The following evidence was given by Constable Charles Gascoigne to the Royal Commission on 02/06/1881 describing his involvement in the hunt for the gang, the frustration caused by false information and his part in the siege at Glenrowan.
Charles Gascoigne sworn and examined.
9608. By the Commission.—What are you?—Mounted constable.
9609. Were you long in the North-Eastern district before the Glenrowan affair-stationed there?—I joined the police force on the 6th of March 1879. I was taken on as a probationary constable at that time by Captain Standish, at the time of the Kelly outrages.
9610. Were you in any of the search parties?—I was in Mr. Hare’s search party.
9611. How many were there of you?—I almost forget.
9612. About how many?—I think six or seven.
9613. What time was that party out?—I think it was about the 30th June 1879.
9614. Did you, in any of your search parties, have any information that led you to believe you came near upon the Kellys?—Well, when out with Superintendent Hare’s party at that date, the first night we were out in the Strathbogie, I heard some dogs barking at the crossing of the creek; so in the morning we were travelling in that direction, and the black tracker picked up some tracks. He followed them on for about a mile, and then they went up the range and came down again, and went in and out; and Mr. Hare came to the conclusion that they were the tracks of some one looking for cattle. We did not pay much attention to this, but a day or two afterwards Mr. Hare’s horse was lost, and one of the men was looking for it, and I happened to be with him when he was returning to the camp, and a woman, the publican’s wife, told us that Jim Quin came there the very night that I heard the dogs barking at this crossing, and got four bottles of brandy.
9615. Is that what you would consider the most reliable information of the Kellys?—That is the most that ever I got when I was out.
9616. Would the Kellys have had any difficulty in avoiding you when you were out in search patties?—No; they had every advantage.
9617. Were you out with any search parties after the second system of search was inaugurated?—No; none at all.
9618. Where were you stationed when Mr. Nicolson was up in the district?—Violet Town.
9619. You were not out with any of the search parties under him?—No; none at all.
9620. Were you in the cave party?—No.
9621. Were you in the party at Sherritt’s house?—No.
9622. Is there anything in connection with the search for the Kellys that has come under your notice that you think is worth relating to the Commission before you come to Glenrowan?—No.
9623. Do you think if you had followed up those tracks you would have come on the Kellys?—I could not say that, but that was the remark the woman made to the man. There was so much false information at the time that it was very hard to believe any one.
9624. You were troubled with false information?—Yes.
9625. At every turn?—At every turn.
9626. You considered it came from the sympathizers to throw you off the trail?—You could hardly believe any of them. I was reared amongst the people and there were plenty of respectable people that I could have got, but what information we got was from friends of the Kellys.
9627. And that was calculated to throw you off the track?—It may have been true, but we were searching all round the country and found nothing.
9628. Were those private agents employed by the officers from time to time men you could not place implicit reliance on?—The only one I knew was Aaron Sherritt; he did not know me at the time; he thought I was a constable from Melbourne, and did not know me. He was talking to me for about an hour, and I took in everything he was saying; and at the latter end I took it to he a lot of nonsense, because I knew the Kellys as wel as he did, and it was a lot of falsehoods. Captain Standish saw us talking, and thought I did not know Sherritt, and I told Captain Standish that I should not like to follow Sherritt as a leader or be with him any time—he might lead them into a trap; and Captain Standish made the remark to me, “I will give him enough rope, and he will hang himself.”
9629. Generally were the parties from whom the police obtained their secret information a class of people that were unreliable?—They were, what I knew of the class.
9630. That they would mislead the police wilfully?—Yes.
9631. You have been living in the North-Eastern district for a number of years?—Yes, all my life, and I know the country and the people well.
9632. Did you know the “diseased stock agent”?—The only one I knew was Aaron Sherritt, and another young man who went under another name that I was not aware of.
9633. Look over this list of agents and see if you know them. Note any there whose information you think would be reliable. The real names are on the left?—[The witness read the list.]—There are so many different people in the district of the same name that I know that it would be hard to tell.
9634. Do you think the men bearing those names would give any reliable information?—I think so.
9635. As a rule you consider the agents were misleading the police?—I do.
9636. They were simply taking all the money they could from them?—Some of them might give a little information if it was very safe—if they thought they could get away after they gave it.
9637. Then in that case the system of private spies would be very little use for capturing the gang?—If they could get the right men.
9638. I speak of the class of men, from your own knowledge, if your impression be correct, there would be no probability of the gang being captured from information supplied by people of that description?—No.
9639. You do not know the one that is represented as the “diseased stock”?—No, I do not.
9640. Are you aware he gave information that armour was being made?—I was not. I knew nothing about the armour. I knew only of the stolen mould-boards. When I was with Senior-Constable Kelly, looking for the man travelling with the cart, I heard about the mould-boards, when we were round Greta.
