Ned Kelly's Last Days: Setting the Record Straight on the Death of an Outlaw

By Alex C. Castles; Jennifer Castles | Go to book overview

4
WILD ANIMALS

More than twenty-four hours since his capture, it now appeared highly likely that Ned would survive his wounds. People began to speculate about how the bushranger would be dealt with and opinions were as wild as they were varied. Central to Ned’s legal situation was the fact that eighteen months earlier, an extraordinary act of parliament (originally formulated and introduced into English law before the Norman conquest of 1066) declared that the members of the Kelly gang were now considered to be ‘outlaws’. This was not the first time the ancient method of law enforcement had been used in Australia. In the first decades of the century it was implemented so that bushrangers could be shot on sight in Tasmania. In the 1860s it had been used in New South Wales in a bid to combat a particularly widespread outbreak of bushranging. But in Victoria, it was the first time since the establishment of its modern system of government in 1855 that anything like this had been contemplated.

Within days of the police shootings at Stringybark Creek, in response to a tremendous public outcry, the Victorian legislature revived outlawry as part of the working of its criminal law. The wheels were set in motion six days after the news of the police killings reached Melbourne, even before the body of Sergeant Kennedy had been recovered from the site. In parliament the

-25-

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Ned Kelly's Last Days: Setting the Record Straight on the Death of an Outlaw
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • About the Authors i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents viii
  • Foreword xi
  • Killing Ned xiii
  • 1 - Call to Arms 1
  • 2 - Powers That Be 11
  • 3 - An Uneasy Alliance 19
  • 4 - Wild Animals 25
  • 5 - Stringybark 32
  • 6 - A Long Shadow 39
  • 7 - Benalla Interlude 49
  • 8 - Grisly Diversion 57
  • 9 - Buried Evidence 65
  • 10 - Matters of Faith 71
  • 11 - Words as Weapons 80
  • 12 - Outlaw No More 89
  • 13 - Prosecution Case 96
  • 14 - Family Loyalties 106
  • 15 - Homecoming 114
  • 16 - His Own Worst Enemy 121
  • 17 - Kitchen Court 129
  • 18 - Fallen 135
  • 19 - One for Ned 141
  • 20 - Tough Assignment 148
  • 21 - Preliminary Hearing 154
  • 22 - Lost Cause? 161
  • 23 - Sabbath Confession 167
  • 24 - Fear No Foe 171
  • 25 - Judge … 177
  • 26 - … and Jury 185
  • 27 - Wages of Sin 195
  • 28 - The Final Battle 201
  • 29 - No Earthly Mercy 207
  • 30 - Last Rites 215
  • Afterword 223
  • Epilogue 229
  • Sources and Bibliography 243
  • Acknowledgements 249
  • Illustration Credits 251
  • Index 253
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