The True Story of the KellyGang of Bushrangers Chapter 6 page 3

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For letting this chance go by Sergeant Steele was severely blamed, as it seems most unjustly, by the Royal Commission which enquired in the matters connected with the Kelly Outbreak. On his way from Benalla to Beechworth he stopped at Wangaratta to enquire into the report of the Kellys’ appearance, acting according to Mr Sadlier’s instructions which were to the following effect: ‘ . . You can halt the train for a time at Wangaratta while you make enquiries, and if you think there is anything in it, send word to Inspector Brooke Smith, who is in charge of a party at Wangaratta, to follow up their tracks.’ Accordingly Sergeant Steele sent word by Constable Twomey to Mr Brooke Smith that by Superintendent Sadlier’s orders he, Mr Brooke Smith, was to start in pursuit of the bushrangers at daylight the following day. Sergeant Steele proceeded on his journey to Beechworth, and no pursuit being made by Mr Smith, Sergeant Steele was severely censured and recommended for reduction on the ranks by the Commission, a procedure which aroused the utmost indignation in Wangaratta, where Sergeant Steele’s sterling services as a police officer were fully appreciated.

Up to this time, though the two Kellys were known as members of the gang of murderers, there was doubt as to the identity of the other two, and they were erroneously supposed to be identical with a certain William King of Greta, and Charles Brown, of King River, who answered somewhat to the description given my McIntrye of his assailants. Within a few days of the murders the Victorian Government passed through all its stages an Outlawry Bill under the terms of which an outlaw might be taken by any person dead or alive, provided he failed to surrender and stand his trial after due notice by proclamation. By the same Act it was provided that anyone aiding such outlaw, or withholding information about him from the police, should be liable to fifteen years’ imprisonment, provision which, if it had been strictly acted upon without a very liberal exception list, would have filled the gaols for many years with sympathetic or terrorised inhabitants of the North-Eastern District.

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