When Ned Kelly was captured after the Glenrowan siege in 1880, the colony of Victoria was united in its belief that he must be executed. Whatever modern Australians may feel, at the time of his capture, Ned was considered an Outlaw. He had been involved in violent thefts, the killing of policemen, the taking of hostages and an attempt to derail a train. He was both feared and hated, and few believed that he should not hang.
In the weeks that followed his capture, however, a questionable chain of events occurred. Whilst Ned was kept isolated in gaol, there were political manoeuvrings, blatant cover ups and high-level corruption being used to ensure he would hang. When that hanging took place, few Victorians realised that the legality of that execution was questionable, to say the least.
Ned Kelly’s Last Days is more than just another book about Ned Kelly. Whilst giving plenty of insight into Kelly and those around him in his last days, its real focus is on exposing the questionable judicial processes of the time and the way those in power were able to manoeuvre the process to achieve the desired outcome. Author Alex C. Castles (who, sadly, passed away before the book was published) was not focussed on whether or not Ned was guilty, but on the way ‘justice’ was served.
This is a fascinating read for anyone with an interest in Australian history or law.
Ned Kelly’s Last Days, by Alex C. Castles & Jennifer Castles
Allen & Unwin, 2005