William Patrick O’Neill (1909-2001)
Marjorie Veronica May (1909-1992)
William Patrick O’Neill, known as Bill, or Billy as a younger man, was the youngest of five children of Herbert Thomas O’Neill & Mary Jane Thompson. He born on 24 Nov 1909 in the Wingham, New South Wales. His parents held the license for the Australia Hotel there before taking over the lease of the Royal Hotel in Taree in February 1925 .
Bill married Marjorie Veronica May in Paddington, Sydney, in 1928; William would have been only 18 or 19 at the time. we think Marjorie was born on 26 Aug 1909 in Inverell, NSW, her parents being Vivian John May & Lucy Coghlin; there is a record (FHL Film Number: 993635) of her baptism on 04 Dec 1909.
For some years young Bill worked with his parents in the Royal Hotel. There are a number of court cases in which he gave evidence. The first, from The Northern Champion on Sat 05 Mar 1932:
TAREE POLICE COURT
FRIDAY 26 FEBRUARY
FAILING TO PAY HOTEL CHARGES
James Tolmin Morris (36) pleaded not guilty to a charge of failing to pay £3 7s for meals and accommodation at the Royal Hotel. Taree.
The licensee (Hebert Thomas O’Neill) said Morris came to the hotel on the previous Friday night and stayed until the following Tuesday morning, when he left without paying the amount owing.
Wm. O’Neill, son of the licensee, said on 25th February he saw Morris at the Gloucester railway station and told him he had come to see about the hotel account. …
He is also mentioned as being behind the bar in an after-hours court case (The Northern Champion Wed 06 Apr 1932). In another such case his actions were criticised by the magistrate, but the case was dismissed; from The Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of New South Wales, Wed 18 Jun 1930:
ON LICENSED PREMISES.
Francis William Standen was charged with being illegally on the premises of the Royal Hotel, Taree, on the 8th day of June, at 3.55 in the afternoon.
He pleaded not guilty and was defended by Mr. L. O. Martin.
Sergeant Reilly said on June. 8 at 3.55 in the afternoon he saw the defendant walk into the Royal Hotel. A few minutes later witness entered and went to a door leading from the office to the bar. He saw William O’Neill (son of the licensee) in the office, and asked where was the man who went on to the premises a few moments before. O’Neill asked “What man.” He subsequently said a young man did come in, and, in answer to another question, he said, “He is here.” William O’Neill turned to the office and walked towards the bar. Witness walked into the office. The door was open from the back of the office into the bar. Witness saw the defendant standing at the back of the bar. Witness then went to the hall and defendant stood at the office. Asked what his reasons were for being on licensed premises and going behind the door, defendant said, “I just came in.” Witness said, “My opinion is that you went behind the bar to have a drink. Did you have a drink?” He replied, “No.” Witness said to William O’Neill,. “Why should you allow this man, on licensed premises, to go behind the bar?” He replied, “We want to have a conversation.” Witness said, “It is unusual to take a member of the public who has no right on the premises behind the bar to have a conversation.” He said he did not think it was causing any harm. Witness said, “I think you know your work better than that.” O’Neill said they were talking about football and witness said they should talk it at the front door. O’Neill said it was too cold there. Witness said, “You have two or three parlors here and lounges on each side of the hall. Are they not satisfactory to have conversations in?” He said, “They are rather cold.” Witness asked Standen his name at the finish.
Mr. Martin: Why did you say he had no right to go there and talk football. Why did you order him out?
Witness: He had no right to go in the bar.
Mr. Martin:- You saw him in the office. Why shouldn’t he go there, or in the bar for the matter of that?
Witness: I take it that he wanted liquor when he was in the bar.
Mr. Martin said that there were many reasons why a person was entitled to go on to licensed premises. Going there for the purposes of getting liquor or gambling was illegal.
Mr. Martin: Have you the right to tell a person who goes into an hotel for business to leave.
Witness: Oh, no.
Mr. Martin: You know that young O’Neill is a footballer.
Witness: I do not know that.
Mr. Martin: You will admit it.
Mr. Martin: You know the footballers hold a dance every year and have not held this year’s yet?
