The Royal Commission evidence for 2/6/1881
(see also introduction to day 25)
Const James Dwyer giving evidence; Cross-examined by Mr. O'Connor
The Hon. F. LONGMORE, M.L.A., in the Chair;
E. J. Dixon, Esq., J.P., G. W. Hall, Esq., M.L.A.,
J. Gibb, Esq., M.L.A., W. Anderson , Esq., M.L.A.,
J. H. Graves, Esq., M.L.A.
9573 When did you first come to Benalla during the time I was there?— In March.
9574 That was immediately after I arrived?— Yes, about a week after.
9576 Did you and your comrades understand that he was under my orders?— I did, and he was so.
9577 Did you ever hear Constable Kirkham made the statement that I had nothing to do with him?— No, never.
9579 When I was speaking to Mr. Sadleir, did I tell him “There are a lot of prisoners in the house, but they are in the back part of the kitchen”?— Yes, those are the words you said.
9580 And did not I also say, “Therefore, our firing into the front of the house will not hurt them”?— Yes, you did; that was when Mr. Sadleir asked, “Are there civilians inside,” and you continued that conversation, stating there were.
9581 Did you hear me tell Mr. Sadleir in these words, as well as I remember, “Senior-Constable Kelly told me that he found a rifle a hundred yards from the back door of the hut, covered with blood, and it, in his opinion, was one of the outlaws' rifles”?— Yes, you did at that time.
9582 And that, in Senior-Constable Kelly's opinion, some of the outlaws had got away?— Yes, you told him that at the same time, following up the conversation.
9583 Was it possible that you could have told me this?— No, I could not.
9584 You were in the trench for a part of the time, for a short time?— I was.
9585 From your recollection of my position, would it be true to say where I was was seven feet deep?— No, it would not.
9586 Would it be true to say, that from my position I could only command the ridge pole or the top of the roof of the house?— No, you had a good commanding view of the front of the house, and no one could make his escape from it without your seeing him.
9587 You remember my position there?— Yes.
9588 Will you inform the Commission if there was any position that a man could have taken up to command the front of the house except my position?— No, there was not, and I can give a reason. When Constable Milne called to me to get under cover, as two volleys were fired at Mr. Sadleir, I looked to see where I could get under cover, and I could see no place of cover, only this trench where I saw Mr. Sadleir get into.
9589 By the Commission— Had you previously known the ground there?— Yes, I was there for three months in 1878, while the railway there was being made.
959l Would you explain to the Commission what portion of or how far the body was exposed when we were firing?— You were exposed this much–[explaining by gesture] just to the chest line.
9592 In your opinion, if a man said it was such a safe position that I could not be hit, would that be true?— You could be hit at that time.
9593 Any time I was firing?— Any time you were firing you could be hit by anyone in the house. They had a clear open sight of you from this–[the chest]–up when you were firing.
9594 What time did you say that you came and told me Mr. Sadleir wanted me–about?— Half-past nine or twenty minutes to ten.
9595 You were on the field from that time up to the time the burnt bodies were taken out?— Yes.
9596 Did you see me during the remainder of the day?— I did. I saw you walking round with Mr. Sadleir, and by yourself other times, and some of the men with you going round the house to all the lines, firing sometimes and walking others, and some of the men with you.....
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