Wednesday 29 June 2016

The Man Haron Monis of 1880

The Argus 29th June 1880

Ive been waiting to see what if any reaction there would be on the Kelly sites to the anniversary of the siege at Glenowan, which took place 136 years ago on the weekend of June 26th and 27th 1880, finishing on Monday 28th when Ned was captured in the early hours and the Inn burned down in the afternoon.

I half expected it to be ignored completely, given that it was such an embarrassing exposure of Ned Kellys mad and badly thought-out plan to murder as many more cops as he could - three were not enough -  his callous indifference to the lives of the ordinary citizens of Glenrowan of whom three were killed when he used them as human shields, and the hopeless impracticality of the armour that the Gang had laboriously constructed in their bush forge. And if those humiliations were not enough, theres also the tragedy of the merciless killing of Aaron Sherrit, and the suicide of Dan and Steve to complete the picture of horror, mayhem and death that the psychopathic Ned Kelly brought to Glenrowan that weekend. If it wasn’t for the bravery of Thomas Curnow the destruction and horror would have been orders of magnitude greater and nobody would be posting sentimental rubbish about Ned being a true Australian and hero on Facebook 136 years later. Everyone apart from lunatics would be comparing him with Man Haron Monis, Martin Bryant and the others in the list of mass killers and mad criminals in Australias history books. So it wouldn’t have  surprised me if the Kelly sympathisers didnt draw anyones attention to the anniversary.

But heres the tally : 

  • Iron Outlaw : Nothing
  • Ned Kelly Centre : Nothing
  • Unmasking ..FB Page : Nothing
  • NK Central FB : They shared a comment about the armour, and a descendant of Aaron Sherrit shared some thoughts about his murder and the 11 deaths the Outbreak resulted in, which were good, but in effect hardly anything.
  • NK Vault FB Page: Two lines and a photo of a newspaper headline from the time, followed by about 10 brief comments i.e. hardly anything
  • Ned Kelly Forum : A disgracefully ignorant Post lamenting the failed attempt to establish a Republic in North East Victoria, and then ‘RIP’ followed by a list of the three Gang members that died but not a single word about the innocent ones who died. Then a long list of foolish and ignorant comments by Kelly sympathisers ...more about this later...
Its been interesting reading the reports coming out of the Inquest into the Lindt Cafe siege where two people died, one at the hand of the terrorist and the other as a result of the Police action to bring it to an end. What I find interesting to read is how hard it was for the Police to decide what should be done. They had all sorts of resources at their fingertips, night vision technology, high-tech armaments and surveillance equipment that probably gave them intelligence about what was happening in there that we will never be privy to, instantaneous communications between them all, body armour and anti-terrorist training and yet despite all that, there was uncertainty about when and how to react, and when they finally did, despite all that know-how and back-up, an innocent hostage ended up dead. In all of this there has been almost no criticism of the Police, either direct or implied, and thats as it should be. Nobody doubts they wanted to get the best outcome for everyone involved in the fluid and unpredictable scenario they were confronted with.

Compare that to Glenrowan! The Police are endlessly excoriated and blamed by Kelly myth makers and police haters for the civilian deaths that resulted from their actions, and Ned Kelly, the author of all this mayhem is hailed as a brave hero. This outrage was of course NOT something any of the police had been trained for, they arrived in the dark with almost no intelligence about what was happening and limited ways of finding out once they got there, no special equipment, communication by word of mouth only, and were confronted by a Gang who had already murdered three police and the day before in a chilling act of betrayal, one of their own friends. By any measure the Gang at that moment could only have been perceived as dangerously ruthless and unpredictable in the extreme, an impression instantly reinforced when they responded to being surrounded and called on to surrender, with a volley of shots from the Hotels  darkened verandah and defiant shouting. Who was going to be brave enough to predict what they were going to do next?

The reality is that, as at the Lindt Cafe, its possible to imagine different decisions being made at Glenrowan that could have produced a better outcome, but I am quite sure to have really understood what was going on, and to be qualified to criticise you needed to have  been there. Lazy armchair critics of the Police responses at Glenrowan are simply looking for someone else to blame for the outcomes of Ned Kellys acts of Terror, but make no mistake, just as at the Lindt cafe so at Glenrowan it was the hostage taker who was ultimately responsible for the deaths of innocent hostages. I readily accept there were a couple of incidents of ill-discipline at Glenrowan, but given all the circumstances, and the fallibility of human nature, overall I give the Police credit for bringing the Outbreak to an end, as we all do for what they did at the Lindt Cafe.

