Sarcasm is the ‘lowest form of wit’ according to Oscar Wilde, a description that applies perfectly to the attempts at humour to be found in “A letter to Thomas” by Kelly Conspiracy Theorist and ‘Keep Ya Powder Dry’ author Alan Crichton. Crichton’s ‘letter’ is a mocking, sarcastic and cruel attack on the character of yet another honourable policeman who suffered terribly at the hands of the Kelly Gang, a man who, like most police is seen as fair game for vilification, character assassination and the promulgation of hateful lies by Kelly sympathisers all across Australia. Crichton has continued this abuse on Facebook recently, and as usual not one single Kelly sympathiser anywhere has expressed the slightest objection to it. Unsurprisingly, encouraged by the author of the atrocious ‘An Introduction to Ned Kelly’ and his toadies many sympathisers have supported it. What Crichton is telling everyone is that McIntyre was a liar and Ned Kelly was the one who told the truth about what happened at Stringybark Creek. This insidious claim feeds into the idea that Kelly was only convicted of Lonigan’s murder and hanged, because of perjury committed by McIntyre. Otherwise, the story goes, Kellys claim of killing in self-defence would have been successful and he would have been found not guilty. Yeah, right!
Crichton: “So what do you think of that Mr. McIntyre, did you lie under oath for your superiors?”
Crichton’s abuse of McIntyre is not original – it’s been going on for years. In fact, from the time of the Outbreak itself police-hating Kelly supporters, and even Kellys legal team called him a liar and a coward, doing their best to undermine the credibility of the man whose testimony would send Kelly to the Gallows. Ian Jones, the most influential of all Kelly sympathisers aggressively promoted the claim that McIntyre was a liar right to the very end – the last thing Jones ever published was “The Kellys and Beechworth” in 2014, and the title of the very last chapter of that book is “Perjury” – and yes, he was referring to McIntyre.
Before examining that specific allegation against him, that he was a liar, and the other one Mark Perrys Ming Mongs trot out at regular intervals, the claim that he was also a coward who abandoned his mates at SBC, let’s review the man’s entire life. Then, in Part 2 we will address Jones and Crichton’s demonstrably bogus assassination of McIntyres character and set the record straight.
First of all, note that like over 80% of police at the time, he was Irish. He was born in 1846, possibly in Belfast, and served in the Royal Irish Constabulary from 1863-65. Years later, in his memoir he wrote- “I never fired a shot during my service’. Then, still only 19, he migrated to Australia and was a school teacher in NSW till 1868, when he moved to Victoria:
“On the eve of your departure from us we cannot allow you to leave without officially expressing our regret that our connection is to be severed. While our judgment approves the course you took for the promotion of your interests we cannot suffer any act of ours to prejudice your actions. We take this opportunity of expressing our entire satisfaction and approval of your conduct at the School, the advancement of the children has been to us as satisfactory as surprising. We entertain a hope that you will return to us, we will hail such an event with very special pleasure. We comment you to the care of an ever kind Providence and devoutly pray wherever your lot be cast you may be Blest Prosperous and Happy”
(View this letter HERE )
He became a member of the Victoria Police in 1869, and his Service record reported him to have been “a very steady well conducted constable since he joined the force’
He worked at Swan Hill, Castlemaine, Stawell and other places and then was posted to Mansfield in 1877 where he met Sergeant Michael Kennedy. The following year Kennedy asked him to join a party of four that were about to head into the nearby hills to look for the fugitive Kelly brothers. It’s often said McIntyre was only taken because he was a good cook but there was a lot more to it than that, as evidenced by Sadleir’s comments at the Royal Commission:
- He was taken at the suggestion of Sergeant Kennedy?
—Yes, specially chosen by him. He was a zealous, conscientious man, and I could see no difference between them as to bravery and so on.
- Sergeant Kennedy must have had confidence in his courage?
- Is it your opinion that they acted judiciously and courageously?
—I do think it; I think he (McIntyre) acted as a brave man, and as I should have acted myself, but that is only an opinion.
At Stringybark Creek, as everyone knows, whilst standing on either side of a fire at their campsite on October 26th, 1878, McIntyre and Lonigan were surprised by the Kelly Gang who abruptly appeared out of the undergrowth and ordered the two of them to “Bail up”. McIntyre turned to face the intruders and raised his arms. Lonigan, now behind McIntyre was shot almost immediately, Ned Kelly claiming in the Jerilderie letter months later that Lonigan had ‘ran some six or seven yards to a battery of logs…and put his head up to take aim when I shot him that instant or he would have shot me’.
McIntyre, having just witnessed the brutal murder of a colleague and no doubt fearing what might happen to himself and to the other two members of the search party when they returned, must have been shocked and stressed and in immense turmoil.
“Lonigan’s body was visible from where I stood. I tried to keep myself from looking at it, lest it should unnerve me…”
He was subjected to taunts, interrogation and threats by Ned Kelly, and then, when Kennedy and Scanlan returned he watched helplessly as Scanlan was killed and Kennedy was attacked from all sides by the Gang.