Continuing, witness said he knew defendant by sight and knew that he belonged to an orchestra – Flaxman’s orchestra. It was a respectable orchestra as far as he knew. He had seen defendant playing in the orchestra. Defendant was a well behaved young man. He could not say of his own knowledge that Flaxman was careful with his orchestra. He had never heard any complaints about Flaxman’s orchestra. If there had been complaints about that orchestra probably he would have heard them. W. O’Neill was a young man; he was married. Sunday, 8th June, was not a bitterly cold day. He only saw one man in the street with an overcoat on. The hotel door was wide open. Witness did not see any glasses or liquor about, when he went in. Standen was only about 3ft from the bar door. He knew the hotel telephone was in the office but he did not know that they kept a key for it. He entered the hotel about four minutes after Standen had entered. Witness had seen him go into the hotel about four minutes before he (witness) arrived. O’Neill said nothing about a football dance. He spoke of football. He would not say the office was a natural place for O’Neill to take a friend. There was no harm in taking him into the office. If a man was behind the bar, he was, he would say, illegally on the premises. He would not say the same if the man was in the office. It was a good hotel – well conducted. It was the best in the town.
To the .P.M.: When he saw defendant behind the bar he did not notice any glasses on the counter – nothing at all.
Francis William Standen, musician, residing in Taree, said he was a member of Flaxman’s orchestra for the past few months. He might have a drink occasionally once a week or fortnight. He did not drink spirits. He may have a lager or a shandy. He was not a drinking man at all. He did not go into the hotel to have a drink. The matter of having a drink was not in his mind at all. Flaxman asked him if he. saw “Billy” O’Neill down the town to just mention the footballers’ dance and ask if it would come off. He spoke to O’Neill in front of the hotel about the dance. He said Mr. Flaxman had asked him to mention the date of the dance. O’Neill was a member of the committee. It was a very cold day – a strong westerly wind was blowing. O’Neill said it was too cold and to come inside. They went and sat down in the office. They talked about the dance and they got on to football. They were trying to fix the date of the dance. Wednesday, June 18, was suggested. Witness was not certain if the date would suit Mr. Flaxman and said to ring up. O’Neill got up and went into the bar. Whilst they were there a knock came to the door, when they went into the office O’Neill shut the door. When a knock came to the door O’Neill opened it. O’Neill said to defendant, “Stand there.” That was over towards the bar door. He did so. After someone had spoken to O’Neill at the door, the latter said “Come in here, Harold, you. are wanted,” or words to that effect. O’Neill knew him as Harold, calling him that name ever since he (defendant) had been here. O’Neill had not opened the bottom part of the door. When defendant came to the door, the Sergeant asked him what he was doing there. He replied he had come to see “Billy” O’Neill. The sergeant said. something about his knowing he should not be on licensed premises and asked him his name, age and address. Defendant did not go behind the bar. He did not get any drink. He did not ask for any. O’Neill then mentioned to the sergeant that they had been talking about football. The Sergeant told defendant to get off the premises. The Sergeant said something to the effect that defendant could have spoken to O’Neill in the lounge. Defendant then went out. The front door of the hotel was wide open when he went in. The Sergeant made out that he went in to try and get a drink. That was not correct.
To Sergeant Reilly: Before going on to the licensed premises he was standing on the footpath, just off the step, talking to William O’Neill. He had no top coat on that, day: he had two sweaters on. When he went into the office the two parts of that door were open. O’Neill shut the door. He would not say the Sergeant knocked on the door. Someone knocked on the door. He did not know if the door was locked. He did not see the Sergeant in the office. Defendant was not out of the office; he was not in the bar. The Sergeant was not in the bar whatsoever. Defendant was in the office when “Billy” was speaking to the Sergeant over the office door. The Sergeant could not have been in the office without defendant seeing him. The door leading to the back of the bar was open whilst O’Neill went to get the telephone key. It was open some distance. He did not tell the sergeant that Mr. Flaxman had sent him down. The Sergeant did not ask him. If the Sergeant had asked his business he would have told him. The Sergeant asked him first his name, age, and address. He did not recollect the Sergeant asking him what he was doing on licensed premises in prohibited hours and going behind the bar. He did not say he had just walked in.