The reality is that when it comes to Glenrowan, the Kelly sympathisers are in massive denial, and if you want to see it, go to their Facebook pages where, as I pointed out if mentioned at all there is only token acknowledgement of this grim anniversary. There are scores of  “Likes” - whatever ‘liking’ this anniversary means -  a tiny number of “Sad”, a string of nauseating acclamations of support for Ned Kelly, and a few seriously ignorant attempts at describing what Ned Kelly represented. The most popular comment seems to be "RIP Ned”, yet he survived, unlike his brother, two other Gang members and three innocent hostages but theres no 'RIP Johnny Jones’,  no 'RIP Martin Cherry' no 'RIP George Metcalf’. Just like Ned Kelly himself it seems modern sympathisers are obsessed with Ned Kelly and don’t give a toss about the deaths of ordinary people on the sidelines . God alone knows what the comment about how different it would have been if the train had derailed was supposed to mean, another wrote it would have been  good if the train derailed, but if it had been derailed everyone agrees there would have been horrendous loss of life. On what planet would that have been ‘good’?? They’re much more interested in seeing another photo of the murderous psychopath than facing the truth about Glenrowan or reflecting on what a monstrous outrage Ned Kelly tried to unleash there. 

The truth about Glenrowan is this: the very real hero that emerged there, and who we should be remembering this week is Thomas Curnow, but he doesn’t get a mention anywhere on any of these Kelly sites, such is their blind focus on kelly mythology.  He is the man we should be celebrating, he was the true hero at Glenrowan, the partly disabled unarmed school teacher who saved  countless lives by an act  of genuine bravery, outsmarting an armed and dangerous psychopath with a candle and a silk scarf. That was a David and Goliath victory of genuinely mythic proportions! A genuinely heroic act of selfless bravery.

Instead the Kelly sympathisers are  in massive denial about Curnow, they’re in massive denial about what Ned Kelly planned for Glenrowan, and to help with their denial that have made up a lie about a Republic of North East Victoria as a cover-up, and tried to glamourise it all as some sort of heroic 'last stand'. They’re also in massive denial  about what an absolute debacle it was for the Gang - it wasn't a heroic last stand but a desperate and complete stuff-up : no policemen were killed, the train wasn’t derailed, one Gang member was shot and killed, two Gang members committed suicide, the armour was proven to be worse than useless, the leader ended up in captivity soon to be hanged, Ann Jones livelihood was ruined, and tragically, three innocent hostages died.  Responsibility for all this wretchedness can only be laid at the feet of one person : Ned Kelly the mad mastermind, Australias most notorious liar, the Man Haron Monis of 1880.

True Australian? 

Ned Kelly?

You have GOT to be joking. 

Thursday 23 June 2016

Lonigans Death Decoded

I liked Bills drawing so much I had to put it up as a Post for everyone to look at, and as an encouragement for the discussion to continue. Bill put this drawing up last week in our discussion about Lonigans death, a massive improvement on my own attempt at such a drawing that illustrates precisely what I believe the evidence points to about how he died.  I wanted to reply to various comments made on this topic in last weeks Blog Post but needed more space than is permitted on the Blogger Comments window, so hopefully we can continue this discussion here.

I am still convinced that McIntyres recollection, notwithstanding small variations here and there, was essentially accurate: Lonigan was killed by Ned Kelly whilst out in the open, firing from a rifle loaded with some form of multiple projectiles, possibly made by quartering a larger ball, or numerous swan drops that spread out as they approached Lonigan, and hitting him in four places at once. This happened the instant Lonigan made a move that wasn’t immediate surrender, when ordered to Bail Up.

NML thanks for taking the time to gather all those quotations, but I fail to see why they show that my version “does not fit” as you claim. You need to be a bit more specific about exactly what you think the problem is, but there is nothing in the quotes that you've supplied that doesn’t fit my view that Lonigan was killed in the open, and pretty much in cold blood.  Additionally you LEFT OUT a CRUCIAL part of McIntyres statement so I will supply a more complete extract of the relevant statement:

"I immediately held out my arms horizontally. As soon as I did so I saw the same man remove the gun a little towards his right hand and fire it, at Lonigan, who had started to run. Lonigan was standing on the opposite side of the fire to me, at a distance of ten or twelve feet. He was running towards a tree, and was about forty yards distant from the man who fired at him. I heard him falling immediately after the gun was fired. He had taken about four or five steps before he fell. Did not see him fall, but heard him breathing heavily and stertorously. ‘(From O&M ,07 August 1880. Report of the Committal hearing) 

The crucial words here are “AS SOON AS I DID SO.....”  which mean, straight away after McIntyre put his hands out, Lonigan was shot, no doubt because he didnt put his hands up like McIntyre did, but made a move for his gun. He was certainly still out in the open, and I called that ‘pretty much in cold blood’. If  Kelly wanted to he could have fired a warning shot...

