Ned Kelly bones to be returned
Descendents of Irish Australian outlaw Ned Kelly have been given the go-ahead to give their ancestor a private burial.
Kelly, who along with his brother and two friends formed the Kelly Gang, was sentenced to death and hanged in 1880 over the killing of three policemen.
The son of Irish immigrants, Kelly fell foul of the law from an early age and spent time in prison at the age of 15 for stealing a horse. Following an altercation with a policeman at his home in 1878, Kelly fled into the bush and went into hiding.
Three policemen who went looking for him were killed although Kelly insisted they were shot in self defence.
His activities as a bushranger earned him a reputation as a cold-blooded murderer to some and as a folk hero to others. He robbed a number of banks and was eventually captured dressed in a home-made metal suit of armour at Glenrowan, north Victoria. The rest of the gang, Dan Kelly, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne were killed in siege.
Before his death, Kelly dictated a letter known as the Jerilderie Letter which placed on the record his desire for justice for both his family and the poor Irish selectors of Victoria’s north-east. It was published in 1930 by the Melbourne Herald.
Kelly’s remains, which had originally been buried in the grounds of the Old Melbourne Gaol before being transferred in 1929 to Pentridge Prison, were positively identified last November using a DNA sample taken from a descendant of Kelly’s, Leigh Olver, a great-grandson of Kelly’s sister Ellen.
For many years, it was believed that a skull on display at the Old Melbourne Goal was that of Kelly until DNA tests revealed it was not.
A property developer who owns the land on which the renegade was buried wanted to keep the remains but Kelly’s descendants asked for them to be returned.
The attorney general of the state of Victoria Robert Clark has issued an exhumation licence which means Kelly's headless remains will now be returned to his descendents.
Additional reporting: Agencies