William O’Neill, son of the licensee of the Royal Hotel, said that Sunday, June 8, was a very cold day. There was a strong westerly wind and it was raining. He saw defendant about 3 p.m. in front of the hotel and talked to him about football. Standen came up to him and spoke about a football dance. Witness was one of the working committee; also a player and the assistant secretary. The club had decided to hold a dance and had only a certain time in which to do so. Witness was asked to see about au orchestra. He knew that Standen was in Flaxman’s orchestra which was the one they wanted. Witness said “Come inside. Come into the office and we will talk about a date. It is too cold here.” Witness spoke about June 18 as a probable date and said he would ring Flaxman about the date. He went into the bar to get the telephone key. He could not ring without the key. Standen sat on a chair. Whilst witness was in the office the knock came. Miles, an employee, who had been at the office, walked away as the Sergeant came. Miles spoke to him over the top portion of the office. Standen never went into the bar. Only the top part of the door was open. The Sergeant never came into the office. The Sergeant said; “Where is the man who just came in here?” Witness said: “He is here.” He walked a couple of steps and said to Standen “come here.” The Sergeant said to Standen, “What are you doing here?” Standen replied: “I came in to see O’Neill”. Witness did not know which O’Neill was said. The Sergeant said to witness: “You were talking to Standen in front, he says.” First of all, the Sergeant asked, what was Standen doing there. Witness said Standen was there on business”. The Sergeant said they could have talked on business out in the front. Witness said it was too cold, The Sergeant said he did not think witness had a right to have defendant there. Witness said he thought he had a right as defendant was on business. The Sergeant said: “Don’t you try to put anything over me. It won’t pay.” Witness said he was not trying to put anything over the Sergeant. The Sergeant took Standen’s name and address and said to get him off the licensed premises. Standen was practically a teetotaller to him. Indeed, Standen was not a frequenter of the hotel.
To Sergeant Reilly: When Standen and he were speaking in front of the door they may have they may have been a foot away from the door. They both walked in together. When the Sergeant came, the top part of the office door was about half open. He was sure the bottom part was locked – it was bolted. Standen was standing in a little press room near the bar. It was not true that Stamen was standing about 3ft. in the bar from the door. The Sergeant never came into the office. Witness’ back was to the Sergeant. He was positive that the Sergeant had not had time to walk to the bar door and back again before witness came out of the bar. The door was shut and it was impossible for the Sergeant to get in. The Sergeant said the office was a funny place to bring Standen to. Witness said he had no other place to bring him to. He was in charge there, had office duties to perform and was supposed to stay there. Standen was standing beside the door.
To the P.M.: He told Standen to stand behind the door because the Sergeant was so strict that he did not know how he (the sergeant) would take it if he saw any one there.
Edward Henry Flaxman, musician, residing in Taree, said he was the manager of Flaxman’s orchestra. It was his business to arrange for the orchestra to play at the dances in the district. Standen had been in the orchestra for some months and lived at witness’ place. Standen was a very quiet and steady man, gave no trouble whatever and was not a drinking man. On Sunday afternoon, June 8, defendant was going out for a walk and witness asked if he saw “Billy” O’Neill down the street to get particulars of the dance to be arranged. He had heard on the Saturday afternoon about the dance. Witness knew nothing about the hotel.
Mr. Martin, in addressing the Bench, said it was clear it was not the intention of Standen to go into the hotel for a drink, it seemed hard that those young fellows could not go into the office to talk football. Standen had had ample time to have a drink if he wanted one.
The P.M.: Not too much time. Only four minutes.
Mr. Martin said that was time enough. A man who went in for a drink would not waste time. William O’Neill was only 21 years of age – a youngster. The rights of a publican on Sunday afternoon were very much misunderstood. They had been much misunderstood by the Sergeant that afternoon.
The P.M. said he did not think so, it raised a suspicion when a person was behind a bar.
The P.M. said he would accept defendant’s explanation. He thought both defendant and O’Neill had acted in a very foolish way. He thought if defendant had given the explanation he had given that day the sergeant may have looked at things differently, and defendant may not even have been prosecuted. He thought young O’Neill had acted in a very foolish way. He had no doubt that defendant was in the bar when the sergeant came. He supposed O’Neill told him to get there. Defendant was a bit scared at the time and he said he was on business.
The case was then dismissed.
