I was the Superintendent at Beechworth at the time (RC1722)
Mrs Kelly, William Skillion and William Williamson were arrested soon after the incident. On 25/4/1878 I conducted the committal in the court in Benalla. They were sent to trial in October 1878 in the Supreme Court in Beechworth before Mr Justice Redmond Barry. They were defended by Mr Bowman. We had a strong case with evidence from Constable Fitzpatrick, David Lindsay the shanty keeper of Winton who Fitzpatrick reported to immediately and Dr Nicholson who dressed Fitzpatrick's wounds in Benalla
The defence decided to try and show that Fitzpatrick's story could not be relied upon. They provided evidence for the defence from Francis Harty and Joseph Ryan to show that Skillion could not have been there. I used the opportunity to attack the credibility of these people. Can you imagine it Harty had 'purchased' a mare from Ned Kelly on the morning of the incident when they had wounded Fitzpatrick. Harty was a real friend of the Kellys and certainly not an independent witness. He had even offered to stand bail for Mrs Kelly and of course Skillion was Mrs Kelly's son-in-law.
Joseph Ryan had even closer links with the Kellys. His mother was one of Mrs Kelly's sister. A part from that I even got him to admit in cross examination that he had also 'purchased' a horse from Ned Kelly that morning. People say that Mr Justice Barry had a view about people like the Kellys. On the evidence I don't think that the Jury had much difficulty in arriving at its decision. They only took 2 hours to find them guilty
I was the acting Chief Commissioner of police. Problems with the North eastern district (Argus26/5/81)