The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (32)

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On 12th December, 1878, Supt Hare arrived at Benalla to succeed Supt CH Nicolson, whose health broke down under the heavy strain which the pursuit of the Kellys entailed.  Supt Hare spent the first three or four weeks in going over the correspondence that had gone through the office, so as to make himself thoroughly conversant with what had been done by Mr CH Nicolson.

Towards the end of December he had a good grip of the situation.  The Kellys were as elusive as the rainbow as far as the police pursuit was concerned.  Captain Standish, Supt Hare, and Supt Sadleir, after consultation, came to the conclusion that the best way to capture the outlaws was to arrest all those who had either favoured the Kellys or who had adversely commented on the actions and attitude of the police and the Government.  And although no charge could be laid against these people, who were known to be active Kelly sympathisers, the Government, on the advice of Captain Standish, Supt Hare and Supt Sadleir, illegally and unlawfully deprived more than twenty freeman of their liberty, and in order to do so the Government, at the suggestion of the heads of the Police Department, violated one of the most cherished principles of civilised nations—the liberty of the subject.  In giving evidence on oath Supt Francis Augustus Hare is reported by the Government shorthand writers verbatim as follows: -

“The first month or so I did not go out with the search party.  I remained at Benalla, and my time was fully taken up going about the district making inquiries and getting things in order. About this time all the sympathisers were arrested by the order of Captain Standish. We all acted together, Captain Standish, myself, and Mr Sadleir.  (RC1263

Captain Standish was there.  He was in supreme command at the time.  Those sympathisers gave us a great deal of trouble.  I had to go up some five or six or seven times to Beechworth every Friday afternoon, and reman there all day Saturday—sometimes all Sunday, because I could not get away on Sunday—applying for a remand, and fighting for it.”

Question— “What was the nature of the annoyance the sympathisers gave which led to their arrest?”

Supt Hare: “I will state first what we did with reference to the arrest of those men, and upon what information.  All the responsible men in charge of different stations who had been a long time in Benalla—the detectives and officers—were all collected at Benalla by Captain Standish’s orders.  They (the different constables and officers and detectives) all went into a room, and were asked the names of the persons in the district whom they considered to be sympathisers.  I had nothing to do with it, merely listening and taking down names that fell from the mouths of the men.” (RC1266)

Question— “Who asked the questions?”

Supt Hare: “The whole party, Captain Standish and Mr Sadleir, and I myself asked some.”

Question— “Did Captain Standish ask each constable: ‘Whom do you consider a sympathiser in your district, and so on’?”

Supt Hare: “Captain Standish, Mr Sadleir, and myself asked that.  I knew nothing about the sympathisers, but one man came forward and said, ‘There is so and so Smith.’ ‘What did he do?’ ‘Well I know he is a useful friend of the Kellys.  On one occasion I saw him follow us about.’ Then we said, ‘Put his name down.’ Then the detectives knew a great many men, and they went through the same process of inquiry, and so we selected a certain number of names.” (RC1268)

Question— “How many?”

Supt Hare: “I should think about twenty.  The Government were aware of the action we were taking, and it was with their consent we did all this.  It was necessary for us to arrange to capture all the sympathisers in one day, because if we had not done so it would have been just as much difficulty in catching them as the Kellys; so it was done confidentially, and on a certain day all the men were arrested with but two or three exceptions.  There was one case of a man, of the name of Ryan, of Lake Glenrowan.  There were two brothers very much alike.  We picked out one brother as being a great friend of the Kellys, and the two constables who went out to arrest this man saw what they thought to be the man, but it was really his brother, and when they found their mistake they let him go, he not knowing what was up; but, thinking there was something wrong, took a short cut, and they saw him galloping up to his brother, but the constables caught him before he got there.  As to the cause of the arrest it was found these sympathisers were annoying us in every possible way, watching every move we made.  One or two men, I heard before I came up, were watching the police at all times.  A man named Isaiah (“Wild”) Wright was one.”(RC1269)

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This document gives you the text of this book about the KellyGang. The text has been retyped from a copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. JJ Kenneally was one of the first authors to tell this story from the KellyGang's point of view

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