One issue that I haven’t addressed so far, which might be something you are referring to NML is the claim from McIntyre that Lonigan made a run for it, but only took a few steps before he was killed. Certainly this still equates to being killed out  in the open, but did he make a run for it? McIntyre admits he DID NOT SEE what actually happened, and so it is perfectly legitimate to question his explanation of what he thinks he would have seen if he had been able to. His honest admission that he DIDNT see what happened is his way of saying this is what I THINK happened, and that view has become the accepted view, but I think he got it wrong. This is why : the position of the wounds on Lonigans body makes it impossible that he TURNED and made a run for it - so in fact if he moved, and McIntyre says he did HEAR Lonigan moving, then what he MUST have been doing was backing up. McIntyre turned and saw Lonigan on the ground and assumed Lonigan had turned and ran, but the forensics PROVE he didnt TURN. If he HAD turned the bullet/slug/quarter/swandrop/whatever it was that entered his left thigh would have done so from the opposite side. This is utterly incontrovertible. Lonigan didnt TURN, he backed up.Its also reported that after he was shot he staggered about briefly, and that was how when he looked to see what had happened, McIntyre saw Lonigan on the ground a few steps away from where he had been when he was shot.

Alternatively of course, you would have to resurrect the post mortem origin of that wound in the left thigh, but that is CONTRADICTED by Dr Reynolds autopsy finding. Mike Jones thinks the Dr. wasn’t thorough enough for us to be able to believe his claim that the wounds were all inflicted before death or within a few minutes of it, but doesn’t give any reason for this statement. I have done a little reading on this topic, and it wasn’t fun seeing post mortem pictures of murder victims and autopsies, but Mike I think this quote should suffice :

"One major difference between an antemortem and a postmortem injury is the presence of signs of bleeding. While the person is still alive, the blood is circulating and any injuries such as cuts or stabs will bleed. After death, the body usually does not bleed.” (Encyclopaedia .com entry on Antemortem Injury) Its  a complex field of study, but I am sure Dr Reynolds would have been able to tell if there was bleeding around the thigh wound or not. 

Mike its not a ‘contest’ but a search for the historical truth. Knowledge advances by picking the best explanation as the likely one and testing it until it either breaks and a better explanation is provided, or else if the prevailing explanation  stands up to  intense scrutiny, it becomes the accepted wisdom. I believe McIntyres version, as I have expressed it with the reservations about what he didnt see but assumed took place, makes sense of how Lonigan was killed. As I keep saying, the key to unravelling the mystery, is to realise Ned Kellys version was lies. 

Thursday 16 June 2016

A year later, the Explanation about Lonigans death that we’ve all been waiting for...

Exactly one year ago today I was described on Facebook by a well known self-promoting ‘relative of the Kelly gang’ as a “gutless faceless troll up to its old tricks again, bottom feeding like the scum it is”. This hysterical outburst came about because I was responding to a claim published the same day on the Unmasking the Kelly Gang Unmasked  Facebook page  that its Moderator had solved the mystery of how Lonigan was supposed to have been shot once but had four bullet wounds in his dead body at the autopsy.  This was a topic that was being discussed at the time on this blog.  The  Facebook claim was that Lonigan was killed as he ran for cover, and it was illustrated by the accompanying diagram:
It was immediately obvious to anyone with half a brain that this explanation was complete rubbish, and I pointed it out.  The diagram had Lonigan running to the right, which would mean the right side of his body would be facing Ned and the Gang – but he was hit on the left arm and the left thigh. The bullet in the left thigh had entered from the outer aspect  and travelled inwards, the exact opposite of what would be found if Kelly had somehow managed to hit the left leg from his position on the right of Lonigan. This explanation also contradicted Neds description of what happened, which was that Lonigan was behind a log and lifting his head up above it and aiming at him when Ned killed him.

For this explanation to work, known laws of physics would have to be suspended to enable bullets to be discharged in one direction but arrive at their target from the opposite one, and Ned Kellys testimony would have to be accepted as lies. I don’t have a problem with the idea that Ned Kelly told lies – we know he was an habitual liar – but I do have a major issue with an explanation that requires the Laws of Physics to be suspended.

