Receiving a Stolen Horse

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Young Ned Kelly was released from gaol on March 29th, 1871, and he went straight home to his mothers on her selection at Eleven-mile-creek. On his arrival he met a stranger from Mansfield known as "Wild" Wright, a friend of his brother-in-law Alex Gunn, who was staying at his mothers for a few days. "Wild" told Ned that he had lost his horse, a remarkable looking chestnut mare, and borrowed a horse of Ned's to ride home to Mansfield. He asked Ned also to keep a look out for his horse, and if he found it that they would exchange it later.

Kelly found the mare which was undoubtedly a fine animal, and like any young fellow he was keen to show it off. He dressed himself in his best attire and rode the animal to Wangaratta. While there he stayed at Peter Martin's Star Hotel for a couple of days and allowed the publicans daughters to ride the animal around the town.

On his way home he elected to ride through Greta, which as it turned out was his big mistake. Before Ned went to Wangaratta, Senior Constable Hall had seen him riding the horse and believed it must have been stolen. Hall had tried to get close to Ned at the time, both on the road and in the bush, but Ned pretending not to see him had just galloped away.

Hall was informed that Ned would return home on 20th April and consequently arranged some assistance. As Ned approached the Wangaratta side of the Greta bridge, a man stopped Ned and kept him talking until the Senior Constable could get to it's other end. All worked according to plan and Hall who was on foot met young Kelly right in the middle of the bridge.

The Senior-Constable said, "Bye the bye Kelly, there are two receipts from Beechworth Gaol on my office table for you to sign." Ned said, "What are they for?" And the Senior Constable replied, "I am not certain, come over and we will see". "No", said Ned, "I will call tomorrow". Hall said, "No, you must come now as they must go at once". "Oh all right", Ned replied and they both proceeded to the Police Camp where Ned stopped at the verandah.

Remaining mounted Ned said, "Bring out them papers so I can see them". Hall replied, "No, I will not, you cannot sign them on horseback so get off and come in". "I will see you damned", said Ned suspecting something and at the same time turning his horse to bolt. Hall called out, "In a moment, you are my prisoner for horse stealing", and he made a jump and caught Ned by the collar. But Ned's coat, waistcoat and shirt all gave way as Hall attempted to grab hold of him. The constable then caught him by the shoulder and managed to drag him off the horse, but as Ned was now naked from the waist up, Hall was not able to hold him and he managed to escape.

Ned tried to catch the mare which was now on the other side of the road as Hall pulling out his revolver called on him to "stand". Young Ned immediately turned and supposedly said, "shoot and be damned". Hall then presented the revolver, and aiming it at his face, snapped it three times, but fortunately for Ned the cartridges refused to fire. Young Kelly now rushed at him and in an attempt to take the revolver away from him caught it by the barrel. The struggle continued for some time with neither man refusing to let go of the revolver.

Ned, not wanting to strike him for fear of breach of parole, kept tripping Hall up and throwing him to the ground. Their struggle continued as they fell over a temporary brush fence which gave way. Hall who by now was receiving the worst of the affray, screamed as Ned dug his spurs into the constables thighs. Hall now called for assistance from the local Blacksmith who came along as well as the workers building the cellar of the new hotel on the other side of the fence.

As they caught hold of Ned and tied his hands, Hall severely head whipped him with the revolver rendering him almost unconscious before placing him in the lock-up. 'Wild' Wright on the other hand would allude the police for another two weeks before finally being arrested at Mrs Kelly's for his part in the theft of the horse. After three months wait in gaol, they were finally brought before the Beechworth General Sessions Court on August 2nd, 1871. Ned, was sentenced to three years hard labour for receiving while ‘Wild’ Wright was only found guilty of ‘illegally using’ and given eighteen months.

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