|Its time to demand justice for Fitzpatrick|
The Fitzpatrick incident is one of the really key moments in the Kelly story.
Essentially what happened was that on April 15th 1878 a policeman, Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick went to Dan Kellys home to arrest him on a charge of horse stealing, but returned empty handed saying he had been attacked, and Ned Kelly had fired a gun at him and wounded him in the wrist.
According to the people who believe Ned Kelly was some sort of a hero and freedom fighter, this incident was part of an ongoing campaign of persecution, a ‘setup’ engineered by corrupt police who were determined by any means fair or foul to entrap the Kellys and put them in prison. They claim that Constable Fitzpatrick had no right to arrest Dan Kelly at his home that day because he hadn’t bought with him the warrant for his arrest. They claim that Fitzpatrick disobeyed orders by going there, because he had been told never to go there on his own. They claim that when he got there he was drunk. They claim that while there he attempted some sort of indecency on Kate Kelly aged 14 ( Professor Moloney claimed he raped her ) They claim he pulled a gun in the scuffle and accidentally shot himself – or else they say the wound he received was caused by a door latch. Ned Kelly said he wasn’t there. They say that everything Fitzpatrick subsequently alleged on his return without Dan to the Station at Benalla was a lie. They blacken his character at every possible opportunity, alleging he was some sort of sleazy womaniser, a pedofile with an interest in ‘very young ladies’, they allege he ‘spiked’ Neds drink, they claim support from the findings of the Royal Commission, and they point to problems he had much later in life to further discredit him.
In short they regard him as a thoroughy disreputable sleaze, a terrible policeman and the author of all their ills.
But remarkable as it will seem, this entire image is almost completely baseless.
Ask any Kelly sympathiser for the facts that they base their hatred of Fitzpatrick on and they will NOT be able to provide any. Search for the facts supporting their claims about Fitzpatrick in their books, on their web pages and on their Facebook pages, ask them on-line for explanations, challenge them to front-up with their proofs, and they will ALWAYS be unable to provide them. The best they ever manage is to reference other people who have made the same allegations – which progresses their case nowhere – make reference to the Royal Commission and mischaracterise it, or refer to claims and allegations made about his conduct much later in life – which are nothing to do with 1878. For the actual substantive evidence of their claims about the sort of policeman he was in April 1878 the only ‘evidence’ they can scrape up are allegations about his private life.
It is of course deeply hypocritical for Kellys to throw mud at Fitzpatrick for being the father of an illegitimate child – Neds own married sister had an affair with a Policeman and gave birth to his child, and Ned Kellys mother Ellen Kelly the matricarch conceived three times to three separate men out of wedlock. A wink and a nod is for ever offered in the direction of Greta mob members like Sherritt and Byrne, known to be favourites with ‘the ladies’ – everyone knows whats meant by that but for these “boys” its all perfectly fine. In fact Fitzpatricks behaviour, no matter how morally dubious was not so unusual for young men then or now, but in any case his private affairs were none of the Kellys business. Moreover, given the moral standards of their own behaviour, casting aspersions on Fitzpatrick because of his is the height of hypocrisy, a disgusting double standard. But his private failings had no relevance to or impact on his interactions with the Kellys in his role as policeman, any more than Ellen Kellys loose morals had anything to do with the murders at Stringybark Creek.
As for his professional behaviour, I explained in the previous post that despite sympathisers claims to the contrary, he had an entirely legitimate reason for going to the Kelly house – they were stock thieves –and he did NOT need to have the warrants related to Dans charges in his possession. So that’s two Kelly claims exposed as lies right there!
But what of the other claims?
The claim that he disobeyed orders to stay away from the Kelly house relates to an instruction made by Nicholson to Constable Hayes from Greta. Nicholson requested others be given the same instruction but this was not a formal written order and theres no evidence that Fitzpatrick ever received it – the most obvious reason being that he wasn’t stationed at Greta but at Benalla. In fact his visit was known of and sanctioned by Sergeant Whelan in Benalla, to whom he reported on his return. If Fitzpatrick had indeed violated a direct instruction, this would have been an act of disobedience which would have resulted in some sort of disciplinary action, or at least a note in his service record but no such action or record exists. When this visit was investigated by the Royal Commission several years later, though they expressed regret at what happened as a result of his visit, Fitzpatrick again was NOT criticised for going there in the first place: ‘There can be little doubt that Constable Fitzpatrick’s conduct, however justified by the rules of the service, was unfortunate in its results.
The Kelly claim that Fitzpatrick shouldn’t have even gone to the Kellys, that he disobeyed orders going there is simply wrong, another of their lies. Not only is there no evidence that such an order was ever given to Fitzpatrick, his senior knew about his visit, never complained about it and the RC said he was ‘justified’ in going there.
So what do we make of the claim that Fitzpatrick was a ‘liar and a larrikin’?
Well firstly, up until the time of this incident, he had been stationed at Benalla, and was known as ‘a decent young fellow’ by McIntyre. At the Royal Commission Standish was asked if he was aware if Fitzpatrick was ‘a man of bad character’ before he was sent to Greta. “I was not. He was strongly recommended to me by Mr C A Smyth” was his reply. There are no disciplinary or other adverse comments in his record of service, to that point.
After the ‘incident’, at every opportunity the Kellys all told lies about what happened, including, among scores of lies, Ned Kellys famous lie about being 400 miles away, Mrs Kellys and her daughter Kates lie that neither Ned or even Fitzpatrick had been seen there for over a month, and Jim Kellys claim he had been there when the facts show he was in prison in NSW at the time. Subsequently, as Grantlee Kieza noted in his recent book, the Kelly’s accounts
“…will change every time they open their mouths”. Their accounts inevitably began the vilification of Fitzpatrick, including the baseless allegation that he was drunk, but Fitzpatricks testimony remained unchanged over 35 years.