Once the FB moderator had read my demolition of his nonsense, he had the intelligence to at least realize he had made a  major stuff up, but sadly not the grace to admit it publically. Instead he returned to the original FB Post and doctored it to now read at the beginning “ Part 1 : McIntyres version” , making out that part 2 would be the solution he had just devised. This was a rather contemptible bit of sleight-of-hand but I was looking forward to seeing how he was going to wriggle out of the mess he had just made for himself, given he had already announced he had solved the puzzle :

To enlighten them all …..I will explain with the help of two attachments how Ned was able to shoot Lonigan and how Lonigan was able to receive the wound to the thigh. I am surprised no one has worked this out before.’

I looked forward to reading it, but seriously doubted he would ever provide “Part 2” and Ive been proved right. I started to count the days, and record on the Blog how long we had been waiting…and today, we have been waiting an entire year! 365 days of failure to deliver means he will never deliver. He’s clueless so I will put the guy out of his misery and stop counting.

Interestingly, during this same year his FB page has declined to the point where it seems to have been abandoned – only one “post’ this year. He banned me from it, copying what the NK Forum and Ironoutlaw have done, conveniently making my  comments there disappear! But as I have noted before, interest in Kelly is declining everywhere in the Kelly world – the ‘postponement’ of the Ned Kelly Weekend for 2016 is a recent example. The Ned Kelly Forum and Iron Outlaw web sites are moribund, their facebook pages struggling to find anything to discuss apart from old photos and news items, the Ned Kelly Centre is dead and I think even the Ned Kelly Central FB page may be starting to lose its appeal, as the age of the Jones-Kelly myth continues to recede into the past, helped on its way by this Blog I have no doubt.

So, having waited all this time and only observed the ongoing decline of interest in kelly mythology, the mystery of what happened to Lonigan has remained unsolved. 

I wrote ages ago that one thing we know about the terrible events of SBC, is that Ned Kellys version of events cant be trusted - in the context of the known facts about Lonigans wounds, being behind  a log AND being shot only once is an impossible combination of events - there is simply no way Ned Kellys claim that Lonigan was hiding behind a log, AND was shot only once can be reconciled - its simply impossible. Either other shots were fired before or after he got behind the log, or else, if there was only one shot, it was fired while he was out in the open  This explains why after an entire 12 months the Kelly sympathiser couldn’t come up with an explanation of what happened at SBC because the first thing anyone trying to do so has to confront is that Ned Kelly lied about it - and no sympathiser is willing to confront that awful truth abut their hero.

The suggestion someone made on this Blog that Lonigan was somehow ‘wrapped’ around the end of the log  with his left thigh exposed is implausible, but also contradicts Neds account, that Lonigan was BEHIND the Log. 

However, as soon as Kellys account is recognised as lies, and dismissed,  the pieces of the puzzle start to come together and the solution can be found.

Read on and learn the truth as I explain how I discovered it.

One big difficulty that I had was the consistency with which McIntyre claimed only ONE shot was fired, and yet there were four wounds. I had previously suggested his memory of such a stressful event may have been faulty, and he only remembered the shot that felled Lonigan but not others. One of the hostages at Faithfulls Creek, Stephens,  claimed Ned  had told him he had fired twice. Its been suggested shots may have been fired into Lonigans dead body later, after McIntyre had gone. Someone suggested these other wounds were caused by ‘crossfire’, meaning shots fired by Kennedy at the gang which missed them and hit Lonigans corpse lying on the ground - three times! And then there is the ‘quartered bullet’ theory, which is that a single shot caused four wounds because the bullet was quartered. 

I have been inclined not to accept the ‘quartered bullet’ theory, because  I’ve thought that the parts of Lonigans body that were hit  cant be made to all face the gun at the same time. Particularly, I struggled with the description of the bullet that went through Lonigans eye, because it was said to have entered at an angle, which I took to mean from the right side, but the discussion that took place on this topic at the time taught me this could have been from above or below or even only slightly from the right. The other difficulty I had was that the quarter that entered the brain, smashed its way through the bony eye socket , and another passed right through Lonigans arm but the quarter that entered the left thigh did so with almost no force at all, barely penetrating the skin.  The quarters – if truly quarters – should have impacted Lonigans body with equal force. Its been suggested the bullet found in Lonigans thigh had lost is momentum because it was the same bullet that had  first passed through his left arm. John Phillips and others suggested something even more implausible to account for this wound – he suggested that Lonigan accidentally shot himself trying in a desperate  panic to unholster his own revolver. This would suggest Lonigan was left handed and that the gun badly misfired. Both unlikely.

