Friday, 20 October 2017

The CSI Team gets Lonigans murder all wrong too..

In last weeks post I discussed the announcement made by the CSI team that they were releasing an updated version of their 2012 Report which purported to have identified the site at which Ned Kelly murdered three policemen in October 1878. In their announcement they claimed their site “has now been examined by Heritage Victoria” and in the Updated Report itself there are photos that they say show an area of bush ‘cleared by Heritage Victoria’. In last week’s post I exposed these claims as untruthful, because in answer to my request for more information about these site visits, an archaeologist at Heritage Victoria said “There has been no formal inspection of this site undertaken by this office”.

I hoped that this updated 2017 version might contain their responses to the criticisms I and many others had made of their original Report but sadly it doesn’t. The “Updated” report is just the old report with the addition of the photographs of the place they wrongly claim was ‘cleared by Heritage Victoria’, and two more Appendices that like all the others, are irrelevant – one is about a bullet found in the area and another about the killing of Lonigan. 

I was drawn to their ‘analysis of the shooting of Constable Lonigan’, a contentious topic I’ve written about extensively on this Blog. The reason this murder is particularly contentious is because Ned Kelly claimed he killed Lonigan in self-defence, and should not have been found guilty of his murder. He claimed Lonigan should have ‘bailed up’ as ordered, like McIntyre did, but instead he ran behind ‘a battery of logs’ removed his revolver from its pouch and rose to take aim at Ned Kelly. Kelly claimed that he fired a single shot in self-defence, a shot which went through Lonigans right eye, into his brain and killed him almost immediately. However at the subsequent autopsy Neds claims were thrown into serious doubt because in addition to the expected gunshot wound to the right eye, Lonigan had at least three other wounds: one was a graze to the right temple, another bullet went through his LEFT arm and one went into his LEFT thigh. To add to the puzzle, Dr Reynolds found that all wounds had been created before death. Uncovering the truth about Lonigans death thus became a contentious and challenging puzzle. The pieces of the puzzle that have to be fitted together are the pattern of bullet wounds to Lonigans body, a single shot, no post-mortem bullet wounds, the conflicting accounts of McIntyre and Kelly, and Reynolds recollection, given at the Royal Commission two years later that the projectile he extracted from Lonigan’s left thigh was “an ordinary revolver bullet”.

There are a few things about the CSI analysis of Lonigan’s death that I like – that’s because they are observations, ideas  and suggestions that they have copied from this Blog in posts that I made about Lonigan’s murder over a year ago.  The first of these is their realisation that Ned Kelly didn’t tell the truth about what happened. They describe two commonly repeated descriptions of how Lonigan died, one of which is Ned Kelly’s version and say “The CSI team found that on the evidence, neither of the above reconstructs reflects with accuracy the actual circumstances”. They wouldn’t dare risk alienating their supporters by saying it plainly, but here they are agreeing with me that Ned Kelly’s version of what happened was lies. 

Secondly, their scenario has Lonigan being shot while out in the open, which is what I have been saying all along. This acknowledgement also implies they regard Ned’s claim that Lonigan rose up from behind ‘a battery of logs’ to be a lie.

Thirdly they write “For the wounds to have been inflicted by the single shot, the carbines charge would need to have consisted of multiple projectiles” This again is what I have been pointing out on this Blog for over a year, and in 2016, I posted a crude diagram of how the multiple projectiles, variously postulated to be a quartered bullet  or ‘swan drops’ might have spread out and impacted different parts of Lonigans body all at once. Subsequently Bill Denheld produced a much more artistic version of that diagram, and now, in 2017 the CSI team have produced their own version of this same diagram. Needless to say, the CSI team doesn’t acknowledge my insights, or admit they’ve borrowed my ideas anywhere but I think they ought to. 

The CSI teams Birdseye view of what they think happened to Lonigan :
shot from behind after he turned and ran.  Nice try but it doesn't explain how he ended up with a bullet in the LEFT thigh and was found on his back.
The rest of their scenario is wrong, and their ‘birds eye view’ of Lonigan being shot is a mess, as is illustrated in their image above. It shows Lonigan running away from the gang, his head turned to the right and a volley of projectiles arriving at Lonigan from behind and to his right. The bullet causing the ‘right temple graze’ is shown tracking across his forehead; the track of the bullet that according to Reynolds passed through ‘the bone of the orbit and drove portions of it into the brain’ is drawn in a trajectory that would completely miss the ‘bone of the orbit’ and the brain altogether. 

