I should probably thank the great-great-grandson of SC Joseph Ladd Mayes for greatly increasing the number of people who read the Blog post I wrote last year entitled “Should SC Mayes have been sacked?” (CLICK HERE to read it) It was a question that most certainly needed to be asked, and I am certain many of the new readers will have agreed with me that the actions and statements of JLM in relation to Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick at the very least warranted some sort of scrutiny, which was what that Blog post was all about. In comments after the post, some agreed and others disagreed with my suggestions in an interesting calm and respectful way.
In the last two weeks, a renewed discussion on the same topic has been set in motion by JLMs great great grandson, who in an emotive series of Facebook and Blog posts directed outrage and fury at me for daring to ask if SC Mayes conduct was above reproach, and for suggesting the record shows SC Mayes to have been arrogant judgemental and prejudiced when it came to his dealings with trooper Alexander Fitzpatrick. I was labelled ‘pig headed’ and accused of misusing information given to me in confidence, I was called a ‘rank’ amateur (note correct spelling), that my world view was ‘misguided’, my review of Mayes record was a ‘screed’, ‘piss poor ‘ ‘disgraceful’ and ‘shit posting’, that I was on a ‘dogged’ mission to exonerate Fitzpatrick, that I was breaching copyright by posting an image of JLM – that had already been released into the public domain – and that if only he could afford it, I would be needing to ‘lawyer up’. ‘Damn you’ he writes! All the usual suspects from the toad, to Bob, Greg, Noeleen, Michelle, the former ‘Neducator’ and Jack, along with many others expressed their delight at Mayes response.
So far, JLMs great-great-grandson Dean Mayes hasnt explained what’s misguided about my ‘world view’ (my ‘world view’? …really?) , but I can tell you I didn’t misuse any information he shared because he didn’t share anything that wasn’t already publicly available. I can also tell you that if he did somehow manage to force me to ‘lawyer up’ he’s the one who would lose his dough – dead people cannot be defamed! Look it up! But in any case, nothing I wrote was ‘defamatory’ – it was opinion based on the evidence I presented. All that chest beating and ad hominem abuse was just performative, red meat for the mostly uninformed and incurious Kelly mob whose approval Mayes seemed to be seeking, who hungrily lapped it all up and are now posting their enthusiastic support for Mayes extraordinary outburst. Any kind of attack on Fitzpatrick, on me or on Dr Stuart Dawson, the author of “Redeeming Fitzpatrick” no matter how inaccurate extreme or bizarre – and all of them are – always gets them going. These people have the instincts of a Lynch mob and ‘ad hominem’ attacks are par for the course in the Kelly sympathiser world. Sadly I feel, nurse Dean Mayes seems to fit right in, adding his “Likes” to their comments on their ghastly Facebook pages full of misinformation and police hate, and to the one comment he has received so far from a right-wing antivaxxer police hating Kelly extremist. Great company for a nurse!
The irony of course is that this mob of Kelly sympathisers Dean Mayes is playing to are people his great-great-grandfather would have had nothing but contempt for. JLM would have been horrified like everyone else at the brutality of the police murders at Stringybark Creek, at the hostage taking and hold-ups, and at the nightmare scenario of mass slaughter that Kelly envisioned for Glenrowan. At the end of 1880 along with the rest of the colony, SC Mayes would undoubtedly have celebrated the destruction of the Gang and the meting out of justice to its leader the notorious murderer, Ned Kelly. The thought that his great-great-grandson would one day be the pinup boy of supporters of the triple police murderer who nearly pulled off a plan to murder a couple of dozen more of his work mates would have JLM spinning in his grave.
But Dean Mayes postings haven’t all been abuse and disparagement directed at me. He dragged up the old news about Fitzpatrick’s activities in Sydney where various allegations were made, investigated and dismissed. No charges were ever laid in respect of them but Mayes has decided to relitigate them and cast aside the notion of innocence until proven guilty – something it seems his great-great-grandfather also was want to do. A chip off the old block it seems.
