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History Of Australian Bushranging

> HISTORY OF THE FAMILY
> THE BUSHRANGER POWER
> HOW THE KELLY GANG WAS FORMED
> THE MURDERS IN THE WOMBAT RANGES
> THE SEARCH FOR THE MURDERERS
> THE RAID UPON EUROA
> THE RAID UPON JERILDERIE
> FRUITLESS SEARCHING
> THE MURDER OF AARON SHERRITT
> THE LAST EXPLOIT OF THE OUTLAWS
> HOW THE SPECIAL TRAIN WAS SAVED
> THE CONFLICT AT THE HOTEL
> PROCEEDINGS WITHIN THE HOTEL
> HOW HART AND DAN KELLY FELL
> NED KELLY'S TRIAL AND CONVICTION
> AGITATION FOR REPRIEVE
> THE EXECUTION
> THE BLACK-TRACKERS AND THEIR WORK

Wounded so badly as he was, most of those who saw Ned Kelly concluded that he would not live to go to trial; but he was a man of remarkably strong physique, and by skilful nursing his health was again built up, in order that the law might have its full exercise in his formal trial, conviction, and execution.

On the evening of his capture he was carefully removed to Benalla, where the authorities had better means of guarding him and attending to his wants; and as it was thought desirable to get him away as quickly as possible from the locality where relatives and sympathisers abounded, lest those friends and sympathisers might make an attempt to rescue him from the police, arrangements were made to remove him to Melbourne without delay. On the Tuesday morning, June 29, therefore, at about eight o'clock, a spring cart emerged from the local police barracks and was driven down the street at a slow pace. It was accompanied by eight armed policemen on foot, and the curiosity of the townspeople was naturally excited as to what the vehicle contained. A peep over the side showed that inside, on a stretcher; lay the wounded outlaw. The police were conveying him to the railway station, and were all fully armed.

On the arrival of the train, Kelly was carried carefully to the guard's van, and laid on the floor. Miss Lloyd, cousin of the outlaw, was the only relative present, and as the train left she cried without restraint. It was understood that he was to be conveyed to the hospital of the Melbourne Gaol. Just before Ned Kelly was taken away from Benalla, Senior-constable Kelly had a short interview with him, in his cell. The Senior-constable said, "Look here, Ned, now that it is all over, I want to ask you one question before you go, and that is—Did you shoot Constable Fitzpatrick, at Greta, when he went to arrest your brother?" The prisoner replied, "Yes, I did; I shot him in the wrist, and the statements which have been made that Fitzpatrick inflicted the wound himself are quite false." This, it will be seen, bore out the statements made by Fitzpatrick, and subsequently by Kelly's sister. It will be remembered that the shooting of Fitzpatrick was the original cause of Ned and Dan Kelly taking to the bush. The senior-constable also talked with the outlaw about the police murders. He told him that Mrs. Kennedy had telegraphed to know whether he had got a letter for her from her murdered husband. Ned Kelly replied that he had got no letter from Sergeant Kennedy, and that Kennedy never uttered a word after he was brought down, except "God forgive you." "I shot him," continued the outlaw. "He kept firing all the time, running from tree to tree, and tried to kill Byrne until his ammunition was done."

After an affecting parting with his sisters at Benalla, Kelly left by the ordinary train for Melbourne. On the journey to Melbourne he maintained a very reticent and sullen demeanour, answering any questions which were put to him very gruffly. At each station on the road there was a great rush of people anxious to obtain a glimpse of him, and on being asked by Senior-constable Walsh if he had any objection to their crowding round the van and looking in, he replied that he had none. He seemed much refreshed by his sleep on the previous night. Dr. Ryan was very attentive, and many times during the journey attended to his wounds and administered stimulants to him. As soon as it became known that the notorious outlaw would arrive by the ordinary train from Benalla, a crowd gathered; but the police cleared the platform and yards, and the people congregated in the street, climbing on all stationary vehicles and to the windows of the houses opposite the station, in the hope of being able to obtain a good view of what was expected to occur. They were all disappointed, however, for it had been decided previously that he should not be taken from the train at that place. About fifty persons only had gathered at the North Melbourne station, and at two o'clock the ordinary train from the north-east steamed in. There were two brake-vans attached to it, the wounded outlaw being in the last one, lying on a pile of mattresses, and surrounded by about a dozen armed policemen. The well-guarded prisoner looked terribly emaciated, his spare countenance being rendered more wan by the terrible bruises with which it was covered—the effects of the bullets which struck the helmet he wore when he had the fight with the police. His utter helplessness was apparent at a glance, and as he lay on the floor of the van there was something horribly pitiful in his appearance.