Bill took over the Hotel Parramatta a couple of years later. This was at a time the licensing laws in NSW were strictly enforced, and unsurprisingly Bill ran foul of the law on a few occasions:
From The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate on Thu 16 Jan 1936
“Came Back for Another Five Gallons”
What the Sergeant Saw
SUPPLY OF BEER FOR PARTY
DURING THE PROGRESS of a party on December 14, the beer supply became diminished, and two men drove to the Hotel Parramatta for an additional five gallons. While the men were arranging with the licensee for its delivery, Sergeant Jeffries came on the scene and asked a number of questions. As a result of the sergeant’s intervention, the three men appeared at Parramatta Police Court on Monday charged with breaches of the licensing laws.
Clifford Barnes and James Ward were charged with being on licensed premises after hours, and William O’Neill, the licensee of the Hotel Parramatta, with having permitted them to be on such premises.
Ward pleaded guilty, and Barnes and O’Neill not guilty.
Sergeant Jeffries stated that at 10.15 on December 14 he saw Barnes and Ward drive up to the Hotel Parramatta in a car. They got out and walked to the hotel door, which was opened by a woman. After they had entered, witness tried the door and found it locked. Five minutes later Barnes came out and drove in the car to the rear of the hotel. Subsequently, witness saw Barnes walk from the back gate of the licensed promises towards the car. Each of the double gates at the rear of the hotel were wide open and O’Neill was holding one.
“I said to the licensee,” witness continued, “’What are these men doing here? and he replied, ‘They are going to book in, and are just going to drive the car in and park it.’ I said to Barnes, ‘What are you doing on these premises?’ and he said, ‘We have just come from a party to get a five-gallon keg of beer; we ordered it a few days ago. We came along this afternoon and got a five-gallon keg. We ran out of beer and came back for another five gallons.’ I said to O’Neill, ‘You have heard what this man said – what have you to say?’ He said, ‘Yes, that’s right; the beer was ordered, I think, last Wednesday. Mr. Stead paid for it. He and Mr. Barnes came along this afternoon and took five gallons away and they said, ‘If we run out, can we come back and get another five gallons?’ I told them they could.'”
The sergeant went on to say that O’Neill told him that Stead had paid for two five gallon kegs with a cheque. On the evening in question, he (the licensee) received a telephone call from Barnes asking if he could get the other five gallons. On receiving an affirmative answer, Barnes and Ward came along. “The licensee took me into a garage and showed me a five-gallon keg,” said witness. I said to him, ‘Your story that these men were travellers is not correct,’ and he replied, “No, it is not correct, 1 don’t know why I said it.'”
Clifford Barnes, who is a senior clerk in the public service, told the court that he was present when Stead ordered the two kegs of beer. Stead said to O’Neill, “I will pay you for the two kegs, and possibly we can get the second one when we want it.” O’Neill said, “Yes, any time you like.”
Describing the visit to the hotel, Barnes said that when he rang the door bell it was answered by as girl, who brought the licensee. O’Neill said, “You came for the keg; drive your ear round the back.” When witness drove to the rear of the hotel, O’Neill, who was at the back gate, said, “Bring the car in.” Witness answered that there was no need to do that.
Witness denied that he was on the hotel premises. He said that he did not hear O’Neill tell the sergeant that he and Ward were travellers.
James Ward, who corroborated much of Barnes’ evidence, denied that Barnes went into the hotel. He stayed at the door while witness went in.
William O’Neill, licensee of Hotel Parramatta during the past ten months, said that when he went to the door to see Barnes and Ward, he was asked if he had got a ring from Stead. They said, “We have come to pick up the keg.” Witness then told Barnes the keg was in the garage and asked him to drive round to the back gate. While at the back gate, Sergeant Jeffries intervened.
Witness went on to say that he explained to the sergeant that Stead had ordered two five-gallon kegs of beer on the previous Wednesday and had arranged to pick them up on the Saturday afternoon. Stead called for the two kegs as arranged and said he would take only one, as some of the women thought that two kegs might be too much for them. He would, however, pay for the two kegs and get the second one later if they wanted it. Stead rang that night and asked if they could get the remaining keg and witness told him they could.
