The Royal Commission evidence for 3/5/1881
(see also introduction to day 14)
Detective Ward sworn and examined
3020 By the Commission. —What are you?— I am a detective constable stationed in Melbourne .
3022 You have been allowed to refresh your memory during the last week?— I have been allowed to go through the papers, and refresh my memory, and take short notes.
3023 In what capacity were you appointed on the 25th of April?— Having been in the North Eastern district, I joined the police on the 1st of October 1869, and, in November, I was then sent to the North-Eastern district in search of Power, the bushranger, and remained there until November 1875. From my previous knowledge of the Kellys —
3024 When did you acquire that knowledge?— From 1869 to 1875, when I was after Power, and still stationed in the district. I was for three years in Beechworth. During that time Ned and Dan Kelly, the Quinns, and all their relations were in the habit of being at the circuit courts; one of their friends was always before the circuit court at the general sessions.
3025 Accused of some criminal offence at every circuit court?— Some of their friends were at nearly every court.
3026 Do you mean that they were prisoners on trial at every court?— Some of their friends. Not at all the courts. At the commencement, when I went up, I do not think there was a year when some of their friends were not before the court for trial.
3027 By “their friends” you mean their blood relations?— I mean their blood relations. In 1874 and 1875 I knew Ned Kelly very well. I was stationed then in Wangaratta, and had occasion to speak to him very often there.
3029 And violent assault on Sergeant Hall, at Greta?— Yes, violent assault on Sergeant Hall, at Greta, with a stirrup-iron.
3030 What else?— Sundry other offences.
3031 Can you speak more exactly of that?— I cannot call back the exact offences.
3032 Principally horse and cattle stealing and assaults?— Principally horse and cattle stealing and assaults.
3033 Was there any reason assigned for appointing you a detective in that district?— No, not that I know of. The late Chief Commissioner gave me the appointment in the detective force or offered me one when I was in Wangaratta. I then declined.
3034 Were you a civilian at the time?— No, a mounted trooper.
3035 Was there no particular reason assigned for sending you into that district at that time, 1878?— Yes; I will come to that presently.
3036 At what date were you appointed detective?— 1876. Some short time after I refused the Chief Commissioner, there was a general order that all the efficient members of the force who would be recommended by their superintendents, and were holding over their names, would be enrolled and called into the detective force as required. At that time I placed my name on the roll, and was called. On the 25th of April 1878 , the report of the shooting at Constable Fitzpatrick came in. I was then directed by the officer in charge of the detectives to proceed to Benalla, there to report myself to the officer in charge of police, and to try and catch Edward Kelly and Dan Kelly then charged with the offence.
3037 Try and state the names of all those you had to do with. Was the officer Sergeant Whelan or Sergeant Pewtress that you reported yourself to?— I saw Superintendent Chomley there, I think on the day after I arrived.
3038 Whom did you report yourself to?— I cannot say. On that night, in company with Senior-constable Strahan and two other constables—I do not remember their names now—we started for the Eleven-mile Creek, at seven o'clock in the evening.
3039 Is the Eleven-mile Creek Kelly's residence?— Yes; Kelly's residence. Our object in going there on that evening was this. Mrs. Skillian and Kate Kelly were in Benalla to hear the preliminary hearing of their mother's, Mrs. Skillian's, and Williamson's cases; they were brought into the court on that day charged with aiding and abetting Edward Kelly at the time he shot Constable Fitzpatrick. The night was raining heavens hard and very dark. When about two miles from Winton, on the Greta road, and about four miles from Mrs. Skillian's residence, we found a dray, and two bags of flour and other articles, without a horse, in the middle of the road. We searched round and found Mrs. Skillian and Kate Kelly sitting on a log. They were wet through, having very light clothes on. We went up and spoke to them. They said they were benighted, and could not find their way home—it was too dark. I had a flask with some whisky in it. I gave some to Kate Kelly. She drank it.....
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