Kelly aficionado Dave White has spent many years researching and collecting 'Kellyana'. His passion is the Glenrowan siege and he enjoys sharing his opinions. Thus he wrote the 'Dave Reports'

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by Dave White



A Talk by ex Chief Justice of Victoria John H. Phillips.
(Author of 'The Trial of Ned Kelly')
At the Kilmore Mechanics Institute presentation held at the Kilmore Court House August 10 2003.

A chance phone call by a mate of mine alerted me to this great opportunity to hear a man who arguably understands the history behind the trial of Ned Kelly better than anyone. The Kilmore Mechanics Institute group had organised to have Mr. John Phillips as their guest speaker and seating was very limited indeed. There was no need to advertise, although I later found some
promotional information online, tickets were gone in a flash.

Unlike most talks of this nature this one did not cost an arm and a leg to attend! All that was asked was that people purchase a raffle ticket or two. A very small price to pay to hear this gentleman talk in such a special environment. Special because as was told to us at the beginning of the talk "Ned sat in this court room as an eight year old boy!" Yes that is right, a young Ned sat here with his mother many, many years ago. Perhaps he did not sit in the plastic chair I was provided with, but he was here nonetheless.
Present at the talk were several familiar faces such as Bill Denheld and the girls from the now defunct Ned the Exhibition. There was also the odd assortment of Ned addicts wearing their Ned T-shirts and at least one sporting a 'Ned' beard.

After a brief introduction the guest speaker Mr. Phillips stood elevated above the crowd and began his talk.
The following is an abbreviated and paraphrased version of what we heard from Mr. Phillips.

Mr. Phillips started by giving us the history of what happened to the Kelly family, starting with what became known as 'The Fitzpatrick incident'. Of interest to me at this juncture was how Mr. Phillips broke into an Irish accent "Billy I never thought you would get a sentence like that." (Referring to the harsh six-year sentence handed down by Judge Barry)

Only McIntyre remained alive after the killings of the police at Stringybark Creek. An inquest was held by the local coroner and witnessed by McIntyre; warrants were issued for willful murder.

The Euroa bank was robbed of 2,000 pounds.

The gang now remained on the run for 18 months.




Mrs. Skillion (Ned's sister) requested the services of experienced barrister Mr. David Gaunson. They sought the services of Mr. Molesworth however his fees were over 50 guineas and payable in advance. By the end of September the trial judge was known. Mr. Barry! The family knew Judge Barry from previous experience.

Judge Barry was a generous man who was often a secret benefactor and founder of many Melbourne institutions.

Mr. Molesworth sought an adjournment of the trial, but was refused. The following Monday a knock was made on the door of Mr. Henry Bindon. Mr. Bindon had been in the legal business for less than a year. He had appeared in the Supreme Court and had had three attempts at matriculation. Further, it took him 8 years to pass the Bar exam in London.

They tried for an adjournment, Barry agreed to only 10 days. The afternoon before the trial they agreed to try again. The trial was to proceed. Ned was allowed 7 guineas legal aid, he would be defended by the most inexperienced Barrister in the Colony.

The 28th of October was unseasonably hot.

Ned was arraigned for murder and pleaded not guilty.

Thomas McIntyre was called and took the oath. The prosecution had only one eyewitness. McIntyre gripped the rail as he described the expedition, of two men in camp and two on patrol. Four armed men arrived. Smyth asked if any of those men were here. Yes, said McIntyre, pointing to Ned Kelly.

(Phillips again breaks into an Irish accent) McIntyre said that Ned Kelly had simply walked up and killed Lonigan. The other two policeman arrived and exchanged fire, McIntyre escaped.

Of the questions put to McIntyre only half were of any significance and he was not challenged properly on the deaths at Stringy Bark Creek.

Statements by Ned to people about the shooting reflected the fact that he shot after Lonigan attempted to fire.

Living - Ned had a manuscript about his life and wanted it printed.

The Crown prosecutor helped by objecting and it (the letter) was not received in evidence. In law Kelly had adopted it as his own so it was admissible at his trial - the real reason behind what the Crown prosecutor did was easy to discover, as it was what Edward Kelly claimed as persecution. The jury now could not read it.

Dr. Reynolds - 29th of October a Post Mortem was conducted on Lonigan.

"So be it", said Barry.

Smyth said that the police had the full protection of the law, Kelly had admitted the killing. Smyth said that the motive was a malignant hatred of the police, he was at war with society.

Bindon had never addressed a jury in his life.

McIntyre was well rehearsed; at Stringy Bark Creek no one could tell who fired as so many shots were fired.

Bindon said "do not take the life of a man on the evidence of a single witness".

