THE MANSFIELD MURDERS
(BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH)
(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER)
Benalla, Friday, 9 P.M.
Another quiet day has passed, without a single sensational rumour relative to the whereabouts of the Kelly gang having been received. Another party of troopers left the township towards evening, but their destination was kept secret. The number of detectives at Wangaratta was also strengthened during the day. It is understood that the detectives will not go out with the search parties, but will work on their own plans, with the view of obtaining some reliable information as to the movements of the outlaws. I saw a resident of Wangaratta to-day who is quite positive, from what he heard at the time, that Joseph Byrne, one of the gang, was in a public billiard-room in that township one evening during the present week. He says that Byrne was recognised by a young man who knows him well, and that when he saw he was noticed he left the room, and, having given a whistle, was joined by another man, and they then rapidly made off before any information could be given to the police authorities. The usual excuse is given when the question is put, “Why was he not seized by those in the room if he was recognised?” They all say, “Oh, very likely he might have had a revolver about him.” No credence is attached to the statement, for those who know Byrne well say that he would not have the pluck to enter Wangaratta with a price set upon his head. The young man Cunnington, who was arrested early yesterday morning, for the alleged sticking-up of Bamford’s house, on the Kilfera-road, was taken before Mr. McBean, J.P., this morning, and at the request of Superintendent Sadleir was discharged with a severe reprimand for acting in such a foolish manner. It will no doubt be a caution to him and other young fellows not to go playing practical jokes. There have been so many contradictory statements relative to whether the police can or cannot participate in the reward now offered for the arrest of the outlaws, that it is as well to state authoritatively that the police regulations provide that in the event of any reward being offered, and any trooper, constable, or non-commissioned officer showing special intelligence, energy, and acumen, it is in the power of the chief commissioner of police to recommend the reward, or any part of it, being paid to him. Officers of police are, of course, prohibited from receiving any portion of such reward. In this case there can be no doubt but that those troopers who are fortunate enough to be present when the outlaws are captured or shot will have the reward distributed amongst them. It may also be said that in the event of any civilian giving information of the whereabouts of the gang, and that such information should prove correct, he will receive his proportion of the reward without his being present when the capture is made. It is not intended to proceed to-morrow with the case against the hawker, Ben Gould, who was arrested last Saturday at Euroa by Detective Ward, under the Outlawry Act on the charge of aiding and abetting the Kellys. In order to save the trouble and expense of bringing him from Beechworth Gaol to Euroa, he will be taken before the magistrates at Beechworth to-morrow, and a further remand of one week applied for. I am glad to say that the safety of Mr. Healey, of the Strathbogie Station, has been assured. It was feared, owing to his unexplained absence from home, that he had fallen into the hands of the Kellys. It turns out that he was unavoidably detained from home by business matters.
The police seem to be as far off the capture of the Kellys as ever, and from what has recently been reported to me I believe the gang are hiding in their old places awaiting the result of Ned Kellys letter. If a free pardon be granted, the outlaws will leave the colony, but if it is refused they intend filling up the measure of their iniquity, and will stop at nothing to carry out their full revenge until they escape altogether, or are shot down. Walter Lynch, who is charged with sending a threatening letter to Mr. Monk, is now to stand his trial in Melbourne; and it is suggested that special protection should be given to the train that carries the witnesses from Mansfield to Melbourne, as Kelly might with some reason show his spite against that particular passenger train, if he were so disposed. With regard to Mansfield itself, I am glad to announce that every precaution is taken by the police to guard the town―even to adopting a suggestion which I made some time since, that the streets should be closely watched during the night. Out of this vigilance, however, arose an occurrence that was nearly proving serious. As one of the police marched by the camp with his revolver, he was challenged by another policeman under the verandah of the camp; but not answering the challenge―which the patroller looked upon as a joke―the station policeman levelled his rifle, and threatened to shoot unless an answer was immediately given. The patroller instantly replied, and thus probably saved his life. To prove that there are persons in Mansfield who are well acquainted with the doings of the Kellys, I may mention that a day or two since two women passed up the street, and one was heard to say to the other, “My Dan knew they were going to stick up the bank.” As soon as the speaker saw she was noticed she became silent immediately. The memorial committee to the memory of the late sergeant and his comrades are actively at work, and I have no doubt the funds will soon be forthcoming.
It will relieve the minds of any friends of Mr. Healey, of Strathbogie Station, who may have read the report regarding him in to-day’s paper, to learn that he took lunch at Seven Creek’s Hotel yesterday afternoon, appearing in his usual Health.