The crowd quickly surrounded the van, but the police soon cleared a passage. A stretcher was handed in, and the outlaw was placed upon it. Mattresses were then placed on a four-wheeled vehicle which stood outside the reserve, and he was carried on the shoulders of the policemen thither. Very little time was lost in placing him comfortably in the trap, but there was ample opportunity for the people to gratify their morbid curiosity; and the lower portion of the assembly did so, the while giving expressions to exclamations of pity. Then instructions were given to drive on, and the vehicle, followed by several others, proceeded up to Victoria-street, and thence to Melbourne gaol; and along all the line the city folk rushed to the doors as the escort passed, hoping to catch sight of the man whose deeds of daring and of blood had sent more than one thrill of horror through the community. Near the gaol an immense crowd of people was gathered, and an attempt was made to raise a cheer, but it was a very feeble one. No stoppage was made, and the large gates having been thrown open for the purpose, the cavalcade passed in and the gates were again closed. Precautions had been taken to guard against a rush by sympathisers and friends of the outlaw, a strong body of police being in attendance, but nothing of that kind was attempted. Within the gaol Kelly was received by the governor of the institution, Mr. Castieau; some warders and prisoners removed him from the cab to the hospital, where he was at once placed upon a water bed, which had been prepared for his reception. Dr. Shields, the medical officer of the gaol, was immediately communicated with, and on his arrival he took charge of the case. The Rev. P. J. Aylward was also permitted to see Kelly, and that gentleman kindly undertook to acquaint Mrs. Kelly, the mother of the bushranger, of the fate of Ned and his brother. He had not far to go to find her, for she was still in gaol, the sentence passed upon her for the part she had taken in the assault upon Constable Fitzpatrick in 1878 not having expired.

As a matter of fact, Mrs. Kelly had already been informed of the result of the Glenrowan attack, and had then stated that she was not at all surprised, as on the Saturday night she had dreamed that there had been a collision between the police and the gang, and that the "Bobbies" had been victorious. When she heard that "her boy Ned" was in the gaol hospital she manifested the greatest anxiety to see him. It was not deemed wise to allow the interview for a couple of days, but as soon as Ned Kelly had gained a little strength the request of Mrs. Kelly was complied with, and the meeting between mother and son took place, the governor of the gaol being present during the interview. Mrs. Kelly was allowed to remain with her son for nearly half an hour, and was very reluctant to leave him, until she was promised that another opportunity of seeing him would be afforded to her after he had been restored to a better state of health.

The imprisoned outlaw continued to improve, but several weeks elapsed before be was sufficiently recovered to be brought before the police court. He gave his guardians very little trouble, and in the matter of good behaviour under discipline he was a model prisoner. At last Dr. Shields, the visiting surgeon at the gaol, who had been in constant attendance upon him, announced that he was quite fit to undergo the ordeal of preliminary trial, and arrangements were at once made for his removal to Beechworth, that place having doubtless been chosen for the initial proceedings on account of its contiguity to the scene where the outrage with which he was to be charged occurred.

To Beechworth, therefore, he was taken by train, the guard's van having been made comfortable for him, he being still unable to walk, in consequence of the wound in his foot and groin. The journey was accomplished in safety, and so secretly that only the few people who were on the platform at the Beechworth Station on other business became aware of the fact that such a distinguished traveller was on board. Before the case had been called on at the court, however, the public had been made aware of the proceedings about to take place, and shortly after the doors were opened the court was crowded, the galleries being filled with ladies. Kelly was conveyed to the court house secretly in a cab at eight o'clock a.m., and was kept in one of the rooms until the court opened at eleven o'clock, when he was carried into the dock and placed on a chair in full view of the crowd assembled.

The charge preferred was the murder of Constables Lonerigan and Scanlan at Stringy Bark Creek, on 26th October, 1878. Three legal gentlemen appeared for the Crown—Messrs. Smith, Chomley, and Garner—and one for the defence—Mr. D. Gaunson. An effort was made by the latter to obtain a remand for a week, but the Bench refused to grant the application, as they did also an application for Kelly's relations to see the prisoner.

