The Royal Commission evidence for 25/3/1881
(see also introduction to day 3 )
Assistant Commissioner Nicholson giving evidence
886 I will draw your attention to two matters. This is your printed letter of 30th June 1880:- "I have the honor respectfully to request that, before proceeding to acknowledge the services of those engaged in the destruction of the Kelly gang of outlaws, a searching enquiry be held into the whole circumstances and transactions of the police administration in the North Eastern District since the Kelly outbreak in October 1878, and particularly into the circumstances of my recent withdrawal from that district"?- Yes.
887 The question I want to ask is this. You have entered into a lengthy detail of the exact position of the Kelly outlaws at the time you left the district. Is that the reason that you ask that the enquiry might be delayed until these facts you have now stated were made public. Am I to understand that you have now entered into the full details of the exact position you had the outlaws in at the time you withdrew in May and April?- Yes.
888 And therefore you consider at that particular time you were unjustly treated in your withdrawal?- Yes. Nothing to do with the reward at all, but with my withdrawal.
889 Was that what you meant in that letter you wish delayed till the facts you now mentioned were before the department?- Yes.
890 You wish us to understand in your opinion you had the Kellys almost completely under your control at the time you were withdrawn?- I do, and I say it not only on behalf of myself, but on behalf of my assistants and agents.
89l Was that the object of the letter?- Yes, for myself and the others.
892 You recollect a letter-you have not alluded to it-which was given upon oath by a young fellow named-, is he one of the that is alluded to in Captain Standish's letter?- I suppose so. I know the man well.
893 Did you pay him any service money?- I did.
895 Who was the officer who appeared against the sympathizers on the remands?- Mr Sadleir, I believe, had to appear.
896 You were not in charge?- I was not there, so I have no exact knowledge of it.
897 Did you inform the officer that took charge when you last left that district that you were satisfied that you had the Kellys almost within your grasp?- I would not like to say that.
898 Did you give him such information as would be useful to him in the interests of the public?- Oh! Yes.
899 In every respect?- In every respect.
900 You gave him a detailed account of all the proceedings leading up to what you believed to be almost immediate capture, had you remained and carried on operations?- I spent over an hour in the presence of Mr. Sadleir and Mr. O'Connor, and I gave him during that time all the information I could think of, and turned from time to time to Mr. Sadleir, and asked him, "Is there anything else, Mr. Sadleir, you can suggest?" -and Mr. Sadleir from time to time would tell me if he had thought so, and remind me; but I presume it would be better to defer that till Mr. Hare has been examined.
901 What was the nature of your relationship with the men and officers during the time you were in charge of the North Eastern District; not your superior officers, but those under you-the men under your charge?- Mr. Sadleir was the superintendent of the district, he was under me, and we were, and are still, on the very best of terms always.
902 He was immediately under you?- Yes; he was in charge of the district, and he rendered me the most valuable assistance throughout, and spared himself in no degree; and many most valuable suggestions he gave me, for instance, that about working the people up in the townships to assist the police in case of attack, and so on. My acquaintance with Mr. O'Connor was very slight when I first came up; but after a time he told me that he had not been fairly treated, he considered, by my predecessor, and there was a disposition to leave him out of the way on any occasion when there was a prospect of capturing the men.
903 When you left the charge of the place one of your successors would be, of course, Mr. Sadleir, would it not?- No; when I left charge Mr. Hare was there, but I exclude Mr. Hare; he was not with me.
904 By your predecessor, you meant Captain Standish?- Yes, in this respect only. Mr. O'Connor was on very good terms with Captain Standish even when I came up, but he was very dissatisfied with being left out. I told him that I considered it a very improper thing myself of any one to do anything of the kind to him-an officer coming from a neighboring colony with a party of men. I considered that it would be a very improper thing for the officers of police of Victoria to behave in such a manner towards him, and that he might feel perfectly satisfied on that point that there was hardly an officer in the colony would do such a thing, and from that time our relations were perfectly satisfactory. He placed the trackers at my disposal, and I could take them myself at any time-to take them whenever I chose, he could trust me entirely; I am not going to crack the police up and seek popularity by speaking of them; but I can only say they showed the greatest possible spirit throughout, and as a proof of it there was not one man brought before me for misconduct while I was up there. ...
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. This document is subject to coypright.