He also added some thoughts of his own about Fitzpatrick’s behaviour and about the Petition that was presented supporting him. Mayes did something I had never thought to do and counted the signatures on the Petition : there were just over 100, and so he criticized me for saying there were 200, though this is the number others have also used in error – for example in Grantlee Kiezas book – so I stand corrected.
Dean Mayes then attempted to discredit the petition in several ways, firstly by a convoluted calculation of the percentage of people in the District who supported it, declaring that not enough of them did. Says who? Most ordinary citizens never have anything to with the police so would have nothing to say. By a similar process would Mayes also say the public petition in support of Ronald Ryan was suspicious and likely invalid because well under 1% of Australia signed it? (around 15,000 signatures in a population of 11.8 million in 1967). The fact is well over a hundred local citizens signed the Lancefield petition, including JPs expressing an opinion about Fitzpatrick that was the opposite of SC Mayes. Dean Mayes argument here is irrelevant nonsense.
Next Dean Mayes develops a conspiracy theory about the petition: “Was ex-Constable Fitzpatrick malleable enough to allow criminal activity in and around Lancefield to go unchecked and the instigators of the petition feared losing a “useful idiot”? Did the signatories to the petition even know what they were signing?” This speculation is the pure essence of the conspiracy theory approach to history: fact free.
In support of his conspiracy theory Mayes presented a letter from his Great-great-grandfather in which the Constable points out that – shock, horror – Fitzpatrick was himself involved in the gathering of signatures for the petition. The Kelly mob and Dean Mayes see this as sinister and a confirmation of their conspiracy theory about the petition, making up yet more wild and absolutely absurd speculations about Fitzpatrick threatening people for not signing. In fact, there is nothing in the least bit sinister or inappropriate in Fitzpatrick’s involvement in the Petitions – except to mad conspiracy theorists. Any aggrieved person has a right to seek out support, and it makes perfect sense for Fitzpatrick to be actively involved in seeking it from the community he served – it was his job, his future and his reputation that were on the line. In fact, what this attests to more than anything else is the strength of Fitzpatrick’s conviction that he was treated unfairly and to his determination to seek justice in an independent enquiry. He wanted everything brought out into the light and examined, but both Mayes and Standish wanted it to remain hidden. Would it be unfair to ask why?
Remarkably, attached to that letter and also posted on Dean Mayes Page is a newspaper cutting from the time which completely undermines Mayes entire thesis. It appears to be an editorial comment and is worth quoting in full :
“We feel sure a large majority of the public of the Lancefield district who had any acquaintance with Mounted Constable Fitzpatrick whilst stationed here will, with us be sorry to hear of his discharge from the Victorian police force. The ex –constable whilst resident here appeared to be an intelligent and efficient member of the force and his many social qualities in private life gained him many friends who are now interesting themselves on his behalf with a view to his re-instatement. Several prominent residents of the district have prepared a petition for presentation to the chief secretary which is rapidly being signed by the inhabitants of the entire district praying for Mr Fitzpatrick’s re- appointment. We understand that the ex-constable believes he has been unjustly dealt with and attributes his discharge to certain reports which reached the Chief Commissioner, the truthfulness of which he asserts he can disprove. Such being the case we hope that Mr Fitzpatrick’s friends will be successful in their endeavours to have a worthy officer replaced in his position”
Are the conspiracy theorists now going to propose Fitzpatrick also threatened the Editor of the newspaper and forced him to publish that endorsement? If not, the only thing that can be said about it is that it wrecks Dean Mayes conspiracy theory about the petition, supports the authenticity of the Petition and adds additional justification for JLMs judgement to be questioned.
