The Argus (54)
Const M'Intyre's evidence before the committal hearing
Whilst the other three were having some tea, the prisoner took the cartridges out of the fowling piece, picked out the ends of them, threw away the shot, placed a bullet in each cartridge, and reloaded the gun. He then said to Byrne, “Here, you take this gun and give me yours.” They accordingly exchanged. Byrne’s gun was very old. The prisoner had now two guns, and he said to me, “There is one of these for you if you don’t obey me.” Byrne asked, “Do you smoke, mate?” and I replied “Yes.” He then said, “Light your pipe, and have a smoke with me,” and I did so. The prisoner asked me for a bit of tobacco, and I gave him some. All this had only occupied some 10 or fifteen minutes. The gang kept possession of their guns all the time. About this time the prisoner said―“That will do; now, lads, take your places.” He went himself close to the fire, taking the two guns with him. The fourth man (Hart) remained in the tent, whilst Byrne and Dan Kelly went on to some spear-grass which was growing on the outside of our camping-ground. It was on this same side that the gang made their first appearance. I lost sight of Byrne and Dan Kelly in the spear-grass.
The prisoner concealed himself by kneeling down behind a large log near the fire. Immediately after he had concealed himself he called me over, and pointing to the front of the log which concealed him, said, “You stand there.” The log was about 3ft. high. I went up, and we had a conversation. The prisoner asked, “Who showed you to this place?” I said, “No person showed it to us. It is well-known to all the people about Mansfield .” He then asked, “How do you come here?” I replied, “We crossed Holland’s Creek, and came on in a straight line.” He then inquired, “What brought you here?” and I said, “You know very well who we are.” Prisoner said, “I suppose you came after me,” and I replied, “No I don’t know that we did come after you.” He said, “You came after Ned Kelly, then?” and I answered, “Yes, we came after Ned Kelly.” He then said, “Yes, you came to shoot me, I suppose?” “No,” I replied, “but to apprehend you.” “Then why did you bring so many arms and so much ammunition?” he inquired, to which I replied, “We brought the fowling-pieces to shoot kangaroo.” He next asked, “Who was shooting down the creek that day?” I said, “It was me shooting at parrots.” “That is very strange,” he remarked. “Did you know that we were there?” I replied, “No, we did not think we were within ten miles of you. We thought you were over there,” pointing in the direction of Greta. He then asked when Kennedy and Scanlan were to return to the camp. He had asked me where they were after he returned from Lonigan’s body. In reply to his last question I said, “I don’t think they will come tonight, as I think they must have got bushed.” He asked, “Which direction did they go in?” I pointed north-west in the direction of Benalla, and said they were there, and the prisoner said, “That is very strange, but perhaps they will never come back, for there is a good man down the creek, and if they call on him you may never see them again.”
He inquired their names and stations, and I said, “Sergeant Kennedy, of Mansfield, and Constable Scanlan, of Benalla.” He said, “I have never heard of Kennedy, but I believe Scanlan is a flash dog,” and I asked “What do you intend doing with them? Surely you don’t intend to shoot them down in cold blood; if you do, I would rather be shot a thousand times myself than tell you anything about them.” He replied, “Of course I like to see a brave man. You can depend upon me not shooting them if you get them to surrender. I will shoot no man who holds his hands up.” I asked “Do you intend to shoot me?” He replied, “No, what would I want to shoot you for? I could have done so half an hour ago when you were sitting on that log if I wanted. At first I thought you were Constable Flood. It is a good job for you that you are not him, because if you had been I would not have shot you, but would have roasted you on that fire. There are four men in the police force. If ever I lay hands on them I will roast them.
They are Fitzpatrick, Flood, Steele, and Straughan. Straughan has been blowing that he would take me single-handed. How are these men armed?” I said, “In the usual way.” He asked what I meant by that. “Did they have revolvers?” I said, “Yes.” He then asked, “And haven’t they got a rifle?” I hesitated. He said, “Come, now, tell the truth; if I find you out in telling a lie I will put a hole through you.” I then said, “Yes, they have got a rifle.” He asked, “What sort is it―breech-loading?” I replied, “Yes.” “Well,” he said, “that looks like as if you came out to shoot me.” I said, “You can’t blame the men; they have got their duty to do.” He replied, “You have no right to go about the country shooting people.” He then inquired, “What about the Sydney man?” I knew he referred to the murder of Sergeant Wallings, and I said, “He was shot by the police;” to which he replied, “If the police shot him they shot the wrong man. I suppose some of you b―s will shoot me some day, but I will make some of you suffer for it beforehand.”
At this stage the court was adjourned until next day at 10 o’clock .
Before Mr Foster left the bench, Mr Gaunson made an application for an order to allow Mrs Skillian to see the prisoner in gaol. Mr Foster replied that he would be happy to have an interview with Mr Gaunson on the subject during the evening. Subsequently Mr Gaunson applied privately to Mr Foster for an order to admit Mrs Skillian to the prisoner’s cell, but he was again unsuccessful, whereupon he telegraphed for authority to the Chief Secretary in the following terms:―
“I beg specially to urge that this order of your predecessor, restricting Kelly’s right to freedom of access to his friends and relatives, should be cancelled as illegal, arbitrary, and unjust to a man standing for his life.”
No reply has been received up to half-past 11 this evening. Mrs Skillian and Tom Lloyd have hitherto been living at the same hotel as Mr Gaunson―the Hibernian―but as accommodation could not be provided there for Dick Hart and Pat Byrne, who arrived to-day, they have removed to another hotel, and the fact of these four friends all living together is regarded as significant. Detective Ward had a short interview to-day with Kelly in the cell at the Courthouse. Kelly reminded him of an incident that occurred in Wangaratta before the murders. He was riding an unbroken horse in the street, and Ward told him he had better find another place for showing off his horsemanship. Having heard that Kelly was a grand rider, he hade this remark with the view of making him show off; and Kelly did dig his spurs into the animal, but it only bucked. Kelly now said that ever since he bore Ward a grudge.
A number of people who saw him in court recognised Kelly was a man they had seen during the career of the Kelly gang. At the Oxley coursing matches last Easter he was seen sitting on a fence, and about four months ago he was drinking in the bar of Dreyer’s Hotel, Beechworth, but no one who saw him knew him then except sympathisers. Sergeant Steele had also a few words with the prisoner after the police court was adjourned. To him he said that McIntyre had given his evidence better than he expected, and from other remarks that he made he appeared to derive great satisfaction from the large attendance of ladies at the court. It is stated on good authority that in July, 1879, Kelly visited Melbourne, and that he slept one night in the National Hotel, Bourke-street. It is said that he talked a little about the Kelly gang, and stated that he came from the north-eastern district, and that he cleared away before daylight. Information was given next day to the police, but the suspected person could not be traced.
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