Hero or villain, Ned Kelly can now be laid to rest
The skeleton of Australia’s most notorious criminal will finally be returned to his descendants 132 years after he was executed, the country’s government announced yesterday.
The decision to give Ned Kelly’s remains back to his family will bring an end to their long quest to find and properly bury the remains of a man many Australians now consider a folk hero.
Ned Kelly, the son of an Irishman, led a gang of bank robbers in Australia’s southern Victoria state before he was hanged in 1880. He was immortalised in cinema and television programmes and was once played by the Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger. He is now seen by many as a hero fighting against the colonial system in Australia.
The whereabouts of his corpse was long unknown, but forensic scientists identified Kelly’s nearly headless skeleton last year after it was found in a mass grave outside a now-closed prison.
Most of Kelly’s skull, which was stolen long ago, is still missing, but the identification of the skeleton was followed by a battle over what to do with his bones.
The property developer of the former Pentridge Prison site where Kelly’s skeleton was buried had hoped to keep the remains on the grounds.
But Kelly’s descendants protested, saying that they should be give the skeleton so that Kelly could have a private burial.
Yesterday, Victoria’s attorney general Robert Clark said the remains would be turned over to Kelly’s family.
Ellen Hollow, great-granddaughter of Ned Kelly’s sister Kate Kelly, welcomed the decision.
“The Kelly family will now make arrangements for Ned’s final burial,” Ms Hollow said in a statement. “We also appeal to the person who has the skull in their possession to return it to [forensic officials], so that when the time comes for Ned to be laid to rest his remains can be complete.”
Leigh Chiavaroli, the developer of the Pentridge site, declined to comment on the government’s decision.
Kelly, whose father was an Irish convict, led a gang that robbed banks and killed policemen from 1878-80. But in modern Australia many view him as a Robin Hood-like character who fought the British colonial authorities and championed the rural Irish underclass. Others dismiss him as a cold-blooded killer.
After Kelly was executed, his body was buried in an unmarked grave outside a former prison called the Old Melbourne Gaol. But officials decided to exhume his remains along with those of other executed convicts in 1929 when the jail closed. The plan was to move the skeletons to the nearby Pentridge Prison, but a mob of onlookers stole some of the remains – including what was believed to be Kelly’s skull – during the exhumation.
The skull was later recovered and put on display at the Old Melbourne Gaol, now a historic site. But in 1978, it was stolen again.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West