In last weeks post I discussed the announcement made by the CSI team that they were releasing an updated version of their 2012 Report which purported to have identified the site at which Ned Kelly murdered three policemen in October 1878. In their announcement they claimed their site “has now been examined by Heritage Victoria” and in the Updated Report itself there are photos that they say show an area of bush ‘cleared by Heritage Victoria’. In last week’s post I exposed these claims as untruthful, because in answer to my request for more information about these site visits, an archaeologist at Heritage Victoria said “There has been no formal inspection of this site undertaken by this office”.
I hoped that this updated 2017 version might contain their responses to the criticisms I and many others had made of their original Report but sadly it doesn’t. The “Updated” report is just the old report with the addition of the photographs of the place they wrongly claim was ‘cleared by Heritage Victoria’, and two more Appendices that like all the others, are irrelevant – one is about a bullet found in the area and another about the killing of Lonigan.
I was drawn to their ‘analysis of the shooting of Constable Lonigan’, a contentious topic I’ve written about extensively on this Blog. The reason this murder is particularly contentious is because Ned Kelly claimed he killed Lonigan in self-defence, and should not have been found guilty of his murder. He claimed Lonigan should have ‘bailed up’ as ordered, like McIntyre did, but instead he ran behind ‘a battery of logs’ removed his revolver from its pouch and rose to take aim at Ned Kelly. Kelly claimed that he fired a single shot in self-defence, a shot which went through Lonigans right eye, into his brain and killed him almost immediately. However at the subsequent autopsy Neds claims were thrown into serious doubt because in addition to the expected gunshot wound to the right eye, Lonigan had at least three other wounds: one was a graze to the right temple, another bullet went through his LEFT arm and one went into his LEFT thigh. To add to the puzzle, Dr Reynolds found that all wounds had been created before death. Uncovering the truth about Lonigans death thus became a contentious and challenging puzzle. The pieces of the puzzle that have to be fitted together are the pattern of bullet wounds to Lonigans body, a single shot, no post-mortem bullet wounds, the conflicting accounts of McIntyre and Kelly, and Reynolds recollection, given at the Royal Commission two years later that the projectile he extracted from Lonigan’s left thigh was “an ordinary revolver bullet”.
There are a few things about the CSI analysis of Lonigan’s death that I like – that’s because they are observations, ideas and suggestions that they have copied from this Blog in posts that I made about Lonigan’s murder over a year ago. The first of these is their realisation that Ned Kelly didn’t tell the truth about what happened. They describe two commonly repeated descriptions of how Lonigan died, one of which is Ned Kelly’s version and say “The CSI team found that on the evidence, neither of the above reconstructs reflects with accuracy the actual circumstances”. They wouldn’t dare risk alienating their supporters by saying it plainly, but here they are agreeing with me that Ned Kelly’s version of what happened was lies.
Secondly, their scenario has Lonigan being shot while out in the open, which is what I have been saying all along. This acknowledgement also implies they regard Ned’s claim that Lonigan rose up from behind ‘a battery of logs’ to be a lie.
Thirdly they write “For the wounds to have been inflicted by the single shot, the carbines charge would need to have consisted of multiple projectiles” This again is what I have been pointing out on this Blog for over a year, and in 2016, I posted a crude diagram of how the multiple projectiles, variously postulated to be a quartered bullet or ‘swan drops’ might have spread out and impacted different parts of Lonigans body all at once. Subsequently Bill Denheld produced a much more artistic version of that diagram, and now, in 2017 the CSI team have produced their own version of this same diagram. Needless to say, the CSI team doesn’t acknowledge my insights, or admit they’ve borrowed my ideas anywhere but I think they ought to.
|The CSI teams Birdseye view of what they think happened to Lonigan :
shot from behind after he turned and ran. Nice try but it doesn’t explain how he ended up with a bullet in the LEFT thigh and was found on his back.
The rest of their scenario is wrong, and their ‘birds eye view’ of Lonigan being shot is a mess, as is illustrated in their image above. It shows Lonigan running away from the gang, his head turned to the right and a volley of projectiles arriving at Lonigan from behind and to his right. The bullet causing the ‘right temple graze’ is shown tracking across his forehead; the track of the bullet that according to Reynolds passed through ‘the bone of the orbit and drove portions of it into the brain’ is drawn in a trajectory that would completely miss the ‘bone of the orbit’ and the brain altogether.
Notice also that there is no track for the bullet that went into the left thigh. This is because in their drawing the bullets approach Lonigan from his right side, but as everyone knows a bullet entered his left thigh from the left side. To explain this last fact the CSI team are forced into recycling Ian Jones’ theory from years before, that the left thigh wound was created in a seperate incident an hour or more later, during the gunfight between the gang and Kennedy. Ian Jones and the CSI team propose that Kennedy, shooting back at the four Gang members as he fled, missed all of them every time but managed to hit his fallen comrade’s corpse collapsed in the grass! What are the odds? Buckley’s or none? The CSI team are going to have to dream up a better explanation than Jones ridiculous idea.
