The Royal Commission evidence for 21/7/1881
(see also introduction to day 38 )
Det Ward giving evidence
13858 Before you go any further, I would ask you the meaning of this in your telegram: “Hagger knows what to say”?— Yes, on their arrival from the cave at night, when Hagger came in, I said to him, “You have had very severe duty. I am sorry you have not had better luck, and I cannot see the reason you did not do some good. I am going to Benalla in the morning.” I said, “I will speak to Mr. Nicolson to have a favorable entry placed upon your sheets; you can send in a short statement of the time you were employed and the nature of the duty you performed”—that is what it refers to. I then walked up to the barrack-room and showed that order of Mr. Nicolson's—read it to them. As to the caution about being careful as to secrecy, and not to let anybody know what duty they were on, some of the men were in the barrack-room—Falkiner, Barry, and Alexander senior, and I do not know who else—when I came in; they were sitting at the table. I had one of the reports with me. Barry said to me, “There has been a lot of trouble over these reports.” “What trouble?” I said. He said, “We were called upon to give a report, and we did not know what the meaning of it was.” “The meaning,” I said, “was that Mr. Nicolson directed me to submit all your names, the time you were employed on this duty, and the nature of the duty, and he would place a favorable entry on your record sheets.” “Well,” he said, “if Mullane had told us that, there would have been no trouble about it.” “Give me my reports,” he said, “and I will do that”. I handed him back his reports; I walked back to the office. A few minutes before the train started Falkiner came to the office door; he called me to the door. “Ward,” he said, “I have not time to write a report; I will send you one from Benalla.” “All right,” I said, “if you do that, I will keep back my report until to-morrow at the second train.” This was on the evening of the 2nd. I said to him, “Here are your reports.” He says, “No, keep them “; and on Saturday the 3rd I waited until the very last minute that the mail would close, and finding that Falkiner's report did not come, I forwarded the other reports to Benalla. On Monday the 5th I received this report from the post office:— “I beg to report for the information of the Assistant Commissioner of Police that I have been on secret duty since the 13th of December 1879 . I have at all times carried out the instructions received from the Assistant Commissioner of Police relative to that duty. Though not successful, this duty has been carried out with the greatest of secrecy with the members of the force whilst engaged on that duty.” I received that on the 5th, and my report had gone in on the 3rd, and, through some neglect or pressure of business, I never thought of those reports until the day that Falkiner was examined, when I went back and found them amongst my papers; through neglect of mine or the pressure of business, I could not tell which, but until that day I never saw or thought of them till Falkiner was examined, when I went back and looked among old copies of reports, and I found them. It never gave me a thought until then. That was on the 2nd April. From that there is nothing particular to mention until about the 17th of May, when I received a report from Mrs. —, stating that Mrs. Byrne had written to — , a girl of about seventeen, a daughter of Mrs. —, who has been my agent right through the time of the cave party in communicating with Mrs.—, going to her house and bringing the news back to me. The letter from Mrs. Byrne said she wanted to see —, the business was to know if the boys (meaning Dan or Joe) would call, to be careful not to let them stay long, as she believed that Aaron was working for the police; that they called about a week previous, near Chiltern, at “Lord Byron's”; that they were miserable and ragged, and in want of food, and they took a lot of food from “Byron's” with them; that they gave a letter to Mr. — to deliver to Mrs. Byrne; that Mrs. —, not being good friends with Mrs. Byrne, she took the letter to —, and the letter was delivered through — to Mrs. Byrne. The next information was that on the 26th or 27th — came into Beechworth and told me she saw Joe Byrne; that she went out to look for the horses; that he was at — hut; that he said he came to shoot her son, and that she craved of him not to shoot him, and more to that effect. I telegraphed to Benalla to Mr. Nicolson, and I immediately went to Sebastopol, saw Aaron, and told him to go at once to —— hut, try and pick up the tracks, and see what direction they were going, and to report that night to me; that I would meet him below the Lazzarino. He did so, and he reported to me that he traced the footmarks of the horse in the direction of Mrs. Byrne's. Mr. Nicolson came up the following day, and I sent for —, and had an interview for a few minutes; and after that Mr. Nicolson said to me, “Ward, that woman is telling the truth, everything is right.” He requested me to go and see if there was a letter for him at the police station. I took the letter down to him; he opened it. He then said, “Ward, I am leaving. I have to go.” I said, “It is a pity, just now, after having such good information.” That would be on Saturday, I think, or Sunday.