Having thought  about all these dilemmas for a year, I believe there is an explanation which brings it all together. I have changed my position about McIntyres memory - I believe it was accurate and only one shot was fired.  This means Lonigan was out in the open when Kelly shot him. I have changed my position on the quartered bullet theory and now regard it as likely.  I think the bullet that went through Lonigans left arm ended up in his left thigh - this would fit with the possibility that Lonigan was reaching for his revolver, his arm down near the thigh, the bullets momentum being greatly reduced by passing through the fleshy part of his forearm - as described by Reynolds. Another quarter went into his brain, one grazed the right side of his head and the fourth missed altogether. I don’t believe what Ned told Stephens at Faithfulls creek -  about shooting twice - was anything but more of Kellys lies, just as his story about Lonigan hiding behind a log and raising his head above it to shoot at him were. I think Reynolds description of the bullet he removed from Lonigans thigh as a ‘revolver’ bullet was mistaken – it was a quarter of a bigger rifle bullet. The rest of my explanation is best summarised by another one of my exquisite diagrams :

The big blue spots are where the Autopsy found bullet wounds on Lonigans corpse
What you see here is Lonigan standing as McIntyre said, behind him to his left and logically, his body turned towards where McIntyre was standing by the fire. His left side is exposed to the Kelly gang and Ned’s gun, but then on hearing the shouted “Bail up” turns his head sharply to the left and exposes his right eye….. he has seconds to live.

When I first drew this and looked at it, I felt a kind of chill. This simple diagram explained and confirmed everything that McIntyre said and exposed Neds lies. As McIntrye said, Lonigan was shot almost immediately, right where he stood, out in the open. If he had turned to run the wounds would be on the other leg. If he had been behind a log, no leg would have been wounded. If he did make a move toward his gun, he wasn’t given a chance to get it out. It was never a fair fight as the myth makers like to pretend. He was shot pretty much in cold blood right where he was when the Gang broke cover. Exactly as McIntyre said.

If someone knows what weight bullet Neds rifle would usually fire, and if quartered if it would be of similar size to a revolver bullet I would like to know. Can anyone find out if Lonigan was left handed? These extra bits of information would help to confirm this theory, but I think my explanation accounts for all the known facts, and should now be regarded as the definitive explanation of Lonigans death.  If you have a better one let us know, but I won’t be waiting a year for it. The only thing thats prevented everyone from seeing this till now is that as usual, everyone has been hypnotised by Australias greatest conman, Ned Kelly. His lies about this event, like his lies about so many other events have once again created confusion and uncertainty about the truth of what really happened - kick all of them out of the way and the truth becomes obvious.

More of Kellys lies exposed and another Kelly myth bites the dust.

Friday 10 June 2016

Making Creepy Ned look Good

This is where Ned Kelly stole a Gold Watch from the corpse of Michael Kennedy

Even Sympathisers admit occasionally that Ned Kelly wasn’t perfect, that he was human like the rest of us and that he made mistakes. In doing so of course they’re conceding the self-evident reality of being mortal, as well as ‘the bleeding obvious’ when it comes to the life of Ned Kelly.  But if you’re trying to create or maintain a legend about someone, you highlight exaggerate concentrate on and talk up the positives, you focus on everything that helps build up the image and you excuse or minimize or simply ignore all the negatives. These are the techniques used by the Kelly mythmakers wherever you look, and is at its most obvious in the biographies, beginning as far back as you want to go, right up to this years publication by Eugenie Navarre. Even Justin Corfields Ned Kelly Encyclopedia, which you would think should be objective and unbiased has been identified by Alex McDermott as being anything but objective, chosing perspectives that favour Ned over ones that don’t in many of the entrys. The same applies to the Kelly Vault, a public Museum which again one would expect to be neutral and objective in its presentation but instead presents Ned Kelly as the failed leader of the movement for a Republic of North East Victoria, a contentious, and unproven speculation.

But if you’re not so much interested in legends, fairy tales and myths, but in the historical reality and the truth of who Ned Kelly really was, you have to look at everything, you have to identify the hyperbole and the places where truth has been gilded, or ignored, or exaggerated, you have to try to see things from an independent and objective place rather than through the rose-tinted spectacles of the true believer. 

When it comes to the available discussions of the personality of Ned Kelly there’s not much more than adulation and sycophancy but lately Ive been coming across random items in the Kelly story that aren’t often commented on but which I believe reflect aspects of the personality of Ned Kelly that nobody wants to acknowledge let alone talk about. That’s what this post is about. I show how the mythmakers of the Kelly legend ignore  or gloss over unpleasant truths about Ned Kellys personality, and highlight, exaggerate and uncritically promote anything that could be positive.

