Bushranging In Victoria
The Mansfield outrages were mentioned in the Assembly again yesterday, hon. members desiring to have assurances from the Chief Secretary that everything possible is being done to apprehend the murderers who are still at large, and to rescue the unfortunate missing Sergeant Kennedy. Mr. Berry mentioned that he had been in consultation with chief commissioner of police, and that it had been resolved to increase the reward offered for the arrest of the offenders from £200 to £500 per man, and also to introduce the Sydney Act, enabling the Government to proclaim such men as outlaws, who can be shot down by any person going to apprehend them. Mr. Berry says that no expense and no effort will be spared for the arrest of the criminals and the stamping-out of the crime. According to the statements in the House, the panic at Mansfield has been complete. Insecurity, it is said, prevails everywhere; and it was suggested that a detachment of the local force should be stationed in the township. Mr. Billson declared that one of the Kelly gang rode last week into the important town of Benalla and in a manner took possession of it, compelling the leading publican to close his hotel at half-past 9, while he kicked in the doors of three other public-houses, and the police dared not apprehend him. Other members, however, treated these narratives as exaggerated, and expressed the belief that the populous districts in question were not likely to be intimidated by a handful of ruffians. With regard to the widow and family of Constable Lonigan, Mr. Berry says that the families of constables who are killed in the discharge of their duty are entitled to a liberal compensation, and in this instance he has given directions that until other arrangements are made the constable’s pay shall be continued to the widow.
It will be observed with pleasure that the Government have acted with promptitude in taking steps to restore confidence in the Mansfield district. They passed an Outlawry Bill through all its stages in the Assembly yesterday, and happily, as the Council is sitting to-day, the measure can become law at once. Visitors from Mansfield report that such a measure, striking as it does not only at the criminals, but also at their aiders and abettors, is urgently required, and the unanimity of the Assembly will no doubt be reflected in the Council. The only objectors in the Lower House were Messrs. Dwyer and F. L. Smyth, who raised some legal points as to the measure being surplusage, and who were described by the Attorney-General, Dr. Madden, and other authorities as labouring under a delusion, while the House listened to them with impatience. Under the bill, any man charged with felony may be called upon by a judge to surrender, and to take his trial, and if he fails to surrender in due course, any person, without challenge, “may take such outlaw alive or dead.” And any person sheltering such outlaw, or aiding him with information from the police, is liable to 15 years imprisonment. An abstract of the bill is given in another column.
ATROCIOUS MURDERS BY BUSHRANGERS
(FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER)
Up to the present time the search for Sergeant Kennedy has been confined to the immediate vicinity of the camp on Stringybark Creek, and no progress beyond it can be made until to-morrow, if then. The fact that so little has been done from this centre of operations cannot be attributed to the lukewarmness of the townspeople, for they have twice turned out with alacrity. Something might have been done on Monday, when they were all on the ground at daylight, but there were only two firearms for about a dozen men, and they were quite unprepared tp meet the well-equipped marauders had they been still in the neighbourhood. The helpless condition of the police-station at Mansfield has already been pointed out, and what people here cannot understand is that up to to-day no reinforcements have arrived from town. Last night the watch-house, with its two dangerous prisoners, was in charge of one man armed simply with a double-barrelled gun.. Had any of Wild Wright’s or Kelly’s friends been disposed to make a rescue they could have done so at no great risk. Though Wright may be disposed to carry news to the ranges, it is not his game to do so. He has come here to shear at a station near Mansfield, and for some time past has been honestly employed, but the character he bears is not a whit better than that of any of the others. The brotherhood of Wrights, Kellys, and Quins have all recently had representatives in Pentridge. Wright and Kelly were there together, and had a fight in the prison—a fact which is now publicly circulated in order to show that Wright is not likely to act the part of a bush telegraph for Kelly on the present occasion The relief party out on Sunday thought their work done when they found the bodies, and then hastened back to the township. Yesterday’s expedition consisted in all of 18 persons. They lost a good deal of time on the way out, through having a bad guide, and were only three hours on the ground. They made a complete circuit of the camp, and saw not only the tracks taken by the Kellys on horseback across the creek for the King River, but the route by which they stole upon the camp on foot on Saturday. They had not time, however, to