Question by Superintendent Nicolson—That is since I (Supt Nicolson) spoke of it, and since you recommended them to be taken into the police force. Was it not your duty to make inquiries about this matter of sheep stealing?—All the inquiry was made that could be. Constable Barry saw Sherritt skinning sheep as he passed, and that was all. What further inquiry could be made? (RC16610)
Question by Superintendent Nicolson—To whom did the sheep belong?—How could I specify to whom it belonged when it had been skinned and eaten? Whom could I have got information from?
Question by Superintendent Nicolson—Could you not have used the police to ascertain for you who had lambs running about in that quarter?—Certainly that would be a gross injustice to imply that a man stole a sheep. There was no proof of it. Because a squatter ran sheep on the run this man lives on, and because this man is seen skinning a sheep, is it to be implied that he stole it?
Question by Superintendent Nicolson—I did not say implied, I say inquiry—sufficient to prevent him getting into the force.
Question by Superintendent Nicolson—No, but to make inquiries?—I did make inquiries.
Question by Superintendent Nicolson—Did you make inquiries whether the Sherritts had sheep of their own?—No; they might have bought it.
Question by Superintendent Nicolson—Would not the possession of this sheep be prima-facie evidence of his stealing it?—No. (RC16616)
Now let us look at the police attitude towards the Kellys.
“Forwarded for information of Mr Nicolson and Mr Sadleir. I address this to the latter, being uncertain whether Mr Nicolson is still in Benalla. At all events, the information, which is important, should be communicated to him as soon as possible.
“The signals which Mrs Skillion makes from her place clearly bring her within the reach of the new Act. It would be very desirable to commit her, if possible, or, at any rate, to prosecute her.—F C Standish, CC Police.”
The above is one of the numerous examples which prompted Inspector Mountford, when giving evidence on oath before the Royal Commission behind close doors, to state:—”I might say that a great deal of the trouble with these men (Kellys and their friends) would be got over if they felt that they were being treated with equal justice—that there was no ‘down’ on them. They are much more tractable when they feel that they are treated with equal justice.” (RCApp1 -29)
The police had another spy, “Diseased Stock,” whose activities were well known to the Kellys. They knew him well and knew him to be a police spy. His name was Kennedy. This man was not a friend of the outlaws, and it was impossible for him to secure first-hand information. Kennedy was aware of that, but he knew also that the Government had plenty of money to spend, and he never failed to supply reports and draw his allowance. His reports and information, when submitted, were always stale, and usually second, and sometimes third and fourth hand.
The spy business was regarded by some as a new industry, and the “official spy” frequently worked with some of his friends to concoct likely stories of the plans, intentions, and whereabouts of the outlaws. A fair specimen of this class of concoction was responsible for the taking of Supt Nicolson and Supt Sadleir to Albury while the outlaws were, without opposition, securing £2000 from the bank at Euroa. The letter was written in New South Wales, and bore the postmarks of Bungowannah and Albury, December 3, 1878.
It was received by one of the police spies at Greta, and handed as something extra special to the senior constable at Edi. The latter sent it to Supt Sadleir at Benalla. This letter was handed to Supt Nicolson by Supt Sadleir, both of whom took the next train to Albury. Here is the letter as quoted by Supt Sadleir when giving evidence on oath:—
“Sir,—I have been requested by E and D Kelly to do what I could to assist them in crossing here, I am to write to you to let you know the arrangements. They are to be at the time to be named at the junction of the Indigo Creek and the Murray, and there is to be a pass-word. It is this:—‘Any work to be had?’ ‘Yes’. ‘Where?’ On the New South Wales side one shall meet you. I will have a boat ready. There must not be any horses come to the river. If you should have horses they must be led by the bridge to a safe place already prepared for them. I will have four on each side on the river to watch upper and lower sides. I have a place fixed where you will be safe. If you should want horses there will be some got for you. There are two who say they will join you if requested. You must mind it will want money, and I’ have got none. When you write, direct to Howlong for the signature.”
After quoting the above, Supt Sadleir continued:—“It is not out of sympathy I do not mention his name, but it is sent by a person well known and suspected in that neighbourhood. I made a note of it at the time to this effect, amongst other matters, that the envelope showed the Bungowannah and Albury postmarks of the 3rd inst.”(RC1972)
This document gives you the text of this book about the KellyGang. The text has been retyped from a copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. JJ Kenneally was one of the first authors to tell this story from the KellyGang's point of view