During the trial it was elicited that for a short time there was a fifth man in the gang, but that he was tried and it was found he would not do, and after being allowed to go was kept under strict surveillance. It also transpired that the armour worn by the outlaws was made near Greta. As previously stated, this armour was of a most substantial character. It was made of iron a quarter of an inch thick, and consisted of a long breast-plate, shoulder-plates, back-guard, and helmet. The helmet resembled a nail-can without a crown, and with a long slit at the elevation of the eyes for the wearer to look through. All the articles were believed to have been made by two men, one living near Greta and the other near Oxley. The iron was procured by the larceny of plough-shares, and larcenies of this kind having been rather frequent just previous to that time in the Kelly district, the police had begun to suspect that the gang were again preparing for action, although they could not understand what they and their friends could want with this part of the most commonly used implement of agriculture. Ned Kelly's armour alone weighed ninety-seven pounds—a not by any means inconsiderable weight for an ordinary man to carry. After it was taken off him, five bullet marks were found in the helmet, nine on the back-plate, and one on the shoulder-plate; but these marks may not have been made by the police, for it was elicited during the trial that after the armour was made it was tested by firing ball at it from a distance of twenty yards.

Frequent and urgent appeals were made by the relatives and friends of the prisoner to be allowed to interview him, but those appeals, for reasons which must be manifest to every reader, were refused. The probability that some relative or sympathiser would attempt to provide him with a means of "cheating the gallows," if opportunity offered, induced the authorities to take every precaution; and no person was allowed to approach the dock where he was seated, lest some deadly weapon or poison phial should be handed to him. Dick Hart, who attended the court, and the prisoner were observed to frequently exchange nods and smiles, and the prisoner was noticed on several occasions to "throw kisses" to a young woman in the gallery, who seized sly opportunities of responding to the silent act of endearment. A number of ladies had been accommodated with seats near the Bench, and these, with a curiosity natural to the sex, stared rather frequently at the prisoner, the latter in turn staring back at them until they were compelled to turn their glances in another direction, when Kelly quietly smiled to himself and looked away from them.

A committal followed as a matter of course, and two months thereafter Ned Kelly was again prominently before the public in the Melbourne Criminal Court being tried for the Mansfield murders. Judge Barry presided, and the court was crowded with spectators. Mr. Bindon appeared for the prisoner, who had evidently recovered his health, but who appeared very listless, and only occasionally displayed interest in the proceedings. At the commencement of the trial his counsel applied for a postponement, but the judge refused the application. The evidence taken was very voluminous, McIntyre again being the chief witness; and his evidence was most damning, remaining unshaken under remarkably keen cross-examination. The jury were not long in arriving at the verdict which the reader has already anticipated—guilty of wilful murder.

Ned Kelly heard the verdict without emotion, and when asked if he had anything to say why sentence of death should not be pronounced against him he very coolly addressed the court in the following terms: "Well, it is rather too late for me to speak now. I thought of speaking this morning and all day, but there was little use. There is little use blaming anyone now. Nobody knew about my case except myself, and I wish I had insisted on being allowed to examine the witnesses myself. If I had examined them I am confident I would have thrown a different light on the case. It is not that I fear death; I fear it as little as to drink a cup of tea. On the evidence that has been given no juryman could have given any other verdict; that is my opinion. But, as I say, if I had examined the witnesses, I would have shown matters in a different light, because no man understood the case as I do myself. I do not blame anybody, neither Mr. Bindon nor Mr. Gaunson (who at an earlier stage had conducted the defence); but Mr. Bindon knew nothing about my case. I lay blame on myself that I did not get up yesterday and examine the witnesses; but I thought that if I did so it would look like bravado and flashness."

The Judge then proceeded to pronounce sentence of death; and the following interrupted deliverance was made by him:—

His Honour: "Edward Kelly, the verdict pronounced by the jury is one which you must have fully expected."

The prisoner: "Yes, under the circumstances."

His Honour: "No circumstances that I can conceive could have altered the result of your trial."

The prisoner: "Perhaps not from what you now conceive, but if you had heard me examine the witnesses it would have been different."

His Honour: "I will give you credit for all the skill you appear to desire to assume."

The prisoner: "No, I don't wish to assume anything. There is no flashness or bravado about me. It is not that I want to save my life, but because I know I should have been capable of clearing myself of the charge, and I could have saved my life in spite of all against me."

His Honour: "The facts are so numerous and so convincing, not only as regards the original offence with which you are charged. but with respect to a long series of transactions, 387covering a period of eighteen months, that no rational person would hesitate to arrive at any other conclusion but that the verdict of the jury is irresistible, and that it is right. I have no desire whatever to inflict upon you any personal remarks. It is not becoming that I should endeavour to aggravate the sufferings with which your mind must be sincerely agitated."

The prisoner: "No; I don't think that. My mind is as easy as the mind of any man in this world, as I am prepared to show before God and man."

His Honour: "It is blasphemous for you to say that. You appear to revel in the idea of having put men to death."

