Kelly was born in the British colony of Victoria as the third of eight children to Irish parents. His father, a transported convict, died shortly after serving a six-month prison sentence, leaving Kelly, then aged 12, as the eldest male of the household. The Kellys were a poor selector family who saw themselves as downtrodden by the Squattocracy and as victims of police persecution. While a teenager, Kelly was arrested for associating with bushranger Harry Power, and served two prison terms for a variety of offences, the longest stretch being from 1871 to 1874 on a conviction of receiving a stolen horse. He later joined the "Greta mob", a group of bush larrikins known for stock theft. A violent confrontation with a policeman occurred at the Kelly family's home in 1878, and Kelly was indicted for his attempted murder. Fleeing to the bush, Kelly vowed to avenge his mother, who was imprisoned for her role in the incident. After he, his brother Dan, and two associates—Joe Byrne and Steve Hart—shot dead three policemen, the Government of Victoria proclaimed them outlaws.