The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (33)

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Question— “Were there any remarks about either of them besides watching?”

Supt Hare: “I was not there; I know this was the substance of the complaint.”

When arresting the Ryan referred to at Lake Rowan Hotel, the police at first arrested Mr John Ryan, who had only one leg and an artificial cork leg.  The police discovered that their prisoner was not the man they wanted; he was the man with the cork leg.  Constable Gibson took the one legged prisoner’s horse and rode three miles out to Joe Ryan’s farm.  He came upon Joe Ryan where the latter was burning off, and said to him. “Your brother John has met with a nasty accident; his horse fell with him and he is at the Lake Rowan Hotel.” Mr Joe Ryan hastily put the bridle on his horse, jumped on him, and, without changing his clothes, raced to the Lake Rowan Hotel.  Constable Gibson kept up with him.  When approaching the hotel Joe Ryan asked, “Where is my brother?” “In the bar parlour,” replied Gibson, and Joe Ryan hastily tied his horse to the fence and rushed into the bar parlour.  He saw a number of policemen there.  His brother was amongst them.  As soon as he entered the room one of the constables laid his hand on Joe Ryan’s shoulder and said, “I arrest you as a sympathiser of the Kellys!” and Joe Ryan was handcuffed and put on a coach to be taken to Benalla.  Just as the coach was about to start, one of the young men at the hotel mounted the step of the coach and wished Joe Ryan good luck.  Constable Gibson cautioned the young man to come down, or he would kick his —.  Joe Ryan replied if he had the handcuffs off the police would not dare put a hand on his young friend, Mr D Wall. (RC1270)

Supt Hare, continuing, said:—

“About five of six days before the Jerilderie robbery, Aaron Sherritt came to Benalla (that was the first time I had ever seen Aaron Sherritt), and asked to see Captain Standish.  He was away from Benalla.  I explained to Aaron who I was, and asked him what he wanted Captain Standish for.  He said, ‘I have some important information to give him and I wish to speak to him privately.’ I told him Captain Standish would not be back that night.  I led Aaron to believe I did not care to hear his news, but kept him engaged in conversation; I heard his name and knew who he was.  Captain Standish informed me when he returned that he had never seen him either from the day that he spoke to him at the Sebastopol affair at Mrs Byrne’s, which Mr Nicolson referred to.  Some time after—about an hour—Sherritt said, ‘I think I can trust you, with my information;’ and then he told me that on the previous afternoon, about two o’clock, Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly came ti his selection.  This is not Mrs Sherritt’s house; Aaron was not at that time living with his mother, he was living on his own selection; it was midway between Mrs Sherritt’s and Mrs Byrne’s.  He said Joe Byrne came to him whilst he was working on his selection.  He told me Joe Byrne jumped off his horse, and that he had always been his most intimate acquaintance; he said he came and sat down beside him; he had been his school fellow and with him in crime nearly all their lives; he said Dan Kelly was very suspicious, and would not get off his horse, and did not get near him, and he said they sat talking for a long time, and then asked him to join them, as they were going across the Murray, and intended going to Goulburn, in New South Wales, where the Kelly’s had a cousin.  He said they urged him to go for a long time as a scout.  Sherritt never told me at that time that they were going to stick up a bank.  He told me he refused to go with them, and after some pressing Joe Byrne said, ‘Well, Aaron, you are perfectly right; why should you get yourself into this trouble and mix yourself up with us.’ He said they were talking to him for about half an hour, but kept looking round and watching every move that was made.  I do not remember any further conversation then.  I told him not to go into the town.  He was a remarkable looking man.  If he walked down Collins street everybody would have stared at him—his walk, his appearance, and everything else was remarkable.  I said, ‘Be careful, now you are in Benalla, that you are not seen here; do not go into the town, but get some hotel near the railway station.’ I gave him £2 for coming down to give this information.”

Question— “Did he advise you to take any steps to prevent the Kellys going to New South Wales?”

Supt Hare: “No, he merely came down to give the information to Captain Standish. He led me to believe they were going to leave the colony, and he gave me the brands of the two horses that the outlaws were riding—Joe Byrne was riding a magnificent grey horse, and the other a bay.” (RC1271)

The Kellys had suspected that Aaron Sherritt was a police spy, and Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly called on him and gave him the story of a visit to Goulburn, New South Wales, after they had completed their plans to go to Jerilderie, which was in a very different direction.  They pressed Aaron Sherritt to join them to test how deeply he was involved with the police.  The Kellys were right, and their plans were well laid.  The police spy put the police on the wrong trail.  While the police were making all arrangements to intercept the Kellys from going to Goulburn, they went to Jerilderie without meeting any opposition.

Supt Hare had established a party of police in a cave to watch Mrs Byrne’s house.  The party was supposed to be unknown to anyone except to the police themselves.  However, Mrs Byrne had discovered them.  She came across the police asleep in their camp, and Aaron Sherritt with them.  She watched for more definite information, and was attacked by the police.

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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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