Dean Mayes boasts about ‘pounding the pavements’ and ‘scouring the public record’ – as opposed to the morally inferior activity he attributes to me of “shit posting from behind a computer”. Despite these ‘countless hours’ of research Mayes found no trace of the second Petition, and so because he couldn’t find it, like a true conspiracy theorist he concluded that Fitzpatrick must have lied about its existence at the Royal Commission. I dont know when Mayes last read Dawson’s paper but if he had, he would have found the reference to the second petition and tracked it down like Dawson did. The second petition exists, it is real and the other day I counted the signatures on it – about twenty. I wonder if Dean Mayes will apologise and withdraw his claim that Fitzpatrick lied about the second petition? Probably not.
So not one but two separate petitions that called into question SC Mayes judgement and his dismissal of Fitzpatrick. Dean Mayes attempts to dismiss the petitions failed.
Now we come to Dean Mayes confused accusations in regard to swagmen. He has unearthed a couple of most interesting documents, and reports without citing the reference that police were instructed to ‘secure and question’ suspects. Again to my complete surprise Mayes attached a newspaper report that records Fitzpatrick doing exactly that, when he was ordered to investigate reports that Ned Kelly may have visited two swagmen in a hut 4 miles from Lancefield. Mayes then criticises Fitzpatrick for not ‘arresting’ these two swagmen, but the order was to ‘secure and question’ not to arrest, which is exactly what Fitzpatrick did. So, if we accept what Dean Mayes claims about what police were instructed to do, Fitzpatrick did not disobey any order by not arresting these two who were not suspects in any case, according to the news report. Fitzpatrick obeyed his orders and obtained useful information.
Mayes then conflates this story with a second one about swagmen, in which Fitzpatrick did indeed refuse to arrest one swagman for assault when asked to by another swagman who then complained to SC Mayes, who then himself complained about Fitzpatrick’s behaviour. According to Fitzpatrick’s testimony under oath to the Commission, SC Mayes complaint was investigated, SC Mayes concerns were dismissed and Fitzpatrick was vindicated. Dean Mayes attempted to rewrite the record here, and smear Fitzpatrick – the Kelly mob will no doubt swallow it, but the evidence doesn’t support it. Dean Mayes seems to have misread his sources. Another fail.
There are two things that stand out in this discussion about SC Mayes and Fitzpatrick, both of which were completely ignored by Dean Mayes in his ‘rebuttal’. The first is SC Mayes statement to the RC that he had not the slightest doubt that Fitzpatrick was the ‘originator’ of the entire Outbreak; not the slightest concern it might have anything to do with the background of lawlessness that Ned Kelly grew up in, the fact Kelly had served time for assault and feloniously receiving, was a known associate of a convicted and imprisoned highway robber, the fact that warrants for Kellys arrest on serious stock thieving charges had been issued? Not the slightest doubt? That statement of Mayes is ridiculous and indefensible. His great-great-grandson entirely avoided this, but it’s such an extreme statement it demands investigation.
The second thing that stands out is Fitzpatrick’s determination to have all the charges and accusations made against him brought out into the open and subjected to scrutiny and review. Anyone as corrupt and drunk and incompetent and the liar the Kelly conspiracy theorists like to make out Fitzpatrick was would never have been able to garner community support for his cause and wouldn’t have ever wanted his record exposed at an enquiry, but this was what Fitzpatrick requested, not once but twice. He was not afraid of scrutiny or having every allegation made against him exposed at an enquiry, but it seems Standish was.
And so twice his legitimate request was denied with no explanation given. In my original Post on the topic last year I wrote this:
“No matter what you might think is the truth about the man, its unarguably a denial of natural justice not to grant an accused person a right of reply and an opportunity to defend himself. But that’s what happened.”
This reality was also ignored by Dean Mayes who instead continued his great-great-grandfathers campaign of baseless smearing and vilifying of Fitzpatrick. Dean Mayes rebuttal is the disgrace here: an emotive litany of fury and ad hominem attacks on me, failed arguments and empty threats. Clearly neither man was perfect but nothing Dean Mayes has contributed so far has changed anything: his great-great-grandfather said and did things that demand scrutiny, and Fitzpatrick remains redeemed.