Assault & Indecent Behaviour

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Benjamin Gould was an Englishman, a native of Nottingham, born in 1836, who came out to Australia in 1853 to try his luck in the gold rush. It was claimed by Gould that he was the first merchant hawking goods in the Greta area, and a feud developed, when a second hawker, named Jerimiah McCormack, supposedly encroached on his territory.

Towards the end of 1870 there were record floods in North-Eastern Victoria, and following a very heavy deluge of rain, the two hawkers became bogged in the vicinity of the Eleven-mile Creek, near to Mrs. Kelly's house. Ben Gould, who at the time was employing Mrs. Kelly’s second oldest son, Jim, was invited to stay at the Kelly household until such time as his wagon could be removed.

Meanwhile McCormack and his wife had made camp beside their vehicle on the road about a mile to the east. Somehow early one morning, one of McCormack's horses got away and headed back in the direction of Benalla. Gould, on seeing and recognizing the horse, got the Kelly boys to catch it with the intention of taking it back to its owner. However, before its return, it was felt that with the extra horse they might just be able to pull Ben’s wagon out of the bog. After it was successfully removed, Gould sent young Dan to McCormack's camp to return the animal.

But instead of thanking the young eleven year old, they abused him and rode out to the Kelly hut and accused Gould and the Kellys of stealing their horse with the intention of using it in order to pull his rivals cart out of the bog. That same afternoon Ned, Gould, and Jack Lloyd were branding and cutting calves on the Lloyd property at Greta, when Gould decided to repay the McCormacks for their ingratitude.

As the McCormacks were without children, Gould wrapped up some calves’ testicles with a note of instructions, which stated, ‘if followed, would increase the population, so much needed in a new country.’ It was given to Lloyds' youngest son, 13 year old Tom, who on giving it to the McCormacks, said, ‘Ned Kelly gave me this parcel for Mrs. McCormack.’

When Ned rode home that evening past their camp, the irate hawker blocked the track and said he would summons him. Ned hotly denied either he or Gould using the horse, and the hawker accused him of being a liar, stating, that he could welt him or any of his breed. Ned accepted the challenge although only 14 years of age, and was dismounting when Mrs. McCormack struck the flank of his horse with a bullock's skin. It jumped forward and as it did, Ned's fist came in contact with McCormack's nose unbalancing him and causing him to fall prostrate. Ned tied his horse up to finish the affair, but McCormack got up and ran to the Police Station at Greta.

Bruised and insulted, McCormack laid two charges against Ned Kelly, one for having sent his wife an obscene note, and the second of having committed a violent assault on him. Ned was arrested, and on 19th November 1870, convicted, and sentenced to 3 months on each charge as well as bound to keep the peace for 12 months.

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