The Royal Commission evidence for 7/4/1881
(see also introduction to day 10)
John Sadleir giving evidence
1749 They were not cautioned about the danger of separating, knowing the character of the men?— No, for often men must separate. I would not do that.
1750 They were sent out on a special mission, and after the conversation it was left to their discretion?— Yes; if they came to a narrow defile and all tried to go together all might be shot together I left it to their discretion entirely.
1751 In both cases the officers in charge were good and reliable officers?— Yes, and every man was a good and reliable man. Perhaps there was a little difference, but they were all perfectly satisfactory. I have said also that Constables Thom and Ryan well knew the offenders. I suggested Hedi as the place where they might meet, and I will finish by reading what I said:— “I am relying on the zeal and discretion of the members of the force forming these search parties to do what is possible in the matter to effect the arrest of the offenders, and when they have satisfied themselves there is no further use for their services in this respect they should return to their respective stations, Sergeant Kennedy reporting to me the particulars of their labors. A horse for Sergeant Kennedy's use will be sent up by Constable Scanlan for this expedition. Enclosed are photos. of Kellys.” This file was found afterwards, after Sergeant Kennedy's death, amongst his papers, and sent to me. That last memo. is not marked by him, but it was Mr. Pewtress who says, “I forward herewith a file of papers found in the iron safe this morning, no doubt placed there by the late Sergeant Kennedy.”
1753 He was taken at the suggestion of Sergeant Kennedy?— Yes, specially chosen by him. He was a zealous, conscientious man, and I could see no difference between them as to bravery and so on.
1754 Sergeant Kennedy must have had confidence in his courage?— Yes.
1755 Is it your opinion that they acted judiciously and courageously?— I do think it; I think he (McIntyre) acted as a brave man, and as I should have acted myself, but that is only an opinion. Here are some further papers preliminary to the search, also semi-official correspondence between myself and Captain Standish. On the 16th September I wrote to Captain Standish. “Dear Captain Standish,—
Referring to my confidential note to you of the 29th” (which I cannot produce now), “also no the subject of employing a person to assist in the search for the Kellys, your telegram of the 31st having been sent here (Benalla) instead of to Mansfield as I expected, I am not able to do anything definite while at Mansfield . Rather than put the matter into any other person's hands to negotiate, I have postponed action until I have a chance of visiting Mansfield again. This is perhaps as well, as Detective Ward is now in the neighborhood, and my plans might interfere with his. I shall not lose sight of the matter.” I proposed to Captain Standish (I find I have the letter), on the 29th August, to send a private agent into that country, and he approved of it—his approval came accidentally too late, and I was not able to deal with it. This is the letter I wrote—[handing in the same, which is as follows.]
DEAR CAPTAIN STANDISH
Benalla, 29/8/78 .
I am a good deal exercised in mind at hearing, as I often do, of Ned Kelly being about. He is not likely to fall into our hands by ordinary means, and I think of proposing to a young acquaintance of mine, of the criminal class, to spend a few weeks in the places where he is supposed to haunt, and endeavor to lay us on to him. I am sure if this trap were known to Kelly or his associates the young fellow's life would not be worth much. They would not be any the wiser unless the young fellow himself talks about it. It would require a few pounds to give the young fellow a start. I can only say he is bad enough, I believe to do anything in the prospect of the reward. I should be glad to learn from you if you would like the proposition. By letter posted on Saturday, or a telegram till Monday, will find me at Mansfield , where my protege lives.
(Sgd.) J. SADLEIR.
1756 By a private agent do you mean one of the detectives?— No. As I have said, on returning to Benalla on the 30th, I found Mr. Nicolson, I think, absent at Chiltern. About this time, the 1 st November, the first information that I heard of them came in about the Kellys. The purport of it was that a man residing near the Murray reported that he had been stuck up by four armed men answering the description of the Kellys and their companions.
1759 What steps did you take in the meantime?— I think Mr. Nicolson stated all that was necessary about that, but I can go over the same ground if you wish......
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