The Royal Commission evidence for 12/4/1881
(see also introduction to day 11)
Superintendent Sadleir giving evidence
2027 Those agents you now speak of you had full confidence in?— Yes, I had certainly, or else I should not have used them.
2028 The other one is not here?— No, I can provide it to the Commission if desired. I sent one of the scouts or agents into the upper end of the Strathbogie country, he travelled in amongst the most likely places there; the other took in about the Wombat.
2029 Which Wombat, there is one at Strathbogie and one where the men were murdered?— Where the men were murdered? They also took in the heads of the King River and the Devil's River. I paid them 10s. a day, and they provided their own horses and their own provisions. An agent named on that list, “Sherrington,” offered himself to Captain Standish, and was employed. This man returned in about a week with a cock-and-bull story that he had met Ned Kelly and Steve Hart in the Strathbogie ranges, and Ned Kelly was neatly dressed, his boots beautifully brushed, and that he was stuck all over with revolvers; that he compared watches with Sherrington, and assured him that his watch kept excellent time or something to that effect. Well, there were two or three search parties sent out upon this statement, but not the slightest trace of anything could be found. On January 2nd, 1879, Captain Standish issued warrants for the arrest of about twenty of the sympathizers; they were all arrested on the same day and remanded to Beechworth, and they were kept, most of them, in custody there till the 22nd of April following.
2030 How long is that?— Two months and a half. The next authentic information of the Kellys I remember was on the 10th January. I heard then that the outlaws were near Greta on the 6th and 7th of the same month, three or four days before. It was too stale to make any use of it, but at my suggestion a party of police were put at some crossings on the Kilfera Creek.
2031 Is that Ryan's Creek?— Yes, it is called Ryan's Creek. That was in the hope of getting a chance at the outlaws in the night. There were other points, too, which we watched by night, one in the neighborhood of Samaria , and another place on the line or boundary between Tatong and Kilfera runs.
2032 Is that the place known as Power's crossing, on the top of the hill?— It is one of Power's crossings. We exactly followed in our searches for Kelly what we knew to be Power's different routes. I went out myself with this small party of police, and traversed the whole country from Kilfera to Kane's old stockyard, in Ryan's Creek, with that object in view and cutting tracks, and that search was kept up from time to time. On the 22nd January information was received from a water policeman at Euroa, who was on leave of absence, that he had seen the Kellys some ten or twelve miles out of Euroa. I went down with a party of police.
2033 Will you specify where that is; is it the Strathbogie direction?— No; between Murchison and Euroa.
2034 That is flat, open country?— That is flat, open country. I found it an idle tale; the people kind been making fun of the man, I think. On the 30th January we received, at Benalla, information that the Kellys were going to cross one of the rivers, in a night or two, at midnight . Mr. Hare was there then, and we arranged that I should go and see the place in daylight, without attracting attention, and I did so; and we watched all night, Mr. Hare, myself, and several police, with the usual result—the Kellys did not turn up. It was at this time that the Tarrawingee wires were being interrupted. The place was close to Tarrawingee, and we heard that the wires were being interrupted—messages being interrupted—and no one could explain how; and this was at the time when dynamite for blowing up the railway was first talked of. On the next day we heard authentic information that, on the night we were watching, the Kellys were seen near Chiltern.
By Chairman. —The Commission desire me to interpose at this stage, if it will be convenient for Mr. Wyatt to take his evidence at this stage. Mr. Wyatt said he could remain to-day and the rest of the week, if desired. He could do whichever was most convenient.
2035 To the Witness. —Then you can go on?— Two of them were seen near Chiltern. A party of police were sent up to Chiltern, and I went up myself to assist them, but there was no possibility of following the trace. Captain Standish, in his evidence (question 47), alludes to some horses being offered for the use of the gang near the Upper Murray . I was sent up to confer with the officer there, and I gave him what information I had on the subject. This was the day of the Jerilderie bank robbery. Mr. Hare has described various steps taken by the Victorian police after the robbery, and I was under the impression he was not there at the time at Benalla. On the 12th February, two days after the robbery, a man reported at Beechworth that he saw Dan Kelly near Taylor 's Gap, but I think the report was very doubtful. Detective Ward and two constables went up, but they could make nothing of it. For weeks after this, two or three weeks, the New South Wales police kept reporting that the Kellys were still in that country, in New South Wales . Mr. Hare was out with his watch party later in this month—I cannot give the date— watching Mrs. Byrne's house, and about this time, or a little later, Captain Standish himself employed four agents in two different parties of two each. I do not know what arrangements he made with them, and I do not know how much he paid them, but they turned out to be worthless. We were at this time entirely dependent upon rumor for information, and we were then driven to fall back upon the Queensland trackers. Mr. Hare proposed this—that we should send for them, and Captain Standish was persuaded then to do it....
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