The prisoner: "More men than I have put men to death, but I am the last man in the world that would take a man's life. Two years ago even if my own life was at stake—and I am confident, if I thought a man would shoot me—I would give him a chance of keeping his life, and would part rather with my own; but if I knew that through him innocent persons' lives were at stake, I certainly would have to shoot him if he forced me to do so; but I would want to know that he was really going to take innocent life."

His Honour: "Your statement involves a cruelly wicked charge of perjury against a phalanx of witnesses."

The prisoner: "I dare say; but a day will come, at a bigger court than this, when we shall see which is right and which is wrong. No matter how long a man lives he is bound to come to judgment somewhere, and as well here as anywhere. It will be different the next time there is a Kelly trial, for they are not all killed. It would have been for the good of the Crown had I examined the witnesses, and I would have stopped a lot of the reward, I can assure you, and I don't know but I won't do it yet if allowed."

His Honour: "An offence of this kind is of no ordinary character. Murders had been discovered which had been committed under circumstances of great atrocity. They proceeded from motives other than those which actuated you. They had their origin in many sources. Some have been committed from a sordid desire to take from others the property they had acquired; some from jealousy, some from a desire of revenge; but yours is a more aggravated crime, and one of larger proportions; for, with a party of men, you took arms against society, organised as it is for mutual protection and for respect of law."

The prisoner: "That is how the evidence came out here. It appeared that I deliberately took up arms of my own accord, and induced the other three men to join me for the purpose of doing nothing but shooting down the police."

His Honour: "In new communities, where the bonds of society are not so well linked together as in older countries, there is unfortunately a class which disregards the evil consequences of crime. Foolish, inconsiderate, ill-conducted, and unprincipled youths unfortunately abound, and unless they are made to consider the consequences of crime, they are led to imitate notorious felons whom they regard as self-made heroes. It is right, therefore, that they should be asked to consider and reflect upon what the life of a felon is. A felon who has cut himself off from all, and who declines all the affections, charities, and obligations of society, is as helpless and as degraded as a wild beast of the field; he has nowhere to lay his head; he has no one to prepare for him the comforts of life; he suspects his friends and he dreads his enemies. He is in constant alarm lest his pursuers should reach him, and his only hope is that he might lose his life in what he considers a glorious struggle for existence. That is the life of an outlaw or felon, and it would be well for those young men who are so foolish as to consider that it is brave of a man to sacrifice the lives of his fellow creatures in carrying out his own wild ideas, to see that it is a life to be avoided by every possible means, and to reflect that the unfortunate termination of a felon's life is a miserable death. New South Wales joined with Victoria in providing ample inducement to persons to assist in having you and your companions apprehended; but by some spell—which I cannot understand, a spell which exists in all lawless communities, more or less, and which may be attributed either to a sympathy for the outlaws, or a dread of the consequences which would result from the performances of their duty—no persons were found who would be tempted by the reward or love of country, or the love of order, to give you up. The love of obedience to the law has been set aside, for reasons difficult to explain, and there is something extremely wrong in a country where a lawless band of men are able to live for eighteen months disturbing society. You are self-accused. The statement was made voluntarily by yourself that you and your companions committed attacks on two banks, and appropriated therefrom large sums of money amounting to several thousands of pounds. Further, I cannot conceal from myself the fact that an expenditure of £50,000 has been rendered necessary in consequence of acts with which you and your party have been connected. We have had samples of felons, such as Bradley and O'Connor, Clarkes, Gardiner, Melville, Morgan, Scott, and Smith, all of whom have come to ignominious deaths. Still the effect expected from their punishment has not been produced. This is much to be deplored. When such examples as these are so often repeated, society must be re-organised, or it must soon be seriously affected. Your unfortunate and miserable companions have died a death which probably you might rather envy, but you are not offered the opportunity."

The prisoner: "I don't think there is much proof they did die the death."

His Honour: "In your case the law will be carried out by its officers. The gentlemen of the jury have done their duty, and my duty will be to forward to the proper quarter the notes of your trial, and to lay before the Executive all the circumstances connected with your trial that may be required. I can hold out to you no hope, and I do not see that I can entertain the slightest reason for saying that you can expect anything. I desire to spare you any more pain, and I absolve myself from saying anything willingly in any of my utterances that may have unnecessarily increased the agitation of your mind. I have now to pronounce your sentence." His Honour then sentenced the prisoner to death in the ordinary form, ending with the usual words "May the Lord have mercy on your soul."

The court was then cleared, and the prisoner was removed to the Melbourne gaol. Everything was very quiet, and nothing approaching to any scene occurred, although some of Kelly's relatives were in court at the time. In common with the other spectators they accepted the verdict and the sentence quite as a matter of course. [continued]

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