The Ovens and Murray Advertiser (3)

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Mrs Aaron Sherritt

He again commanded me to go into the inner room and induce the man to come out. I went, and advised all the four constables to come out, or they would be shot. They refused, and told me to keep out of their way, or I would be shot by them accidentally ; their revolvers being in their hands and pointed towards the door of the room—which consisted of a calico screen—and they had their guns also loaded and ready to hand. I reported the result of the interview to Byrne, who said, “If he doesn't come out, I will riddle the house; " and sent me in again. He also threatened that if anyone who was in the room did not come out, he would shoot me and my mother. He evidently had then no suspicions of police being there. When I told Byrne that the man refused to come out, he fired a shot past my head into the wall of the bedroom. He sent me in again, threatening that if the man did not immediately come out he would put a hole through both me and my mother. I went into the bedroom, but two of the constables pulled me under the bed, saying that I had better remain there for safety. I was kept there, and was nearly suffocated, being huddled up into a corner.

I remember my mother coming in, and trying to pull me out from under the bed, and calling out that Byrne was going to burn the house. The police said that my mother had also better remain, or she would be shot; as when she entered she was nearly shot by the police, who thought it was one of the outlaws coming in, until she raised the screen, when they saw who it was and never fired. She consented. I took a weakness when stuffed under the bed, and could not hear my mother calling upon me to come out, as she said she repeatedly did. She said she had implored Byrne not to burn the house, when he said he would see about it; and she came inside. We were all listening, waiting for the house to be set on fire. When I went out the second time referred to, Byrne beckoned towards the scrub at the back of the house, and whistled and sang out, "Come on, those — dogs in the room won't come out." He received no reply.I was in a good position to judge if he did, being outside at the time. I did not think the outlaws had armour on, as they appeared too slight for that.

It was about 9 o'clock when the outlaws left after cursing and threatening what they would do if we did not come out ; and we heard no more of them. Constable Armstrong about two hours afterwards ( 11 o'clock , perhaps) went out into the sitting- room and quenched the fire, which during the evening had been burning brightly, and shut both doors; the candle having burnt itself out. We all waited until daylight, when the police went out and searched for traces of the outlaws, but found nothing.

Early in the morning Constable Armstrong asked for a drink. My mother told him there was some cold tea in the cups on the table, which had remained from the previous night's supper; but I advised him not to drink it, as Dan Kelly had been standing near the table, and might have put poison in the tea and the other things. My mother then threw everything on the table out. In answer to Armstrong's questions as to whether she would be frightened to go out for a bucket of water, she said, "No." She brought in the water, and made fresh tea and gave the police some bread and butter.

About sunrise a Chinaman who was passing the house was called in, and given by Constable Armstrong (who had charge of the police party) some money, and a note for the schoolmaster (Mr O'Donoghue) at the Woolshed. The note was put in the Chinaman's boot. Mr O'Donoghue came down, and said he would go to Beechworth for assistance. He went home, but in about half an hour he came back and said his wife would not let him go, as she might not be alive when he returned.

A miner named Duckett, who was also asked to go, said he would, as he was not frightened. About two hours afterwards, receiving no reply, Armstrong went himself, and late in the evening five constables came down and relieved the four who had previously been in the house. I do not wish to give any opinion about the manner in which the police acted on the night of the murder, but if called upon at any inquiry which may be held, I suppose it will be my duty to do so. I had been exactly six months married when my husband was shot (26th June), having been married on the 26th December, 1879 .

My mother could tell you the particulars of the dreadful affair more fully than I could, as my memory, since the great shock I received, has not been good; and at the inquest on my poor husband's remains I hardly knew what I was saying, being, as might be supposed, in a very perturbed state of mind. My mother has also been in ill-health ever since the night referred to, from the effects of the fright. I do not desire any portion of the Kelly Capture Reward, although, as Aaron's widow, I consider myself as much entitled to it as some of those recommended to participate in it ; but would rather receive a respectable annuity.


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