9641. What would, in your opinion, be the best means to be used to secure or capture a gang of outlaws in the same country—men of the same character—have you formed any idea?—Yes. The best way would be for mounted police to go out with very little provisions, and no encumbrance, just a ’possum rug—something to sleep in—net to take a lot of packing on horses; no pack-horse at all, unless it is a long journey, four or five men; and let them camp out, just the same as shearers or any others; just take a saddle-bag with one days’ provisions.
9642. Somewhat similar to what shearers and bushmen used to do in the old days, knocking about for work?—Just the same.
9643. Without uniform?—Yes.
9644. And get provisions where they could?—Yes.
9645. Take firearms, or not?—They must take a rifle with them, because the revolvers are no good.
9646. The rifle would show what they were?—They could manage to plant that in the swag. I those short carbines, in the ‘possum rug. I think the rug would cover the whole of those.
9647. You would have the rifle-carbine ready for emergency?—Yes.
9648. You would carry the revolvers?—Yes; and the rifle would be only in case of a long shot.
9649. How soon could you get it out of the rug?—Half a minute, or less, you could draw it out.
9650. Is it a very difficult country then to follow bushrangers up?—It is, especially in the Greta country, where they have so many friends.
9651. The difficulty is not so much in the nature of the country as the class of people that live there?—Yes. If a party of police went out as they used to go, they would be starting through the town; there would always be some one watching, and the spies go from Benalla to the other party, and so on, carry it on, and the outlaws know in what direction the police have gone; and the party of police with the pack-horses could be traced all over the country.
9652. A search party like that would be a laughing stock to the outlaws?—It would be a laughing stock to the outlaws.
9653. Could a body of bushrangers remain in the ranges for a long time without the police getting at them?—They can get out of the ranges into other ranges, and the men with pack-horses could not get as quickly as they could.
9654. They could not stay in the ranges without coming for food?—No; not more than a fortnight.
9655. From your conversation with the police, did they seem to express any doubt of the likelihood of capturing the gang in the way in which they were proceeding?—Some did, but some were inexperienced men to the bush.
9656. From your knowledge of the men of the district, more particularly the population, do you think there is a likelihood of another organized outbreak?—It is a very hard question, but I will answer it from my own knowledge. I have been stationed at Glenrowan of late, and from the conversation of some of them I believe there is a very bad feeling existing between some of them and the police.
9657. They would shoot the police if they got the chance?—Yes, if they got a chance in the dark.
9658. Is that the police generally?—Yes; especially the men that were taken on at the time of the Kellys—any one they know they have got more of a “down” on; and the people about Glenrowan are just as frightened as when the Kellys were out to give any information.
9659. Then that district is not in a satisfactory position?—No.
9660. Do you think you were in danger of being shot any time there?—When I first went to Glenrowan, two days after the capture, about a week after, a man wrote to the police camp and told me the best thing I could do was to leave the place, that he would not give me reasons; but he heard I would most likely be shot, but he would not tell from whom; and he said, “You ought to know me.” He was an old school-mate of mine, a very respectable man; and I told him I did not care as long as they gave me a “show,” and it was not a cowardly attack. He told me I was very foolish not to go.
9661. Have you formed this impression that yourself and other constables engaged in the capture of those men at Glenrowan are subject to the attacks of these men secretly?—I believe they are in more danger than any other men—I do not know that—any constable. I think the uniform is enough to make them shoot a man. I think the men taken on specially who know these men there is most danger to.
9662. Such men as senior-constables Kelly and Johnson, yourself, Sergeant Steele, and several others who have been very prominent in the Glenrowan affair, for their personal safety, ought to be removed to some other district?—Well, no, I do not think so. I think a man that would go after the Kellys would be in just as much danger then as now. Of course, he knew the Kellys would shoot him cowardly then if they got the chance.
9663. Your impression applies to all the members of the force in uniform as to their danger through being in uniform?—Yes, in that district.
9664. Do you think there is any fear of any gang taking to the bush the same as the Kelly gang did?—I believe there is at present, from my own knowledge.
9665. Can you give the Commission any idea of what you base that opinion upon?—I base it on the information of some of the sympathizers themselves, talking to them.
9666. Do you think the police would have as much difficulty now, with all the knowledge they have got, in suppressing anything of that sort as they had before?—I believe they would.
9667. Do you think that the very strictest repressive measures would be necessary if they did break out?—It would. It wants experienced bushmen to go after them.
9668. You do not approve of men being sent from the Richmond depôt without experience in the bush?—No. If they have not experience they have to trust to a leader, and if the leader was to go they would not know what to do.
9669. They must follow the leader?—They must follow the leader. And there were foot men and all sorts of men taken out in the pursuit, which caused dissatisfaction amongst some of the mounted men.
