The Royal Commission evidence for 7/6/1881
(see also introduction to day 26)
Mr Melvin giving evidence
10270 Did you or not see me when the prisoners came out?— No.
10271 Where were you then?— When they came out they rushed to one side, where they were checked by the police; and then to the other side, where they were also checked by the police. Mr McWhirter and I ran out, checked them in front, and rounded them up to Mr. Sadleir. We were quite close up to the fence.
10272 Is it a fact that anybody was aware that the line was taken up when we were at Benalla?— I never heard it. It was said, “Perhaps the line may be torn up, and we had better send an engine in front.”
10273 It was not stated as a fact?— No.
10274 That was not the reason the men were put on the engine?— No, only as a precaution. We thought we were going right on to Beechworth.
10276 How often?— Once, I think.
10277 How long did he remain?— He just had a bit of bread and cheese. I think he was there at about the time I was, and only for a few minutes. I remained writing my report' and looking out of the windows.
10278 Do you not remember my first appearance after leaving my position, when I spoke to you, the first time you saw me after the first firing?— I remember seeing you come on the platform shortly after daylight.
10279 Do you not remember coming up to me and introducing yourself, and saying, “You remember Lancefield, you did not want me to come with you then”?— Yes.
10280 And further on saying, “Well done, you stuck to your post well”?— Yes, considering you all the time as a volunteer.
10281 You did not say that to me?— No. I thought it was understood all along.
10282 On that day of the fight did you hear any disparaging remarks about my conduct—that I had not conducted myself as an officer or a constable?— Oh no. The only thing I heard of you was from Senior-Constable Kelly. He said he had asked you to take up another position and you had declined. That confirmed my impression that he was in charge.
10283 Did he make the statement to you that he asked me to place the men and I would not?— No.
10284 By the Commission— What did you understand by “change his position”?— By shifting from one part of the drain to another or to another drain.
10285 You mentioned that when the prisoners came out, I think, you ran and told Mr. Sadleir?— No; when the prisoners came out they were checked on both sides by the police. They were rushing to the station where there were no police to keep them back, and we (Mr. McWhirter and I) checked them and rounded them up to Mr. Sadleir.
10286 You understood Kelly when he mentioned about Mr. O'Connor and another position— another position where his services would be more valuable?— Yes.
10287 By Mr. O'Connor— Had you subsequently seen the position I was in?— Yes.
10288 In your opinion was it a good position to command the front of the house?— A very good position.
10289 By the Commission— Could Mr. O'Connor at all times from that position see anyone who left from the front of the hotel?— Yes.
10290 Then if the woman and child, described by Mr. Carrington as leaving the front of the hotel, did leave would Mr. O'Connor see those or anyone?— He could see anyone in daylight, no doubt.
10291 Did you consider, when you rounded up the prisoners, as you say, towards Mr. Sadleir, that youwere doing so to try and prevent the escape of the Kellys?— Certainly. We had a revolver each and we presented it at them.
10292 And turned them up towards Mr. Sadleir for the purpose?— Yes.
10293 Do you consider now, as you have given your evidence, that you were giving praise to Mr. O'Connor as a volunteer or as an officer?— As a volunteer only.
10294 You considered him a volunteer?— Yes.
10295 You would not have given him praise if you had thought he was the officer in charge of the men for what he did?— No, I think as an officer he ought to have taken a more active part in directing the operations.
10296 By Mr. 0'Connor— By what authority do you know I did not give any orders?— Merely from what I hear from Senior Constable Kelly.
10297 By the Commission— This is a letter from Mr. O'Connor, dated 7th September 1880, in which he makes use of the following expression:— “In conclusion, I have to point out, as a Queensland officer of police, voluntarily serving in Victoria, assisting in searching for the kelly gang,” &c. Is that the position you thought he was in that morning?— That is the position I thought he held — that he had been asked and came up as a volunteer.
The witness withdrew. ....
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