Scientific Paper: The death of Ben Hall

  • Roger W. Byard
  • Damian McDonald

Abstract

Ben Hall was a nineteenth-century Australian bush- ranger (outlaw) who was shot and killed by colonial police on May 5 1865. Popular belief is that Hall was shot while sleeping in his camp bedding. This contrasts with the official police version of Hall being shot while attempting to escape by running away. To evaluate this divergence of opinion a study of the gun belt allegedly worn by Hall at the time of his fatal shooting was undertaken. This revealed a nineteenth- century belt with a defect corresponding to an oblique bullet hole. The shelving was in keeping with the shooter being located to the rear and left of the decedent, in a position cor- responding to police reports. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed the presence of lead, in addition to mercury, silver and sulfur, materials used as primers in nineteenth century ammunition. Thus, contemporary examination of the belt provides support for the police version of events.

 

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