Herald (22)

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Although the shanty bore one of the worst names in the colony, and was frequented by the most evil characters in the district, no robberies or acts of violence worth recording occurred there. There is little that Power, Morgan, and other desperate characters made this shanty the house ???? as indeed they did many other similar houses at which the chief point in their reputation seems to be that they have never been found out in any act of law-breaking.

This rough school, in which the young Kellys were educated did not of course send to make saints of any of them, but, as might have been expected, had quite a contrary effect. Being carried away by an admiration of the exploits of the visiting ruffians, the lads tried to imitate them on a small scale, and, emboldened by success, increased their depredations little by little until they were convicted and punished. The first conviction established against Ned Kelly was in 1871, when he was imprisoned for three years at the Beechworth Assizes, for receiving with a guilty knowledge a horse stolen from the postmaster at Mansfield . Dan had never been convicted of any serious crime, although there are a large number of minor offences lodged against his name. It was in April, 1878, that a warrant for stealing was issued against him, in attempting the execution of which the shooting of the Constable Fitzpatrick occurred. James Kelly was convicted and sentenced for horse-stealing in a neighbouring colony. He served his time, and is now at large. He has visited Greta several times during the past week.

The majority of the many convictions recorded against the Kellys and the Quinns have been for assaults, of various degree of violence. They formed a long list; and, from the highly excitable temperaments of the men, and the manner in which they give way to the most ungovernable passions, so what dangerous characters they were altogether. They were impatient of restraint, and of such a free and flashing disposition that they considered any man's property was their own if they could get it. For wildness and the lawless debauchery and violence the male members of the Kelly family have no equal in the colony, as subsequent events show.

On the 15th April, 1878 , Constable Fitzpatrick, who was stationed at Benalla, proceeded to Greta to arrest Dan Kelly, for whom he had a warrant for horse-stealing. The document he did not carry with him, as he afterwards confessed, but knew that it was in existence from the notice he saw in the Police Gazette. On the road to the hut of Mrs Kelly, Fitzpatrick came across William Skillion, and asked him if Dan was in the house. Not suspecting the nature of the constable's mission, Skillion informed him that he was there, and went with him to the house.

Fitzpatrick arrested Dan there on a charge of horse-stealing, Ned being absent at the time. Dan asked permission to have something to eat before starting, and to this Fitzpatrick, consented, sitting down with him to table. Whilst the meal was going on Dan asked to see the warrant, but not having the document with him, the constable could not very well comply with the request. Dan insisted on seeing it, the constable refused, and it ended in his handcuffing Dan. The mother then said, “You !@#$%^&* you would not do that if Ned was here!” and seizing a shovel out of the fireplace struck the constable over the head therewith and knocked him down. In endeavouring to recover a perpendicular attitude and the better to enforce the law he drew his revolver. It was accidentally discharged, and he was wounded in the wrist.

Another account, and which is at present believed to be a true one, since Ned Kelly has confessed to its veracity, states that when Mrs Kelly him down with a shovel, Ned suddenly entered and took the revolver from the constable, and shot him in the wrist. A consultation was then entered upon by those present, during which it was at first determined to put an end Fitzpatrick altogether; but afterwards it was agreed to let him go. He extracted the bullets from his wrist, and after promising solemnly that he would not tell anything of the occurrence, departed.

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