Actually, this suggestion by Jones and the CSI team, along with the one that the gang all fired a bullet into Lonigan’s dead body in some kind of gruesome bonding ritual can all be confidently rejected: Dr Samuel Reynolds autopsy showed that ALL the wounds were inflicted BEFORE death. If other bullets had hit him later on, long after he had died, Reynolds would have recognised them as having been fired into a dead body. He didn’t find any. There were none.
The CSI teams obvious mistake is to have accepted McIntyre’s account of what he thought happened behind his back when Lonigan was shot. He guessed that Lonigan turned and ran, but was struck in the right eye when he looked back over his shoulder. By the time McIntyre turned to see what had happened Lonigan was on the ground, as good as dead. But McIntyre’s description wasn’t a lie but a guess – he didn’t see exactly what happened. The key to realising that McIntyre guessed wrong is in the pattern of the bullets that hit Lonigan.
Here is the scenario that works the best, and fits the pieces of the puzzle together with the least need to accept ridiculous improbabilities. Its the one I described on this Blog over a year ago, and it has now been brilliantly illustrated in the drawing by Bill Denheld at the top of the post. When you look at that drawing it all looks so obvious, it makes perfect sense.
This reconstruction requires first of all an understanding of exactly where everyone was when the gang emerged from the spear grass. When the gang appeared they were behind McIntyre and to Lonigans front in a line going from right to left. On the cry of “Bail up” McIntyre turned to face the gang, meaning that he could no longer see Lonigan who was now behind him to his left. When Lonigan looked up he may have been almost facing the person at one end of the line but would have looked along the line of gang members and across to his left to see the man at the other end, Ned Kelly. Lonigan DIDN’T turn and run when ordered to bail up – instead he kept his eye on the gang and took a few steps backwards. This is a much more natural response to such a threat, to back off and keep your eyes on the intruders, than turning your back on them and making a run for it. So, Lonigan took a few steps back, perhaps turning a little to his right looking for cover- exposing even more of his left side to Kellys gun and his head turned to the left to see the line of four gang members emerging from the tall grass. Within a few seconds, Ned shot him with a charge of swan-drops or a quartered bullet: one went by his right eye on an angle and into his brain – as Reynolds described – one went through his left arm, another into his left thigh, and a fourth grazed his right temple. One shot. All wounds created simultaneously. Lonigan was found where he fell, on his back which fits this scenario perfectly. If he had been running away and looking back when shot from behind as the CSI team have illustrated, he would have fallen forward onto his face.
Bill Denheld has kindly also drawn an alternative close-up ‘birds-eye’ view to illustrate the scenario that best fits the evidence: all bullets arrive at once, from off to Lonigan’s left, one in the left thigh, another through the left arm, one into the right eye and a graze to the right temple – and no need for ridiculous theories about the corpse being accidentally hit, or used for target practice by the Gang much later.
One last minor difficulty remains. Reynolds said the bullet in Lonigan’s thigh was ‘an ordinary revolver bullet’, not a fragment of a ‘quartered bullet’ or a ‘swan drop’. How can this be explained? Well, because only one shot was fired, the wound in Lonigans thigh could only have happened at that time, along with the others, and therefore Reynolds description of the fragment as an ‘ordinary revolver bullet’ must have been an error. In his original Autopsy report he described all Lonigans wounds as ‘bullet’ wounds, but made no special mention of extracting the ‘revolver bullet’ from Lonigans thigh. It wasn’t until two years later, at the Royal Commission that Reynolds described that bullet as a revolver bullet. However he did specifically mention finding and extracting a ‘bullet’ in the report he wrote of the autopsy he performed on Scanlan. Its easy to imagine him mixing things up a couple of years later, or even wrongly identifying the projectile from the very beginning. He was a trained and experienced doctor not an arms dealer.
This scenario fits every known fact far more readily than any other reconstruction I’ve ever heard of. The CSI teams attempt to account for how Lonigan died is close only because they used the arguments advanced by me on this Blog a long time ago: they correctly recognised that Ned Kelly lied, that Lonigan had to have been hit by multiple projectiles all at once, and was shot out in the open. Where they went wrong was in accepting the guesswork of McIntyre about exactly what Lonigan did the moment he was ordered to ‘Bail up’, that he turned his back on the gang and made a run for it. The pattern of his wounds shows that’s not what he did – his left side was turned towards the gang, and with his head also turned to the left his right eye was exposed to Ned Kelly’s rifle out to Lonigan’s right. Look again at Bills great illustration of the ambush – it all makes sense at last!
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