Illustrated Australian News at KellyGang 8/5/1880

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The erection of a monument to the victims of the Mansfield murders, in October, 1878, may be a graceful tribute to the memory of the men whose lives were sacrificed in the performance of their duties; but it is nevertheless a poor expiation to offer to offended justice when it is recollected that the, perpetrators of the crime are still at large. It is now eighteen months since the outlaws of Greta, or, as they are better known, the Kelly gang, slaughtered in cold blood Sergeant Kennedy and Constables Scanlan and Lonigan, who had been despatched to the haunts of the ruffians in the Wombat ranges, near Mansfield, to arrest them on charges of horse-stealing.

From that time to the present the gang, which consists of only four men, all under 25 years of age, have succeeded not alone in defying the power and resources of the Government to effect their capture, but have varied the tedium of their retirement in their mountain home by occasional raids on local banks, which in skilful organisation and daring surpass any thing related in the history of Greek and Spanish brigandage, not to mention the adventures of such vulgar scoundrels as embellish the pages of the Newgate Calendar. With a reward of £8000 offered for them dead or alive, and notwithstanding the expenditure of nearly £30,000 in their pursuit, the authorities are to day as far off as ever from capturing these brutal murderers.

A slight reference to the facts connected, with the fate of Kennedy and his companions may not be out of place. In the vicinity of Greta, which is some miles beyond Mansfield, many Irish families of the laboring class have selected land, and amongst them the Kellys, the principals in the murders alluded to. They had many relatives residing in the neighborhood, uncles, cousins and aunts and innumerable friends and sympathisers who, as in many rural districts in Ireland, were ready at any moment to make the Kellys’ quarrel their own, even against the authorities. Edward and Daniel Kelly, who lived with their mother and sister Kate in a shanty near the ranges, were suspected by the police for some time of several acts of lawlessness, but it was found extremely difficult to procure evidence sufficient to sheet home a case against them.

About July, 1878, however, certain horses which had been gazetted as stolen were traced by the police to the possession of the Kellys, and a warrant was accordingly issued for their arrest. Its execution was entrusted to Mounted-trooper Fitzpatrick, from Mansfield. This officer proceeded to the house where Mrs Kelly lived, and there found one of the young men, whom he informed of his business. The intimation was at first received quietly, and not apprehending treachery he accepted an invitation to eat something and have a drink before returning to Mansfield with his prisoner. While Fitzpatrick was regaling himself he was set upon by mother and son, and in the course of the scrimmage that ensued the revolver carried by the constable went off, and the bullet lodged in his wrist. He was then permitted to depart, fortunate in having escaped with his life.

For this Mrs Kelly was subsequently, arrested, and at the ensuing Beechworth Assizes she was convicted of the assault and sentenced to three years imprisonment. The incarceration, of their mother the two brothers Kelly regarded as a personal matter, not as the result of the ordinary operation of law, but the effect of spite towards them on the part of certain members of the police force. In October of the same year warrants were issued against the brothers, charging them with horse stealing. Knowing by experience the desperate character of the men, it was decided to send four of the police to effect their arrest. The party consisted of Sergeant Kennedy and Constables M'Intyre, Lonigan and Scanlan.


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