Royal Commission second Report Part XII ( page 17)

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The Royal Commission Second Report -Part XII cont

The informant was ..; he stated he saw five men. From conversation with Superintendent Sadleir, upon his return from Wangaratta, it did not appear that "the spot was indicated so that it could be found without difficulty," nor that "it could be taken up by the trackers at daybreak before the people were moving" and had become conscious of the presence of the police among them. The subsequent examination of Mounted-Constable Ryan as to the locality and its approaches did not tend to remove the above impression. It appeared that the neighborbood was settled, and that our party could hardly expect to pass Lloyd's house, even at midnight, without being discovered, and that the trackers might have to search over at least a quarter of a mile before finding the footprints; and considering the precaution said to have been taken by the men seen by in sending a man to dog him home, it seemed likely that they had taken the other precaution of moving off, and, with the fifth man and other friends, each had taken separate directions, so that the trackers pursuing might find themselves running down one wrong man. Sub-Inspector O'Connor was of opinion that the chance of success was a bad one. Considering my other improving sources of information, I determined, upon this occasion, not to disturb the false sense of security into which the outlaws have been lulled. Although I decided upon the above course upon the merits of the report made to me, yet I may remind the Chief Commissioner that .., the informant, was the man who tried to induce me to proceed with the Benalla police and meet him at the head of the King River the day before the Euroa bank robbery.

The informant was Pat Quin, whose loyalty to the police Mr. Nicolson appears to have always doubted; but there seems every reason to believe that had Mr. Sadleir taken the precaution to bring with him the agent his statement would have been acted upon, and the officer in question have escaped the responsibility of the expedition being abandoned owing to his action. The tactics adopted at this time appear peculiar, and, perhaps, account to some extent for the apparent listlessness of the police. Mr. Nicolson was desirous, he alleges, of lulling the gang into what he terms a false sense of security. He was gradually forming round them a cordon, not of police but of secret spies, and was anxious not to allow them to know of the information he possessed, or of the precise nature of his plans, lest they should leave the district - where he felt assured they would ultimately be taken - and seek refuge in the inaccessible region near Tomgroggin, in New South Wales. The immediate object was not so much to effect the capture as to guard against any renewal of a raid upon the banks. The relative merits of the two systems adopted by the police in connection with operations against the Kelly gang, namely, that of search parties and of secret agents, have been frequently referred to in the course of the evidence. The name of Mr. Hare has been more particularly associated with the former, and that of Mr. Nicolson with the latter. As a matter of fact, however, both systems were employed conjointly as occasion arose, but, from instinct and peculiarity of temperament, Mr. Hare seems to have preferred the more active and military mode of prosecuting the pursuit; while Mr. Nicolson trusted principally to the effects likely to arise from having the outlaws surrounded with spies and informers. .....

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