THE POLICE COMMISSION.
Wednesday, June 1.
Present – Messrs. Longmore (chairman),
Fincham, Gibb, Graves, Anderson, Dixon,
Befere the board proceeded to take evi- dence,
Mr. GRAVES called attention to the absence from the documents in the possession of the commission of the correspondence with the Queensland Government with regard to Mr. O'Connor's appointment.
Mr. O'Connor, having briefly referred to the manner in which he was appointed, pointed out that not only were these documents miss- ing, but also some documents about the hut party which he considered most important,
could not be found.
Mr. Nicolson pointed out that at the pre- vious sitting a member of the commission was reported to have asked him whether he (Mr. Nicolson) reprimanded Captain Standish. He took exception to the word " repri-
The Commission asserted that that was not the exact term used. It was probably "reprove."
Sergeant Steele to Mr. O'Connor. – Re- member Senior-constable Kelly giving a state- ment of what had happened at Glenrowan when witness arrived. He mentioned that Mr. Hare had been wounded in the first part of the fight. Did not hear of Mr. Hare firing several shots after being wounded. Heard Senior-constable Kelly state something to the effect that the heaviest indiscriminate firing was on the part of the Queensland police.
Mr. O'Connor. –Would that be a fact ? Were not all firing when they liked, without
Witness. – Yes. There appeared to be no restriction. There were one or two heavy and general volleys fired. After the capture of Kelly, witness went to the railway sta- tion, and stopped there till after the burning of the hotel. Saw Mr. O'Connor about half an hour after the capture. In his opinion, anyone on the field who knew Mr. O'Connor must have seen him.
To Mr. Sadleir – The time at which he
said that the crime of horsestealing was very rife was before Mr. Sadleir took charge of the district. The Mansfield police of which he had charge were not responsible for that state of affairs. There were some very active, energetic and efficient men among those police. The period to which he re-
ferred was before Mr. Sadleir came to the district. The inefficiency of the constable at Greta, the Fitzpatrick affair, and the horse- stealing, were all before Mr. Sadleir went to the district. Mr. Sadleir's instructions to him to go on to Rats' Castle at the time of the Kellys passing through Wangaratta would
have left him free to follow the outlaws in- stead of going to Rats' Castle, if there had not been a party at Wangaratta strong enough to follow them. He was sorry that he could not follow them himself, but there were enough men at Wangaratta to
followed them. Remembered sending in a report of his share in the affray at Glen- rowan, which was endorsed by Mr. Sadleir, who believed that his statement was correct, and that it was from his fire that Kelly fell, and that he was the first to lay hands on him. Witness believed that but for him Kelly would not have been taken alive, and he con- sidered that Mr. Sadleir had not done justice to him. Witness was the only one to inter- rupt Kelly when trying to get into the hotel. Witness called upon the other constables to
come up. Senior-constable Kelly was the first to come up. The others cleared away. He saw several constables fire at Kelly. Those at the railway station could have seen what was going on at the hotel.
Mr. HALL directed attention to the report of Guard Dowsett, narrating his version of the affray at Glenrowan. He cited this because Sergeant Steele had not mentioned the guard.
Witness said it was not correct to say that Guard Dowsett took off Kelly's helmet, and wrested the revolver from him. It was not true that Senior-constable Kelly was coming up to the outlaw Kelly when witness fired at and took him. Dowsett certainly did not wrest away Kelly's revolver. Witness took it. Dowsett and Marsden were near at hand. Kelly did not retreat after the shot of Con- stable Arthur and other constables. Re- membered Kelly saying to Constable Arthur – " Look out, you are running against a snag," and firing at him afterwards. Constable Arthur was the first to fire at Kelly, but he afterwards retreated unnecessarily.
Mr. Hare – Do you think the entire credit of the capture is due to you ?
Witness – I shot him, and I took him, Mr.
Mr. Hare – Did not others fire ?
Witness – Yes. I shot him in the foot, and in the arm. Before I fired he seemed to be walking all right. We had afterwards to carry him to the station.
Mr. Hare – Did you not hear that he was shot in the morning early ?
Witness – Yes. There were old wounds on prisoner, which he must have bled consi-
derably from before I shot him; and Kelly also stated, as his wounds ind- cated, that he had been shot in the early morning. The other police had been on the ground two or three hours before witness, but he believed that he heard the first volley when coming down by train. He believed, from information he received, that it was the first volley he heard.
Mr. Hare – When you heard that the Kellys had crossed the line at Wangaratta, did you telegraph to Mr. Sadleir that you were certain that the tracks which had been seen were those of the outlaws ?
Witness. – I do not recollect.
Mr. Hare. – Were you not told that the men who had crossed the line at Wangaratta had a horse similar to one stolen from Kennedy ?
Witnees. – Certainly not. No definite in- formation was given.
Mr. GRAVES would like to know whether witness did telegraph at any station after leaving Wangaratta ?