Questioned by the police prosecutor, Constable Harper, witness said that on the spur of’ the moment he told Sergeant Jeffries that Barnes and Ward were travellers. He realised later that it was a foolish thing to do.
The magistrate found the charges proved against Barnes and Ward, but dismissed the information. Defendants to pay 8/- each, the cost of the summons.
O’Neill was fined £3.
Mr. F.E. Murray, who appeared for O’Neill, asked that the conviction be not recorded.
The magistrate (Mr. Suthierland): There is not much in your client’s favor, Mr. Murray. He has had one opportunity; I don’t feel disposed to give him another.
Then from The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, Thu 25 Jun 1936:
DRANK AFTER HOURS
Young Men Fined
When Sergeant Jeffrey entered the Hotel Parramatta at 7:15 p.m. on June 6, he found Valentine Burke, Vincent Coppo and James Cownie drinking in the bar.
They said they were travellers, and had come from Dubbo. Later, when the sergeant was questioning them, Coppo said, “We’d better tell the truth. We’re not travellers; we slept at home at Blacktown last night.” Each admitted having signed the travellers’ book.
At the Parramatta Police Court yesterday, when Sergeant Jeffrey gave this evidence, Coppo and Cownie were each fined £2, and Burke was fined £1.
William O ‘Neill, who was charged as licensee, pleaded guilty. He was fined £3, the conviction not to be recorded.
In 1937 Bill purchased the Commercial Hotel in Mullumbimby; from from The Port Macquarie News and Hastings River Advocate, Sat 20 Mar 1937:
We understand that Mr. W. O’Neill, (son of Mr. and Mrs. H. T. O’Neill), has purchased the freehold of the Commercial Hotel at Mullumbimby, and will go into possession on March 24th.
The family was there for just three years before Bill sold out; from the Tweed Daily on Fri 15 Mar 1940:
HOTEL LICENCES TRANSFERRED
At a Special Licensing Court, at Murwillumbah on Wednesday, before the Magistrate (Mr. J. McElroy) the licences of two district hotels were transferred…
The licence of the Commercial Hotel, Mullumbimby, was transferred from William Patrick O’Neill, to Edward James William Hall
Bill and his family moved back to Sydney, purchasing the Union Hotel, 576 King St, Newtown. At the time, his brother Jack had the Town Hall Hotel at 326 King St, Newtown and later the Hampton Courth in Kings Cross, and his brother Pat the Great Northern Hotel in Chatswood.
Bill continued to run a fine line. He had his license cancelled for after-hours trading; from The Sun, Wed 05 Jun 1946:
PUBLICAN IS REFUSED LICENCE
“Liquor is in short supply, and I think publicans can get rid of it in trading hours. There is no need for after-hours trade,” said Mr. Wells, SM, in the Licensing Court today.
He upheld an objection by the Metropolitan Licencing Inspector, and refused a renewal of the licence of the Union Hotel, Newtown, to William O’Neill.
Police stated that O’Neill had been fined for delivery of liquor in prohibited hours.
This decision was overturned; from The Sun, Wed 4 Sep 1946:
William O’Neill, licensee of the Union Hotel, corner of King, Union and Iredale Streets, Newtown, successfully appealed today against the Licensing Magistrate’s refusal on June 5, to renew his hotel licence.
Just two weeks before Bill was up before the magistrate on a different charge, to which he pleaded guilty; from The Sun on Tue 20 Aug 1946:
Publican’s £100 Tax Fine
Pleading guilty to making a false tax return in 1944, William O’Neill, licensee of the Union Hotel. King-street, Newtown, was fined £100 by Mr. Sheridan. SM, at Central Summons Court today and ordered to pay a tax penalty of £400.
Mr. J. Burke, of the Taxation Department, said O’Neill’s turnover for 1944 was between £20,000 and £30,000.
Marjorie passed away on 11 Feb 1992 and Bill on 22 Feb 2001.
Their son Patrick William O’Neill died on 20 Feb 1937, aged just 9, as a result of a car accident (The Sydney Morning Herald Mon 22 Feb 1937; also see below).
Bill and Marjorie had five children altogether. However we do not name people unless their name appears in an official or public document. If any family member has further information, stories or photos to add, please contact the author (email@example.com).