Notice also that there is no track for the bullet that went into the left thigh. This is because in their drawing the bullets approach Lonigan from his right side, but as everyone knows a bullet entered his left thigh from the left side. To explain this last fact the  CSI team are forced into recycling Ian Jones’ theory from years before, that the left thigh wound was created in a seperate incident an hour or more later, during the gunfight between the gang and Kennedy. Ian Jones and the CSI team propose that Kennedy, shooting back at the four Gang members as he fled, missed all of them every time but managed to hit his fallen comrade’s corpse collapsed in the grass! What are the odds? Buckley’s or none? The CSI team are going to have to dream up a better explanation than Jones ridiculous idea.

Actually, this suggestion by Jones and the CSI team, along with the one that the gang all fired a bullet into Lonigan’s dead body in some kind of gruesome bonding ritual can all be confidently rejected: Dr Samuel Reynolds autopsy showed that ALL the wounds were inflicted BEFORE death. If other bullets had hit him later on, long after he had died, Reynolds would have recognised them as having been fired into a dead body. He didn’t find any. There were none. 

The CSI teams obvious mistake is to have accepted McIntyre’s account of what he thought happened behind his back when Lonigan was shot. He guessed that Lonigan turned and ran, but was struck in the right eye when he looked back over his shoulder. By the time McIntyre turned to see what had happened Lonigan was on the ground, as good as dead. But McIntyre’s description wasn't a lie but a guess - he didn’t see exactly what happened. The key to realising that McIntyre guessed wrong is in the pattern of the bullets that hit Lonigan.

Here is the scenario that works the best, and fits the pieces of the puzzle together with the least need to accept ridiculous improbabilities. Its the one I described on this Blog over a year ago, and it has now been brilliantly illustrated in the drawing by Bill Denheld at the top of the post.  When you look at that drawing it all looks so obvious, it makes perfect sense.

This reconstruction requires first of all an understanding of exactly where everyone was when the gang emerged from the spear grass. When the gang appeared they were behind McIntyre and to Lonigans  front in a line going from right to left.  On the cry of “Bail up” McIntyre turned to face the gang, meaning that he could no longer see Lonigan who was now behind him to his left.  When Lonigan looked up he may have been almost facing the person at one end of the line but would have looked along the line of gang members and across to his left to see the man at the other end, Ned Kelly. Lonigan DIDN’T turn and run when ordered to bail up -  instead he kept his eye on the gang and took a few steps backwards. This is a much more natural response to such a threat, to back off and keep your eyes on the intruders, than turning your back on them and making a run for it. So, Lonigan took a few steps back, perhaps turning a little to his right looking for cover-  exposing even more of his left side to Kellys gun and his head turned to the left to see the line of four gang members emerging from the tall grass. Within a few seconds, Ned shot him with a charge of swan-drops or a quartered bullet: one went by his right eye on an angle and into his brain – as Reynolds described - one went through his left arm, another into his left thigh, and a fourth grazed his right temple. One shot. All wounds created simultaneously.  Lonigan was found where he fell, on his back which fits this scenario perfectly. If he had been running away and looking back when shot from behind as the CSI team  have illustrated, he would have fallen forward onto his face. 

Bill Denheld has kindly also drawn an alternative close-up ‘birds-eye’ view to illustrate the scenario that best fits the evidence: all bullets arrive at once, from off to Lonigan’s left, one in the left thigh, another through the left arm, one into the right eye and a graze to the right temple - and no need for ridiculous theories about the corpse being accidentally hit, or used for target practice by the Gang much later. 

One last minor difficulty remains. Reynolds said the bullet in Lonigan’s thigh was ‘an ordinary revolver bullet’, not a fragment of a 'quartered bullet' or a 'swan drop'.  How can this be explained? Well, because only one shot was fired, the wound in Lonigans thigh could only have happened at that time, along with the others, and therefore Reynolds description of the fragment as an 'ordinary revolver bullet' must have been an error.  In his original Autopsy report he described all Lonigans wounds as ‘bullet’ wounds, but made no special mention of extracting the ‘revolver bullet’ from Lonigans thigh.  It wasn't until two years later, at the Royal Commission that  Reynolds described that bullet as a revolver bullet. However he did specifically mention finding and extracting a ‘bullet’ in the report he wrote of the autopsy he performed on Scanlan. Its easy to imagine him mixing things up a couple of years later, or even wrongly identifying the projectile from the very beginning. He was a trained and experienced doctor not an arms dealer.

