case, attempt to interfere with you to cause you to have such a desperate fright?— No, but they had dogged me—they had come back to Joe Allen's and then back to Hickson's.

17656 You stated that you could not tell whether they were the same two men?— I could not say.

17657 Then how did they “dog you”?— I could see the two horsemen were at Hickson's when I came out.

17658 The first men you saw were by the side of the road, not on horseback ? — They had their horses with them; that I can swear. ....

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