Death of Patrick William O’Neill
Various newspapers carried a report of the car accident which caused young Patrick’s death. This item is from Tue 12 Jan 1937:
After a nine months’ world trip, Mr. and Mrs. H. T. O’Neill struck trouble when they were within five miles of their Port Macquarie home on Tuesday night of last week. It appears that after they took the turn to Port Macquarie, a tyre blew out. Mr. Bill O’Neill was driving the car, and he had with him his little son Pat. While the work of putting another wheel on was in progress, a car came round a bend and struck the stationary car, ripping the mudguards and footboard, and striking the handle of a door. This struck young Pat, and pierced his lung. He was at once taken to Port Macquarie Hospital, and admitted. The lad was knocked very heavily on the road. Mr. H. T. O’Neill received an abrasion over the forehead, while Mrs. O’Neill received a severe blow on the elbow. Word was sent to their relatives, and Mrs. Devenny (Newcastle), and Mrs. W. O’Neill (Sydney) arrived by the next morning’s train.
On Sat 13 Mar 1937 The Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer reported thoroughly on the accident in the subsequent coronial inquiry to Patrick’s death:
The District Coroner, Mr. T. Maloney, J.P., held a magisterial Inquiry at the Port Macquarie Court House on Monday, 8th March, concerning the death of Patrick William O’Neill, when the following evidence was adduced:—
Mr. N. W. Joscelyne appeared in the interests of Alfred John Cross, and Sergeant T. Turner to assist in the Inquiry. Dr. E. L. Murphy, sworn, deposed: On the 5th January, last I attended deceased about 10.30 p.m. at my surgery. The clotting produced was worn by deceased. The injuries were shock, with haemorrhage both in the chest and outside it from a lacerated wound on the right side of the back of the chest. The wound in the skin was 21 inches in length and half an inch to breadth. The wound through the muscles was one inch in length and half an inch in breadth, and penetrated the covering of the chest, and the base of the right lung was wounded superficially over an area of one inch. The 11th and 12th ribs on the right side were fractured close to the spine. Twenty-four hours after the injury further signs developed of a haemorrhage into the spinal cord with its upper limit at the level of the third lumber segment, resulting in a complete paralysis of the body supplied by the nerves below tie segment. There were superficial abrasions on the backs of both arms and fronts and sides of both legs.
To Sergeant Turner: The term A pulmonary embolism, means that a clot of blood has entered the circulation from some part of the body and has become lodged is the lung. The term, paraplegia, spinal injury, means the paralysis of both limbs already referred to. The medical superintendent’s certificate would be in accordance with my examination. The wounds referred to could have been caused by such an instrument as a car doer handle. There was nothing in my examination to show deceased had been dragged along the ground. The door handle would be more probable to cause the injury deceased’s 1’cight would to about four feet. I did not see him standing. I don’t think a bumper bar could have caused the injuries. The external abrasions could have been caused by a fall on the roadway. The injuries at the time of my examination were of a recent nature.
To Mr. Joscelyne: I am not certain as to what caused the injuries. Having examined the car I can only find one thing apart from the door handle which would cause the wound, and that is the mascot on the radiator. On any instrument that caused the wound I would expect to find blood stains, but not an appreciable quantity.
To Sergeant Turner: It would need a proper test to ascertain if there were blood on the handle. I found no portion of the clothes in the wound.
