The Royal Commission evidence for 21/6/1881
(see also introduction to day 32)
Const Henry Armstrong giving evidence
12268 Were you selected on your entrance into the police for special service?— Yes.
12269 What was it?— I was told off for cab duty after I joined; that is a privilege, and then; I was told off for plain-clothes duty with Sergeant Dalton.
12270 That was amongst the criminal classes in Melbourne , Little Bourke street and those streets?— Yes, and general duty.
12271 Here is a letter you have written to Mr. Nicolson, 31st May 1881 , in which you write— “You also gave us instructions on that occasion to keep a vigilant guard or watch night and day, which order was also obeyed. A strict watch or guard would also have been kept by the men in Sherritt's but at the time of the murder, in accordance with your previous instructions, were it not that I had received orders from a person to the contrary.” Who was that person?— Detective Ward.
12272 “Who I suppose acted on the advice of your successor. Although no man looks on the conduct of the police at Sebastopol in a worse light than I do myself, I think those who sent us there with improper instructions, namely, to keep no watch, immediately beside Byrne's, knowing Sherritt to be a marked man, made the first blunder and are not free from blame.” Why was he a marked man?— It was pretty well known he was in the employ of the police, and the shot fired over the hut would show be was a marked man.
12273 Your officers had not told you of that at the time?— No.
12274 Is that what you complain of–that you got no information?— Yes, I look on it as a general misfortune. It does not affect me; I will soon be where no one will know me.
12275 Have you seen your record sheet?— No.
12276 If you were in the same position again would you venture out under the same circumstances?— I believe I would, but I would be shot.
12278 Were you aware how many were at Wangaratta on duty when you left it?— I could not say.
12280 Was it your impression that those were the traces of the Kellys at the time at the bridge?— Yes, I am thoroughly confident they were, but we were not going to Rats' Castle at that time–we were going round to beat the ranges.
12282 We have it in evidence that Mr. Sadleir gave the instructions?— Yes, he did, to go round to Yackandandah and the ranges, but Twomey gave those instructions to Steele at Wangaratta, in the train.
12283 Steele has said that, although he was on other duty, and could not turn round, he stated there was nothing to prevent him going?— Well Sergeant Steele, I think, would hardly like to disobey Mr. Sadleir's instructions, I fancy. I could not give any other opinion on that. He was in charge of the party, and he thought he was justified in going on.
12284 You do not think it was an act of cowardice?— By no means; Steele is the wrong mark for that; in fact, I have noticed no cowardice. Any of the constables would have been only too glad to meet the Kellys on equal terms.
The witness withdrew.
Adjourned to Tuesday next at Eleven o'clock .
See next day
28/ 6/1881 ....
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.