Edward James Kelly
Edward James Kelly

WE WERE THERE: The shocking murder of Broadwater's Ned Kelly

WE WERE THERE is a series that revisits The Northern Star's in-depth coverage of the major events that have shaped the Northern Rivers over the past 20 years. Today, we look back at the paper's reporting of the brutal decapitation murder of Broadwater's Edward 'Ned' Kelly and the manhunt that resulted in the arrest of his neighbour Jonathon Stenberg.

BROADWATER was the scene of one of the most gruesome murders in Northern Rivers history when Edward "Ned" Kelly was decapitated in his own home by his neighbour in 2012.

The Northern Star was there to cover the case from the moment Mr Kelly's body was found, following the investigation, subsequent manhunt and trial.

One of the sisters of Ned Kelly, Margaret Simmons , is comported by a mourner following a service for Ned Kelly at The Lismore Memorial Gardens. Photo Jacklyn Wagner / The Northern Star
One of the sisters of Ned Kelly, Margaret Simmons , is comported by a mourner following a service for Ned Kelly at The Lismore Memorial Gardens. Photo Jacklyn Wagner / The Northern Star Jacklyn Wagner

GALLERY: The murder of Ned Kelly and the hunt for his killer

On Sunday, June 17, Jonathon Andrew Stenberg went to the Broadwater pub for a drink and told a local patron John he was "here to hunt Ned Kelly".

John mentioned this to barman Ron Wilson, who said John was shaken for several days after the encounter.

Some of the front page stories done on Ned Kelly's murder.
Some of the front page stories done on Ned Kelly's murder.

"He pulled a pistol out and told John he had the toolboxes on his ute full of guns, full of rifles," Mr Wilson said.

"He said the fellow they thought was Stenberg showed him police identification and started naming local names he knew.

Ned Kelly’s home is where he was last seen alive.
Ned Kelly’s home is where he was last seen alive. Cathy Adams

"He said by the end of the week Broadwater will be full of police."

A reclusive nature lover and artist, Mr Kelly was found decapitated in the kitchen of his Broadwater home by police at 4.30pm, on Thursday, June 22.

Mr Kelly's sister Margaret Simmons said her brother and Stenberg had a dispute about some trees being cut down.

A bookcase displaying more of Ned Kelly's art.
A bookcase displaying more of Ned Kelly's art. Jacklyn Wagner

Stenberg, 46, then led authorities on a six-day manhunt across NSW, into Queensland and the Northern Territory.

During this time the former army engineer and builder even auditioned for a role as a police officer in a film starring Hugo Weaving, Jack Thompson and True Blood star Ryan Kwanten titled Mystery Road.

Jonathon Stenberg's hideout in the Northern Territory.
Jonathon Stenberg's hideout in the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Police

Police eventually caught up with Stenberg at Berry, 50km from Darwin the day after they located his Mazda ute disguised in bushland nearby.

Stenberg was carrying two loaded handguns and a rifle when confronted by officers but surrendered without incident, police said.

He was extradited from Darwin to Sydney then charged by detectives with Mr Kelly's murder.

In September 2013, Stenberg pleaded guilty to Mr Kelly's murder and was sentenced to 25 years prison, with a non-parole period of 19 years.

But Mr Kelly's family were still left with the mystery of where Stenberg dumped "Ned's head".

"If he truly showed remorse he would have disclosed the whereabouts of Ned's head," Ms Simmons said.

"I'd like him to serve out his sentence and if he hasn't disclosed where Ned's head is he should have to serve longer," Ms Simmons said.

Stenberg will be eligible for parole in October 2037.

Grab tomorrow's Northern Star to see how we covered the axing of the Northern Rivers' XPT train service.



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