Const. Dent, Port Macquarie, sworn deposed: About 9.30 p.m. on 5th January I was returning by car from Wauchope to Port Macquarie. About 4 miles from Port Macquarie, round a bend in the road, I saw the head lamps of a motor car facing towards me and a tail light of another car on the left hand side of the road. I slowed down and stopped the car as I came near. I could see people moving about as I approached. When I stopped Mr. William O’Neill came across, carrying a child in his arms, and asked me to take him to the doctor. In reply to a question he said there had been an accident and the boy was seriously injured, and he would pay whatever I like to take him to the doctor. They got into the back seat of the car; I was informed by Mr. O’Neill his father was slightly hurt, but would be all right. I went over to Mr. O’Neill’s car and Mr. O’Neill said he would be all right if I took the boy in. Some one near-by said they would take him in; I only have a single seater car, and could not take them all. I then drove deceased and his father to Dr. Murphy’s surgery. He was taken to the surgery, and a few minutes later taken away by Dr. Murphy in his car. A few minutes after we arrived at the doctor’s Mr. Cross with Mr. and Mrs. O’Neill, arrived. Sergeant Rodley, of Sydney, who was here on holiday and had been in my car, said this (Mr. Cross’s car) was one that was involved in the accident: I went and spoke to Mr. Cross, who said his car was involved in the -accident, and asked did I want full particulars. I said, yes, I wanted to see his registration, license, and get a statement if’ he was prepared to make one. He said, I will give you all the particulars I possibly can after I have taken Mr. and Mrs. O’Neill wherever they want to go. I told him I would wait at the station. Mr. Cross came back, and gave me a statement (produced). I went down the town afterwards to find Sergeant Turner, but could not locate him at the time. I then went to the scene of the accident, examining the road way by torch-light. The cars had then been removed. I could not see any skids marks showing a brake had been applied violently. I saw a slight depression eight feet from the ballast log of the culvert and about four feet six inches on the bitumen portion of the road. A rough plan of roadway is produced. It shows the position of Cross’s car, and the impression on the road which has been marked. The width of the roadway across the culvert is 26 feet, 17 feet of bitumen, and four feet of white gravel on each side of it. I am of the opinion the depression in the roadway was caused by the lifting jack or the hub of O’Neill’s car after it had slipped off the jack. On the 6th inst, Sergeant Turner and I visited the spot and the former took four photographs, two facing east and two facing west. These I produce. After Mr. Cross gave me his statement, I examined his car, and noticed that the door handle on the driving side was missing and the hood was dinted and knocked back on the driving side. I drove the car and found the brakes in good order. Mr. Cross told me the hood had been damaged in the accident and that the door handle was broken off at the same time. There was a slight dint in the front mudguard on the driving side. I have driven a car for five years. I examined the door handle of the car outside. I can’t see how it would be possible for the wound on deceased to be caused by the . handle in its original position. It would perhaps be possible if it were bent back or outwards from the car. When 1 arrived at the scene the accident had been recent. The road is in good order, and there was a clear view of O’Neill’s car for a XXX paces, there was a slight down grade from the top of the hill to the culvert, but for about 20 yards on each side of the culvert it was practically level, with the exception of a slope on the road facing west. There is a 15 inch fall to the right on the western side of the culvert. On the eastern side of the culvert from the crown to the edge of the road the fall was six to seven inches on the bitumen. Cross’s car was a little to the right of the crown of the road when I came to the site. The left-hand wheel would be about on the crown of the road. There would be about two car lengths (10 to 12 yards) between the backs of both cars. In my opinion, the car travelling west had been under perfect control, otherwise it could not have stopped in the distance it did. I never examined O’Neill’s car at that time, or the other car would have O’Neill’s car on the right, and clear space on the left. There is a drain on the left hand side. It runs underneath the culvert. The white posts and ballast, logs are the only indication of the culvert. I would not say from my examination that the vehicles came in actual collision. The only damage I could see on O’Neill’s car was a dent in the front mudguard on the driving side. It could not have been made by a passing car, unless by a wheel hit ting head-on. It was a perpendicular dent. The lights on O’Neill’s car were burning at the time I passed by on lay way in, but I could not say in what position they were, for driving or dimmed.
To Mr. Joscelyne: Witness indicated the approximate relative position of the cars on the road. There was room for me to pass in the right hand side of Cross’s car. I might have gone out on the gravel. Mr. O’Neill told me his car had slipped off the jack. The depression in the road could be caused by the hub of the wheel, or part of the car striking the road when that occurred. I. examined Cross’s car, but could not see any part on the car that could cause deceased’s wound, l can’t suggest bow the wound was caused.
To Sergeant Turner: If deceased was 4ft 6in high he could not have been struck by the car hood. I could not see anything on the hood to cause an injury of that nature. That portion of the hood is 4ft. 9in. high, and the door handle 39 inches. It could be possible for deceased to jump and be struck by the hood.
To the Coroner: If deceased was standing on the roadway I don’t think it would be possible for the door handle to strike him and cause the wound. Mr. Cross was perfectly sober and appeared to be very upset.
