The Royal Commission evidence for 13/5/1881
(see also introduction to day 19)
Sgt James Whelan sworn and examined
The Hon. F. LONGMORE, M.L.A., in the Chair;
W. Anderson , Esq., M.L.A., E. J. Dixon, Esq., J.P.,
G. W. Hall, Esq., M.L.A., G. R. Fincham, Esq., M.L.A.,
J. Gibb, Esq., M.L.A.
5941 By the Commission. —How long have you been in the service?— I joined it in 1856.
5942 What position did you bold?— I was promoted to the rank of senior-constable in 1862, a the rank of sergeant in 1868.
5943 How long have you been stationed here?— Since November 1864.
5944 Do you remember the instructions that were given to Constable Fitzpatrick on the day of the shooting?— Yes. On the 12th of April 1878 a telegram was received from Inspector Brook Smith, from Wangaratta, directing that Constable Fitzpatrick be sent to Greta station to take charge there in the absence of Senior-constable Strahan, who was going on six days' leave. I think Constable Fitzpatrick was absent at Cashel at the time on temporary duty, and did not return until the 14th. On the 14th, he not having returned in the forenoon, I sent Constable Healy to Greta, and directed him to return—to make a patrol back the next day, in order that I could send Fitzpatrick when he returned.
5945 What day did Fitzpatrick go then?— At one o'clock on the 15th April, Healy returned from Greta, and I despatched Constable Fitzpatrick at two p.m. He received the direction to remain and take charge of the station. Mrs. Strahan was there with her family, and was to remain till Strahan returned and then return back to Benalla station.
5946 Was there anybody in charge of the Greta station?— Strahan was in charge, but was on leave, so that was weakened then when he was sent, it was weakened because the other man had returned on patrol, as directed.
5947 Where did he go to?— At two a.m. the next morning be returned to Benalla and rapped at my quarters, and told me that he had been shot at by Ned Kelly and wounded in the arm. That was on the morning of the 16th. I examined his arm and saw a mark like a bullet wound; sent for Dr. Nicholson and had him attended to. I took his statement at the time. I was present at the Police Court here when his evidence was taken at the Petty Sessions, and also at the Court of Assizes at Beechworth, and he did not prevaricate in the least from the statement he first made to me.
5948 How did he come in contact with Ned Kelly at that time?— He stated when he was going to Greta that he rode across and went into Mrs. Kelly's, and when there about—some short time, half-an hour—He heard some chopping, and asked if Dan was at home, and was told by Mrs. Kelly that he was not. He heard some chopping on the hill, and got his horse and rode up to the top of the ranges where he heard the chopping, and found Williamson there, and asked where Dan Kelly was, and he said, “Out riding.” While speaking he saw two men riding into the paddock, and asked Williamson who they were, and he said he did not know. Fitzpatrick said, “I think that is Dan Kelly's mare,” and went down and found Skillion with the saddle off his own horse.
5950 Was it his duty to go there without a warrant?— I think he was wrong in going there, as he knew the characters they were, as he had assisted to arrest them at Winton previously for an outrage before.
5951 Do you consider he fulfilled instructions in going there instead of Greta?— He was going in charge of a sub-district, and there was at that time, perhaps, one men only to several stations, and a man is master of his own movements, and according to the regulations of the service he is bound to arrest an offender, and according to law without a warrant or not. There is a penalty under the Police Offences Statute if he does not do so, and while he was in charge of a sub-district he would be in charge, but would be responsible for any crime while he was there, and if he was reported as passing a man who was there without a warrant he would be punished by his officer and by law.
5952 What occurred in consequence of his being shot?— Warrants were issued against Ned and Dan Kelly. Williamson and the others and Mrs. Kelly were arrested, and Skillion, and they were dealt with, but the other two were at large.
5953 What was done with reference to them?— There was search made for them. There were no extra men sent to the district, I think, at the time, but there were a few on the 24th October. Superintendent Sadleir sent a party from here to Mansfield, Constables Scanlan, the deceased, and the late Constable Lonigan, from Violet Town , to form a party with Kennedy at Mansfield , to go out to the Wombat, and sent Senior-constable Strahan with the party from here, and they were to meet up about the head, of the King River .
5954 What occurred?— I remember that on the 26th October, Saturday, the murders on the police were committed at Wombat.....
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.