Bizarre factoid for a Friday: men who are tattooed with Ned Kelly are more likely to be killed or kill themselves. For non-Australian readers, Ned Kelly is a famous Australian bushranger (highwayman) who wore homemade plate armour and was hanged in Melbourne after he was captured in a police siege in Glenrowan.
The life of outlaw Ned Kelly ended abruptly when he was sent to the gallows for his crimes – and now it appears he is still something of a curse more than 130 years after he went to his grave.
An extraordinary study has found that people with tattoos of the Irish-Australian criminal, who is seen by some as a freedom-fighting folk hero, are more likely to be murdered or kill themselves. The tattoos of the highwayman, who was hung in Melbourne in 1880 for the murder of three policemen, are more common on those who have met a violent death.
The comparison between murder, suicide and Ned Kelly tattoos was made by Adelaide University Professor Roger Byard. He looked into the cause of death of 20 Australian men, aged between 20 and 67, who had tattoos of Ned Kelly’s face or name. He began looking into the phenomenon after seeing there were an unusually high number of Kelly tattoos on bodies in the Adelaide mortuary. Of the 20 men with Ned Kelly tattoos that the professor studied, only three had died from natural causes – the rest were murdered or killed themselves. He also found that 11 of the 20 Kelly enthusiasts also had signs of drug and alcohol abuse.
Professor Byard wrote in a paper for the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine: ‘Although the population studied is highly selected, individuals with these tattoos had an above average incidence of traumatic deaths. Individuals with Ned Kelly tattoos in this series certainly had an above-average incidence of traumatic deaths compared to other forensic cases. Ironically this was also a feature of the ill-fated members of the Kelly Gang, whose leader is commemorated in these designs.’
Interesting, isn’t it? Luckily I don’t have any tattoos of Ned Kelly. I hope you don’t either… Have a look at the article, there’s some interesting Ned tattoos there.