Among the many wonderful things claimed for Ned Kelly, one often reads that he was a devoted son. He liked to make a play for public sympathy and portray himself as  “a widows son” , that he defended her and was consumed with a quest to get justice for her. The reality however was altogether different and exposed him as a hypocrite. As I’ve previously pointed out, in 1877 Ned Kelly was a self described ‘rambling gambler’, travelling all over the countryside doing very well for himself out of his ‘wholesale and retail’ stock thieving operation, developing a reputation for dressing in fine clothes and custom made boots, and no doubt enjoying the hospitality of  Hotels and taverns wherever he went. At that very same time, Nicolson visited his mothers home and found no men there but his mother and young sisters were living in poverty and squalor, in a shack at Greta that was about to fall down.  How does that fit with the ‘devoted son’ image, or for that matter the Robin Hood image of a thief who gave his takings to help the poor? Doug Morrissey pointed out that if the house had eventually fallen down, Mrs. Kelly would have lost her selection, and it was in that desperate context that Ned finally returned for a couple of months at the end of that year and rebuilt it for her.

But suppose I am wrong and despite good evidence not to believe it, Ned actually WAS a devoted son who took care of his mother. Suppose Ned Kelly really was a good son – well I have to ask, so what?  What’s so special about being a good son? Wouldn’t any son, if he was a normal human being with a poverty stricken  widowed mother and young siblings do his best for her? Why on earth is Neds putative filial devotion elevated to an act of saintly sacrifice, when its what sons in that predicament would do and have been doing for millennia the world over?  There is definitely no evidence whatsoever that Kellys actual devotion to his mother was anything other than ordinary, no evidence that I know of that he was an exceptional son, but as with so much of the Kelly myth, what is believed to have been the case is actually just the story that came from Kelly’s own mouth, and people have believed it. 

How many other perfectly law abiding men and women in the north east were also ‘widows sons (and daughters)’ but not expecting anyone to feel sorry for them because of it?  And how many of them justified a life of violence and outlawry by saying they were doing it for their mother? Neds’ grandstanding was just egotistical attention seeking. His words were not matched by action, except that he used his mothers name and predicament as an excuse for his personal campaign against authority.

The myth says Ned Kelly was the champion of the poor. In the Jerilderie Letter Ned Kelly paraded himself as the champion of the poor, orphans and widows, ordering ‘those men who joined the Stock Protection Society to withdraw their money and give it and as much more to the widows and orphans and poor of Greta district’ and later, ‘those who have reason to fear me to sell out and give 10 out of every 100 towards the widow and orphan fund’. The historical reality is that he liked to talk about the poor, and he liked to bully and order other people to give to them but this was just a self-promoting posture that was contradicted by his actual behavior towards them. The truth as exposed by Doug Morrissey is that he freely stole from the poor, and the effect of his theft of their horses was much worse than the effects similar losses had on the wealthy: the poor became destitute. The money he stole from banks ended up in the pockets of his family and friends and anyone who supported him – their poverty was irrelevant, but that didn’t stop him from pretending that it was their poverty he was interested in helping,  when in fact he was buying them off for his own benefit. How do his words expressing concern for the poor match the fact that he rounded up ordinary people at Gunpoint and used them as hostages and human shields at Euroa and at Jerilderie and at Glenrowan where sadly some of them were killed?  Does anyone recall Ned ever expressing regret about their deaths?  He wrote several letters from Prison but I don’t recall he even bothered blaming the Police for those deaths – it was as if they never happened. The lives and deaths of the innocent were of no genuine interest to Ned Kelly – he forgot about them because he was forever preoccupied only with himself and his image.

This is why at Jerilderie Ned couldn’t resist showing his hostages the revolver he took from Lonigan and the gold watch he stole from Kennedys dead body. He was showing off and grandstanding: 
‘Almost like a circus hypnotist, Kelly takes from his pocket a golden timepiece.
‘This is a nice watch isn’t it? He asks the two rhetorically, as he shows it to them.
“Yes” allows Dudley
“That was poor Kennedys watch” the bushranger says “Wasn’t it better for me that I shot the police than have them carrying my body into Mansfield as a mangled corpse?” (from Peter Fitzsimons “Ned Kelly”)

Taking guns and ammunition from dead enemies in war is understandable and acceptable, but looting their corpses for personal items like watches and rings is regarded as a low act, and is nowdays forbidden by the Geneva Conventions. I am not sure what the rules were in 1878, but I would imagine most people would have felt the same way then as we do today about looting corpses for personal effects : it’s a disgrace, despicable.

