The Argus (49)

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(full text transcription)


The notorious leader of the Kelly gang of bushrangers was brought before the Beechworth Police Court yesterday, charged with having on the 26 th October, 1878, murdered Constables Lonigan and Scanlan, at Stringybark Creek. The prisoner was brought from the gaol in a cab at 8 o’clock , unknown to anyone, and was kept in a room in the courthouse until 10 o’clock , when the court was opened. Mr Foster, PM, presided. Mr C A Smyth, Mr Chomley, and Mr Gurner appeared for the Crown, and Mr D Gaunson for the defence. Captain Standish and Superintendent Sadleir were also present. The chamber was crowded, and the gallery packed with ladies. The accused was carried into the dock, and as he is still lame, a chair was given to him. Mr Gaunson, having only taken charge of the defence on the previous night, applied for a remand. Mr Foster refused a remand, but adjourned the Court until 2 o’clock , to give Mr Gaunson an opportunity of posting himself up in the facts of the case. On the re-opening of the Court, Mr Gaunson again applied for a remand for a week, on the ground that the facts of the case as published in the Argus were so numerous that he required time to digest them. The remand was again refused, and Mr C A Smyth having indicated the line of evidence he intended to adduce for the prosecution, called Constable McIntyre as the first witness. McIntyre was then examined. He gave an account of the expedition of the unfortunate party of police who started from Mansfield in search of the Kellys, and he had got as far as the time when the gang were waiting for the return of Sergeant Kennedy and Constable Scanlan from their reconnoitring tour, when the Court was adjourned. Kelly was immediately conveyed back to the gaol by a party of armed police. The examination of McIntyre will be continued this morning at 10 o’clock .





Start of committal hearing

At 8 o’clock this morning the prisoner, Edward Kelly, was handed over to Sub-inspector Baber by the governor of the Beechworth gaol, and was conveyed in a cab to the prisoners’ room in the court-house. Several troopers accompanied the cab, but the transmission of the notorious bushranger was conducted so quietly that it was scarcely observed by the townspeople. Mr Gaunson was in close consultation with the prisoner all the morning. The court did not open until 10 o’clock , but by 9 many persons managed to secure admission to the building, and by 10 o’clock every part was crowded. Respectable persons and ladies were admitted by the side and back doors, and the front entrance was kept closed. There was quite a rush of ladies, and whilst over 100 of them were crowded into the gallery, about 30 more were accommadated near the bench. Captain Standish occupied a seat alongside the police magistrate. The great bulk of the crowd were excluded, but they remained all the time in front of the court-house discussing the case, and making a good deal of good-humoured noise. Mr Foster, PM, having taken his seat on the bench, the court was declared open, and Kelly was carried into the dock. The prisoner limped into the end of the dock and looked furtively round the court until his eyes fell on Mrs Skillian and Tom Lloyd, and then mutual signs of recognition passed between them. Mrs Skillian and Lloyd at first took seats at the attorneys’ table, but before the proceedings commenced they shifted to the front seat in the body of the court, within a few feet of the prisoner.

Mr C A Smyth, Mr Chomley, and Mr Gurner, appeared for the prosecution; and Mr David Gaunson for the defence. The police officers present were Captain Sadleir, and Sub-inspector Baber. Two charges were preferred against the prisoner, the first being, that on the 26 th October, 1878 , he murdered Constable Scanlan at Stringy Bark Creek; and the other, that at the same place and time he murdered Constable Lonigan. The following was the charge as read to the prisoner:—

“The information and complaint of Thomas McIntyre, of Melbourne, . . . constable, taken this 30 th day of July, 1880, before the undersigned . . . who saith that Edward Kelly, on the 26 th day of October, in the year 1878, at Stringy Bark Creek, in the northern bailiwick, feloniously, wilfully, and of his malice aforethought, did kill and murder one Michael Scanlan.”

(The second infomation was in exactly the same terms, with the exception of the name of Thomas Lonigan being substituted for that of Scanlan.)

After the charge had been read, Mr Gaunson asked that the prisoner might be accommodated with a chair in the dock, seeing that he was still lame and maimed..

The application was granted.


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