Was Bindon incompetent?
Unable to appreciate the legal notion of self-defence of the statements by Edward Kelly to witnesses. A case could have been presented. Lonigan was in danger of death and believed the police had come to shoot them on good faith and on reasonable grounds, yes self-defence was possible.
Bindon allowed McIntyre to go unchallenged. In 1880 an accused person was only allowed an unsworn statement. He failed to cross-examine McIntyre, who a year ago had given his superior officer a different version.

What McIntyre wrote in the wombat hole as he shivered was different to what he presented in court. Why?

10 July 1880 the account had been substantially changed. Death of Lonigan, "I instantly held up my arms, no time to draw a revolver", all reference to a motion to draw a revolver was removed.

Bindon failed to address the jury about Reynolds.

The trial went for two days, the jury was obligated to accept Barry's direction.

Barrys summing up contained significant misdirection's.

The case against Edward Kelly was strong.

Ned Kelly had the right to a fair trial, the trial failed to meet either of these ideals, after just half an hour Ned was found guilty.

Asked if he had anything to say he chose to record for prosperity a strong complaint - "Mr Bindon knew nothing of my case".

After a famous discussion between the judge and Ned, Ned said "I'll meet you where I go".

Within four weeks both would die.
The prophecy was fulfilled.

Edward Kelly, Daniel Kelly, Joseph Byrne, Steve Hart, Aaron Sherritt, Sgt Kennedy, Const Lonigan, Const Scanlon and finally Judge Barry.
The saddest part of all was that they were all sons of Ireland, except one.

Bindon walked down the gloomy court room......"Mr Bindon knew nothing of my case", rang in Bindon's ears over and over. He sat slumped on a stone seat and wept.

Questions were taken from the audience to the speaker:

Q - Why charged with only one murder?
A - There were no eyewitnesses to the killing of the others.

Q - Were they [the police] in Uniform?
A - No they were not.

Q - Would it have made a difference if the Jerilderie Letter had been read in court?
A - Yes it would have.

Q - The lawyer knew nothing, could he not appeal?
A - no there was no court of appeal in those days.

Q - What became of Bindon?
A - Believe it or not he took up a practice in Benalla! (Laughter from the crowd)
Bindon was never a well man in his life.

Q - (By Bill Denheld) The photo taken by Burman at the murder scene, was there any known impact of this photo?
A - It did show the fallen logs, was of some assistance, not sure.

Q- If you were given the job of defending Ned Kelly, could you have gotten him off?
A - No, the only possible sentence was death. Manslaughter was perhaps a remote possibility.

Q - Was the bullet in the eye of Lonigan caused by a rifle?
A - No skill to know the answer.

Q - (by Dave White) How log did Ellen Kelly's baby stay with her in prison?
A - All the time.

Q - What was the death of Judge Barry?
A - Pneumonia

A couple of final questions were asked about the body straps and being unfairly outlawed. Mr. Phillips went on to tell us that the name of the jury foreman was Lazarus and then answered the last few questions.

After this one-hour talk we were treated to afternoon tea. Scones, complete with jam and cream, tea and coffee. Biscuits, sandwiches, orange juice and cans of Coke.
To top it all off one copy each of Keith McMenomy's and Ian Jones' books were given as prizes from the $1.00 each raffle tickets we purchased to attend.
I managed to gain Mr. Phillips attention and have him sign my two copies of his book on the Trial of Ned Kelly.
I chatted with Bill Denheld (, Nicole Jones, Bruce Johnson and others. After partaking of the scones and tea it was time to go home.
As I drove home I passed through Wallan, the original home of Ned's family the Quinns. The Quinn home still stands within this town today. Along the road still in Wallan I passed a little Free lending library building built in 1877. I wondered if Ned ever borrowed a book from here?
A few kilometres down the road I passed Beveridge and Ned's boyhood home.

A great day was had by all, thank you to the organisers from the Kilmore mechanics institute.

Dave White.


Ned Kelly boxing photo to be auctioned (22nd February 2003)

A famous photo of Ned in his boxing attire (taken as Ned took on Wild Wright in a boxing match for retribution after Ned served 3 years in gaol for having Wild's stolen horse) is to be auctioned today (Sun) and Monday. The auction is to be held by the newly formed Ludgrove's International. Mr Ludgrove has now opened his own auction house after recently leaving Christies auctions. The photograph of Ned is believed to be the only one of Ned not taken by the authorities. Back in 1987 this photo was sold for $19,800 at auction and according to Aussie Post Oct 1999 it dissapeared when the owner moved from Hong Kong. Nothing had been heard of this photograph until now. This is a very famous shot of Ned and is on the front cover of Ian Jones's Ned Kelly A Short Life and is used as the invitation to the opening of the new Ned exhibition at Southbank. Other Kelly photo's are also being offered for sale, many are from an action that failed to sell at Christies (the infamous auction that included the photo of Ned that turned out to be someone else. ) The expected price is about $50,000.

by Dave White

Iron Helmets, Smoking Guns (First published 2nd February 2003)

The Australian Centre for the Moving Image is currently presenting a series of bushranging films. I managed to attend the first nights presentation, along with Ironoutlaw's Brad Webb and Ben Collins. The two films we saw were Stringybark Massacre c1960and Captain Thunderbolt c1953, both in black and white.
The night started off with a laugh as we watched all sorts of images pass across the screen with what we considered an odd running commentary - odd because it was all about communism. As it turned out the opinions were coming from an elderly gentleman in the audience intent on sharing his views. Fortunately he stopped long enough to allow a woman from the Centre to introduce the films.