Never-the-less, in April 1880, two years later with three police murdered, and the Kelly gang still on the run, Fitzpatrick was dismissed from the Police force for ‘inefficiency and insubordination’, allegations made against him by the OIC Constable Mayes at Lancefield where he had been working from September 1879. Mayes, who was a zealous participant in the hunt for the Kelly gang apparently regarded Fitzpatrick as personally responsible for the outbreak, and seems to have made it a personal objective of his to get rid of Fitzpatrick . At the Royal Commission he said “ I had a great deal to do to get rid of him and at last had him dismissed”
A variety of allegations had been levelled against Fitzpatrick by Mayes, such as that he “associated with the lowest class of persons, could not be trusted out of sight and never did his duty” but no specific facts were ever provided to substantiate these claims or charges ever laid, and the Royal Commission accepted them, as has every Kelly writer ever since, without ever asking for the facts which justified them.
The remarkable facts which DO exist in relation to Fitzpatricks behaviour at Lancefield, in stark contrast to the sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations made by a single policeman, are two petitions signed by over one hundred citizens of that district, objecting to his dismissal and attesting to their experience of him as being
“zealous, diligent, obliging, and universally liked, while we never saw him in company of any but the best citizens. Had he been what [Mayes’] report was said to allege it could not have escaped our attention. He made several clever captures and appeared to us as one of the most efficient and obliging men in the force”.
This is an absolutely shattering document, signed by reputable community members such as farmers, publicans and business men, ten JP’s, an MP, a barrister and a journalist, a document that exposes Mayes assesments as deeply suspect, and more or less completely destroys the credibility of Mayes complaints. Just as remarkable, a year later a second petition from the citizens of Lancefield was presented by a man who in 1903 became Prime Minister of Australia, Alfred Deakin, MP. They requested that “a Board of enquiry to be held so that Alexander Fitzpatrick could answer the charges made against him”
The response this time came from Acting Chief Commissioner Chomley, who dismissed the petitioners request , relying only on the Police record that included the allegations made by Mayes, and because he had “always heard him described as a liar and a larrikin” – or in other words, hearsay. This is utterly unprofessional behaviour, and wouldn’t have been accepted as evidence in any Court or at any reasonable enquiry. Fitzpatrick requested an opportunity to defend himself against all these allegations, but was denied it by the authorities whose judgements he was challenging. No reasonable person could regard that dismissal as anything like a fair go for Fitzpatrick. There is every reason to believe he was made a scapegoat not only by the Kelly’s, but also by the Police, who were being humiliated and publically embarrassed by their failure to capture the Kelly gang.
These two remarkable documents, which strike at the very heart of the conspiracy of vilification of Fitzpatrick, quite scandalously are completely ignored by Ian Jones in his writings, and perhaps even more scandalously by Peter Fitzsimons, because we know for certain that when he wrote his Kelly book in 2013, these petitions had been brought to the attention of the Kelly community by Ian MacFarlane in the Kelly Gang Unmasked, published in 2012. Fitzsimons deliberately ignored them because they destroy the argument that Fitzpatrick was the villain in the piece, the lies promoted by the Kellys and their supporters and somewhat paradoxically by the Police, ever since.
If Kelly supporters want to continue to vilify the memory of Fitzpatrick, they are going to have to do several things : provide some facts to back up their claims , acknowledge the Kellys lied outrageously in their attempts to cover their tracks, cease supporting the hypocrisy of known liars moralising about Fitzpatrick, and explain why the unsubstantiated allegations of a Policeman who had it in for Fitzpatrick should be believed over a future prime minister and over a hundred ordinary citizens of Lancefield who said Fitzpatrick was ‘zealous, diligent and universally liked’.
My guess is they will keep their heads well and truly buried in the sand, and in the proposed movie, and in the soon to be published book by Mr Bradley Webb, the lies about Fitzpatrick will be perpetuated, because to do otherwise would mean there would be nobody for Ned Kelly to blame his troubles on but himself. The reality is that it was Fitzpatrick who was unfairly persecuted, not the Kellys. This myth can no longer be tolerated.
I referred to all the usual sources for the information contained in this Post, but relied very considerably on Dr Stuart Dawsons brilliant expose of this event, “Redeeming Fitzpatrick” my review of which, and a link are provided HERE.
I suggest everyone should read his comprehensive and extensively referenced article and then decide for themselves if they agree with him or with the ignorant, academia-hating Kelly trolls who wrote this on their Facebook pages recently :
Oh poor Stuart Dawson is upset that no-one has mentioned his Redeeming Fitzpatrick article on that blog.I will give you the reason why free of charge. Stuart as I have stated before it is just your opinion and full of b/s and guesswork all created by you.Keith McMenomy and John Maloney are far more creditable than your absolute garbage. No wonder you linked yourself to David .(2 peas in a pod)No Grantlee Kieza did not come to the same conclusion as you and only referenced you in his book. His writings of the incident is nothing like yours. Your bid to change real history and insulting of respected men is really pathetic.The Royal Commission were spot on in their summary of the liar Fitzpatrick and he wasn’t sacked from the police force because he was a good one but obviously an incompetent one
I had a laugh out of that too Bob, Stuart Dawson getting all sooky-la-la over nobody mentioning his twisted version of events. WHat a legend in his own mind he is!
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