“Sherrett’s connection with the Kellys” (July 1880)

Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1871 – 1912), Saturday 3 July 1880, page 31


SHERRETT’S CONNECTION WITH THE KELLYS.

MELBOURNE, Wednesday.

The special correspondent of the Melbourne Daily Telegraph gives the following particulars of the man Sherrett, who was murdered by Byrne on Saturday: —

“The fact that the police should have been bailed up in the hut of Aaron Sherrett may at first seem strange, but it is easily explainable when it is known that Sherrett has for some time past been in the pay of the police, or, at any rate, been in close communication with them relative to the movements of the Kellys. For months he has been suspected by the friends and relations of the gang as not being ‘straight,’ and of being in some manner identified with the police, and it appears that the gang have only waited for a favourable opportunity in order to wreak their vengeance on him. Sherrett was formerly the friend and boon companion of Joe Byrne in many a shady transaction, and was for a long time looked upon, not alone by Byrne, but also by the other members of the gang and their sympathisers generally, as being one of themselves. Consequently, he was trusted to a far greater extent than a great many others whom they had a suspicion of going ‘crooked.’ Some time after one of the latest of the Kelly outrages, and when it was thought they had left the colony, the police received reliable information that the gang were still in the King River Ranges, and were in the habit of frequenting the houses of Mrs. Byrne and Mrs. Skillion, the sister of the Kellys. Aaron Sherrett was thereupon told off to watch their movements, and in company with a constable in disguise actually lived for several days with the sisters of the Kellys, near Greta. Sherrett introduced the constable, who arrived in disguise, and on horseback, as a notorious horsestealer from New South Wales, who wished to dodge the police for a time, and, though during the term of their visit several of the relatives of the gang came off and on to the hut, the constable was never recognized, nor the intentions of Sherrett and his supposed mate suspected. On one occasion, a near relative of the Kellys, well acquainted with the constable, called, but failed to recognize the latter, or penetrate the object of the visit. It was the custom of both Sherrett and the constable to go out in the scrub during the day, and watch the house at a convenient distance, taking turn about to catch a few hours’ sleep, while at night they occupied the same room, and almost constantly lay awake, watching the approaches to the house, in case the gang should pay an unexpected visit. This was kept up for over a week without the slightest sign of the Kellys in the vicinity, and the constable and Sherrett then gave it up as hopeless, the former going back to duty, and the latter knocking about the district as usual. The particulars of the occurrence did not leak out until some time afterwards, when it was suspected amongst the Kellys’ friends that Sherrett’s release from custody and his subsequently getting clear in the horsestealing case brought against him by Mrs. Skillion (the Kellys’ sister) was in some way attributable to his intimacy with the police and his evident intention to sell the gang on the first opportunity. From particulars which came out afterwards their surmises proved to be correct, and since that time Sherrett has become a marked man, and has now met a terrible fate at the hands of the bloodthirsty gang, who have not only shown their determination to have revenge for what is past, but also their evident intention of striking terror into the hearts of any that may have even the remotest idea of betraying them, at present or in the future.’

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