Inquest on Sherritt

Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth, Vic. : 1855 – 1918), Tuesday 29 June 1880, page 2


THE INQUEST ON AARON SHERRITT.

An inquest on the body of Aaron Sherritt who was murdered on Saturday night last, at the Woolshed, was commenced on Monday, at the Vine Hotel, Beechworth, before Mr W. H. Foster, coroner. The following were sworn as jurymen – Messrs P. Allen (foreman) G. Dennett, W. Newson M. Dodd; .J. Wertheim, Ralph Hall, J. Ingram, S. Broadfoot, L. R. Sanderson, James Ward, W. Murdoch, and John Trevaskis.

John Sherritt on being sworn said, ‘ I am a farmer and dairyman, and live at Sheep-station Creek.. I have seen the body outside the court. It is the body of my son Aaron Sherritt. His age was 25 years; I do not know from personal knowledge how he came by his death.

William Sherritt deposed : I am a son of John Sherritt, and live at Sheepstation Creek. I have seen the body outside the court, it is that of my brother Aaron. I don’t know how he came by his death, except what I have heard.

Ellen Barry deposed: Am the wife of Edmund Barry, and mother-in-law of deceased. Have seen the body outside. It is that of Aaron Sherritt, my son-in-law. Was at his house on Saturday last, and was present at his death. Do not know what time the outlaws came, but think it would be between 6 and 7 o’clock. My daughter and four policemen were in the hut, and also Aaron Sherritt. Was sitting at the fire with my daughter and the deceased, when I heard a knock. Constable Duross was also there. In the other room there were three constables, but I do not know their names. In the sitting-room where I was, there was a candle burning, and the fire was alight. There was no light in the room where the constables were. The three constables occupied the room after they had had their meals that evening. A knock was heard at the back door. Heard no voices outside previously. When the knock was heard Aaron, rose from his seat and went to the door and said ” Who is there?” I heard the reply of a voice I knew. It was that of Anthony Weekes. He said, “I have lost my way Sherritt; come and put me on my road.” His was the only voice I heard. Aaron then opened the door and looked out, standing on the threshold. The light would shine on Sherritt. Heard someone talk to him, but could not recognize what was said. Aaron seemed then, as if he wished to retreat into the room. The door was left wide open. At this moment a shot was fired from close to the door. Some one spoke as the shot was fired. The shot was fired at Aaron. He then stepped backwards into the house. At the time the shot was fired my daughter was in the room; but when the knock came; Duross joined the other three constables in the bedroom. A man stepped into the side of the door after the shot was fired, and that man was Joseph Byrne, the outlaw. Aaron was then standing in the room, and Byrne fired at him again. In the act of firing I saw his face. The deceased then staggered back (At this stage the witness became much affected.) Aaron then fell to the ground. Byrne stayed at the door for a minute or two. Byrne said, “Mrs. Barry, I will put a ball through you and your daughter if you do not bring that man out of the room.” My daughter said, the man was looking for work. I then said to Byrne, “Joe, What made you shoot Aaron?” Byrne said, ” I want that man out.” Byrnes then said, “If I did not shoot Aaron, he would shoot me.” During the time the conversation was going on Byrne stood in the doorway. Aaron was then dead. Byrne then told me to open the other door. I complied with the request. I asked him to let me go outside; and I went and spoke to Weekes. At this time the door opening from one room to another was open. After opening the door Byrne spoke first. He said, ” Come out you b— b— ; I’ll shoot you like b— dogs. I saw Dan Kelly outside; and also talked with Joe Byrne. Byrne had the gun in his hand, and was standing one and a half yards away, I heard Byrne say, “Dan, look out, there is a window in the front of that house.” Dan then came close to me, and I recognised him. There was no conversation between Byrne and Kelly. I did not hear anyone else. From the time I heard the knock until Dan Kelly came round, would be about five or ten minutes. During the time the police were still in the room. I stood at the door at the side near the fireplace. Between the time Byrne told Dan Kelly to look out, several shots were fired. The shots were fired against the side of the house where they were. Some bullets were picked up afterwards.

Further examination of this witness was postponed until Wednesday.

Dr W. A. Dobbyn deposed : Am a duly qualified medical practitioner residing in Beechworth. I have this day made a post-mortem examination of the body outside the court. It is the body of an adult 5ft. 11½inches high and about 23 years of age. I found a bullet mark, on the left side of the waistcoat, corresponding to a hole in the neck. There was an opening in the left side of the neck above the collar bone about an inch in diameter. I traced the wound from left to right, it had severed the jugular. I traced it across the windpipe to the right side, where it had smashed one of the ribs to pieces. There was a wound in the right shoulder immediately below the joint. There was another wound in the left breast about two and a half inches below the nipple. The wound corresponded with the opening in the clothes. On opening the body, I traced the wound under the stomach, across the spine, under the right kidney and out immediately above the pelvis. Found the ribs were driven inwards on the left side. Detected no wound in the face, although it was covered with blood. Neither was the skull injured. The ventricles of the heart were completely empty of blood. The gunshot wounds, as described, was the cause of death. The body was healthy. Could find no bullets in the body.

Owing to the absence of the police who were in the hut when the murder was committed, the coroner adjourned the inquest until Wednesday next, at the Court-house, Beechworth.

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