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Ned Kelly's last plot

ONE hundred and 31 years after he was hanged for murder, the bones of Australia's most notorious outlaw, Ned Kelly, have been identified.

The celebrated anti-hero was sent to the gallows and his body was buried in the dirt yard of a Melbourne gaol.

But though the authorities are confident that they have the notorious bank robber's bones, the mystery over the location of Kelly's skull is still unsolved.

It had previously been thought to have sat on the desk of a Victorian state police detective as late as 1929.

Scientists have used DNA from Kelly's great-great-nephew to identify the bushranger's bones from others in a mass prison grave.

"To think a group of scientists could identify the body of a man who was executed more than 130 years ago, moved and buried in a haphazard fashion among 33 other prisoners, most of whom are not identified, is amazing," Victoria's state Attorney-General Robert Clark said yesterday.

Kelly, known for wearing home-made armour in a shootout with police, is an iconic figure in Australia. Kelly and his gang symbolised the social tension of the time, particularly between poor Irish settlers and the wealthy establishment.

He was sentenced to death for murder over his gang's killing of three policemen, and he was hanged in Melbourne Gaol on November 11, 1880.

When the gaol closed in 1929, Kelly's remains and the bones of other prisoners were exhumed and reburied in a mass grave at the newer Pentridge Prison. Kelly's skull may have been separated from his skeleton during the transfer.

Irish Independent