This scenario fits every known fact far more readily than any other reconstruction I’ve ever heard of. The CSI teams attempt to account for how Lonigan died is close only because they used the arguments advanced by me on this Blog a long time ago: they correctly recognised that Ned Kelly lied, that Lonigan had to have been hit by multiple projectiles all at once, and was shot out in the open. Where they went wrong was in accepting the guesswork of McIntyre about exactly what Lonigan did the moment he was ordered to ‘Bail up’, that he turned his back on the gang and made a run for it. The pattern of his wounds shows that’s not what he did - his left side was turned towards the gang, and with his head also turned to the left his right eye was exposed to Ned Kelly’s rifle out to Lonigan’s right. Look again at Bills great illustration of the ambush - it all makes sense at last!

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Updated CSI@SBC Report : $50 wasted!

Five years ago, in 2012 , a team of four amateur historians issued a report describing how they tried to work out exactly where the Kelly gang murdered the Policemen at Stringybark Creek. The Report was called “CSI@SBC”, but the central arguments of their case were fatally flawed, as I showed in my review of the report HERE. 

The CSI team have recently released an updated version of this original Report. This is how they announced it on a Members Only Internet forum a few weeks ago:

An updated report (ISBN: 978-0-9873615-2-3) will be released August 20. This report has further information reviewed and evaluated since the release of the CSI team's 2012 report.
This updated report includes:
* determining the location of the body of Sergeant Kennedy in relation to the police camp site determined by the team.
* an analysis of the shooting of Constable Lonigan.
* The location of the remains of a hut near to the police camp site - described in paragraphs 5.13, and 7.17 of the 2012 report, to which the team ascribes the strong possibility that this is the shingle hut referred to by Ned has now been examined by Heritage Victoria representatives this year.
* Photographs taken by the team since that examination are included in this update report.
* The serendipitous finding of a Spencer rifle bullet to the south of the police camp site determined by the team is also discussed and its location analysed relative to the police camp site.

Since the release of the 2012 report the team has not engaged in debate with those who post their comments and often uninformed views in various sites on the internet.
The Team has allowed the appropriate authorities to undertake an examination of the team's work and the claim of having determined the correct location for the site of the police camp at Stringybark Creek.

The team's conclusions and recommendations made in the original report are as valid today as they were in 2012.

There are a number of thing about this announcement that are worth commenting on. Firstly their refusal to engage in debate ‘with those who post their comments and often uninformed views in various sites on the internet’ confirms what I’ve said before about these people, that they are pseudo-scientists. A hallmark of real scientists is that they welcome and participate in discussions about the validity or otherwise of their findings.  But my open critiques of their work went unchallenged – are they too afraid to defend them? Their silence speaks volumes.

Secondly, what happened to Lonigan and Kennedy are interesting but how and where they died has nothing to do with the aim of the CSI teams research which was supposed to be to ‘determine the true location of the camp site at Stringybark Creek’ (changed from ‘establish the authentic location’ in the 2012 Report). As I showed in my critiques of the first version of this Report, it already contains a lot of irrelevant material that has nothing to do with the stated aim of the investigation. I called it 'padding'. So the question has to be asked : what is the point of adding even more  irrelevant material to the Report?  Are they trying to promote themselves as authorities on everything to do with SBC, and thereby gain some sorely needed legitimacy for their original Report? Do they think that by bulking up the Report it looks more impressive because it has more pages? I think its time these amateurs explained what the purpose of all this padding is.

Thirdly, I thought it curious that they announced that what the CSI team believes is the remains of a hut “has now been examined by Heritage Victoria representatives this year” but they don’t say what Heritage Victoria concluded about it. This statement is repeated in the Report itself, accompanying some photos of 'two rock piles' and photos of an area 'cleared by Heritage Victoria' . Elsewhere they say somewhat cryptically that ‘The Team has allowed the appropriate authorities to undertake an examination of the team's work and the claim of having determined the correct location for the site of the police camp at Stringybark Creek’ but again, don’t say what these un-named ‘appropriate authorities’ concluded.  As for saying they 'allowed' these authorities to undertake an examination of their site - what the hell are they talking about? Its not THEIR site, they don't own Stringybark Creek, and they don't have any control over any part of it. They're delusional to think they 'allowed' anyone to examine their site, as if they could have refused them permission to do so if they had wanted to. Its all very silly, this cloak-and-dagger, secret-squirrel kind of stuff, exposing a near  paranoid desire to play their cards close to their chest, to hint at things rather than state them directly. Its clear however they want to create an impression that they ‘allowed’ the appropriate authorities to visit and examine their site, and by not saying anything else hope that people will draw the conclusion that in some way their site was legitimated by this visit. 

