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Public service sought for Ned Kelly

An experienced Ned Kelly researcher wants the funeral of the infamous bushranger to include a public memorial service.

ASHLEIGH WILLIAMSON November 10, 2011 4:00am

-----EDITORS NOTE---- RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTSThis undated handout photo released by the the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine shows the headless remains of Ned Kelly at the the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine mortuary in Victoria. The headless remains of infamous Australian bushranger Ned Kelly have finally been identified, officials said September 1, solving a mystery dating back more than 130 years. Considered by some to be a cold-blooded killer, he was also seen as a folk hero and symbol of Irish Australian resistance against oppression by the British ruling class. TOPSHOTS AFP PHOTO / HO/ Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine


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An experienced Ned Kelly researcher wants the funeral of the infamous bushranger to include a public memorial service.

It was Kelly’s last wish to be buried with his family and Victorian Attorney-General Robert Clark this week said Kelly’s remains would be returned to his descendants.

Anthony Griffiths, a grandchild of Kelly’s sister, said the family planned to give him a dignified private funeral.

‘‘Our family, like every family, likes to be able to bury their own family members. Our aim is to give him a dignified funeral, like any family would,’’ Mr Griffiths said.

Glenrowan Cobb and Co Museum owner Gary Dean, who knows many Kelly descendants still living in the area, said a separate public service should be held.

‘‘There are a lot of other families in the district — people who have descended from other families — that would like to pay their respects,’’ Mr Dean said.

Kelly will likely be buried in a small cemetery in the Greta churchyard south of Glenrowan, where his mother Ellen, several of his brothers and sisters, and other relatives are buried in unmarked graves.

Mr Griffiths said no final decision had been made and a public service was being considered.

‘‘The family certainly would like to have a private family service . . . but we recognise there is a level of public interest and there are a lot of the public that might like to say their farewells,’’ he said.

Kelly was hanged for murder in 1880.

His remains were identified among those transferred from Old Melbourne Gaol to Pentridge Prison in 1929 and then exhumed again in 2009.

Still missing is his skull.

Mr Dean believed Kelly’s skull was last in the possession of the former chief of Melbourne Homicide Squad, Detective Inspector J. L. McKeogh, in 1946.

‘‘He was being transferred to South Melbourne (criminal investigation branch) . . . and there was a big do for him where all the police came,’’ he said.

‘‘They gave him a presentation and when he responded, one of the policemen yelled out, ‘What are you going to do with Ned’s head?’’’

Mr Dean said former Glenrowan policeman Laurie Davis recently told him of a conversation between his former boss, Superintendent Tom Morris, and Det Insp McKeogh at the gathering.

‘‘McKeogh put his hand over his mouth and whispered something to Morris, but Laurie said, ‘I couldn’t hear what he said,’’’ Mr Dean said.

‘‘It’s interesting that police still had the skull at that time in ’46, so what happened to it after that?’’

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