9670. You disapprove of the Melbourne men being sent up at all?—For search parties.
9671. They do for guard at the banks?—Yes.
9672. Good horsemen and good bushmen are best for that?—Yes. Some of the men in the parties could not ride a horse—could not ride it over a fence. In fact, it was not the men’s fault; they were never allowed to jump their horses. Any person there can jump a fence, but if we jump a horse and hurt the horse’s legs we have to make great reports, and perhaps do not get out of it. You can never catch those men with the horses. You must have them trained to jump, and the men to ride them.
9673. Coming to Glenrowan, will you give as short an account as you can of it?—I have a written statement here of it, which I think will shorten it.
9674. You had better read that?—[The witness read the same, which is as follows:—] “Glenrowan Police Station, North-Eastern District, May 13th, 1881. Mounted-Constable F. C. Gascoigne, No. 3056, begs to report, for the information of the Police Commission, relative to the capture of the Kelly gang of outlaws, on the 28th June 1880, as follows:— I left Benalla with a party of constables, consisting of Senior-Constable Kelly, constables Barry, Canny, Auther, Phillips and Kirkham, under the command of Superintendent Hare; Inspector O’Connor and the black trackers were with us. When the train arrived within one and a half miles of the Glenrowan railway station the pilot engine, which was about 200 yards ahead, stopped; a few minutes after Superintendent Hare came to the guard van, told the men to get out, as the rails had been taken up about half a mile from the station. At the request of Superintendent Hare, Constable Barry, Phillips, and myself accompanied him to the pilot, which we mounted; the pilot then put back to the other train, and we then together proceeded on to the Glenrowan station. When we reached the station Superintendent Hare, accompanied by Constable Barry, Phillips, myself, and a Mr. Rawlings, proceeded to the gate-house, the residence of the station master; and in answer to Superintendent Hare’s enquiry as to where the station master was, the station master’s wife said (weeping) that the Kellys had taken him away; and in reply to a question where, she pointed in the direction of Mrs. Jones’s hotel. She also told Superintendent Hare that Steve Hart, the outlaw, had only left her house two or three minutes. We then went back to the station to get out the horses; when about eight or nine were got out by Constable Canny, which I was holding, one of the trackers saw a man on horseback, about 100 yards away, on the hotel side. Constable Barry and two trackers were put on guard to watch. Before all the horses were got out I noticed some excitement at the other end of the platform; most of the men rushed there; I then heard someone say, “They are at mother Jones’s.” Superintendent Hare called out, “Let the horses go,” which I did; he started for the hotel, followed by the men. When about 60 yards from the hotel, Constable Barry asked Superintendent Hare what was the matter; he then said, “Come along, boys.” When we got within about 20 yards of the hotel, one of the police said, “Look out.” I then saw the flash of a rifle. The man who fired the first shot was standing shout 10 yards from the corner of the hotel. The report of his rifle had not died away when I saw a row of flashes come from under the verandah of the hotel; the police quickly returned the fire. A man then came out from under the verandah, when Superintendent Hare called to him and advised him not to be foolhardy, and told him that he wished to speak a few words to him. In reply, the man said, “I don’t want to speak to you,” and at the same time fired at Superintendent Hare, and then returned to the verandah. The moon at this time was shining from the back of the hotel, and full on the police, the outlaws being in the dark shade, under the verandah. The police now took cover, some behind the railway fence, others behind trees, &c., as near the hotel as they could find it. Shots were freely exchanged on both sides. I managed to get behind a small sapling post, about 30 yards from the end of the hotel. I had not been there many minutes when shots were fired from two trees above me, and two men were firing over me from behind. I called to the men behind to cease firing in that direction, which they did. At this time a woman came out of the hotel at the back——
9675. About what time was that?—About ten minutes past three o’clock.
9676. Was that before or after Mr. Hare was shot?—After. I was standing close to him, but I did not know when he was shot; it was ten minutes after the first volley was fired he said he was shot.
