The Kellys were in no way harassed by the policy pursued by Supt Nicolson, and as long as the police kept out of their way no one in the district was hurt. It was the general belief that the Kellys had left the North-Eastern district. Even Sergeant Steele was under that impression. On his oath on May, 31, 1881, Sergeant Steele said, “I was under the impression that they had left the district altogether.”
Supt CH Nicolson was recalled on account of his inability to get into touch with the Kellys. He found it easier to write a report in 1877 suggesting that the Kellys should be rooted out of Greta than to arrest them now that they offered armed resistance. He had no scruple in harassing the Kellys by a most diabolical system of official tyranny and persecution. But for the past eleven months he preferred to draw his salary of £500 per year, with £1 per day expenses, or a total of £865 per annum, without exposing himself to the risk of being either wounded or captured by the Kellys.
Supt Hare took charge of the Kelly hunt on June 2, 1880, and on account of the strained relations existing between Captain Standish and Supt Hare, on the one side, against Inspector O’Connor and his brother in law, Supt CH Nicolson, on the other side, it was decided to get rid of the Queensland blacktrackers. Mr HM Chomley, who shortly after the capture of Ned Kelly succeeded Captain Standish as Chief Commissioner of Police, had already been sent to Queensland to secure about half a dozen blacktrackers for the Victorian police force. Mr O’Connor and his “boys” left Benalla for Melbourne on Friday, June 25, 1880, en route for Brisbane, Queensland. The new blacktrackers had not yet arrived. Supt Hare decided to continue Supt Nicolson’s policy of spying on the Kellys, and those spies who had been paid off by Supt Nicholson were reappointed.
Aaron Sherritt expected trouble after his quarrel with Mrs Byrne and his threat to shoot and outrage Joe Byrne. Supt Hare decided to take ample steps to protect this spy, and sent four policemen to protect Sherritt by day and night. The four policemen who were to protect Sherritt were Constables Armstrong, Alexander, Duross and Dowling.
These four constables stayed with Sherritt and his wife all day, and Sherritt used to accompany them at night to watch Mrs Byrne’s home. The avowed object of this watch was to come into contact with the wanted Joe Byrne. It was thought by Supt Hare that if only these four strapping young constables could get near the outlaws there would be something doing—something out of the ordinary. The constables were armed to the teeth, and were selected for this special duty so that they might retrieve the somewhat besmirched reputation of the Victorian police force.
The Outlawry Act lapsed with the dissolution of the Berry Parliament on February 9, 1880. Now that there was no “Outlawry Act” the two Kellys stood before the law just the same as any other men for whose arrest warrants had been issued. But the case of Joe Byrne and Steve Hart was different. The only warrants issued for their arrest were contained in the “Outlawry Act,” and now that that Act had lapsed there was not even a warrant in existence for their arrest.
THE OUTLAWRY ACT.
ANNO QUADRAGESIMO SECUNDO.
An Act to facilitate the taking or apprehending of persons charged with certain felonies and the punishment of those by whom they are harboured.
Whereas of late divers persons charged with murder or other capital felonies availing themselves unduly of the protection afforded by law to accused persons before conviction and being harboured by evil-minded persons remain at large notwithstanding all available attempts to apprehend them and some of them being mounted armed and associated together have committed murders and have resisted and killed officers of justice whereby the lives and property of Her Majesty’s subjects are in jeopardy and need better protection by law: Be it therefore enacted by the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Council and Legislative Assembly of Victoria in this present Parliament assembled, and be the authority of the same as follows (that is to say):
1 This Act shall be cited as the “FELONS APPREHENSION ACT 1878” and shall apply to all crimes committed and evidence taken and warrants issued and informations laid relating thereto as well before as after the passing of this Act.
2 Whenever after information made on oath before a justice of the peace and a warrant thereupon issued charging any person therein named or described with the commission of a felony punishable by law with death any judge of the Supreme Court on any application in chambers on behalf of the Attorney-General and upon being satisfied by affidavit of these facts and that the person charged is at large and will probably resist all attempts by the ordinary legal means to apprehend him may forthwith issue a bench warrant under the hand and seal of such judge for the apprehension of the person so charged in order to his answering and taking his trial and such judge may thereupon either immediately or at any time afterwards before the apprehension or surrender or after any escape from custody of the person so charged order a summons to be inserted in the “Gazette” requiring such person to surrender himself on or before a day and at a place specified to abide his trial for the crime of which he so stands accused. Provided that the judge shall further direct the publication of such summons at such places and in such newspapers and generally in such manner and form as shall appear to him to best calculated to bring such summons to the knowledge of the accused.
This document gives you the text of this book about the KellyGang. The text has been retyped from a copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. JJ Kenneally was one of the first authors to tell this story from the KellyGang's point of view