The Argus (11)
... part of the KellyGang story
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STATEMENT BY SENIOR CONSTABLE KELLY
‘When we started from the platform we ran down towards the railway gates, hearing that the gang were in Jones’ public house. We had not time to scatter, but made at once for the front of the house, a few of the men going round to the back. As we neared the place the gang slipped out on the verandah and began to fire at us. Superintendent Hare was near me, as was also Mr Rawlins, a volunteer from Benalla. Two or three constables fired, and Mr Hare was wounded, a bullet striking his wrist. He said to me, ‘Kelly, for God’s sake surround the house and don’t let them escape.’ With his right hand he forthwith fired two shots. Handing his gun to Mr Rawlins he then retired, saying, ‘Kelly, place the men under cover,’ I immediately placed the men around the house. Inspector O’Connor, with his trackers, took up a position in front, and I went round to the further part of the premises, taking Constable Arthur with me. We crept on our faces and hands for about 400 yards, and reached a tree 50 yards from the house. We got at the back of this tree, which was in the scrub. There we found a six barrelled revolving rifle, covered with blood, and a skull cap. We kept a look out, and every time we fancied we saw anyone in the hotel we fired. We shot four horses which were saddled and tried up at the back door, with a view to prevent escape on them. When he left the train Constable Bracken, who had just escaped from the hotel, told us the gang were all inside. He jumped on one of our horses, which was saddled, and rode off to Wangaratta for additional assistance. At half past 6 o’clock he returned in company with Sergeant Steele and eight men who at once assisted in mounting guard round the house. We continued firing on the house until about 8 o’clock , when Ned Kelly made his appearance under the brow of the hill, about 150 yards from the hotel, and deliberately fired a revolver at me. He was heavily armoured, and our men kept up a continuous fire at him. Sergeant Steele being at one side of him and myself and Dowsett (a railway guard) on the other side. Gradually we closed on him, all the while keeping up a steady fire from the rifles. Finding our shots at his heads, arms and legs. He walked bodily forward, as if to defy us. Some of our men retired behind frees and logs, and in about 10 minutes afterwards he fell beside a fallen tree at which we were posted. We at once rushed forward and caught him. I caught him by the beard, and Steele grasped his hand, in which he held a revolver. He fired it off, but it did no damage. We took his armour off, and carried him to the railway station. Found on searching him only a 3d. piece, a silver Geneva watch, and a quantity of ammunition. I asked him to tell me where Sergeant Kennedy’s watch was so that I might get it for Mrs Kennedy. He replied, ‘I cant tell you, I would not like to tell you about it.’ He said – ‘I had to shoot Sergeant Kennedy and Scanlan for my own safety, and I cant tell you any more.’” We then gave him over to Mr Sadleir and the medical gentlemen.
THE MURDER OF SHERRITT
With regard to the murder of Aaron Sherritt, near Beechworth, one of the constables present gives the following narrative:- ‘There were four of us sent out to watch Byrne’s mother’s house. We were planted for a few weeks in Sherritt’s hut, which is about seven miles from Beechworth. About five minutes past 6 o’clock on Saturday evening a man knocked at the door. Sherritt opened it, and said, ‘Who is here?’ The man replied, ‘I have lost my way. Can you put me on the right track to Sebastopol ?’ Mrs Aaron Sherritt told her husband to go out and direct the man. He accordingly went out, and found that the man was Antonio Wicks, a digger, and that he was handcuffed. Joe Byrne stood behind Wicks, and the moment Sherritt stepped forward Byrne shot him through the eye. Sherritt staggered backwards, and then received another bullet in the chest and died. Sherritt’s wife and mother in law were in the house and we were in the bedroom. Byrne entered the house, and asked who was in the bedroom. Mrs Sherritt said it was a man. Byrne ordered her to bring the man out. She came in, and we kept her there. Byrne then said to Mrs Sherritt, ‘I will shoot your mother if you don’t come out.’ Mrs Sherritt’s mother then came into the room to bring her out, and we kept them back. Byrne said, ‘I will –soon make you come out,’ and he with Dan Kelly, put seven bullets through the walls of the hut. We never got a chance of shooting at them. Dan Kelly said, ‘We will set fire to the – place,’ and he broke up a barrel for firewood. Byrne asked Mrs Sherritt if she used kerosene or candles, and when she said candles, he said he wanted kerosene to set the place alight. We heard them talking on the outside until 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning, when they must have left. Byrne asked us to surrender, and we replied that we would sooner die. When they threatened to burn the house down, Mrs Barry (Mrs Sherritt’s mother) said, ‘Do not burn down the house. I know, Byrne you have got a soft heart.’ Byrne replied, ‘I have a heart as hard as stone, I will shoot the whole lot of them like dogs.’ We remained in the hut until last night, when we were relieved by another party of police.’
THE INQUEST ON SHERRITT
An inquest was commenced to day on the body of Aaron Sherritt, who was shot by Byrne at Sebastopol on Saturday evening. His father, mother in law, and brother, and the doctor gave evidence, There were two bullets wounds, but no bullet was found in the body. The inquest was adjourned until Wednesday for the attendance of the policemen who were in the hut when the murder was committed.
Sherritt was buried this evening.
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