9677. Did you hear him say he was shot?—Yes, ten minutes after the first fire. “A woman came out of the hotel at the back, and a girl was with her holding a candle. A man then came out and, putting his hand on the woman’s shoulder, tried to pacify her. I heard her say something about her son being shot. Two men were firing from a position above me in the direction of the woman and girl; I called on them to stop firing, but they kept on. I then said, “You are cowardly black wretches (believing at the time they were trackers) to be firing on women.” I also called upon the police to stop firing into the hotel. Superintendent Hare then gave the order to cease firing. About this time a man made his appearance in front of the hotel, and walked towards the railway fence, and fired a shot in that direction, at some one; three shots were fired at the man in return, who I believe to have been Edward Kelly, the outlaw, by his appearance. He then fired at three men who were standing on the closed road, about 50 or 60 yards from him, at the Benalla end of the hotel. I think one of the men was Superintendent Hare. I don’t think these men could see the outlaw, as the night was very frosty and clouds of smoke hung between them and the man who fired. After he, the outlaw, had fired the shot, he was standing face on to me; I fired at him, and he returned the shot quickly; we had three or four shots at each other, and after my last shot he turned sharply round, and called out, “You b—— cocktails, you can’t hurt me, I am in iron.” Two of the outlaw’s shots struck the post behind which I was taking shelter. Superintendent Hare now called out, “O’Connor, place your boys round the house, and for God’s sake don’t let them escape.” I now left my post and went to the two men above me, who I thought were trackers, but I found they were police constables; they told me not to stop there, as there was not sufficient shelter for me. Shots at this time were coming from the passage between the hotel and kitchen; I left these two constables and went to a tree above them, could see the outlaws’ horses, in the yard, at the rear of the hotel. Was at the tree about a quarter of an hour, when Constable Kirkham said that he would go for ammunition, and promised to come back again, but did not. About ten minutes after his departure I heard footsteps behind me, and saw a man about 15 yards away, coming towards me. I called on him to throw up his hands, which he did not do; repeated the order, when he enquired if I was a policeman; I said, yes; he then went away. Soon after, I saw a match struck about 100 yards from me; I saw two other men with him; Constable Phillips was stationed at a tree about 10 yards from me; he left his post to stop a man who was making his escape from the hotel; when about the railway crossing, Phillips called on me to come and assist him; I did not then go; he called again, and said that one of the outlaws was escaping. I at once went down to his assistance, overtook the man on the railway line, and stopped him, asked his name; he said that his name was Neil McHugh; he had on his back a wounded boy. I asked him the boy’s name, he said that he was Mrs. Jones’s son; the boy was bleeding at the time from the month. I then asked McHugh who was in the hotel; he said, “There are 30 of them, and they have armour on,”——
9678. By “they” did he mean the outlaws?—He said “they,” he did not distinguish the outlaws. I thought the whole lot had armour, from what he said— “and for God’s sake don’t go too near the hotel, for they intend to shoot you all in the morning.” Phillips then went in front of the hotel, and I returned to my post at the tree which I had left, and remained there for about two hours and a half. Everything was very quiet at the hotel, but the horses in the yard behind were very uneasy. About this time I could hear a train coming in the distance from Benalla. I now left my post and went down to the railway crossing, near the gate-house; saw a black tracker come out of a drain behind me; I asked him how many of our men were killed, he said only two, Constable Canny, and Jimmy, the black tracker. I remained at the railway crossing until the train arrived at the station. The newly-arrived police came down the line towards the gate-house, when they (the police) were about thirty yards from the gate-house, when shots were fired at them from the windows of the hotel; a little after this I saw a man walking up the back yard of the hotel, and go amongst the horses, and at the same time saw a horse get out of the yard, and get away into the bush
9679. Without a rider?—Without a rider. “I did not see the man again, he did not come back to the hotel. The horse that got out of the yard was the one that Edward Kelly had been seen riding, and judging from appearance I believe the man who was in the yard to have been Ned Kelly; I could easily have shot at him, but knowing the police, who had recently arrived, were mostly posted on that side, I was afraid I might shoot some of them, and I also knew that Kelly was wearing armour. At this time there were only two constables at my side of the building. About twenty minutes after I saw the man amongst the horses. Superintendent Sadleir came to the tree and told me to shoot at the chimney. I told him it was no use shooting at the hotel as the outlaws had armour on; he said that I must have made a mistake, I told him that I did not make any mistake, that myself and Edward Kelly had had several shots at each other at a short distance, about twenty-five yards. Did not fire at the chimney, as I was short of ammunition, only having twenty rounds, when I arrived on the ground, for my rifle. Shortly after Superintendent Sadleir left me, Senior-Constable Kelly came up and told me and another constable that had arrived by the Benalla train that he had picked up Ned Kelly’s skull cap and rifle. I asked him what he had done with his own hat, seeing that he had the skull cap on; he said that he lost it in the bush. I showed him a hat, and asked him if it was his; he said it was. I told him that one of the black boys had found it under the culvert crossing; he said that he was not under the culvert; he afterwards said that he was going round to the men with ammunition, and must have lost it under the crossing. Soon after Constable Kelly left there was great excitement, and shots were fired on the Wangaratta side of the building; one of the black boys said that he could see a man running away, and one of his mates, called Jimmy, fired at him. About sixteen shots were fired on that side of the building. About half or three-quarters of an hour afterwards eight or ten shots were fired in the same direction. I saw a man run from a tree close to Jones’s hotel towards the firing; he had not left his tree more than two minutes when I could hear someone calling out; I was afterwards told that it was Ned Kelly; I believe the man who left the tree close to the hotel was Sergeant Steele. Orders were given by someone on the ground to fire high. Shots were fired from the hotel after Ed. Kelly was captured. Once I saw a shot from the kitchen strike a horse that was loose in the yard; the shot was fired through slabs; the horse fell on his hind quarters and got up again. About 8 a.m. I saw a man at the hotel door hold up a white hand-kerchief; a shot was fired at the man, and he went inside again; I looked round, and found that it was one of the black trackers that had fired the shot. At this time someone in front of the building called to the people inside to come out, as the place would be shot into; about thirty persons came out, and were told to lay down in front of the hotel, and after being examined they were let go. The men that came out told the police that Joe Byrne was shot dead about 5 o’clock a.m., and was lying in the bar of the hotel. Shots were fired, after the Kelly prisoners were released, into the hotel on all sides. The two outlaws, Hart and Dan Kelly, fired from the windows of the hotel on the Benalla side of the building. Firing was kept up by the police until 3.30 p.m. The hotel was set on fire by Senior-Constable Johnson, which burnt very quickly, owing, I believe, to quantities of kerosene and spirits being spilt about the floor inside the building. I was not told by Superintendent Hare that there were prisoners in the hotel; I first heard of it from McHugh, who said that there were about thirty of them; and they have got armour on, and are going to shoot you in the morning.”
