Infamous Australian outlaw Ned Kelly has had his final wish granted 131 years after being executed, with officials agreeing to release his remains so he can be buried with his family.
Anthony Griffiths, a grandson of Kelly’s sister, said yesterday that Victoria state Attorney-General Robert Clark had decided to return his bullet-ridden body to his descendants so they could meet his last request.
“That’s very welcome news indeed,” Griffiths told reporters. “Our family, like every family, likes to be able to bury their own family members. Our aim is to give him a dignified funeral, like any family would.”
Kelly’s headless remains were finally identified in September, solving a longstanding mystery.
Considered by some to be a cold-blooded killer, Kelly was also seen as a folk hero and symbol of Irish-Australian defiance against the British authorities for taking on corrupt police and greedy land barons.
After murdering three policemen, he was captured in Victoria state in 1880 and hanged at Old Melbourne Gaol in November of the same year. However, his body went missing after it was thrown into a mass grave.
The day before he died, Kelly wrote to the governor of the gaol asking “permission for my friends to have my body that they might bury it in consecrated ground,” according to the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper.
He is likely to laid to rest in a small cemetery near Glenrowan, where he was killed and where his mother Ellen, several of his brothers and sisters and other relatives are buried in unmarked graves, reports said.
The exploits of Kelly and his gang have been the subject of numerous films and television series.
Rolling Stone Mick Jagger played the lead role in the 1970 movie Ned Kelly, while Heath Ledger starred as the bandit in a 2003 remake.
He has also been the inspiration for many books, most notably Peter Carey’s novel True History of the Kelly Gang, which won the 2001 Booker Prize.