Researchers have discovered that people with tattoos of the Irish gangster Ned Kelly are eight times more likely to be murdered, commit suicide or die by accident.

Roger Byard, a professor at the University of Adelaide, studied the causes of death of 20 South Australian men between the ages of 20 and 67 years. They all had tattoos of or about Kelly.

Kelly has become an iconic figure of Australian legend.  The son of a Tipperary convict, Kelly came to be seen by some as a cold-blooded killer, yet is idolized by others for resisting the oppression of the British ruling classes.

Proffessor Byard thought he was imagining things when he noted an unusually high number of Kelly tattoos on the bodies at the Adelaide morgue.

What he found out is that admiration for Ned Kelly is bad for your health. Those sporting Ned Kelly tattoos were far more likely to have died by murder, suicide or accident. Byard compared their deaths to those of 1,000 others deceased in the area. The rate of suicides and homicides were 2.7 and 7.7 times higher, respectively.
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Only three out of the 20 selected died of natural causes, compared to 50 percent of the rest of the population. Also, 11 of the Ned Kelly enthusiasts had signs of drug and alcohol abuse.

According to Adelaide Now, Byard’s paper (which will be published in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine) concludes by saying, “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," he said.

Those in Adelaide who sport Ned Kelly tattoos are shocked by his findings. Ben Weekley, who has a Kelly tattoo on his leg, said, “I was inspired by the legend of Ned Kelly and I wanted an Australian tattoo…I've got no regrets."