The Argus at KellyGang 8/8/1880

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General reporting

They went out together two nights every week to watch Mrs Skillian’s house, and on the other five nights other constables performed that duty. Shortly before the gang were destroyed, Detective Ward and three constables posted off from Beechworth one night for the arrest of a horse-stealer, who, they had reason to believe, was at Mrs Byrne’s house, near Sebastopol. When they arrived there, they went into a paddock to examine horses. A relative of the gang has stated to a friend:―“I was there armed, and I kept the police covered with a gun the whole time. The Kelly gang were all about the house, but they reserved themselves, because they did not want to shoot Ward.” Here, then, is a third sympathiser of the gang who armed himself, and was prepared to assist them. Two days after the Jerilderie affair a well-known citizen of Beechworth was going home at half-past 11 o’clock at night, when he met two persons dressed in women’s clothes in Finch-street. They asked him the direction of certain streets, and passed on. He gave them the information they desired, but at the same time he recognized that one of them was Edward Kelly and the other Joe Byrne.

As there are so many statements being circulated at present about the cause of the outbreak of the Kelly gang, the following information on the subject, supplied, as it is, by a gentleman intimately acquainted with the matter, will be of interest. The secret of the outbreak of the Kelly gang is horse-stealing. Kelly and his friends made that their business, and they entered into it in a wholesale manner when they found certain persons ready to purchase their loot. There were two brothers named Gustave and Wm Baumgarten, living at Barnawartha, on the Murray. They were regarded as respectable well-to-do farmers, in fact, as small squatters, and they both married well. They used to visit Beechworth, and were well liked; but for some reason or other they became suspected by the police as being men who purchased stolen horses and cattle, and they were associated with three other men, named Kennedy, Studders, and Cook. They and Kennedy, Studders, and Cook were therefore ultimately arrested on a charge of receiving horses that had been stolen from Mr Whitty, in the neighbourhood of Greta. Mr Zincke was engaged to defend the accused, and the defence was that they were innocent purchasers. It was said that the Baumgartens were the innocent purchasers, and that they innocently distributed the stolen property to Kennedy, Studders, and Cook, and that the horses were sold to them by a man whose name they said was Johnson, but who was afterwards identified as Ned Kelly. It leaked out that this man whose name was given as Johnson was paid by the Baumgartens in cheques, which were cashed at Benalla. The men arrested were brought before the assizes and tried. Cook and Kennedy were sentenced to six years each, W Baumgarten to four, and Gustave Baumgarten was acquitted. Studders was also discharged.

By this time it was ascertained that Ned and Dan Kelly were the real horse-stealers, and warrants were issued for their arrest. The barrister at the trial of the Baumgartens said, “Why don’t you bring Ned Kelly here, and these men (referring to the accused) would very soon be acquitted?” Soon after the warrants for the arrest of the Kellys were issued, Constable Fitzpatrick went to Greta to arrest them. As to what took place on his visit to Mrs Kelly’s hut, there is a great conflict of evidence. Fitzpatrick’s statement was that when he proceeded to arrest Dan Kelly, Ned Kelly, Skillian, Williamson, and Mrs Kelly interfered, and that Ned shot him in the wrist, and afterwards cut out the bullet. Mrs Kelly, on the other hand, averred at the time that she knocked Fitzpatrick down with a shovel, which glided off his head, and striking his wrist caused the wound which he said was done by a bullet. The case was tried in the usual way, and Mrs Kelly and the men Skillian and Williamson were convicted on the charge of having attempted to murder Constable Fitzpatrick.

During their trial it was freely stated by sympathisers in Beechworth that if the accused were convicted trouble would ensue. Conviction followed in due course, and when Mrs Kelly was taken to gaol she tossed her baby in the air, and said, “By ―, they will get it for this.” A gentleman well acquainted with the Kelly people met a doctor of Beechworth immediately after the trial, and wagered a bottle of champagne that within a month a policeman would be shot. The doctor took him up at once, but lost the bet, which, on the intelligence of the police murders having been received, was paid.

11.50 pm

The report of an alleged interview between a reporter and Ned Kelly appears in to-day’s Age. Mr Williams, the governor of the gaol, and Mr Brett, the sheriff, state emphatically that no such interview took place. The only persons who have been allowed to see the prisoner in gaol are Mr David Gaunson, his attorney, and a clergyman. The only reasonable deduction that can be drawn is that the report has been supplied by Mr D Gaunson, as it contains no fresh information, but consists of a repetition of the statements formerly made by Kelly.


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