|Morbid Obesity ought to disqualify someone from being in the Police Force|
As Sharon pointed out similar names keep cropping up in the Kelly story, and “Hall” is one of them – theres “Brave Ben Hall” the bushranger that was gunned down by Police when Ned was 10, and who quite possibly was some sort of inspiration for Ned in later life. Theres also George Wilson Hall, an English immigrant, journalist and noted Kelly sympathizer and Police critic who was one of the first writers to make a buck out of the Kelly story with his pamphlet “The Kelly Gang, or The outlaws of the Wombat Ranges”. He was also a Politician and in that capacity, despite his known anti-Police sentiments and his Kelly sympathy was appointed to the Royal Commission into the Kelly Outbreak – and thereby rendered its findings suspect.
The third Hall is Constable Edward Hall, an Irish born Senior Police Constable in the Victoria Police, stationed at Greta in 1870 and 1871. He was said to be “hot tempered” and by all accounts was morbidly obese. He was the man that arrested Ned over the McCormick incident, when Ned had said that he would punch anyone who accused him of stealing McCormicks horse and to Hall “I will do the same to you if you challenge me”
From that and earlier encounters, Hall was familiar with the Kelly temperament, and so when he saw Ned riding a horse that he thought might have been stolen, he told lies to Ned to trick him into getting off his horse so that he could arrest him. Ian Jones reports Ned saying later that if he had known what Hall was up to he would have ridden off, so Halls instincts about how Ned would react were on the mark. However what he didn’t count on was that once he knew what was happening, Ned had no intention of going quietly. When Hall grabbed at Ned as he dismounted and declared he was being arrested for horse stealing, there was a struggle in which Hall fell to the ground and Ned took off after the horse which had bolted. The “hot tempered” Hall now aimed his pistol at Ned and called on him to stop – which he did and then dared Hall to shoot:
“Shoot and be dammed”
he calls and that’s exactly what Hall does, from 25 yards away.
Fortunately for Ned the gun misfires three times as Hall walks forwards and then when close enough Ned leaps forwards and attacks him, throwing him onto the ground, leaping onto his back and digging his spurs in, trying to wrestle the gun out of his hand and repeatedly throwing him back to the ground whenever Hall manages to struggle to his feet – an unfit obese Policeman is no match for an enraged angry and powerful young man toughened by three months hard labour. Hall is being thrashed as a crowd gathers and in the end it takes seven men to subdue Ned who refuses to give up even when Hall uses his pistol as a club to bash him on the head making it bruised and bleeding. Hall now locks Ned up and sends for a Doctor to come and stitch up the head wounds. It was April 20th1871.
In his account written some 8 years later Ned Kelly describes this disgraceful brawl in great and gleeful detail, bragging about how thoroughly he humiliated Hall, and says of the seven men who assisted the Constable to subdue him “I dare not strike any of them as I was bound to keep the peace or I could have spread those curs like dung in a paddock”
Ian Jones seems to find it all a bit of a joke and calls Neds account “undeniably colourful, a classic of its kind”but frankly I think Jones has got this one very badly wrong. This man, Ned Kelly reveling in violence and the humiliation of Hall, was 24 by the time he wrote this, and just as in his boastful recollections of the McCormick incident he once again demonstrates an utter and complete lack of any sort of insight, remorse or regret about what happened. Ian Jones says Ned had shown “considerable courage and formidable physical powers in his clash with Hall” but I would have called it violent thuggery and foolish youthful bravado. Its not brave to stand in front of an armed policeman and dare him to shoot – its stupidity and because of it, he ended up in Prison and reduced his struggling mother to abject poverty as she put up as sureties her last £60. But all her psychopathic son remembers and cares about 8 years later is how he bullied bashed and humiliated a Policeman. Ned of course, and the sympathizers claim he was innocent but I ask Why, if he was convinced of his own innocence did he make such a desperate attempt to resist arrest?
Kelly sympathisers love to hate Hall, and never cease to point to Halls behavior as evidence of their belief that the Police were out to get the Kellys. I agree with them that Halls behavior was appalling – not only had he tried to kill Ned, and used excessive force once the tables had been turned, Hall later lied in Court about seeing Documents that hadn’t been issued when he said he had seen them. The Chief Commissioner of Police, Frederick Charles Standish got to hear about Halls behavior and described it as “hasty and injudicious”. But Halls behavior is not evidence of a conspiracy to get the Kellys – its evidence that Constable Hall was not a particularly good policeman, maybe even a really bad one. Perhaps he should have been dealt with more harshly, perhaps his notorious “hot temper” rendered him unsuitable for the work he was engaged in, but in the event he remained in the Force, transferring out of the District shortly after this episode.
Ned Kelly meanwhile went back to prison for receiving, this time for three years. Nothing heroic or iconic about any of that episode. From anyone.
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