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Fire damages home linked to storied Aussie outlaw

Fire damages home linked to storied Aussie outlaw

Australian police said Friday that they were investigating a suspicious fire at a mansion once owned by the judge who sentenced the country's most notorious criminal, Ned Kelly, to death.
The fire is the latest in a series of mysteries linked to Kelly, who led a gang that robbed banks and killed policemen from 1878-80. He has achieved a folk hero status over the years, and is now seen by many Australians as something of a Robin Hood or Jesse James-like character, fighting the British colonial authorities and championing the rural Irish underclass.
Friday's announcement by police comes one day after officials said they had finally identified the headless remains of Kelly, who was hanged in 1880 after leading a gang of bank robbers in Australia's southern Victoria state. The whereabouts of his corpse had been a mystery for decades.
Victoria police said in a statement that Saturday's blaze at the historic home in the state capital of Melbourne appears to have been deliberately lit. The house was being renovated, and police said they believe vandals squatting at the home set the fire.
The blaze caused 20,000 Australian dollars ($21,460) worth of damage. The same offenders also may have stolen copper wiring from the house, causing another AU$60,000 in damage, police said.
The mansion was once owned by judge Sir Redmond Barry, who ordered Kelly's execution. After the judge asked God to have mercy on Kelly's soul, the outlaw famously replied, "I will see you there when I go." Just 12 days after Kelly was hanged, Barry died, following a short illness.
Australians have long wondered what became of Kelly's corpse, which was initially buried in an unmarked grave at a Melbourne prison. It was later exhumed when the prison closed, but parts of it were thought to have been stolen during the exhumation.
Officials suspected his skeleton had been reburied in a mass grave alongside 33 other executed inmates. The remains were dug up and subjected to a series of tests, including a DNA comparison using a sample from one of Kelly's relatives. On Thursday, Victoria's Attorney General Robert Clark said scientists had finally identified Kelly's skeleton _ though its head was missing.
What became of Kelly's skull remains a mystery.


Updated : 2021-10-16 08:17 GMT+08:00