9680. Then you kept up your position all through, where you were first?—I kept within from 30 to 60 yards the whole time, except when the prisoners came out; I got a little way away then.
9681. Who went with you from the platform the first thing?—I was holding the horses, and Constable Canny was getting out. Constable Barry was placed on guard with one of the black boys, I think. I gave Barry my rifle to hold, and said I would hold all the horses if he would hold my rifle in readiness. During some excitement, Barry went away, and left me and Canny with the horses. This excitement, I believe, was Bracken singing out; and Canny said what would he do with the horses; and Mr. Hare said, Let them go.”
9682. In what order did you proceed from the platform to the railway gate?—I went alone, Canny following.
9683. Where was Mr. Hare?—He was on ahead.
9684. And all the others?—I believe he was in company with some others. I do not know.
9685. Did you see Mr. Hare and some of the others pass through the railway wicket-gate?—I saw Mr. Hare, and I believe I was the next man that passed through, and there was another man came through—I do not know who he was—and went down the side of the fence.
9686. Did you see Mr. O’Connor at that time?—I do not know; he may have been that man that went down the side of the fence.
9687. You know the position Mr. Hare took up first, on the first firing?—Yes.
9688. Is that almost in a line with the railway gates, crossing from one side to the other?—No, it is the wicket-gate nearest to the hotel.
9689. Between that and the hotel a little to the Benalla side?—A little to the right, almost straight to the front door.
9690. When did you next see Mr. O’Connor; you saw him at the railway station after you arrived?—No.
9691. Where did you first see him after you arrived at Glenrowan?—The first time I saw him after the train left Benalla was at Glenrowan, at eight o’clock in the day, with Mr. Sadleir.
9692. Where was he?—Standing by the railway fence, on Jones’s side of the railway fence.
9693. Whereabouts?—[The witness indicated on the plan.]— Somewhere near the tree where I first saw Steele, but a little lower down; it was where the prisoners came out; he was just standing inside the fence.
9694. Did you hear Mr. Hare say anything after he was shot?—I heard him say, “O’Connor, place your boys and, for God’s sake, do not let them escape.”
9695. Did you see what became of Mr. Hare after that?—I never saw him again.
9696. You saw Mr. O’Connor when?—About eight o’clock; about when the prisoners came out.
9697. What prevented them from going up to the hotel at first?—The volleys fired from under the verandah, the corner posts.
9698. And then Mr. Hare gave orders to surround the building?—He gave no orders at all except what he said to O’Connor.
9699. Had you any orders during the day?—None from anybody after Mr. Hare left, except from Mr. Sadleir to shoot at the chimney.
9700. Had you any from any other members of the police?—I had orders from Senior-Constable Mullane to go and fire into the end of the building. I told him I had no ammunition, and he had a bag on his back and had plenty of ammunition, and I said, “If you give me some I will fire in.” He said, “No, go and get some.”
9701. Did Dwyer come with orders?—He came with a bottle of brandy, that was all.
9702. Did Kelly come to you with any orders?—None whatever.
9703. Did you see Constable Kelly after you told him you had found his hat?—I do not remember.
9704. In what direction was he going with the skull cap on?—He was coming from the front of the building through the culvert, right across the crossing. That was the first I saw of him that night before the fight.
9705. Then after that where did he proceed to?—He went back again the way he came.
9706. Then he must, within the time you saw him, have walked back to the Wangaratta side of the hotel to be present about the time Ned Kelly was captured?—Yes, some way round that way.
9707. Are you of opinion that Ned Kelly got away when that horse escaped?—Yes.
9708. What constables were on that side?—I do not know.
9709. Are you aware there were any at all?—No.
9710. Did you not know the Wangaratta men came?—No. I do not know who came, excepting when the Benalla men came. I did not know the Wangaratta men came at all. I never saw any man to get orders from at all when Phillips left me. Constable Mullane was the first to come to me. He arrived with the Benalla train.
