The Argus at KellyGang 9/9/1881

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At the sitting of the Police Commission yesterday, the cross-examination of Mr Nicolson was concluded. It transpired that the Sherritt family insist upon their statement that Mrs Nicolson visited Beechworth recently and endeavoured to get persons then to sign a document representing Jack Sherritt to be a rogue. Mr Nicolson gave this a positive denial, and intimated that Mrs Nicolson was ready to give evidence if the board desired to call her. It was decided to simply ask Mrs Nicolson and certain persons in Beechworth to forward statutory declarations on the subject. Inspector Brooke Smith -was called upon to answer the charges made against him of having been remiss in the performance of hie duty, but as he did not seem prepared with his evidence, his examination was adjourned until to-day.



Present – Messrs Longmore (chairman), Dixon , Gibb, Fincham, and Anderson .

Mr Nicolson submitted a statement, giving an account of his career, promotions, &c., as a police officer. In this document he stated that he was chosen for his energy as sub-inspector at Ballarat after the Eureka riot. Great disorder then prevailed in Ballarat, and crime was rampant there.

Mr Dixon strongly objected to the last remark, as being a reflection on the people who then lived in Ballarat, and insisted on its withdrawal.

Mr Nicolson, after some discussion, struck out the remark. He then put in a letter he received from Inspector Kirk in 1855, testifying to his efficiency in the Ballarat district, and mentioning among other things his capture of bushrangers at Bullarook.

To the Commission – For some years back Captain Standish had shown a disposition to keep me down, and to raise two of the senior officers to my level. In his treatment of my reports he ignored my recommendations. This was chiefly the case when my reports reflected on anything in Mr Hare's district. The service could not but suffer thereby. Captain Standish advised me not to accept the position of inspecting superintendent, as it would involve a pecuniary loss. I replied that I did not mind the pecuniary loss, and that what I was anxious about was that none of the other officers should be placed over my head. Was once directed by Captain Standish to inspect the Bourke district. He said there was no occasion to visit the "stud." Thinking he meant the stud farm, I visited the depot, and incurred the indignation of both Mr Hare and Captain Standish .The latter asked me for an explanation, and said be directed me not to visit the stud "depot." Mr Hare in other instances interfered with my reports, and Captain Standish took his part. Although the latter had the title of "captain," he had no military instincts, and no knowledge of mounted men, troop horses, or barrack regulations. When I relieved Mr Hare at Benalla, I could not find him until evening, as he was at a coursing meeting. Although I am very fond of sports myself I never have time for them, and I do not think any police superintendent in this colony has time for sports. On my second visit to the district I complained that I had not enough men, and resisted further proposed reductions in the number of the force in the district. Amongst the men sent up for Kelly duty from the Richmond depot were two dying of consumption and one a cripple for life. One of the former died in the district. There are some portions of evidence with regard to Detective Ward which have taken me by surprise. Could not understand him, for instance, conveying the impression to Mr Hare that I had paid all the agents off. Ward seemed annoyed at my telegram being addressed, not to him-self, but to Senior-constable Mullane, and he made a little mischief. I am not satisfied with his evidence about Sherritt's hut. Ward led me to believe that the existence of the cave party was always a profound secret. Non-commissioned officers have often to return reports to the men for alterations. Considered, however that Detective Ward should have forwarded the cave party's reports to me without amendment. He ought to have let me know that the men believed that their presence in the cave was known.

The CHAIRMAN said he had received the following communications:-

' Sept 8, 1881 – Sheep-station Creek – Mr Longmore (chairman) and gentlemen of the Police Commission, – After reading in one of the Melbourne papers,

Mr Nicolson's statement – that it was not true that his wife came to Beechworth to blast my son John Sherritt's character, when my son was before the commission giving evidence – I went to Beechworth to get a few gentlemen to sign a petition in favour of my son, which I forward to Melbourne. On the day that I went to Beechworth there was an election of shire councillors. Some of the gentlemen I wanted to see were at the elections. The first gentleman that I went to was a JP. I asked him to sign for my son John. He replied by saying, 'Why, I am just after refusing to sign a paper for Mrs Nicolson. I told her that I had nothing to say against any of the Sherritt family, and I won't interfere on either side.' He told me this in confidence. I promised not to mention his name. At the same time, if Mr Nicolson insists in the lie, I shall tell the gentleman's name. He told me that her and her son came up from Melbourne to him, and he would have nothing to do in the matter. On the same day I went to Mr Dodd, of Beechworth, another JP. He brought me into his office, and told me that there was a man came to him, and wanted him to sign that my son was a rogue. He said he would not sign. I asked Mr Dodd the person's name. He did not tell me. He said he lived outside of Beechworth. I believe if the gentlemen of the commission took the trouble to write to Mr Dodd, I think he would tell them his name, as I think, to the best of my belief, he was acting for Mrs Nicolson.



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