Why don’t Fitzsimons, or any of the other writers who mention this behaviour condemn it as ghoulish and immoral?  For Ned Kelly to apparently express no shame or embarrassment at having looted a corpse, and then to display the watch to impress hostages is exactly in keeping with  the analysis of  his personality published in 2014, identifying him as a psychopath. Its creepy.

Another item that caught my eye and made me shudder about the kind of person Ned Kelly actually was, related to his behavior in Court. He was on trial for murder, a capital offense, a predicament that could hardly have been more serious, and this is what Alex Castles wrote about it:

‘Ned’s dress and conduct did not help his cause. As always in a major criminal trial the presentation of the accused was of considerable significance for the Jury. Ned appeared in the dock at the start of the second day of the trial wearing a large silk handkerchief with a vivid multicolored flower pattern draped around his neck. To the hardworking soberly attired members of the Jury it was like a badge of defiance confirming him a member of the indolent lawless class which preyed on the community. It was also widely noted that Ned responded with a knowing wink directed at the Jury after a witness’s remark that he had acted in a ‘gentlemanly fashion’ in front of women. In an age dominated by stern opposition to drinking alcohol and indulging in sexual license, these jurymen drawn from the conservative classes would surely no have been impressed’

What more repulsive image could there be, than that of a man on trial for murder winking at the men of the Jury when his conduct in relation to women was mentioned?  At that moment, with that act he exposed his ‘gentlemanly behavior’ towards women as an insincere act of manipulation and hypocrisy, again, the very behavior that typifies a psychopath. It also shows how unconcerned he was that he had killed Lonigan. Instead he wanted to share a joke with the all male Jury about how he could wrap women round his little finger. What a creep!

The closer one examines Ned Kelly, the less attractive he becomes, and the tired sympathiser refrain 'Ned Kelly, hero or villain’ sounds more and more ridiculous. Its a no-brainer.

Friday 3 June 2016

The Trial of Ned Kelly

John Harber Phillips
Surprising links keep turning up in the Kelly story. Here’s a curious one : Lindy Chamberlain and Ned Kelly were both defended by John Harber Phillips, the Victorian barrister who eventually became Chief Justice. He unsuccessfully defended Lindy Chamberlain at her first trial in 1982 and his defence of Ned Kelly came 107 years too late in the form of a book, The Trial of Ned Kelly” published in 1987.  And here’s another curious co-incidence : Lindy and Ned were both found guilty of Murder on a Friday, October 29th, but 102 years apart, in Court proceedings JHPhillips regarded as flawed in both cases. 

So much for trivia.

Ive been looking everywhere for Phillips book, because its author is often mentioned in the Kelly world as an authority whose opinion about Ned is said to support two important planks of Kelly mythology : the injustices of Kellys' trial, and the Republic. I wanted to read for myself what he actually wrote. But its not an easy book to come by.

In the end I bought a copy through Abe books at an exorbitant price. Published in 1987 its barely 100 pages long . Phillips interest was directed at the conduct of the trial, and there is not much else in the book but at numerous places explanatory references to various aspects of the Outbreak are inevitable. They show Phillips to be poorly informed in that regard, for example saying that the rail-way line was ripped up after the hostages had been confined to the Inn, and that Joe Byrnes body was retrieved from Ann Jones Inn at the same time as Steve and Dans were, after it had been reduced to ashes. These errors probably wouldnt be noticed by the average reader, and they are not important.

Phillips opinion, at the conclusion of his review of the trial was that  “..Edward Kelly was not afforded a trial according to Law”.   This is the statement that  Ian Jones and the other Kelly myth makers leapt on and continue to quote, citing Phillips lofty legal authority as evidence for their belief in the injustice of Ned Kellys conviction and execution. Unsurprisingly, in the context of the manufacturing of myth, Ian Jones and the rest neglect to mention Phillips next sentence “Whether the result would have been any different had the Jury had been correctly directed is, of course, entirely another matter”

Effectively Phillips is really saying that what he regards as a technical deficiency in the trial, may, in the end, have made no difference. Indeed every opinion I have read is that if acquitted of Lonigans’ murder, a subsequent trial of his killing of Kennedy would have most certainly convicted him of murder, and he would still have been hanged.

However I agree with him that the process is at least as important as the outcome. So what exactly went wrong?

