The Argus at KellyGang 30/10/1878

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The public mind his been greatly shocked by the events which have taken place lately in the Mansfield district. Pity for the unfortunate constables, cruelly murdered in cold blood in the execution of then duty struggles for the mastery with indignation it the insult offered by a band of lawless ruffians to the majesty of the law. We have been accustomed to plume ourselves on the idea that criminals of the violent type could not cast for any length of time in Victoria - that their existence was hardly known before they were in the hands of the authorities. Our ideas on this head have been somewhat rudely shaken. Some of the men who are suspected of having committed the dastardly crime, which has sent a shudder through the community, hive been "wanted" by the police for some time, but have managed to keep out of their clutches. How they have succeeded in eluding capture for so long is now plainly apparent. The neighbourhood in which they live is said to swarm with friends and sympathisers. No sooner was the expedition determined on which ended so disastrously, than they were made acquainted with its route and object; and it will be seen by our special reporter’s message that they can reckon on receiving as much food as they require while they are in hiding. "They have, says our special reporter, "so many connexions round about Mansfield, that actually some people are afraid to speak of the recent murders except to assured friends." The existence of this criminal colony and the terrorism which it evidently exercises in the district is one of the most ugly features about the whole business. We are glad to know that the Government is fully alive to the necessity of vindicating the law without delay or hesitation. Large reinforcements of police have been forwarded to the locality of the murders, £200 reward has been offered for each of the miscreants implicated therein, dead or alive, and the Chief Commissioner has been directed to spare no expense in hunting them down. Our special reporter says that the rewards offered are not sufficient in amount, but beyond rectifying this error we do not know what more can be done in the way of active operations. Having regard, however, to the sympathy manifested for the ruffians in the Mansfield district, and the danger of allowing any part of the colony to become the refuge of a criminal population, it is desirable that the Ministry should take into immediate consideration the propriety of greatly in- creasing the punishment for harbouring and succoring proclaimed outlaws. The legislation of New South Wales, both with regard to principals and abettors might be advantageously consulted for hints on this point. We trust that when another issue appears we may be able to inform our readers that the miscreants are in custody.

Further particulars of interest regarding the murders of police troopers at Stringybark Creek are telegraphed from Mansfield by our special reporter, and will be found elsewhere. One of the expeditions returned yesterday with the report that a prolonged search had been made in the ranges for Sergeant Kennedy, with no result, and it is believed that he has been taken by Kelly and his band to the King River . No trace of the ruffians was discovered, but to-day s systematic pursuit was to be commenced. Yesterday afternoon a further detachment of 12 picked men was despatched from Melbourne to Benalla and Beechworth, and if necessary another relay of men will be sent to assist in tracking the outlaws. The men are all armed with the Spencer rifle, and are provided with a plentiful supply of ammunition. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of the offenders. The two men whose names are unknown belonging to the party of marauders, are described as follows:- One is about 21 years of age, 5ft. 9in. high, of slight build, very light complexion, having whiskers, beard, and moustache, and of a mild expression of features; while the other is about 19 years of age, of stout build, with a sinister expression, and has a few straggling hairs on his face.


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