The Royal Commission evidence for 3/8/1881
(see also introduction to day 42)
Mr James Wallace giving evidence
Mr. Nicolson stated that he hoped the witness's evidence would not be published, as he was under obligation to him for secrecy, and the consequences might be serious to the witness.
The Chairman stated that he thought it would be as well for the press not to publish it.
14516 By the Commission— There is a letter dated 5th January 1879?— That ought to be 1880; and, in speaking of the interview I had with Sherritt, with reference to the stolen saddle, it should have been subsequent to the Jerilderie robbery, towards the beginning of March I should say now; I cannot be precise as to dates.
14517 In that letter I have marked the place off, about receiving the bank note that you cashed— [handing a letter to the witness dated 27/8/79]?— Yes; I remember the circumstances.
14518 There is one party you have mentioned there; I suppose it was some one who had been employed by Mr. Hare — “Interviewed Mr. Hare's protege.” I suppose that was Sherritt?— Yes; I said “Mr. Hare's protege” because he showed such an affection for Mr. Hare, and spoke of him in such high terms.
14519 What were the overtures made by you in your first communication to Captain Standish; what was the nature of your offer?— My offer was to offer my assistance to him to assist him in the capture of the Mansfield murderers; stating I knew them by sight, and knew Byrne intimately, and knew the country.
Mr. Sadleir — I understood it in a less definite way, that he meant it that he had a few weeks holiday.
The Witness — Yes; that is true.
Mr. Sadleir — And he would be glad to put his leisure at the service of Captain Standish;
The Witness — Yes, just prior to the Christmas holidays, in 1878.
14520 The Commission (to Mr. Sadleir)— In that letter did Mr. Wallace state that he would expect to be compensated in any way?
Mr. Sadleir — I am pretty sure there was no reference to that.
Mr. Hare — No, I know there was no reference to that.
14521 By the Commission (to the witness)— Was there any correspondence from the time you wrote to Captain Standish, between Captain Standish and yourself, or Mr. Nicolson, before you wrote this letter of the 18th August 1879?— I cannot recollect the date. I had a visit from Captain Standish at my place on one occasion, but I could not exactly give the date.
14522 You can say there was no regular correspondence kept up?— No; there was only one letter to Captain Standish.
14523 Was it dated 18/8/79 . Here is one statement:— “I think it more advisable to communicate details to you personally, as there is a screw loose in your department somewhere.” Will you tell the Commission what you meant to infer by that?— I wanted to convey to Mr. Nicolson that the police information got abroad, that the outlaws' friends and sympathizers were aware of the police movements, and that I was myself in communication with the police, was openly asserted in a public-horse at Oxley.
14524 Were you under the impression at the time that the information you supplied to Mr. Nicolson was made use of by some members of the police force not in the interests of the public?— Yes, not in the interests of the public.
14525 Were you aware at the time who the officer of police was who did that?— I could not state precisely, only I knew the information I had supplied was floating about—I know the list of places I gave to Mr. Nicolson of the probable retreats of the outlaws was shown me by Aaron Sherritt afterwards.
14526 But was he not at that time in the confidence of the police as well as yourself?— He was— it was generally understood so,
14527 Then would it not be probable that the information you supplied would be given him to assist him?— Yes; but the form might have been altered so that he could not have detected whence it came.
14528 You say further on— “There is a beautiful game of cross purposes being played on both sides that is worth the trouble of watching, if there were no other motive” —what do you allude to there?— I meant with reference to the game that was played on both sides, the resources they had to deceive each other, both the police and the outlaws. I had in my mind's eye then the trial of Aaron Sherritt at Beechworth for stealing a horse of Mrs. Byrne's, which he admitted to me was a “got-up” case on the part of some members of the police on one side, and worked by the outlaws as well on the other.
14529 What reason had you to know that the outlaws were acquainted with all these movements at that time?— From sympathizers—from hints dropped by them.
14530 By whom?— I cannot say.....
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