Ned Kelly

A hero or a villain

Ned Kelly was a murderer, but had a very hard life; a thief, but was victimized for being Irish by a corrupt police force. Ned Kelly is a hero but tried to accomplish good in the wrong ways.

Ned Kelly's story started at Beveridge, VIC in 1854 or 1855. Ned's father (John 'Red' Kelly) was an Irish convict who was sent to Australia for stealing two pigs. In those days, an Irish convict was seen as the lowest of low classes and this is probably why John started his career as a part time farmer and a full time cattle thief. Alas, John's career of thievery did not last long as he was imprisoned in 1865 and died shortly after release on the 27th of December 1866. Historians believe that the police treatment towards John while he was doing hard labor killed him and this is what sparked Ned's interest in a life of crime. Ned, now being the man of the family at the age of 11 or 12, followed all his role models (his dad and uncles) and began to steal. But, it could also be argued that the reason John Kelly died was his refusal to follow the law and Ned had to be ware of this. So, it could be suggested, only reason Ned Kelly stole, instead of taking the sum of money given to widows in those days was a childish defiance that continued throughout his life. If he didn't have this defiance many lives could be saved as well as many pockets being heavier.

Sometimes it wasn't just Ned Kelly who was targeted but all of Ned Kelly's family, friends and supporters like in the case of the Fitzpatrick incident. On the 15th of April 1878 Constable Fitzpatrick decided to arrest Dan Kelly for horse stealing, ignoring the rule that more than one person has to be present to make an arrest. Mrs Kelly asked Fitzpatrick for an arrest warrant. Instead he showed her a telegram. She insisted that it was against the law to take Dan without a warrant and Fitzpatrick pulled out a revolver and said "I'll blow your brains out if you interfere." She went into the hall to talk to Dan and came back to find Fitzpatrick trying to abuse Kate Kelly. Mrs Kelly whacked him with a coal shovel. She then nursed his wounds and sent him on his way with the understanding that he wouldn't breath a word of this to anyone. Fitzpatrick made a fake bullet wound in his arm and took them all to court on the charge that Ned Kelly, Dan Kelly, Mrs Kelly, Dan's friend Bricky Williamson and Dan's brother in law Ben Skillion, assaulted him and shot him in the wrist. Ned, Brick and Ben were not present at the time. Mrs Kelly, her one month old baby Alice, Ben and Bricky went to jail. This is an example of the police force being corrupt and sending a mother and a very small child to jail for protecting her daughter as well as two men who weren't even close to the area that this occurred. Not only were Ned Kelly and his family targeted but all his supporters who just wanted equality and a non corrupt police force. Another example of the unfairness shown to the Kelly family occurred in January 1879. The police killed all of Ned Kelly's friends regardless of if they had done anything, without a trial. Not only that, they also killed all of Ned Kelly's supporters too. While it's true that it was wrong to kill the innocent and send a mother and child to jail, Ned Kelly was not blameless. He killed a lot of innocent police men trying to do their job. Like the police, Ned Kelly's supporters must not be seen as blameless. In protest for the treatment of the outlaw Ned, they would have started riots and assaulted police men just to get a small point across. Alternatively, it is not fair to judge an entire police force off the actions of one man. Fitzpatrick was a vile man and two weeks after the indecent assault, he was dismissed from the police force. It is right for Ned Kelly to be punished, even now days someone who has killed 3 policemen and their former friend deserves a severe punishment.

In my opinion, Ned Kelly did some good in the world fighting for equality and against corruption in the police force but he did it in completely the wrong way. Ned Kelly was a criminal, even though he had some good intentions, he still stole from people, murdered people and assaulted people and that's why this debate is so great. Each side is balanced. Maybe, this argument will never truly be solved or won.

Ned Kelly's final stand.

Fact: On the 28th of June 1880 the Kelly gang had a shootout with the police for over 12 hours, wearing crude steel armor. They took hostages and all the gang but Ned Kelly died.

Ned's perspective: I sat there drinking whisky, thinking about how I killed my former friend and knowing that it was only a matter of time before the police found us. So, I gave the shout "Everybody on the ground, you are now hostages. Do not attempt to escape." Immediately everybody but a man in his early twenties got down on their knees. The man jumped out the window and sounded the alarm. I knew this was my final stand. I gave the order, "Joe and Steve you guard the hostages while Dan and I get the windows." After a wait, that seemed like forever, the first shot cracked the air. Soon we were surrounded. We had almost unlimited ammo, but they had double. We were great shots. But what we had in skill, they made up for with numbers. It had been almost 4 hours of fighting. Then I felt an excruciating pain spreading from the dark red spot on my lower shoulder. I had been shot. The more I got shot the more frequent it became. I was too tired to dodge. Joe was already shot dead. Dan and Steve had poisoned themselves and I couldn't see from pain. I mustered up all the strength I had left. I picked up a hostage and staggered outside. Twenty four dark spots had grown on my shirt. I didn't care anymore. If I was going to hell with Dan, Joe and Steve, God help us all if I don't take down every stinking police man out there. It took eight hours of firing, slowly advancing on the backing away police force, when it all went black from blood loss.

The police perspective: A man in his mid twenties flagged down our train saying Ned Kelly had taken the inn hostage. I immediately sounded the alarm. We were ready to fight. We snuck around the inn when someone fired hoping to be the person who killed Ned Kelly. Which is all very well, if the bugger had actually managed to hit him. Immediately, the stealth approach was lost so we decided to fire at Joe Byrne still taking a shot. A direct hit to the heart. He was gone. Ned and Dan, were at the windows and it seemed like forever. Then there was much celebration. We hit him. But, never turn your back on the eye of the storm because every time you think it's over, it has only just begun. It took 5 hours for Dan and Steve to take the cowards way out and drink poison. By this time, it was only Ned. Ned stumbled out of the building carrying a hostage by the neck, blood gushing out of his 20 something bullet wounds. He then screamed something about hell and charged at us, guns blazing. There was no stopping him. He just kept coming. We kept getting reinforcements but to no avail. Every step he took forwards, we took two backwards. After an eternity he collapsed.

To be played while reading perspective.

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