After a Petty Sessions hearing at Beechworth in August, Ned Kelly was taken to Melbourne, passing through streets thronged with gaping people.
He was deemed fit to stand trial for murder at Melbourne’s Supreme Court on 28 October, 1880.
The judge, Sir Redmond Barry, who had once made the grim promise that he would see Ned Kelly hang, wanted to dispose of the trial in a single day, in order to have it finished before the Melbourne Cup.
The inexperienced barrister defending Ned was no match for an expert prosecutor, a determined judge and a chief Crown witness — the constable who escaped at Stringybark Creek — and who committed perjury.
Barry also misdirected the jury on a vital point of law concerning self-defence.
Inevitably, a guilty verdict was announced. Barry sentenced Ned to hang, concluding with: ‘And may the Lord have mercy on your soul.’ Ned famously retorted: ‘I will see you there, where I go.’
Twelve days after Ned was executed, Judge Barry dropped dead in his chambers on 23 November, 1880.
Ned Kelly’s execution was scheduled for Thursday 11 November, 1880 — only thirteen days after his trial.
A massive movement was launched to save his life. There were huge public meetings, torch-lit marches, a deputation to the Governor, and a petition for Ned’s reprieve from execution.
Three days before the planned hanging, the petition was presented to the Governor with more than 32,000 signatures.
An hour later, the Executive Council announced that the execution would go ahead.
Image of Ned Kelly taken on November 10, 1880, the day before his execution.
At 9 am on the morning of 11 November, 1880, as a crowd of 5,000 gathered outside the Melbourne Gaol, Ned was transferred to the condemned cell.
Just before 10am, he was led out onto the scaffold.
As the hangman adjusted the hood to cover his face, Kelly’s last words were: ‘Arr well, I suppose it has to come to this. Such… (is life?)’.
At four minutes past ten, the executioner pulled the lever and Ned Kelly plunged into immortality.
His headless body was buried in an unmarked grave on the grounds of the Old Melbourne Gaol.
In the 1920s it was then removed to the Pentridge Prison cemetery.