Ned Kelly: The Irish Outlaw Who Took Australia (and Historians) by Storm
People who’ve learnt about Ned Kelly’s life story usually end up with one question: Was Ned Kelly a hero or a villain?
He’s been breaking laws since he was twelve. He’s been born into a family of criminals, learning their ways. He stole countless of horses. He was named Australia’s Most Wanted Man the moment he killed three police officers during a shoot-out. He injured many more.
But even after all of that, thousands of people assembled to save his life. Why? Because they all believed that he was a hero. I, on the other hand, fully believe that he was a villain.
Ned Kelly was the leader of a group of outlaws named the ‘Kelly Gang’, a group formed in 1876.
He was an evil genius, always coming up with plans to use against the policemen who rightly shunned Ned for his crimes within the community.
He had his first run-in with the law at the age of 14, when he was jailed for six months on the charge of assault.
He was then sentenced to three years of hard labour for being part of a horse stealing operation.
Even though people believed that he was a brave and courageous boy, him violating the law dozens of times shows his villainous traits and demeanour; his hostile nature causing him to commit deadly crimes against citizens.
One of Ned Kelly’s most nefarious crimes was the police siege of the Kelly Gang in the Glenrowan Hotel; a crime where Ned’s punishment led him to put the lives of innocent people in danger.
This event was a scheme by the Kelly Gang that occurred on the 27th of June, 1880. Ned and his gang ordered 60 hostages into the Glenrowan Hotel in an attempt to trap the police and use them as hostages to get Ned’s mum, Ellen, out of prison. This crude act of malevolence shows the sinister aspect of Ned’s morality during this time. Even though he was driven to this grievous act by the ferocity and sometimes unlawful behaviour of the police, his actions cannot be excused. His crimes were both evil and unforgiveable and were only the start of things that would soon escalate to the villainous act of murder.
The public’s view of the Kelly brothers’ crimes changed from horse thieves to heartless killers when Ned knowingly murdered three innocent policemen.
This incident occurred in Stringybark Creek when a group of policemen were searching for the Ned and his brother Dan near the Wombat Ranges.
This small search party of officers included Sergeant Kennedy and Constables McIntyre, Lonigan and Scalon. While searching for Dan and Ned, the officers split into two groups in order to find the outlaws. Even though the officers were disguised as miners, Dan and Ned recognised them immediately and began shooting at them.
During the battle, three of the officers died; only McIntyre managed to escape and return back to testify against Ned.
Even though some historians believe that the shooting of these officers at Stringybark Creek was an accident, evidence shows that Ned intentionally shot at these innocent men.
Before leaving the scene, Ned stole Sergeant Kennedy’s gold watch and later stated,
‘What’s the use of a watch to a dead man?’
These vile, cold words were truly spoken by a merciless and atrocious villain.