EDWARD KELLY BEFORE THE POLICE COURT
Whoever else may have been guilty of a neglect of duty with regard to the Kelly gang, the fault cannot certainly be imputed to the ex-Chief Secretary, Mr. RAMSAY. And one of the wisest of the acts of that gentleman was the order that the prisoner, EDWARD KELLY, shall not be indiscriminately visited. No doubt a prisoner as a rule has a right, subject to regulation, to see whom he pleases, but it would be ridiculous to place EDWARD KELLY in the position of a man who must be considered innocent until the verdict has been given and sentence has been recorded against him. The man has been outlawed once as a murderer, and the first duty of the Crown is to see that the desperado who was caught with so much difficulty does not after all cheat the gallows by means of assistance from friends. No doubt, also, Mr. RAMSAY had a second object in his order, and that is, to prevent narratives appearing in the press which would all tend to palliate the Kelly crimes, and put the criminal in a favourable light before the community. And with this object the right-thinking members of the community will be as ready to sympathise as with the other, for it is unhappily notorious that one section of our populace is demoralised enough in connexion with the Kelly gang without anything being done to aggravate the evil. The tendency which exists to regard a man with his hands imbrued in innocent blood as a modern ROBIN HOOD is much too prevalent in Victoria, and it requires to be sternly checked, and not encouraged. Nothing would stimulate the feeling, however, so much as the printing of stories from KELLY’S own lips. In many instances, all that he said would be believed, and what he would say is easily foreshadowed. He would malign the police. He would accuse this man of cowardice and that of perjury. He would himself posture as something of a hero and a good deal of martyr. He would be irresponsible for his utterances, and his new victims would be as powerless as those whom he killed near Greta. This much can be predicted with certainty, because KELLY has already done something of the kind. He left a manuscript at Jerilderie, a copy of which came into the possession of The Argus, and we found it to be entirely unfit for publication, because it was of the character stated. And, moreover, the trick of maligning the police on some side issue, and of posing as the victim of persecution, is common to all habitual criminals, male or female, as every attendant at the courts of justice knows. It is the mental badge of all the tribe. The lying stories told by WEECHURCH are fresh in the public mind, and also those of the notorious SCOTT, alias “MOONLIGHT,” who went into the box to swear away the liberty of an innocent man charged with the crime which SCOTT had himself committed. Instances could be multiplied. It is notorious that the habitual criminal has dogged hatred of the police and a morbid vanity as regards himself, and, above all, that he is incapable of telling a true story, and must romance. Mr. RAMSAY was therefore justified in saving the community from the pollution of the Kelly lies, and we can only express surprise that Mr. DAVID GAUNSON has not seen his way to promptly contradict the assertion that he has lent himself to make possible an evasion of the wholesome rule. Mr. GAUNSON visits KELLY as his solicitor. Yet it is alleged―and no contradiction has appeared―that he has allowed KELLY to use him as a means of placing before the public a series of statements which on the face of them are false and injurious. We can only hope that Mr. GAUNSON will yet see his way to assure the public that he has in no way abused his position, and we must certainly warn the public against placing the smallest faith in Kelly narratives, no matter who may be the reporter. Their value is the same as that of the Jerilderie manuscript, which, as responsible journalists, we declined to publish.
Edward Kelly was yesterday committed to stand trial at the Beechworth Circuit Court on October 14th, on the charge of having murdered Constable Scanlan. Very little fresh evidence was brought forward.
(BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH)
(FROM OUR OWN REPORTER)
The prosecution of Edward Kelly on the charge of having murdered Constable-Scanlan was continued to-day, before Mr. Foster, P.M., at the Beechworth Police Court.
The examination of Constable McIntyre was resumed, but was not continued at so great length as in the previous charge.
His evidence, however, was substantially and nearly literally the same as that he gave in support of the charge that the prisoner murdered Constable Lonigan.
George Stephens was afterwards called, and the only fresh item obtained from him was that he saw a Spencer rifle in the possession of the prisoner when Younghusband’s station was stuck up.
Dr. Reynolds again narrated his visit with the search party to the Wombat Ranges, the finding of the bodies of the murdered police, and described the wounds found on the bodies.
Robert McDougall repeated his experiences as one of the prisoners of the gang when they stuck up Younghusband’s station, and the statements made by the prisoner in his presence about the murders of the police.
Frank Beecroft, assistant of Mr. Gloster, the drapery hawker bailed up at Faithfull’s Creek, restated his evidence, and in cross-examination said he was surprised that Mr. Gloster was not shot by the prisoner for what he said when stuck up.
