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THE MONK INQUIRY
Mr Panton, PM, has forwarded the following report to the Acting Chief Secretary as the result of his investigations into the case of the alleged shooting at Edward Monk, near Mansfield, on the 20th of April - City Police Court 26th May, 1879
Sir,-I have the honour to inform you that in accordance with your instructions, on the 6th inst. I proceeded to Mansfield to inquire into the alleged shooting at Mr Edward Monk, when on his way to Wombat on the 26th of April last. I reached Mansfield on the 7th May, and on the 8th visited the scene of the supposed outrage. Mr C A Smyth, Crown prosecutor, Sub inspectors Pewtress and Toohey, and a number of residents of the neighbourhood accompanied me.
We followed the road taken by Mr Monk on the night when he was attacked. For the first three miles it leads through open country, and is bounded on both sides by farms, and for the next four miles was through slightly wooded open pastures of the Mount Battery Estate. At this point the Broken River is met with, which is crossed by means of a ford, and immediately for the next three and a half miles winds up a slope of about one in 10 through comparatively open forest, with clumps of wattle, and under scrub in places.
There we reach the summit of the hill at the spot where Mr Monk says he was fired at. A large tree which stands about 18in. off the beaten track, on the north and left hand side, was pointed out to me by Mr Monk as the one behind which the man stood. Its diameter is estimated to be about 3ft. A fallen limb with branches from 10in to 6in in diameter lies close at the foot of it, and extending into the road Mr Monk was requested to strap his valise on his saddle just as he had it on the night of the 26th, and this being done the saddle was placed on the mare he had ridden on that night. At my request he then mounted and explained to me the manner of the attack. I then went on for another two and a half miles, to Mr Monk's house and sawmill. The road descends at about the same gradient as that of the ascent, and through forest of the same character. Having in spected the sawmill site, dam and buildings, with a view of forming an estimate of the value of the property, 1 returned to Mansfield.
On the 9th I commenced the inquiry in the Mansfield courthouse. Mr C A Smyth conducted the proceedings on behalf of the police, and Mr M'Arthy O'Leary on behalf of Mr Monk. All persons were then invited to come forward and give evidence. Mr Monk and the 25 witnesses named - Edward Monk, James Tomkin, John Henry, Adolphus Hageman, William Phelan, Auguste Spehr, William Bullock, Henry Jebb, John Duncan, John Reardon, Michael Reardon, John Byrne , Horace Morgan Mumford, James Love, Henry Pewtress, Charles Boles, Alexander Dundas, Jeremiah Toohey, Tom Alagy, John Blum, Charles Berry, Annie Monk, Henry H Kitchen, Frank James, John Lopdell, John Richards - whose statements I append, were examined. Their evidence was taken in the form of a statutory declaration.
From Mr Monk and his witnesses I gathered that as he was proceeding home from Mansfield at a canter on the 26th April last, be tween the hours of 8 and 9, it being then very dark, as he approached the tree indicated, it being on his left hand side, 30ft in front, he saw a man emerge from behind it, stand in the road, hold up both hands, and cry "Stop." Monk fired at the man, the man firing at Monk simultaneously. When the shots were exchanged the mare and the man who fired were within 3ft. of each other. The flash instantly caused the mare to swerve to the right, away from the main, leaping a rotten log which is on the opposite side of the road, that while she was pursuing this course the second shot was fired, hitting the mare, causing her to give a 'cow' kick and bolt. She then carried Mr Monk through the bush and under an overhanging wattle tree, afterwards regaining the road, when he resumed control of her. He then galloped home in great fear, and passing the house of a neighbour, called out that he had been shot at. When he reached his own house he at once told his men what had happened, and directed preparations to be made to resist an attack which he apprehended would be mode that night. He told one of the men to take the saddle off the mare and examine it, and another to look at the mare and see if she had been hit. On the first man handling the saddle a bullet dropped from it into his hand while the second found that the mare had been shot, and the bullet was still in the lower part of the mare's hip. On the following day, in response to a message from Mr Monk, the police, with Inspectors Pewtress and Toohey, came to Mr Monk's. Mr Pewtress cut the bullet out of the mare, while Mr Toohey took possession of the saddle and the re volver which had been used the night before. That in consequence of several threatening letters having been sent to him since the conviction of Lynch he always cairned his revolver in his hand, ready cocked when riding home. That in consequence of his sympathy with the police and against the Kellys his person and property have been threatened by the friends of the outlaws, and that his dam had been cut away so as to prevent him using his saw mill, and his slip- panels let down and his cattle driven away, and that his life was in danger. That the continued threats had so preyed upon his wife's health that he was just upon the point, at her earnest solicitation of abandoning his property and going to New Zealand. On the other hand doubts were thrown upon the genuineness of the threatening letters as to one witness Monk had admitted that he knew who wrote them, though he would not then tell; and to another witness that he expected a threatening letter on the day on which he received it. That Mr Monk, for a man in his position, was in embarrassed circumstances and that he had several previous conversations with persons who gave evidence that he contemplated leaving the district, and selling his property to the Government, and with the view of effecting that object that one of the members of the local council had promised to induce the council to petition the Government to " do something for him."
