New book about bushranger Ned Kelly wins praise from Victoria police chief

The book claims that Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick did not assault Ned’s sister Kate at the Kelly home in Greta in April 1878. Dr Dufty believes the allegation originated in a ‘trash’ article by a Melbourne newspaper.

Dr Dufty says a witness, Kelly ‘Brickey’ Williamson’s associate, agreed with Fitzpatrick that the assault didn’t happen and that even Kelly told a police officer after his arrest at Glenrowan that it didn’t happen. was not true.

Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick in uniform.

Dr. Dufty also claims in the book that Detective Michael Ward was an unsung hero. He said that during Ward’s two years on the case, he cultivated informants, gathered intelligence and even went into hiding as a swagman.

The book says that Detective Ward’s efforts, which included surveillance, helped starve the fugitive Kelly gang of supplies and friends, which led them to the “desperate” headquarters of Glenrowan that was their downfall.

But Dr Dufty found many examples of the incompetence, laziness and petty politics of the police force, for example, the senior police official who banned Detective Ward from visiting Glenrowan Headquarters.

Dr Dufty said Ward’s superiors may have wanted the credit for catching Kelly – and the reward money – for themselves.

Seven policemen at the headquarters of Glenrowan on the morning of June 28, 1880.

Seven policemen at the headquarters of Glenrowan on the morning of June 28, 1880.Credit:Victoria Police Museum

Dr. Dufty has found no evidence, as asserted by Kelly, that the Stringybark Creek killings of three police officers were committed in self-defense, nor does Dr. Dufty believe that the police undertook to kill the gang.

Patton declined an interview request by age and Sydney Morning Herald about his praise of the book.

However, a Victoria Police spokesperson released a statement in response to questions.

The statement said, in part, that the Stringybark Creek murders of three Victoria Police officers, who had entered the Wombat Ranges with warrants for the Kelly gang, marked a defining moment in the history of the organization.

“Despite the passage of more than 140 years, the same risks inherent in performing their jobs are still familiar to our members today,” the spokesperson said.

“We continue to honor the loss of these officers, and it is important that their story be told.”

The statement said the Chief Commissioner “does not routinely provide book reviews, however, given the important subject matter of this book, has chosen to do so on this occasion.”

Tim Hogan, Senior Librarian of the Victorian and Australian Collections at the State Library of Victoria, said Catching Ned Kelly was part of a series of books published over the past 12 years that had “deconstructed the romantic, sweet image of Ned Kelly” and challenged beliefs.

They include Ian MacFarlane The Kelly Gang Unmasked and Stuart Dawson Ned Kelly and the Myth of a Republic of North East Victoria.


Mr Hogan said these authors reviewed primary documents such as in public records offices and parliamentary papers, “and carefully considered the available evidence, rather than relying on what an author said in a book 20 years ago, which repeated what another author said 20 years before that”.

Mr Hogan said errors and “romantic ideas” began to seep into public discourse if no one checked the original documents.

“Certainly, the view of Kelly as a ‘violent criminal cop killer’ holds much more sway now as a result of these kinds of books and writings that exist,” Hogan said.

“But it’s not as if the other perspective has disappeared.

“There are still people who write books that are probably a little more generous or forgiving of Kelly’s activities. This tradition is still there, but it has really been challenged in recent years.

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