13859 Where was he going?— Leaving the district altogether. On Saturday he forwarded a man from Benalla to me— “Renwick,” giving me instructions what I was to do with him. I accompanied “Renwick” to very near Sebastopol on Sunday morning.
13860 Was “Renwick” one of the agents?— Yes. He returned in the evening; he informed me that he saw one of the outlaws on the side of the range, on the right-hand side of Mrs. Byrne's, going up the gully; that he saw a greyhound with him, and he was certain it was one of the outlaws. From the description he gave me, and the description of the dog. I disagreed with him at the time, and I said, “Renwick, I do not think you can be correct; it will be Patsey Byrne, for he has a dog of that description.” “Renwick” replied, “I know it is one of the outlaws; you are frightened to follow them to catch them; I will never work another 'rap' if you do not take this opportunity.” I reported the whole matter to Mr. Nicolson by telegram, and he made arrangements. I used to just go in to the telegraph office for quickness and send these. Mr. Nicolson telegraphed back to me asking me could “Moses” meet him at Everton, and Senior-Constable Mullane, on the following morning; I forgot the time now. I replied “Yes,” that I would go and see “Moses” on that night. I did so, and made arrangements, and on the following morning, in accordance with instructions, “Moses” and somebody else met Mr. Nicolson, and they made search, I believe, without any success; they found that it was Paddy Byrne; I believe it was Paddy Byrne. On that evening — that would be the 1st June 1880 — I received a telegram from Mr. Nicolson, “Urgent. — On Sunday, as one of the men was passing up the head of Byrne's Gully, to the table land, he heard a dog bark about sixty yards off; on turning round he saw a man hide behind a rock; the description answered that of the outlaw Byrne. The trackers and six constables went up with Mr. O Connor and myself next morning, and upon examination and enquiry ascertained that it was not the outlaw nor any of the gang. — C. H. NICOLSON.” On the evening of the 2nd of June, after coming in off duty — I think I came from Oxley that day — I called in to Mullane's private house. He said, “Ward, I received a telegram from Mr. Nicolson.” “Yes,” I said. He said, “He directed me to send Constable Armstrong to his station, to place the other men on duty; there is no more money for Tommy or his agents, so they will be no more paid.” “Well,” I said, “I will pay Tommy. I will keep Tommy on at all events.” I must tell you that my duty, when in Beechworth, was to attend at the telegraph station at ten o'clock every night to speak to Mr. Nicolson, Mr. Hare, or whatever officer it might be, and communicate any intelligence, and all surrounding stations, to know if there was anything fresh. On the night of the 2nd I received instructions from Mr. Hare to proceed the following morning to Benalla to see him. I did so, and on my arrival, when I got near the police station, I think, Mr. Hare met me and we walked out on the Sydney road. I said, “It is a pity that the reward is off, we have splendid information.” “Oh,” he said, “it is not off; I can tell you privately that the reward is all right.” I said, “Mullane told me last night that Mr. Nicolson sent a telegram ordering Armstrong to his station, and sending the special men to duty.” “No more money for Tommy or his friends, Ward already instructed.” I must tell you that at the time that Mullane told me about this I said, “I have not been instructed.” That is the only telegram I ever received; and on the 1st Mr. Hare said, “What have you done?” “Oh,” I said, “I have done nothing; I stick to Tommy by all means.” “Well,” he said, “did you see the telegram?” I had not seen the telegram. I said, “Mullane told me the contents; I have not seen it.” he said, “I will make enquiry when I go back.” He said, “When was it sent, and where from?” I said, “I do not know any more about it than what Mullane told me.” He then told me — he said, “It will take me two or three days to read over the papers — you get back; keep the agents on” I told him then what — had told Mr. Nicolson and me with reference to Joe Byrne. He said, “You go back, keep the agents on, I will be up in a day or so. I intend to call the heads of all the different parties in, Senior Constable Mullane, Sergeant Steele, and yourself, and let us have a consultation. I intend keeping three standing parties of police, and two black trackers at each station, that at any time you receive information all you will have to do is to telegraph to me the direction you are going, so that I will know, and you start in pursuit.” “All right,” I said. I returned to Beechworth, and on that afternoon three men were sent down to Aaron Sherritt's hut to watch. Mr. Hare asked me where could they stay. I said, “In Aaron’s hut,” where we could get a place to put them in the day-time. I said they could stay in Aaron's place in the day-time, that I would see it secure, and leave at night, go down to Mrs. Byrne's and watch all night. He said, “That is all right for the present, but I will be up myself.”....
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