The Argus at KellyGang 19/10/1881 (3)

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Royal Commission, second report

8. That in the opinion of the commission, Detective Ward, while he rendered active and efficient service during the pursuit of the gang, was guilty of misleading his superior officers upon several occasions, more especially in connexion with Mr Nicolson's cave party, Mr Hare's hut party, and the telegram forwarded to Senior-constable Mullane by Mr Nicolson when the latter was superseded on the 2nd of June, 1880. The commission therefore recommend that Detective Ward be censured and reduced one grade.  

9. That in the opinion of your commissioners the conduct of Sergeant Steele was highly censurable in neglecting to take action when, on his arrival at Wangaratta on the 4th November, 1878, he received reliable information that the outlaws had been observed on the previous morning passing under the One-mile bridge at Wangaratta. There was no reason why, as he had a large body of well armed troopers under his command, and was then actually engaged in the search for the outlaws, he should not have gone immediately in pursuit. The tracks were plainly discernible, the men observed were undoubtedly the outlaws, and had they been followed they would most probably have been overtaken in the Warby Ranges , inasmuch as their horses and themselves were exhausted by their journey to and from the Murray . Sergeant Steele had full power to act upon his own discretion and there can be little doubt that had he exhibited judgment and promptitude on that occasion, he would have been the means of capturing the gang and preventing the loss of life and the enormous expenditure of money incurred subsequently in the extermination of the outlaws. Your commissioners therefore recommend that Sergeant Steele be reduced to the ranks.

10. That the constables who formed the hut party on the night of Aaron Sherritt's murder - viz, Henry Armstrong, William Duross, Thos. Patrick Dowling and Robert Alexander - were guilty of disobedience of orders and gross cowardice, and that the three latter - Constable Armstrong's resignation having been accepted - be dismissed from the service.

11. That the entries made by Superintendent Sadleir in the record sheets of Senior-constables Kelly and Johnson be cancelled, and the commission recommend these members of the force to the favourable consideration of the Government for promotion.

12. That the commission approve of the action taken by Constable Bracken when imprisoned by the Kelly gang in Mrs Jones's hotel at Glenrowan, and recommend him for promotion in the service.

13. That in consequence of the reprehensible conduct of Mr James Wallace, the state-school teacher of Hurdle Creek, during the Kelly pursuit and his alleged sympathy with the outlaws, together with the unsatisfactory character of his evidence before the commission, your commissioners think it very undesirable that Mr Wallace should be retained in any department of the public service. We therefore recommend his immediate dismissal from the Education department.

11. That the conduct of Mr Thos Curnow, state-school teacher, in warning the special train from Benalla to Beechworth on the morning of the 28th of June, 1880, whereby a terrible disaster involving the probable loss of many lives was averted, deserves the highest praise, and the commission strongly recommend that his services receive special recognition on the part of the Government.

15. The commission desire to record their approval of the conduct of Mr C H Rawlings during the attack upon the outlaws, and consider that his services deserve some consideration at the hands of the Government.

16. The commission desire also to express their approval of the assistance rendered to the police at Glenrowan by the members of the press present.

17. That your commissioners desire to record their marked appreciation of the courtesy and promptitude displayed by the Queensland Government in forwarding a contingent of native trackers to Victoria to aid in the pursuit of the outlaws. We take this opportunity of expressing our approval of the services of the black trackers as a body, and deeply regret that any misunderstanding amongst the officers in command of operations in the North-Eastern District should have led to unpleasant complications. The Queensland contingent did good service, and your commissioners trust that the Victorian Government will not fail to accord them proper recognition.


JAS. GIBB, subject to Protest B. GEO. WILSON HALL.


EDWARD JOHN DIXON, subject to Protest A.

GEORGE COLLINS LEVEY, subject to Protest B.


The following protest by Mr E J Dixon is attached to the report -

In signing the second progress report of the Police Commission, I beg to enter my protest against the decision of a majority of the commission in their finding in clauses 3 and 5.

1. Because, in my opinion, it is in direct contradiction of the evidence taken before the commission in that portion of clause 4 in which it states, "but nothing special has been shown in his action that would warrant the commission in recommending his retention in the force."


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