The Royal Commission evidence for 8/9/1881
(see also introduction to day 51 )
Ass Com Charles Hope Nicolson giving evidence
17218 You heard a good deal of the evidence given here about Detective Ward; do you still hold the same opinion of his efficiency in the force?— There are some things I cannot understand in the evidence with reference to Detective Ward. They have taken me considerably by surprise.
17219 What case do you specially allude to?— There was a circumstance that occurred the other day. For instance, that very matter about that telegram given in evidence yesterday, the telegram I was charged with despatching to Beechworth when I was relieving Mr. Hare. I cannot understand Detective Ward conveying the impression that the men were paid off. That telegram was addressed by me to Senior-Constable Mullane. Mullane was in charge of the police there, not Ward . Ward has expressed himself several times as wondering why that telegram was not addressed to him instead of Senior-Constable Mullane, and he did not take the trouble, he says, to see it—he did not see the telegram himself I do not know why not, and it seemed to me he made a little mischief—that he was a little annoyed about this telegram when he came down, that it was not addressed to him on account of his having to do with the cave party. When I telegraphed to Mullane about the men in the hut, he was the proper one, and I thought Ward was actuated by a little momentary jealousy.
17220 Is there any other circumstance that you allude to as to Detective Ward?— I am not satisfied with his evidence about the hut.
17221 In what respect?— I cannot understand the evidence given about the contradiction between him and the constables, as to his having told them to state what was untrue to Mr. Hare.
17222 What was your object in relieving the men from your hut?— I put the men there only on the Saturday previous until I could bring up the black trackers and a few mounted men to act upon the information that Mrs. Sherritt had given me the day before, she having seen Byrne, and I ordered Mullane to station the men there in the meantime. I came back on the Monday morning, and searched along the side of the hill, and we found out that it was Joe Byrne 's young brother and a cow. I sent word to send the men back by Aaron Sherritt .
17223 Did you give Mr. Hare this information?— No; I did not gee him until the following Tuesday.
17224 There is that portion of the constable's evidence about the cave party; there is the evidence I o f several constables that those reports were written at the dictation of Detective Ward in that matter; do you remember the instructions you gave?— My instructions are in writing, and were simple. I saw them amongst the papers some time ago in writing—[examining some papers]. Any verbal instructions I gave to him were simply this, that I would desire a report. This is my letter, dated 31st March 1880:— “The special watch party which have been doing duty in the neighborhood of Beechworth for some months past will be carefully and secretly withdrawn, leaving no traces behind them, if possible, and will be disposed of as follow) for the present:-Mounted-Constable Alexander, 1649 (sr.), will do duty in Beechworth. 2. Mounted-Constables Barry, Hagger, Faulkner , and Guide Canny will be forwarded to Benalla singly, their arms accompanying one of them as luggage; Mounted-Constable Dixon to Wangaratta; Foot-Constable Armstrong to Wahgunyah. 3. I will be glad to have reports from Detective Ward and Senior-Constable Mullane as to the spirit or disposition displayed by the above-named constables in the performance of the important duty referred to. –C. H. NICOLSON, A.C.P.” “ Since writing the within, intelligence has been received of Mounted-Constable Blade's accident. Constable Barry , within-mentioned, will proceed to Myrtleford for the present, but if he prefers Benalla, I will soon be prepared to transfer him here. The secrecy about the duty at Sebastopol will still be preserved, especially as it may have to be renewed again. –C. H. NICOLSON , A.C.P., 31/3/80 . To Senior-Constable Mullane, in charge, Beechworth.”
17225 Did Ward lead you to believe, up to the time of your withdrawing:, that party, that it was a profound secret to anyone?— Yes.
17226 You remember the evidence of Falkiner and Barry, who swear they sent in a report in the first instance to Detective Ward, stating that they believed their presence was known long before?— Yes, I remember that.
17227 Do you remember that they brought evidence to prove that they had sent in that report that Detective Ward instructed them to send to you?— Yes.
17228 Were they asked to report about the secrecy of the party?— No.
17229 Would it be right or wrong for a man in the position of Detective Ward, after receiving that report from those constables, to order them to take them back?— It depends. A non-commissioned officer has very often to return reports if they are not to the point; the men are sometimes obtuse, and do not understand what he wants; in that case he has to do so.
17230 He did not ask for a report about the secrecy of the cave at all?— Yes.
17231 Do you think he was justified in sending that report back about the secrecy of the cave business at all?— I do not know that. I think that he was wrong in what he did, but he should have sent forward the reports to give me some intimation.....
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.