Phillips believed that in his summing up the Judge was  obliged to remind the Jury that they had an option to return a verdict of not guilty on the basis that the killing was undertaken in self-defence.  However, Judge Barry didn’t do this. When I went back to read and re-read Bindons’ defence of Kelly, such as it was, I couldn’t find any evidence that Bindon did actually advance the defence of self-defence. Various elements that could have been drawn together to make such a defence were alluded to, but there was no attempt to present that specific argument to the jury. Instead Bindon focused on McIntyres testimony, trying to discredit it, and attempted to  convince the Jury that Neds claims to have done all the killing were a cover-up to protect the other gang members and that nobody could be certain who had fired the fatal shots. He also tried to persuade the Jury of something he had tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Judge during the trial, that the deaths of Scanlon and Kennedy, the Bank  robberies and the events at Glenrowan were not relevant to the issue of Lonigans murder. 

This led me to wonder if the real fault was Bindons for not having advanced self-defence as an argument, and that, if he hadn’t, why would the Judge be obliged to raise it? According to Phillips,  the fact that testimony given by various witnesses for the prosecution included statements of Kelly’s that he was acting in self-defence, created a duty on the Judge to inform the Jury that self-defence was a possible defense to the charge of murder, even though Neds team hadn’t raised it themselves. Philips says that Judge Barry raised the topic of self-defence in his summing-up of an earlier murder trial, and should have done it here too.

However Phillips also points to the Law of the day that said any person killing a Policeman, even accidentally, but while attempting to resist or escape arrest, is automatically guilty of murder. This was an additional protection afforded the Police in the execution of their duty, but only applied if the Police were acting lawfully. Phillips believes Judge Barry ought to have asked the Jury to consider if indeed the Police were acting unlawfully, as Kelly alleged, acting outside their brief with an intention to kill him. If that were the case then he had a right to self-defence. Instead, Redmond Barry ignored this possibility in his summing up, and the option of finding Ned not guilty on the basis of self-defence was taken from them. They had to find him either Guilty as charged, or, on the grounds offered by Neds inept defence, Not Guilty. But, as Phillips comments “ the matter was put to the jury in terms that were conclusive in favor for the prosecution”

So what would have happened if Judge Redmond Barry had done as Phillips believes he should have done, and advised the Jury they could find Ned not guilty on the grounds of self defence? He would have needed to explain to them that the Law that automatically defines the killing of Police as murder only applies if the Police were acting lawfully. He would then have to ask them to decide if Lonigan was acting illegally, trying to kill Ned rather than arrest him. If so, then Ned could have legitimately claimed to have killed in self defence, and if the Jury accepted this, they could find him not guilty.

But would they? 

The answer to this hypothetical question is assumed by Kelly sympathisers and writers to be yes, it was a miscarriage of Justice, the Jury was misdirected and of course if Barry hadn’t been so corrupt the Jury would have found Ned not guilty. But I am not so sure. Neither was Phillips.

Another inconvenient quote from John Phillips that the Kelly myth makers will never acknowledge is this one from an article he wrote for the La Trobe Journal, No 73, Autumn 2004: 

"I have long been of the opinion that Barry misdirected the jury in Kelly's trial by, in effect, taking away from them in his charge one of the central issues in the proceeding - whether the police party had gone forth to shoot him down or arrest him. It is possible that were the trial to be reviewed by a modern Court of Appeal, it would, because of the strength of the prosecution case, apply the Proviso in S.568(i) of the Crimes Act on the basis that it considered that no substantial miscarriage of justice had occurred.

If  it were possible to go back in time and change what Barry said in his summing-up, but no other aspect of the trial, there would still be the inexperience and inadequacy of Ned Kellys defence to contend with, and by contrast what Phillips above refers to as ‘the strength of the prosecution case’. There would still be the testimony of  McIntyre and all those people who had been Neds hostages, the knowledge of what happened to Scanlon and Kennedy, the robbery and hostage taking, the plans for Glenrowan, there would still be Neds strange behaviour during the Court case itself, there would still be the impression of  Dr Reynolds autopsy findings on the minds of the Jury, not to mention the real difficulties of accepting that it can be self defence to kill after deliberately confronting the Police in their camp... 

I think if the only thing that changed in a hypothetical re-run of the trial were the directions and  Judge Barrys summing-up, the outcome would have been the same. It was not the Judges responsibility to develop the argument of self-defence, to persuade the Jury of the merits of such an argument or to draw all the elements in favour of it together into a coherent defence - that was Bindon and Gaunsons job, but they didnt. 

The truth is that if Kellys defence had done their job perfectly, and the Judge had done his perfectly as well, the Jury may still have found Ned Kelly guilty of the murder of Lonigan. They might have decided the Police were there lawfully carrying out their duty, that Ned Kelly had no right to confront them whether to disarm them or not, and the resulting death rendered all four of them guilty of murder. 

And the rest, as they say, would be history.