I decided to write to Heritage Victoria to see what they had to say about their visit and examination of the CSI site. This is what I wrote:

Dear Sir
I have before me a publication titled "CSI@SBC : Update July 2017"
It’s a privately published document that purports to have identified the site of the Police camp at Stringybark Creek in the Toombullup Ranges, the place were Ned Kelly murdered three policemen in 1878.

The authors state on page  94 "In 2017 the site of the remains of a hut described in paragraphs 5.13 and 7.17 of this Report has now been examined by Heritage Victoria representatives" I’ve not been able to find any reference to this site visit anywhere on your Web pages, but would like to know some detail about which of your representatives made the site visit and examination, and what their conclusions were. I expect a Report of some kind would be made of this inspection, so if it was available, I would be most interested in receiving a copy

Many thanks for our assistance

Their reply stunned me, and exposes the CSI teams claims to be false:

Good morning Dee,

There has been no formal inspection of this site undertaken by this office.
We have briefly visited the Stringybark Creek Site approximately twice this year, but did not undertake any archaeological survey. Both visits were opportunistic as we were in the area to visit other heritage properties.

This year there were some limited archaeological investigation within the area of registration.
The excavation was not undertaken by Heritage Victoria staff members. A report on the findings of this excavation will be made publically available when it is submitted. This report is not yet due and I am not aware of what the conclusions are, as the analysis is still ongoing.
I am happy to distribute a copy to you when it is submitted to us.

We did visit the site briefly during the excavation, but again this was not a formal inspection.

Kind regards,

(name withheld) 

Shall I spell it out? The CSI teams claim that their site ‘has now been examined by Heritage Victoria” is at best a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth, at worst an outright lie. It didn’t happen. Two ‘brief’ ‘opportunistic’ visits are a very far cry from the impression the CSI Team are trying to create with their tricky use of words. This is a disgraceful way to behave. Their credibility has sunk to a new desperate low.

The 'limited archaeological investigation' mentioned by Heritage Victoria in their letter to me, I suspect was something carried out by Adam Ford as part of the forthcoming "Lawless" documentary which lists him as the production teams archaeologist. We will all find out later this month when the episode about Ned Kelly goes to air on Foxtel. However if the Documentary mentions the CSI rock pile at all, except to say theres no possibility it marks the site of the Police camp I will be stunned. For one thing, in 1878 the fireplaces were so close to the campsite they can be seen in the 1878 Burman photos of the site, yet the CSI stones are over a hundred yards away from the CSI teams nominated campsite. At Bill Denhelds two huts site, the substantial remains of fireplaces and huts are  exactly where you would expect to find them - within a few yards of the place where the police pitched their tent, a place they said was 'near'  a ruined hut. A few yards is 'near' - over a hundred yards away, through the bush is NOT 'near'. This claim sits alongside the many other ridiculous claims made by the CSI team, such as that two irregular and dissimilar blobs on tree trunks seen in photos taken many years apart are the same blob, and that the professional photographer Burman, in recreating the scene for his photos got it all  completely wrong. The fact he had been advised by Monk, who saw the dead bodies and was told directly by McIntyre exactly what happened and where makes this possibility, that Burman completely messed up, exceedingly unlikely. A case that rests on so many ridiculously unlikely propositions is no case at all.  And now they are trying to boost it by misrepresenting Heritage Victoria. 

Somehow I doubt that even NOW the CSI team will condescend to engage in debate ‘with those who post their comments and often uninformed views in various sites on the internet’  but with Heritage Victoria’s  confirmation that their claim is nonsense, they owe everyone a very comprehensive explanation.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Growing opposition to the DELWP Plan for Stringybark Creek.

