Page last updated at 12:39 GMT, Tuesday, 28 June 2005 13:39 UK

Call to exhume Kelly gang outlaws

Archived photograph of Ned Kelly
Ned Kelly has become part of Australian folklore

An Australian councillor has asked coroners to investigate whether two members of Ned Kelly's legendary gang survived a notorious 1880 shoot-out.

Steve Hart and Kelly's brother Dan were presumed to have died in a hotel fire after a gun battle at Glenrowan - two bodies were pulled from the ashes.

But Paul Tully wants the remains to be exhumed for DNA testing, citing rumours that the two men escaped to Queensland.

The claim has been dismissed by Kelly historians as a publicity stunt.

Mr Tully, councillor for the Queensland town of Ipswich, said there was a "strong possibility" the two men survived.

"Australia's history books will have to be re-written if my claim is proved correct," he told local media.

He said the coroner in Victoria state had agreed to review the submission, and would make a decision in the next few months.


This is 24-carat gold-plated impossible
Ian Jones

But Ian Jones, author of several books on the Kelly gang, said Mr Tully's claims were designed to promote Ipswich, where a man claiming to be Dan Kelly lived for 15 years until he was killed by a train in 1948.

"It's very difficult to say in history that something didn't happen, but this is 24-carat, gold-plated impossible," he told the Associated Press new agency.

Ned Kelly, who became a folk hero after his death, led his gang in a series of bank robberies in southern Victoria, before engaging police in a last-stand battle on 28 June, 1880, in Glenrowan.

Kelly was arrested after being shot and wounded, and was later hanged. Another gang member, Joe Byrne, was shot and killed by police.

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