9711. What time was that?—It might be about six o’clock or a few minutes afterwards.
9712. It was quite possible for all the outlaws to have escaped at that time then if there was no one stationed round that side?—Well, they might have escaped by crawling away at one particular side, the back side—the Wangaratta back part.
9713. You remained on the Benalla side of the hotel?—Yes, all the time.
9714. Were you in a position to see whether there was any large amount of firing from the hotel front?—I had the position from the front and side windows to see any one escaping at that end.
9715. Was there any large amount of firing from the front windows after the first volley?—Not from the front windows; there was a lot between the kitchen and the hotel. There was a paling fence for cover, and there were two men firing endways at the Benalla side; they were standing between the kitchen and the hotel.
9716. Was there a large amount of firing from the immediate front of the hotel—from the railway side, towards the hotel?—Thcre was at the first shooting a lot of shots.
9717. After Mr. Hare was shot, was there much firing from the police from the railway side?—Well, I believe there were a good number of shots firing from that, not so freely as before.
9718. When was the last time you saw any shot fired from the hotel during the day?Half-past two, from the back window, the skillion where the outlaws were captured.
9719. Had there been any considerable amount of firing from the hotel from the time the civilians were released until half-past two?—Odd shots only.
9720. Only now and then?—Only now and then odd shots.
9721. You were present at the burning of the hotel?—Yes.
9722. Did you see the priest go in?—I saw him go in.
9723. Which way did he go in?—In the front door.
9724. Which way did he come out?—I could not say. I heard some of the people sing out he was burnt, and I went to the back of the hotel.
9725. You did not see him there?—I saw him afterwards, at the back, but I cannot say whether he came out that way or not.
9726. Did you see the body of Joe Byrne taken out?—I saw some men carrying it away; I was not there. There was supposed to be a wounded man at the back, Cherry, and I went there.
9727. Did you see the bodies of the two men that were burnt?—I did.
9728. Before they were moved?—No, there was some one moving them from the position they were in.
9729. When you saw them they had been moved?—Yes.
9730. After the house was burnt and the bodies dragged out?—Yes, it was still burning.
9731. Did you see where they were brought to or from?—Yes.
9732. Where were they lying in the hotel?—When I saw them?
9733. Can you say what room those two were in?—They were in the room on the Benalla side of the building, the back skillion on the Benalla end—the south end.
9734. Were both bodies there?—They were both there.
9735. Were they both there when they were burnt?—I believe they were.
9736. Did you hear Dwyer’s statement about those bodies?—I did.
9737. Do you consider that is a correct statement?—Well, the bodies had been removed, had been poked with a pole when I saw them, and that may have shifted them.
9738. Not from the north end to the south end?—No. They were both in the small room, as I have stated.
9739. Could a body at the north end have been shifted into the skillion on the south end?—No.
9740. You saw them both in that room?—Yes.
9741. How was the armour lying? It had been moved too, a man with a large pole had been poking it.
9742. Who was the man?—Williams, of Dookie, a civilian, and Senior-Constable Johnson.
9743. He had not moved them far?—No, not much out of position.
9744. Not a yard?—No, perhaps a foot.
9745. Were they lying on the floor?—Yes.
9746. Not on the bed?—No.
9747. Were they lying together when you saw them?—They were pretty close together, and I did not take exact notice, because I had just run a cartridge out of my rifle on account of so many people being about; and some fellow said, “Do not be so smart unloading your rifle, young man, look what is coming before you”; and I saw some of their friends coming up, and that drew my attention away from the bodies.
9748. After you saw Mr. O’Connor with Mr. Sadleir, was that about the time the people were coming out?—Yes.
9749. Did you see anything more of Mr. O’Connor?—I never saw him again.
9750. You received no orders from him?—No.
9751. You mentioned that you were left to act apparently upon your own responsibility?—I was
9752. And you did do so?—I did.
9753. Did Dwyer give you any instructions whatever when he came round with the bottle of brandy?—Not to me; but I believe he was the man that called out to fire high.
9754. Was that when he was next to you?—This was sometime afterwards. He gave no orders at the time of the bottle of brandy.
9755. Did you fire high in consequence of that?—No; I fired only two or three shots the whole night into the hotel, and that was at the first. The other ten shots fired by me were at the supposed outlaws outside the building.
9756. You were firing at the men when they came outside?—Yes.
9757. How many shots did you fire that time?—Thirteen shots.
9758. And ten of those you say were fired at the outlaws?—I believed them to be the outlaws.
9759. Not at the building?—No.
9760. How far distant were you from the outlaws when you fired at the men—do you think you hit the object you fired at?—I believe I hit the object.