follow the horse tracks any distance; and all returned to Mr. Monk’s sawmill, 14 miles from Mansfield, at nightfall. The seven police and Mr. Collopy, a most active volunteer, stayed there for the night. The wish was to get the party to camp out and start afresh early this morning, but almost all preferred to return to town. They were really very scantily equipped with anything but overcoats, and only a few had provisions. The police had orders to stay at the sawmills until some one went out to them to-day. It would have been very little use for them to have gone out by themselves, for none of them knew the country, and the parties resident in the ranges, from prudential reasons, refused to act as guides for the police alone. What renders pursuit difficult is that only one or two persons are acquainted with the ranges beyond the Wombat-hill. As they live far out of the township, and thus at any moment be dropped upon by individuals anxious for revenge, they are obliged to act with extreme caution, and only associate themselves with relief parties. Unless the different expeditions now afoot meet with some special luck, it may take them weeks to come up with the bushrangers, or fall in with traces of Kennedy, if he has been carried off. The ranges are full of secret fastnesses, known only to a few like Kelly, who have been reared amongst them. Amongst the police who passed up the North-Eastern line to-day was Flood, the trooper whom Kelly has promised to roast. He is one of several well acquainted with the country, and men like him, when they get into the field, will be able to dispense with the assistance of guides. The Kellys, Lloyds, and Wrights have intermarried with one another, and members of the families are scattered over the district from Benalla and Mansfield to Greta and the King River. Old Mrs. Wright, who came in yesterday to inquire why her sons has been locked up, rattled off the names of half a dozen cousins of the Kellys, just to show how absurd it was to detain Isaiah if the object was simply to prevent the spread of news. For the last three days scarcely any business has been done in Mansfield. Since the circumstantial story told by Constable Meehan has turned out to be groundless, and his adventures the result only of his own timidity, the townspeople have ceased to feel apprehensive on their own account. Meehan’s horse was found in the paddock in which he cast it adrift to escape from his mysterious pursuers. The pockets of the deceased troopers were turned inside out by the Kellys, and about £15 were taken from Scanlan and Lonigan. Even rings were removed from the fingers of the deceased men. People don’t know what to say about Kennedy’s fate, but it is thought most improbable that the Kellys would take him to any of their haunts. If they let him go he would quickly reach home, for he is an excellent bushman. The fear is that the miscreants have left him tied up. It is not likely that they made up their minds how to dispose of him until Sunday, and if they travelled only a couple of hours on that day, they must have got far beyond any point yet reached by the search party. It is melancholy to think how the last three days have been utterly but unavoidably wasted. The arrival of Superintendant Sadleir has been most opportune, for he has been able to infuse new life into the volunteers, and relieve Mr. Pewtress, who has become really ill with the fatigues of a kind of life he has not been used to.
(BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH)
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENTS.)
The description of the country given by the search party which returned last night is that it consists of frightfully deep gullies, with long grass and scrub, immense fallen trees, and almost perpendicular hills, affording every opportunity for concealment.
The two Wrights were brought up at the Police Court this morning for using threatening language towards members of the search party. The dumb brother was discharged, and the elder brother Wild Wright, remanded for seven days, and bail refused.
Four troopers arrived at 1 o’clock from Melbourne; but they have no knowledge of the country.
The search parties include storekeepers, clerk’s, clergymen, wardsmen, contractors, labourers, and bushmen, headed by the president of the shire. Business is entirely suspended.
Word has been brought here that four armed men, supposed to be Kelly and party, were seen at 2 p.m. to-day at Green Hills, near Malmsbury, making towards Metcalf. Police from Malmsbury and Taradale, with a party of volunteers, armed, have gone out in search of them. Sergeant Manson and four constables from this station also started from Kyneton at half-past 6 p.m., with arms and ammunition, in pursuit. Mounted-constable Cahill has returned, and reports that the information that Kelly’s party were at Green Hills has proved incorrect. The police and volunteers from Malmsbury have returned. Sergeant Manson and the constables who went with him from Kyneton have not yet returned. What rendered the information given to the Malmsbury police probable was that Power, with Kelly, when hunted from King River district in 1870, made across here, and was in this neighbourhood for about a week. The Kellys and Quinn, who are said to be with them, have relatives in the Tylden district.