Witness could not remember.
Mr. GRAVES. – Did you communicate to any senior-constable, sergeant, or officer.
Witness. – No , I left the matter to Mr. Brook Smith.
To Mr. Hare – He understood that Mr. Smith had a party of six men, horse and foot, with horses available. Did not know that the station-master at Wangaratta had sent in a claim on the strength of the information he gave with regard to the men who crossed the line. Witness went on to Rats' Castle, on information received from Mr. Nicolson with regard to a bell brand horse being recog-
The CHAIRMAN, at this stage, ruled that nothing would come of Mr. Hare pursuing this examination, as he was not in the dis-
trict at the time.
Witness continued to Mr. Hare – Remem- bered a conversation in June with Mr. Hare about secret agents. Witness told him he had no faith in Aaron Sherritt – that was the only agent in whom witness had no confi-
Mr. Hare – Do you remember telling an anecdote of an agent set to watch — —'s house, and saying that you had no faith in
Witness said what he did complain of was Mr. Hare's not telling him (witness) of the agents. The anecdote referred to was told to illustrate the evil of Mr. Hare not letting witness know of his agent. On Mr. Hare's second visit he reposed more comfidence in his sub-officers than before. Witness was in charge of the Wangaratta district. Superin- tendent Fennell was the nominal head of the station, but he was not fit for the work. He had been discharged from the force. Witness did not recognise him as a superior officer.
Constable James Dwyer deposed that he was now stationed in Melbourne. Was sent to the North-Eastern district soon after the police murders on his own application, as he wanted to assist in the capture of the out- laws. Wrong information was frequently given purposely to the police. Believed Aaron Sherritt did not act faithfully to the police. Was at Wangaratta when Sherritt was shot. Arrived at Glenrowan about 5 a.m. on the day the gang was destroyed. When Mr. Sadleir arrived, he asked to be shown by Senior-constable Kelly to where Mr. O'Connor was, and that direction was
complied with. Mr. Sadleir went into the trench where Mr. O'Connor was, and asked him how he was getting on. Mr. O'Connor
reported the previous events. Witness was also in the trench. Screams of women in the hotel were heard, and Mr. O'Connor said the hotel was full of them. Mr. Sadleir said "We can't fire at the hotel, then, because of the innocent people." The police on the Benalla Bule of the hotel were then firing into it. Messrs. Sadleir and O'Connor called out to the innocent people to throw them- selves flat on the ground. At half past 6 o'clock a.m. it was known the outlaws were in armour. When Ned Kelly was captured, he was trembling with fear, and said, "Don't kill me, let me live as long as I can. I never injured any of you." Witness said, "You wretch, you shot Hare, and my comrade Kennedy, when he was begging for his life."
Witness just kicked Kelly like he would have kicked an old cur to show his scontempt for him. The kick would not hurt anyone. Did not see Constable Arthur running away. After Kelly's capture witness returned to the trench, where he found Messrs. Sadleir and O'Connor .Subsequently witness gave Ned Kelly a little brandy. Ned asked for a bit of bread, as he was very hungry, and witness got him some, and, at Mr. Sadleir's direction, some more brandy. Mr Sadleir asked Ned to send a message to the other two outlaws – Dan Kelly and Hart – to surrender. Ned
said he would not, as his best friend, Joe Byrne, was shot. Again saw Mr. O'Connor in the trench after 8 o clock a.m. Witness had expressed regret to Mr. Sadleir that he had kicked Ned Kelly. The kick was meant as a mark of disgust at his cowardice. Wit- ness reported to Mr. Sadleir immediately after Ned's capture that he had kicked Ned. Witness went to the railway station to put on Ned's armour, with the object of rushing the hotel. But he abandoned the idea, as he found the armour so cumber-
some and heavy. At half-past 2 o'clock p.m.,
witness saw Mr. Sadleir, and told him that four constables, including himself, were willing to rush the hotel. Mr. Sadleir would not sanction the idea, and said witness should not have asked him, and ordered him back to his post. Then Constable Montford made the same offer to Mr. Sadleir. Saw the two outlaws at half past 2 p.m.,going from the back kitchen to the main building. The last shot from the hotel was fired about half past 2p.m. Before that heard a noise inside the hotel, as if one of the outlaws had fallen in his armour on the floor; and heard a similar noise about an hour before the house was set on fire. Witness was one of the first into the hotel after it was fired, and saw the dead bodies of Dan Kelly and Hart. They were about six yards apart. They were at opposite ends of the room. Hart was half lying in bed. He did not believe they had shot one another. Dan Kelly was lying on another bed. Byrne's body was taken out of the back door. The priest came out of the hotel by the back
The CHAIRMAN announced that the com- mission had passed a resolution dispensing with the further attendance of officers. This did not, however, apply to Mr O'Connor, who was not an officer of police, and whose conduct was immediately under considera-
The commission adjourned until 11 a.m. next day.