He later wrote “Kelly incurred no more danger in shooting Lonigan or Scanlan than he would have shooting two kangaroos. He simply gave the men no chance to injure him and might have shot them down without challenging them, as they scarcely had time to realise their danger until they were shot”
At that moment, he made his escape on Kennedys abandoned horse: there was no doubt in his mind that if he stayed he also would have been murdered. Being unarmed, there was literally nothing he could have done to help Kennedy. As he galloped off he was shot at, he was violently thrown from the horse by a low branch and eventually when the horse ‘knocked up’ he continued his escape on foot, spending some time hiding in a wombat hole, terrified the gang would be coming after him. Eventually he carried on in great pain, picking his way in the dark through dense bush and rocky terrain right through the night and most of the next day, eventually arriving at Mansfield at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. He broke the awful news to Sub Inspector Pewtress who immediately set about organising a party to return to SBC to find Kennedy, who was alive and fighting for his life when McIntyre last saw him. McIntyre wrote out a statement, that same afternoon, less than 24 hours after the killings, and it included this account of Lonigans murder:
“…..Suddenly and without us being aware of their approach four men with rifles presented at us called upon us to ‘bail up hold up your hands’. I being disarmed at the time did so. Constable Longan made a motion to draw his revolver which he was carrying, immediately he did do he was shot by Edward Kelly and I believe died immediately.”
McIntyre here reported Lonigan being shot while out in the open and before he had drawn – let alone fired – his revolver. Kellys version, quoted above, was created weeks later and claimed Lonigan ran back to the shelter of logs and came up behind them, gun drawn. This very different account was the basis of Kellys claim only to have killed Longan as an act of self defence. So, who’s telling the truth here – the ‘zealous, conscientious’ policeman or the known liar Ned Kelly?
Despite his serious injuries and exhaustion, McIntyre joined the search party and headed straight back to Stringybark Creek that same Sunday night. When they returned the following day with the bodies of Lonigan and Scanlan, Pewtress wrote that “McIntyre is very ill and suffered great pain while with me”, but on Tuesday ordered him to go and arrest Wild Wright for fighting and unruly behaviour in Mansfield bars. McIntyre does so, drawing his revolver and telling Wright “I’ve just seen my mates shot and if you don’t walk quietly over to the lock-up I’ll shoot you…..”.
Wright responds with a threat, saying something McIntyre was subsequently to hear often: “McIntyre when I heard one of the police had escaped I was glad it was you, I’m damn sorry for it now. You have escaped once, you won’t next time”
The following day, still in pain and suffering, McIntyre returned yet again to Stringybark Creek to continue to search for his colleague, Michael Kennedy, and soon discovered that he had been murdered shortly after McIntyre last saw him. The appalling reality would only just have started to sink in : three colleagues murdered, and somehow he survived.
Subsequently McIntyre was admitted to the police hospital where it was reported that Dr Ford extracted “nearly a pint of blood which was not in circulation” – in other words he drained a massive haematoma which had developed, along with innumerable other scratches and cuts, bruises and contusions that had turned McIntyre’s entire back black and blue. He wanted to join in the hunt for the Kellys but because of the state of his physical health and his nerves, but more importantly his valuable status as the only eye-witness to the murders, Standish wanted him out of harms way. Back in Melbourne, but still working, he married Eliza Fowler as the hunt for the Kelly Gang continued. Three more encounters with Kelly lay ahead of him.
The first was in n June 1880 when Ned Kelly was finally captured at Glenrowan. McIntyre went there to ask Kelly directly, had he displayed cowardice at Stringybark Creek?
McIntyre: “I have suffered a great deal over this affair. Was my statement correct?”
Kelly: “Yes it was”
McIntyre: “When I held out my hands you shot Lonigan”
Kelly: “No. Lonigan got behind some logs and pointed his gun at me. Didn’t you see that?”
McIntyre: “No, that’s only nonsense”
It’s really quite awful to realise that McIntyre’s emotional trauma had so deeply damaged him, so completely undermined his self-esteem and confidence, and so confused and disorientated him that he sought reassurance from the very man who was the cause of all his anguish and distress, the murderer himself. At the trial in Melbourne Kellys lawyer ridiculed him for that visit, saying he had gone there “for a character reference for bravery ; it implies a feeling in his mind that he was guilty of cowardice” Nowadays, seeing McIntyre doubting his own bravery, wracked by guilt over his own survival, struggling with death threats and accusations of cowardice and of having abandoned his mates, we would likely recognise severe depression, anxiety, survivor guilt and post-traumatic stress, a man almost completely disabled by serious mental health issues. Back then no such awareness existed, there was no understanding or help for him, he had to endure the torment and survive being labelled a coward and a liar as best he could. Bracken, another good policeman caught up in the Kelly saga suffered in the same way; it became too much for him and tragically he took his own life. It’s easy to imagine McIntyre doing the same thing…
……to be Continued.
In Part Two of this Post I will detail the rest of McIntyres troubled life, and his testimony in Kellys trial. I’ll also demolish the shoddy arguments that sympathisers in general, and Jones and Crichton in particular promote in the hope that by vilifying Thomas Newman McIntyre they can argue that Kelly wasn’t guilty of Lonigan’s murder. It will be such a pleasure to completely destroy their stupid arguments and to defend the reputation of a very brave Policeman, yet another of the many uncounted casualties of the murderous Kelly Gangs sickening criminal exploits.