THE DAY AUSTRALIA STOOD STILL - The Hanging of Ronald Ryan

* The clock strikes 8:00 AM.
* It is a hot Friday morning.
* The 3rd day of February.
* In the year - Nineteen Hundred and Sixty Seven.
* The State of Victoria hangs Ronald Joseph Ryan inside 'D' Division at Pentridge Prison.
* Australia falls silent ...
* Birds startled by the loud crash of the trap door suddenly fly off the roof of the prison cellblock.
* At the same time - a gust of wind from nowhere - slams shut the prison church doors with a loud crash.
* A crowd of 3,000 protesters outside Pentridge Prison - pause for a three minute silence.
* All is so deadly quiet - broken only by the sound of occasional sobs.
* Trains, trams, buses and vehicles pull over to a halt.
* Listless workers across Australia stop for a silent vigil.
* Church bells across the nation begin to ring.
* Worshippers attend prayer services.
* Candles are lit around Australia.
* Student protesters outside Parliament House distinguish flames on burning torches - having burned day and night for one week.
* There is an eerie quiet inside prisons across Australia.
* The usual prison sounds are missing - there is just nothing.
* Prisoners stage their own protest – they remain motionless - they refuse to obey orders.
* Ryan's wife sits on a sofa inside her home cuddling her three daughters tightly - as they weep.
* One of Ryan's daughters suddenly realises she has torn her handkerchief to shreds.
* It was as though time had paused - all was still - temporarily.
* It was the day Australia stood still.

Ronald Ryan is remembered as the man whose execution provoked such a public outcry, that no person ever again would be executed in Australia.

To this day, more than four decades later, the facts and serious doubts remain whether Ronald Ryan was guilty of murder beyond all reasonable doubt.

Ronald Ryan was convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged, based solely on "hearsay" evidence and despite a total lack of scientific ballistic forensic evidence, mysterious missing pieces of vital evidence that would have cleared Ronald Ryan, various serious ambiguities in the capital case, dire widespread inconsistencies of all fourteen eyewitnesses evidence for the prosecution, testimony from a prison officer that he fired the one and only single shot (heard by all persons - nobody heard two shots fired), and ballistic expert evidence confirming the autopsy report that this one single fatal shot was fired from a distance at an elevated position in a downward-trajectory angle (impossible for Ronald Ryan to have fired at such angles).

Ronald Ryan was found guilty of murder based solely on unsigned, unrecorded, and unproven allegations of verbals/confessions said to have been made by Ronald Ryan to police.

Several months after being convicted of murder, seven of the twelve all-male jury went to the media claiming; "We didn't want the rope and we never would have found Ronald Ryan guilty if we knew he would be hanged." What were the seven jury members really thinking? Were they unsure of Ronald Ryan's guilt? Why did they change their mind about the guilty conviction?

Afterall, the jury were well-informed before the trial that if Ronald Ryan was convicted or murder, the mandatory sentence was the death penalty. These seven jury members strongly campaigned against the hanging, along with the majority of Australian politicians, the media, lawyers association, religious leaders and 18,000 noisy public protesters. But the then Victoria State Premier Henry Bolte, was determined Ronald Ryan would hang - a hanging is what Henry Bolte needed to boost his political party's votes in the upcoming Victoria State election.

Ronald Ryan strongly denied having made any verbal confessions to any person. He denied ever firing a shot and maintained his innocence to the end.

Capital punishment was officially abolished in Australia in 1985.

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