Gardiner is a known horse-thief who formed a gang with bushrangers, Ben Hall and John Gilbert. Their biggest robbery involved a gold escort from Eugowra in 1862, which netted the gang £14,000 worth of gold and money. Gardiner was caught 10 years ago, running a hotel in Queensland. He was convicted and sentenced to 32 years in prison by Chief Justice Sir Alfred Stephen.
It is believed that Gardiner's sisters have been lobbying the Governor to release their brother.
The Governor was reportedly convinced of the bushranger's good behaviour and
services rendered during his term in gaol, and that the sentences imposed by judges during that era were unduly harsh in order to stop the increase of such crimes. However the Gopvernor has been roundly condemned by several Members of Parliament and leading newspapers. In the NSW Parliament, Mr Coombs recently moved theat the House disapprove of the contemplated release of the long-serving prisoners, but the move was defeated by the Speaker's casting vote.
The Age said the question remains as to whether or not an irresponsible Imperial officer, under a responsible Government, ought to exercise the prerogative of mercy without being responsible for it...