Stringybark Massacre was such a laugh that we were asked to be quiet by a chap in front of us. The film started with descriptions of each of the main characters, Ned, Dan, Joe and Steve. It was a short film but well preserved for its age and enjoyable. The plot was obvious, we knew what was to take place and it was fairly accurate in its portrayal too, apart from the fact that the actor who played Ned was old enough to be his grandfather. At the end Ned fired a shot into Kennedy to save him from the wild animals and a painful death. Fortunately the plot did not include any of the rubbish we often hear about, such as Ned making the rest of the gang fire their guns into the body. I saw a couple of interesting details in the final credits. Namely that the movie was filmed at Smoky Dawson's ranch, and that the name listed next to 'guns' was none other than Edgar Penzig. Mr Penzig is an author of many limited edition bushranging books, mostly on the topic of NSW bushrangers. He is renown in the Kelly world as the author who once championed bushrangers like Ned, but who inexplicably preformed a complete 180 - and now disparages them without mercy.

The second film was Captain Thunderbolt. It ran for only 69 minutes, but turned out to be a great film. The well-known Aussie actor Charles 'Bud' Tingwell played one of the main characters, Alan Blake. (Bud Tingwell is also part of the cast of the soon to be released blockbuster Kelly film with Heath Ledger, in which he plays Victorian Premier Berry.) I loved the theatrical aspect of when Thunderbolt spun his revolver Hollywood style. It brought to mind the fact that if not for the Government ban on bushranging films in 1912, Australians would have had many more such films to watch. The American film industry was built on the Wild West film genre, and I think it is a pity we were prevented making more films about our own wild colonial days.

AMCI are to be congratulated on their Iron Helmets, Smoking Guns film festival. In it there are 7 sessions of movies, and a presentation by historian Bill Prout on the last day. Hopefully ACMI will consider doing another similar bushranger film festival in the future.

by Dave White

Ned Kelly Trial re-enactment (First published 21st November 2002)

Beechworth Theatre Company, Inc. in conjunction with The Beechworth Historic Precinct presented a re-enactment of The Trial of Ned Kelly, which was taken from the original court records.

On the 16th of November, 5 days after the 122 anniversary of Ned's hanging, I visited Beechworth for a re-enactment of Ned's trial. It was a very warm day and quite humid inside the Beechworth Courthouse where the re-enactment was held. Tickets were $12 each and were entirely sold out. It was a busy weekend in Beechworth as it was also the Celtic festival, so I was glad to have pre-booked. I sat upstairs at the rear of the courtroom, where I had a very good view of proceedings.

The re-enactment was written by Kelly scholar Kevin Passey, author of the 'must have' book, 'In search of Ned Kelly', and was directed by Ian Sinclair. The play was in parts, the first of which was Ned's committal hearing that was originally held in Beechworth's courthouse on the 6th of August 1880, and the following act was of Ned's trial, during which we imagined ourselves in the Melbourne Supreme Court.

I was glad to find that the presentation was accurate historically and anyone familiar with the text of the trial would not have been surprised. It was very professionally presented overall and I was impressed with the acting. The easily ridiculed Constable McIntyre and the evidently self-important Sgt. Steele were both very well portrayed. Judge Barry was extremely convincing and the audience all enjoyed hating him. My favourite part was the well-known exchange between Ned and Judge Barry after the guilty verdict had been announced. I was a little disappointed that one of my favourite parts of this exchange was not included, i.e. Ned saying he feared death 'as little as to drink a cup of tea', but no doubt this was omitted due to limited time. After all, not everything said over a few days could be included in one afternoon, and the play did include most of the best parts of the trial. The actors never missed a beat. The cast list included; John Hennessy, Peter Jones, Darren Sutton, Robert (Bob) Down, David Roddock, Peter Morrison, and Shane Douthie.

There is one small technical detail that I feel I should point out. The narrator, when referring to the trial of Mrs Ellen Kelly in 1878, claimed that Judge Barry had openly threatened to give her son Ned 15 years in prison had he been present. While this now famous quote adds well to the mythology surrounding Ned Kelly, it has not actually been proven historically, which I think we should bear in mind. I put its inclusion down to artistic license.

All in all it was well worth the trip up for the weekend and I enjoyed myself.

by Dave White


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