The Argus at KellyGang 12/12/1878 (10)
[BY ELECTRIC TELEGRAPH]
(from our own correspondents)
On Sunday last it was currently rumoured in Benalla that the Kelly gang had again made their appearance in this district, and that a few days before they had actually been seen and provisions planted for them in the ranges which lie in close proximity to Violet Town. Nothing, however, of a tangible nature could be gleaned of the precise whereabouts or movements of the gang. Those presumed to be in the secret were terrified from giving correct information to the police owing to the number of sympathisers the outlaws have in all parts of the district. The police evidently attached some importance to the rumours which were prevalent on Sunday and Monday last, for some of them were told off to do special duty on the old Sydney road, between this township and Violet Town. But all efforts on their part are, no doubt, carefully watched, and thus their endeavours are continually checkmated. Even at the present moment it is known that a bold relation of the Kellys is residing in a boarding-house in this town, and during the past few days it has been particularly noticeable that either the Wrights or the Lloyds have been in and out nearly every day. Strange to say some old residents, who are well acquainted with the tactics of the Kellys in the bygone horse and cattle stealing days, predicted that something would be heard of the gang in a day or two. These predictions have been more than verified. About a dozen troopers with their horses arrived at the station about 1am this morning, and at half past 3am a second special from Wodonga to Euroa with police passed through Benalla. At half past 7, Superintendent Nicolson, accompanied by Mr Wyatt, PM, left Benalla for Euroa to direct the movements of the police.
The telegraph wires were cut in a desperate manner, five poles being knocked down. A large party of police returned to Mansfield yesterday, but this morning they went off again in search of the outlaws. I think they should have made in the direction of Longwood but they did not. The authorities in Melbourne should give freedom of action to the officers in these towns, and not bind them down too closely to Melbourne instructions. The people here have a better idea how to act than can possibly be had by the staff in Melbourne. A person has just arrived here from Longwood who states that he saw a suspicious looking character lurking behind one of the massive looking blocks of granite by the side of the road, and he appeared to be armed. If the gang is not near the town of Mansfield now, they have taken to their old haunts from Euroa which is only a continuation of the ranges where the murders were committed.
A Euroa correspondent writes -
"The bank is situated in the busiest part of the town, 50 yards from the railway station, and 20 from Mr C L De Boos' Hotel. Ned Kelly was quite jovial and chatty. He told Mr Scott that he expected to have had a much more difficult job, as he had been told that he (Mr Scott) would show fight. He said, 'It's lucky for you, old boy. I had you covered before you could get your shooter, otherwise I should have shot you.' Having finished their refreshment, they made the ladies of the family prepare themselves and the children for a drive. The most extraordinary part of the affair was that it was all done without a soul being anything the wiser. The men were seen moving about in the bank yard by Mr De Boos and his family, but they thought it was some friends arrived to spend their holidays. One of the men engaged at the new railway buildings observed Mr Scott walk slowly to the trap, looking round him on each side. He also observed another person who was behind him give him a push forward, but thought it was a friend acting in a jocular manner. Whilst driving out of the town, they met numbers of people, the town being exceptionally full, owing to a funeral, and to its being licensing day. All, however, drew the same conclusion, that they were friends the Scotts had with them.
They left the town at 4 pm, and no one had the least suspicion of what had taken place until half past 9 pm, five hours and a half afterwards. Mr Gorman, stationmaster, then received information, and the one constable of the town was informed of what had occurred, and as the down luggage train was just due, he decided to go by it to Benalla, and report. A Mr Walkden arranged with the stationmaster and constable to start at once on horseback for Faithfull Creek Station. He was then to obtain there the latest news of their proceedings, and meet the train on the line with his report. He performed his part, learning on his arrival that the gang had left an hour previous. With this information he proceeded to the line, and signalled the train; but for some unexplained reason the train would not stop.
DESCRIPTION OFTHE OUTLAWS
The names of the two unknown offenders have now been ascertained beyond doubt to be Stephen Hart and Joseph Byrne, Stephen Hart is described as being 20 or 21 years of age, 5ft 6in in height, having fresh complexion, brown hair, and hazel eyes. He was convicted at Wangaratta m July, 1877, on 11 charges of illegally using horses, for which he received the very inadequate sentence of 12 months imprisonment with hard labour. He got off lightly in consequence of never having been previously convicted. Joseph Byrne is described as being 21 or 22 years of age about 5ft 10in in height, having fresh complexion, light brown hair, and blue eyes. He was convicted at Beechworth in May, 1876, for having meat unlawfully in his possession, and got a sentence of six months imprisonment. This was also his first conviction. Byrne's mother lives in a hut in the ranges, not far from the Rats Castle. This was one of the huts searched by the police a few days after the police murders were committed. The clothes the offenders now wear are those which they appropriated from the hawker's cart, and are described as follows: - Ned Kelly - Grey tweed trousers and vest, dark coat, and drab felt hat. Dan Kelly:-Grey tweed trousers and vest, black coat, and white felt hat. Hart - Dark grey tweed suit, and white felt hat. Byrne - Light grey tweed suit, and light felt hat. All the hats are supplied with elastic chin bands. Ned Kelly has now a long beard. The gang are armed with two double barrelled guns, two single barrelled guns, a Spencer rifle and eight revolvers.
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