The True Story of the KellyGang of Bushrangers Chapter 15 page 2

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All these agents were known to the police by assumed names, which were used in addressing them or conducting correspondence. One named ‘Sherrington,’ who offered his services to Captain Standish, in order to prove his zeal, promptly brought in a circumstantial tale of meeting Ned Kelly and Steve Hart in the Strathbogie Ranges. Ned Kelly, he said, was very well dressed, with beautifully polished boots, and stuck all over with revolvers. He compared watches with ‘Sherrington’ and complimented him upon the excellent time kept by his watch. Mr Sadlier believed the story to be pure invention; but it was no use to pay agents and refuse to act upon their information, and accordingly two or three search parties were sent out without discovering the Kellys, or any trace of them. Other trouble with the agents arose through the zeal of a few law abiding persons and some of the police, unaware of their vocation. Aaron Sherritt, especially, was a thorn in the agents’ side, for warnings against him were constantly brought to Mr Hare, and once he was arrested for the theft of a horse which he stole from Mrs Byrne and sold to Ned Kelly’s sister, Mrs Skillion. To Mr Hare he admitted the theft, which he had committed partly for amusement and to keep his hand in, and partly because he was not pleased with Mrs Byrne’s conduct towards him and felt a desire to punish her. It would have been very annoying for the police to have their most valued agent imprisoned for horse-stealing, and accordingly when he was arrested at a later date it was contrived that not enough evidence should be brought forward to commit him for trial. To whatever extent Sherritt kept faith with the police it is certain that he was a most slippery customer. With one of Mr Hare’s troopers, who was of the larrikin type, he became most ‘chummy.’ The trooper, not being in uniform, was suspected as a dangerous character by people who saw him ride into Beechworth with Aaron Sherritt, and Mr Hare received warnings against him, with a description of the fine horse he rode and was supposed to have stolen. To this trooper, just after the Jerilderie robbery, Sherritt proposed a little scheme. The outlaws, he said, would be sure to come to Mrs Byrne’s, and Joe Byrne would be leading a pack horse with the treasure strapped upon it. When the gang were fired upon by the police, the pack horse, Aaron said, would be certain to break away. The obviously sensible thing for himself and the constable to do was to follow the horse, get the pack, and hide it in the bush, returning when the excitement was over to get their ‘plant’ and slip away with it. The trooper professed to fall in with this plan and reported it to Mr Hare, but as the outlaws did not put in an appearance nothing came of it.

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