Senior-constable Kelly also repeated the conversations he had had with the prisoner, and added that he told the prisoner that he had seen a telegram from Mrs. Kennedy requesting that he (Kelly) might be asked if her husband had left a written letter for her. Prisoner replied, “No; all he said was, God forgive you.”
In cross-examination, witness said that had he known that he was to be called upon to give the conversations he had had with the prisoner in evidence, he would have cautioned the prisoner before speaking to him. It was his duty to detail these conversations when called upon to do so. Did not hear the prisoner say, “You cowardly dogs, I did not treat you like this.” Nor “You little dog, Bracken, I did not treat you like this.” But did hear Bracken say that he, “would shoot anyone who shot Kelly while lying wounded.” The prisoner was not jumped upon by the police at his capture. He was kicked once on the thigh by Constable Dwyer. This was done under these circumstances. Kelly said, “I never did you any harm,” and Dwyer, saying, “Why, you scoundrel, you murdered my comrades,” kicked him. Inspector O’Connor took up his position at the Glenrowan fight in a ditch in front of the house. He (witness) asked Mr. O’Connor to change his position, but he did not do so. Was sure that when in the cell with McIntyre visiting the prisoner, he (the prisoner) heard him mention the name of Constable Fitzpatrick. Prisoner seemed to be in pain. Could not say that the statements he gave were made to get rid of his visitors. He (witness) thought he was entitled to a proportion of the reward offered for the capture of the Kelly gang. Had heard Sergeant Steele and Constable Bracken say they were also entitled to a portion of a reward.
The cross-examination of this witness was continued to some length, but nothing further that was fresh was elicited.
Mr. Smyth then announced that this closed the case for the Crown.
Mr. Gaunson said that he know desired to offer a few observations to the presiding magistrate. He did not propose to say anything against the prisoner being committed for trial upon this, the second, as on the first charge. He desired to say, however, that the remand which he applied for on Friday was asked for in good faith. He recognised that there were reasons sufficiently powerful to induce his worship to refuse the request; but his worship would see that the prisoner had been very much hampered under the circumstances. He was hampered, perhaps not unfairly, in shaping his examination, through his attorney being so entirely unacquainted with the facts of the case as he was at the commencement of the case. He (Mr. Gaunson) therefore thought he would be perfectly justified in calling his worship’s attention once more to the fact that the ordinary course had been departed from in several respects in dealing with the accused. The prisoner had been catechised by the police without being cautioned, and he was being illegally prevented from having reasonable access to his friends. He (Mr. Gaunson) did not say this out of any sympathy for the prisoner himself, but because the whole community was concerned to see that the first principles of English justice were abided by. He asked for no privilege, concession, of favour, but he did insist that the ordinary course of the law should be followed with reference to the friends and relatives of the prisoner having access to him, because he was not yet a convicted person. The various newspapers, more especially the conservative ones, had never ceased to speak of the shooting of the police in no measured terms so far as the conduct of the persons supposed to be implicated was concerned. For his own part, he might express his own deep regret that any such occurrence ever took place. But it rested with a jury to say whether the prisoner caused these deaths, and whether it was murder on his part. The newspapers had made an observation that the gentleman retained by the prisoner had been retained for political reasons. This statement was unfair to the prisoner and was untrue. In conclusion, he had again to ask that his worship would maintain the law by allowing the prisoner’s friends to visit him, and to point out that he would have power to grant them permission in his capacity as a visiting justice.
Mr. Foster replied that he could not possibly override the order of the Chief Secretary. He should be happy, however, to make any representation to the Government that might be desired.
The prisoner was then committed for trial at Beechworth Circuit Court, to be held on the 14th October.
A friend of the gang, accompanied by Kate Kelly, arrived this afternoon, and attended the court. When the court was adjourned the latter stepped forward to the dock, kissed the prisoner, and shook hands with him after he was lifted into the cab that takes him to the gaol. The prisoner is still unable to use one leg, and can only hop from one place to another. His general health is, however, considerably improved, and he is gradually recovering. In Beechworth itself the bushrangers had very few sympathisers. But whilst the leader of the gang is not regarded here as a hero, his notoriety has begot a good deal of curiosity. The court-house has consequently been generally crowded to excess. Notwithstanding the crush, every convenience was afforded to the representatives of the press, and for this they have especially to thank Mr. J. J. Arundel, the court keeper, and Mr. R. McNeice, the clerk of court. The depositions were taken by the latter and by his assistant (Mr. E. Moore) in a very efficient manner.