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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Australian legend goes under the hammer

Ned Kelly became a folk hero after his death
By Red Harrison in Sydney

A piece of a home-made suit of armour worn by the 19th Century Australian outlaw Ned Kelly has been sold at auction for more than A$200,000 ($100,000).

Ned Kelly is often described as the best-known Australian even though he was hanged for murder.

Historians say he is the equivalent of Robin Hood in England or Billy the Kid in the United States - both criminals elevated by fiction and mythology into folk heroes.

Ned Kelly in particular has become synonymous with Australian attitudes to rebellion against authority and independence.

Home-made protection

Most of his armour, fashioned from stolen ploughshares and intended to protect him from police bullets, has been in museums for years.

But one small piece which protected the upper arm and shoulder has been held privately by descendants of one of the policemen who arrested him.

It was bought by the State Library of Victoria, which already holds Ned Kelly's helmet.

'Such is life'

Ned Kelly robbed banks, stole horses and cattle and killed three policemen.

He was shot and captured 125 years ago.

At his trial, Kelly argued that the police were his natural enemies and that a man who killed his enemies was not a murderer.

He was hanged in Melbourne in 1880. His last words are reported to have been: 'such is life'.

See also:

17 Jan 00 | Asia-Pacific
Ned Kelly's skull resurfaces
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