The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (47)

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Dog Poisoners

Superintendent Hare, continuing his evidence on oath, said.—I may say that sympathisers’ dogs and dogs of relations were a great nuisance to us. . . . The next time I went to the spot I appointed a man with a few baits in a bag, and told him to drop a bait here and there and let any animal that liked pick it up. (RC1369)

Question.—Baits to destroy dogs?—Yes.

Question.—Strychnine on a bit of meat?—Yes, but after that many of the dogs about the place you could not poison if you tried.  They always had muzzles on day and night, and used to come into Benalla with the muzzles on.  I have seen Mrs Skillion and Kate Kelly come into Benalla with their dogs muzzled.

Question.—What you want to convey to the Commission is this: That the Kellys were so supported by the sympathisers and actually the dogs were so trained that if strange horses came the dogs would look out for the trackers and boys follow them up?—Yes, that is it.

From the above it appears that even the dogs in the Greta district had no confidence in the police.

An Open Confession

Superintendent Hare.—I wish to state another difficulty we had to contend with—the want of young, smart and intelligent officers.  We have plenty of officers in the force, but I think there is not one of them five years under my age.  The junior officers are older than the seniors on the list, many of them; they have only been appointed these last four or five years.  I myself, for instance, I do not think I should have been sent out on those parties; but I had a good knowledge of the country and was a fair bushman, and there was no one to take my place.  My experience of twenty-seven years was surely likely to be of more service than being stuck in the bush, where, perhaps, a young officer would have done even better than I could do, because he was younger and had more dash in him; and I should have been left behind at headquarters to assist and to arrange things there.  I felt myself when I was out that I should not have been out—that my services should have been more valuable inside.(RC1382)

This appears to be a candid admission that Supt Hare was not fit to lead in the Kelly hunt.

Mr Hare was very much under the influence of Aaron Sherritt.  The latter told Hare that Joe Byrne had written to him (Sherritt), asking Aaron to meet him at the Whorouly races to ride Byrne’s black mare in the hurdle race.  Supt Hare was much impressed by this letter.  Aaron Sherritt had arranged with some of his intimate friends to remain on the hill some distance from the racecourse, so that if Aaron signalled his friends could show themselves, and then disappear, while Aaron pointed them out to Supt Hare as being the outlaws.

Supt Hare, before the Commission:—

I will tell the Commission the exact facts of the case.  The letter was written in peculiar phraseology that none of us here could understand, and it had to be interpreted by Aaron Sherritt himself before we knew what it meant; but the purport of it was asking Aaron Sherritt to go over to Whorouly races—this is a small country racecourse on the Ovens—and to meet him (the writer, Joe Byrne) at a certain place, as he wanted him to ride his black mare in some hurdle race.  I saw the letter, and beyond doubt in Byrne’s handwriting, because we had seen a great many of his documents.  I communicated with Captain Standish on the subject, and we (the officers) decided what was to be done.  We arranged that I should take three of my best riders and pluckiest men and go to the races myself.  I selected three men unknown to the public in that part of the country, viz., Senior-Constable Johnson, Constable Lawless, and Constable Falkner.  I told them what duty they would have to perform and the information that I had received, and directed them to ride singly, as if unknown to each other, on the racecourse.  Lawless I set up with an under-and-over table and dice.  Johnson was got up as a bookmaker, and Falkner was to act the “yokel” and patronise the other two—the under-and-over place and to make bets on the races.  I myself drove them down on to the course in a buggy and mixed among the people, and the ordinary police in uniform attend the races.  I took all those precautions for the purpose of preventing anyone knowing.(RC1362)

Question—Did Sherritt know?—Of course, he was there.

Question—The police did not arrest your three-card-trick man?—No; in little country racecourses they are not so particular about little things of that sort; there is no money made.

Many of the outlaws’ greatest sympathisers were on the Whorouly racecourse, and knew the three constables—the “Bookmaker,” the “Spieler,” and the “Yokel.” There is no doubt that there was a great need of young, intelligent officers with some dash.  However, Supt Hare’s “spielers” provided the Kellys’ sympathisers with a great deal of amusement, and these sympathisers were able to assure Ned Kelly and his mates that as long as Supt Hare was in charge of the Kelly hunt the outlaws had nothing to fear and very little inconvenience to endure.  The Kellys felt very comfortable as long as the “Board of Officers” had supreme control.  Ned Kelly’s opinion of his pursuers was that an inquiry would soon be held, and that Captain Standish and Supt Hare, Inspector Brook-Smith and Supt Sadlier would be dismissed from the police force.  He said that Supt Nicolson was the only man who would survive such inquiry.  

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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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