9761. That was when you ascertained they were in armour?—When Ned Kelly came out the second time, he walked from the front of the hotel towards the railway line. Ned Kelly fired a shot, and there were three shots returned at him. Kelly then fired at three men standing down on the Benalla side, near the big gates; and he fired single shots, and those men paid no attention to the shot at all. I was stationed a little above them, and I fired at Kelly, and he fired at me two or three shots, and the last shot I fired, he said, “You b—— cocktails, you cannot hit me; I am in iron.
9762. Did you hear the sound of the bullet on the armour?—No; there was a coat on that prevented that.
9763. Did you know Kelly?—Yes, I knew him; I knew him by his voice and appearance.
9764. You knew him before, personally?—Yes; I had a conversation with him at one time before Fitzpatrick’s affair. I was looking for some horses, and he told me he was very sorry for what he did in Benalla; but, for all that, he would be one with Lonigan and Phil. Smith one day.
9765. What did that mean?—That he would have it out some day.
9766. Have you any knowledge of when Ned Kelly got away?—After we had the shots at one another and he said that, he walked towards the corner of the fence, but the smoke was so thick I could not see whether he went in the fence or towards the bush; so after this some time Senior-Constable Kelly and Arthur found the rifle in the direction he went.
9767. Do you know when he was coming down where he eventually was taken that he was followed by his horse, or had his horse with him?—No; his mare made her escape out of the hotel yard at six a.m., and was not caught until next day.
9768. Did you see the mare at the time that you fired at him; was his mare about then?—She was in the yard, I believe.
9769. Do you know that?—The only thing I know about it is about five o’clock, or half-past in the morning, some man walked up the yard from the hotel and went into the yard, and I saw him go among the horses; and I saw the horse rear up in the yard, and the man could not get on, and she broke through the slip-rail through the fence of the hotel away on the Benalla side, and turned into Morgan’s Creek out into the ranges.
9770. Did you see Mr. Hare at all after you came through the gate and passed on with him?—I saw him after the first volley, and about ten minutes after.
9771. Was it after that he said he was wounded?—Yes.
9772. Does it occur to you that it was that shot that wounded him when the man took deliberate aim at him?—I could not swear it. I believe it was; that was the first time I heard he was wounded.
9773. After you knew he was wounded when did you again see him?—I never saw him again; he gave the order for Mr. O’Connor to place his men, and I never saw him after.
9774. Do you know the exact words he used when he gave the orders to Mr. O’Connor?—“O’Connor, place your boys, and for God’s sake, do not let them escape.” He said, “Men, surround the house.”
9775. A separate order to the men?—Yes.
9776. Whom did you understand by the men; your party, was it?—Yes, or rather Superintendent Hare’s party.
9777. Did you see Superintendent Hare shooting a second time?—He fired the first shot at the outlaws that was fired. I do not know whether he fired after or not.
9778. Had he previously instructed you not to fire till he fired?—Not on this occasion.
9779. Was that a portion of his instructions at any time?—No; he said, “Men, if there is any one shot, outlaws or police, do not run to pick them up; let them lie.”
9780. That is not the question; did Mr. Hare at any time give you instructions never to fire till you were fired upon?—Not that I heard.
9781. Did you receive any orders from Mr. Hare or any one that on this occasion you were not to fire until you were fired on?—No.
9782. You used your own discretion as to when you were to fire?—Yes.
9783. Did you see Mr. Hare leave the ground after you found he was wounded?—No.
9784. Did you see Canny there?—I saw him about ten or eleven yards behind me, when I was coming through the gate.
9785. Did you hear Canny’s evidence at Glenrowan?—Partly.
9786. Did you hear him say he went after this to the Wangaratta side?—I believe he was at the Wangaratta side, more towards that side on the railway side. I could not say whether he was on the Wangaratta side, over the fence.
9787. When Mr. Hare asked Mr. O’Connor to place the boys round the house, do you know whether he took any steps of that sort?—I never saw any.
9788. You do not know whether they were at the Wangaratta side?—I do not know where the men were.
9789. By Mr. O’Connor.—In your written statement you stated that you were out with parties who had pack-horses and baggage?—Yes.
9790. Were you ever out with any of my parties?—No.
9791. Then.you are not referring as to how I worked?—No.
9792. I believe you stated that, as to the shots fired by some person, who you thought were the blacks, it was not they you found afterwards?—Yes.
9793. How soon after the first volley did you hear Mr. Hare call out to me to surround the house?—It was within ten or twelve minutes, I believe.
9794. Did you hear Mr. Hare make any other remarks?—None whatever.
9795. Can you remember hearing the engines going back towards Benalla?—I have a very faint recollection of it.
9796. You were not very far from the line, were you?—Not very far.
9797. You could easily have heard them?—I could.
9798. You do not remember?—I remember there was a train went, but not the time.
9799. Was it very long after we had arrived there and taken our positions?—It might have been half or three-quarters of an hour.
9800. I believe you said that the black tracker named Jimmy fired at a man running out?—No, I stated that one of the trackers told me he could see his mate Jimmy firing. Of course that is only hearsay.