That the saddle which he used was pierced by a bullet in the direction as if fired from behind at some elevation, and which, if on the mare at the time, must have wounded her but wholly impossible to be effected if fired from the front where Mr Monk said his assailant stood. Further, that the leather of the saddle around the hole was discoloured by marks of exploded gunpowder, which could not have been caused unless the muzzle of the pistol was within a few inches of it when fired. And further, that under any circumstances the bullet could not have been fired from the front with- out penetrating the valise, which was proved to have been uninjured. The wound on the mare's thigh showed that the bullet must have entered the left thigh from the front and passed downwards and backwards just inside the skin for about 7in, where it remained until it was cut out. That from the relative positions given by Mr Monk of the mare and the man when the second shot was fired (when she gave a "cow' kick) the bullet must have entered from behind and proceeded forward, which is the contrary direction to that which it did go. That the next day and the day following, during which no rain had fallen sufficient to obliterate tracks, the place where the attack was alleged to have been made exhibited no marks or tracks corresponding with the statement Mr Monk had made, but at a distance of 50 yards from the spot, on the Mansfield side, there were seen marks and tracks that indicated where a horseman had alighted and moved about, leaving a footprint corresponding with Mr Monk's boot, and where the horseman had re- mounted and gone off into the bush on the right. That the revolver which Mr Monk handed to Mr Toohey, the day after the occurrence, presented the appearance of having three chambers recently discharged and re loaded. I do not know that I am called upon to express any opinion upon the evidence, but if I am I desire to abstain from expressing any when it can be avoided, as it is more than probable the inquiry will not end here. I am not satisfied with the theory submitted by and on behalf of Mr Monk. And, so far as regards the evidence as given before me, I am reluctantly compelled to come to the conclusion that no shot was fired at Mr Monk on the night of the 26th ult, and in the manner as alleged.
I have the honour to be, sir, jour obedient servant,
J A PANTON, Police Magistrate The hon. the Minister of Justice
There is at last something to show for the time and money which have been expended in connexion with matters arising out of the police murders. Mr Panton, who was appointed to make an inquiry regarding the alleged shooting at Mr Monk, near Mansfield, by a sympathiser with the Kellys, has furnished a report to the Government, which is published elsewhere. Mr Panton says he is not satisfied with Mr Monk's story; and considering the evidence submitted to him, he is reluctantly driven to the conclusion that no shot was fired at Mr Monk in the manner alleged. the Government have determined upon this that no compensation shall be given to Mr Monk, as was at one time proposed, to enable him and his family to leave the district and commence business elsewhere; also that a further inquiry shall be made touching the truth of Monk's statements in regard to the recent threatening letters which he says have been forwarded to him. This inquiry will have nothing whatever to do with the case of the man Lynch, sentenced to two years imprisonment for sending a threatening letter and against whom the evidence was quite clear.
This document gives you the text of the report about the KellyGang for this day. The text has been retyped from a microfiche 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.