1 Sep 2011

Ned Kelly's body identified

3:58 pm on 1 September 2011

Ned Kelly's body has been identified more than 130 years after his execution in the Old Melbourne Gaol.

Victoria's Attorney-General Robert Clark says the bushranger's remains have been identified by doctors and scientists at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine.

His body, missing most of the skull, was put into a wooden axe box and thrown into a mass grave with the corpses of other prisoners.

The bodies were transferred from the Old Melbourne Gaol to Pentridge Prison in 1929 and then exhumed again in 2009.

The ABC reports a DNA sample taken from Melbourne school teacher Leigh Olver, who is the great grandson of Kelly's sister Ellen, has confirmed the identification.

The forensic team had to sift through the remains of 34 people in the mass grave.

Kelly was captured after a shootout with police at Glenrowan in Victoria in June 1880. Despite wearing a suit of armour made from heavy steel, he was repeatedly shot. His three other gang members were killed.

Kelly was hanged for murder in the Old Melbourne Gaol in November of that year.

The search for his body began in earnest in November 2009 when a skull believed to belong to Kelly was handed in to the VIFM.

It was taken from the Old Melbourne Gaol in December 1978, where it had been on display next to the death mask of Ned Kelly. An ink inscription "E. Kelly" was written on the side.

The Victorian Government asked Professor Stephen Cordner and his team of forensic experts to try and identify the skull.

However, the skull has been found not to be that of the bushranger.

Glenrowan historian Gary Deans says the next step is to find Kelly's skull.