9801. Did you see the trackers?—In the morning ?
9802. At the first going off?—No, about six o’clock.
9803. By the Commission.—It was quite true the civilians were fired upon when they came out?—By only one shot, from Jacky, the tracker. I saw him aim deliberately at the man with a white pocket handkerchief. That was ten minutes before the prisoners made their escape from the hotel.
9804. That was not at the time the civilians were coming out?—Yes. I believe that Riordan made the statement at Glenrowan, and he said the police fired on the civilians; that is the only shot that was fired—that single shot at that time.
9805. Was that at the time the civilians were coming out or at the time of the flag of truce?—The flag of truce.
9806. There was no shot fired at the time the civilians came out, as far as you know?—I do not believe there was.
9807. Were you in a position to say whether any members of the police fired from the Wangaratta side at any parties leaving the hotel?—No, I think Riordan, in his statement, said that the man went to the other window with a handkerchief two or three times before this flag of truce came out, and he was shot at. I wish to say that is not correct. In my position—I had the end on the Benalla side of the front, and nearly all the back except the windows—I could see end on all the building. [The witness pointed out his exact position on the plan.]
9808. You have been in Benalla, and know all the country round there from your boyhood?—Yes.
9809. In your opinion, is it more efficacious for the securing of those men, leaving them alone and depending upon private information to get them, or is it the best plan to keep them completely under surveillance of the police throughout?—I believe it is best to keep them—not to watch them too much, but to let them have a little of their own way; but any that do wrong, to pounce on them at once; not to have spies looking out, because it only maddens them—that is the private spies—when they find it out. It only maddens them, and makes them turn against the police. I believe in the police going amongst them, and knowing them.
9810. You believe it keeps them more under control?—Yes.
9811. And immediately on an outbreak they should be arrested?—Yes, the men would know them, and their whereabouts, and know where to capture them.
9812. But by keeping away from them, you do not know their associates, or their whereabouts, or habits?—No.
9813. Do you know any special case of any man who would not give information now, after what has been said about the sympathizers—in consequence of that?—No, but I do not believe you would get anyone at Greta that you could rely on.
9814. Most of the men have been asked whether they think it would have been more judicious to have rushed the house or pursue the course that was pursued at Glenrowan?—Well, I believe the outlaws could have been taken easily—the two men—if there were not so many police on the ground; there were inexperienced men on the ground, cross-firing on the other men—they were not used to firing a rifle, and thought the ball would not go through the house—they had no experience in firearms.
9815. Then it is your opinion that although there was a large number of police surrounding the hotel, had the police been instructed by their officers not to fire because a party—that is a small party—was about to rush the building, that would have been the best plan to have adopted?—Yes, I believe so.
9816. You believe the two men could have been captured without the burning of the hotel?—I believe they could have been, without the burning of the hotel.
9817. Without loss of life?—No, I will not say without loss of life.
9818. If you had been in charge, would you have adopted that in preference to blowing the place down with a cannon, or setting fire to it?—I would have let one man, if he could, have got in, the others to back him up in the passage. I would not have sent in two or three, rushing.
9819. Could that have been done by recalling the men at the other side?—Yes.
9820. Are you a good shot yourself with the rifle?—Yes.
9821. Have you had plenty of practice?—Not with the Police Department. I was only out three times practising with them.
9822. Do you think they supply you with sufficient ammunition for practice?—No. I was seven months and only had four shots when I had a new rifle, a Martini.Henry, that I never used before.
9823. Would it be better if the police had more ammunition, and a regular system of practice, the same as is now indulged in by the volunteers?—Yes.
9824. Then it is a false economy not to give it to them?—Some of the men could not hit a hay-stack, and some are splendid shots. I got eighteen rounds when I received the Henry, and Sergeant Whelan asked me for six rounds; and when I went to Violet Town I fired those four shots. I never got any from the Government unless I bought it, except when Mr. Nicolson took me out in the ranges to have a shot in a party. There was a cup given, I believe, by Mrs. Nicolson. I went out with the party, and beat them the first time, and I never had a shot for seven months.
9825. It is often the practice that the police supply their own ammunition for practice?—Yes. There is a statement made by Jacob Wilson, that his son had a selection at Glenrowan, and that sympathizers were annoying him at night, and threatening to shoot his son; and he came to the police station to get assistance, and the officer in charge told him they had enough to do to take care of themselves. Glenny was the officer in charge. I happened to be there present, and happened to be at the son, “Holy Wilson’s” place, close to the police camp, and there were a lot of men knocking about there; they were fencing a man’s place, and I believe the statement made is not correct. He used to get frightened by a young man named Cass, living a hundred yards off. He used to try and frighten Wilson. Wilson was trying to get into the police. I never saw any signs of anything, and I was round night and day.
9826. This is only your opinion?—Yes.