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Mangatapu Murders
In 1866, Richard Burgess, Thomas Kelly, Philip Levy and Joseph Sullivan were known as highwaymen and murderers. They were known as the Burgess gang, because of the notoriety of Richard Burgess' reputation and experience in crime. These four men terrorised the Nelson district in 1866. They had robbed their way into the area from the goldfields of Otago and Westland.
They first murdered James Battle on 12 June 1866, on the Maungatapu Track, by strangling him. On the 13th of June they attacked James de Pontius, Felix Mathieu, James Dudley and John Kempthorne. They were strangled, stabbed and shot at Kohuru Creek. When they were noticed as being missing a search party was sent out to find them.

The gang had by this time gone to Nelson with the intention of robbing a local bank and sailing off. They spent several days in Nelson, spending the accumulated funds from their foul deeds and were apprehended before the bodies were found.

The police separated the men in an effort to see what would be revealed and Sullivan knowing the death sentence was hanging over them confessed to the crimes he and the others committed. Sullivan was tried and convicted for James Battle's murder as his body was discovered later. He was commuted and deported. The other three were hanged on 5 October 1866.


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In 1866, Richard Burgess, Thomas Kelly, Philip Levy and Joseph Sullivan were known as highwaymen and murderers.

 Joseph Sullivan Portrait 


 Joseph Sullivan Portrait 


 Joseph Sullivan Portrait 


 Joseph Sullivan Portrait 


 Joseph Sullivan Portrait 


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