Peter Newman  responded to the DELWP request for feedback in regard to their Draft Proposals for changes to the signage and layout of facilities at SBC. He sent me an abridged copy of his letter and has given me permission to post it here. DELWP are not going to be able to deny receiving a very loud and clear message from many voices, that people go to SBC to see exactly where the Police were murdered. The tricky PC language of their Draft Strategy that tries to make out that its a distraction to want to identify the exact site doesn't fool anyone.To truly honour the fallen Police, they should take the bull by the horns and do the necessary research, find the spot ( HINT : Bill Denheld can show you!) and dedicate the area to their memory. The Kelly gang should barely be mentioned.

Stringybark Creek Draft Signage Proposal

I have reviewed the proposed ‘Draft Interpretation Strategy’ documents.  

Before reviewing the documents, I had another look at the Project Summary to satisfy myself as to exactly what it is that DELWP is proposing to do here at SBC.  The key points that come out from this Project Summary are:
1.       The main focus of the exercise is to review and upgrade the signage and facilities at the site.
2.       To provide a new walking path in the general vicinity of where Constable McIntyre escaped and Sgt Kennedy was killed by Ned Kelly.  
3.       That there will be no attempt to identify the exact site of the Police Camp.  

In my original submission to DELWP about this project, I described my vision for what might be done at SBC.  I accept now that DELWP’s vision is more low-key.  So rather than elaborate any further on my vision for SBC, the following sets out what I think of the draft proposal having regard to the three key points set out in DELWP’s project summary. 

The proposed signage

The signage is obviously of a high standard in terms of its design and the information it seeks to convey.  

However I believe the off the beaten track location of SBC means most visitors are people who have deliberately sought the site out due to their interest in the Kelly story.  Most visitors will already be well aware of the events that preceded the police murders at SBC and the events that occurred subsequently.  For these reasons, I have to wonder why such an extensive amount of signage is being proposed.  I accept however that for casual visitors who are not already familiar with the Kelly story the proposed signage will certainly be of interest.  However for most visitors who already know the story, the signage will just be clutter which will detract from this rather special place. 

The proposed McIntyre / Kennedy walking trail

I have to wonder why this new walking trail has been specified as one of the project outcomes, but not a trail to the police camp site where Lonigan and Scanlon were killed, which is what I expect most visitors to SBC have come to see.  There seems to be an inconsistency here.  Furthermore the McIntyre / Kennedy trail has been proposed on the wrong side of the creek, with it now being generally accepted that Kennedy died at a location on the east side of SBC near the junction with Ryan’s Creek. 

I understand that the trail is meant to be indicative only to highlight the distance that Kennedy was chased down, but think it is ridiculous the trail should be on the opposite side of the creek from where this happened.  The fact the trail is proposed to commence from the existing picnic ground rather than from the site of the police camp will also give a false impression of the distance that Kennedy was chased down. 

The lack of recognition of the Police Camp site

As I have already noted, I believe most visitors to SBC have come to see for themselves the places where these actual events happened.  The police camp site is the key site people are interested in seeing and up until now this has been incorrectly identified and is now proposed to be ignored.  It would be appropriate for this site to be identified and for some form of memorial to Lonigan and Scanlan to be placed here.  It would also be appropriate for the McIntyre / Kennedy trail to be commenced from this site.

Additional comments

I have a keen interest in the Kelly story and would like to see some form of sympathetic development take place at SBC that acknowledges the events that occurred here.  I am therefore very pleased to be involved as a ‘stakeholder’ in respect of this project.  However having gone back as I have to the original Project Summary, it seems to me the project outcomes had already been decided before the project had even commenced.  The main focus is to be on signage and interpretation facilities, but the most important site at SBC is to be ignored.  Visitors are to be told that something happened here, but are not going to be told exactly where.  And they will be invited to walk a trail that is meant to tell us something about the distance Sgt Kennedy was chased down, but with the distance of that trail being considerably less than what it actually was and with the trail being on the wrong side of the creek.

Looking at the project timeline set out in the Project Summary, I see now that the input DELWP wanted from project stakeholders was simply ideas regarding source documents for use on the signs.  DELWP was not seeking information about how the site should be developed.  I think this is a deficiency that has set the project up for failure from the outset.  

It is apparent that DELWP is spending a lot of money on a development which is looking like it will not be true to the historical events that occurred here and which will not identify the key site which most visitors would wish to see.  I think this is a great pity, and I hope that the feedback you receive from stakeholders like me results in a rethink.