To Mr. Joscelyne: The running board of Mr. Cross’s car projected further out from the car than the door handle, and would hit him first. The injury might be caused by the boy jumping off the road or being thrown to the ground.
Herbert Thomas O’Neill, sworn, deposed: On 5th January last I was returning to Port Macquarie in my car, which my son, William, was driving. About 4½ miles from Port Macquarie we had a puncture in the rear hind wheel on the driving side. The car was stopped near a culvert. I was sitting in the back nursing my grand-son. We all got out of the car. My son jacked up the car to change the wheel. My son removed the front seat of the car, to get the tools, and put it against the running board on the driving side. I assisted to Jack the car up. It slipped off the jack and fell down on to the hub of the wheel. My son took off the spare wheel. Deceased was standing on the driving side of the car at the time. I saw a car approaching when it came round the corner, and did not take any further notice, helping my son and having my back to it. Two other cars passed us coming to Port Macquarie. We were in a hurry to get home, expecting some people in that night I was standing at the back part of my car, near the back wheel, and I was struck on the back, below the two shoulder blades. The mark where I was struck would be 53 inches from, the ground. I also received injuries to the elbow and hip, and other abrasions from my fall to the road. I don’t remember much after that, till the little boy was taken away. I was dazed. Later I remember seeing a car near mine. It would be about four or five yards west of my car. I did not take particular notice of its position. I know of Mr. Cross. I was knocked a fair way by the car, but could not say what distance. I don’t remember anything after getting a terrific hit Mr. Cross later drove my wife and I to Dr. Murphy’s. Deceased hopped up on the running board of my car when the other car was coming. Deceased must have been struck before me, as he was on the Port Macquarie side of me. I did not hear deceased cry. There is no doubt deceased was standing on the running board of the car at the time. The spare wheel had been taken off at the time of the accident. Getting it off was what caused the car to come off the jack. I could not say if the approaching car dimmed its lights or not.
To Mr. Joscelyne: The lights of my car were on. They were on the dim position. I saw my son turn the strong lights off. Previous to that the lights were burning in the up position for driving. I saw the lights go down after we stopped. I would be standing about six inches from the car when I was hit. My son was behind the car trying to get the jack under the wheel. I had a dark grey suit on that night. I really could not say what part of the cat hit me. I did not have a punctured wound. I don’t just remember where the spare wheel was at the time. My grandson was about a yard from me. I never felt him knocked against me.
To Sergeant Turner: My coat was torn.
To Mr. Joscelyne: I did not notice what happened to the front seat cushion.
To the Coroner: The seat was taken out to get the tools, and placed against the running board.
Albert Edward Browning, sworn, deposed: On 5th January, about 10 p.m., I was returning home from Port Macquarie with .Mr. Cross and my daughter. About 4½ miles from town we saw the headlights of a car facing towards Port Macquarie. I thought the car was travelling to wards us. Mr. Cross dimmed his lights, and we appeared to pass the car all right. Just as we were passing the car I heard a bump on the driver’s side. There was only the one bump. The bump appeared to be near the door. As we heard the bump we heard a scream. Mr. Cross pulled his car up. The two cars would then be about 20 feet apart. O’Neill’s car was on the left facing Port Macquarie, and Cross’s on the left facing Wauchope. I just saw Mr. W. O’Neill, who had the deceased boy in his arms. Mr. H. O’Neill was just getting up at the time, and was on the middle of the road between the two cars. Mr. W. O’Neill asked me to get the car round and take the boy to town as he was hurt. I spoke to Mr. Cross just as Constable Dent’s car came along. He took the deceased and his father to town. Mr. Cross then took Mr. and Mrs. O’Neill to town in his car. Mr. O’Neill asked me to get him to go in and see the doctor. The cushion of Mr. O’ Neill’s car, when I asked Mr. Cross to turn round, was hanging on the rear right to hand bumperette of the car. The bumperette was caught about the centre of the cushion seat. The car lights as we approached were full on on Mr. O’Neill’s car. The lights’ rays struck us as we turned the corner of the hill. I passed the remark, there are some lights. I would say the car would be doing about 25 miles an hour Mr. Cross is a steady driver. He could not see anyone about the car. I thought the car was moving towards us. I have had experience as a rear driver. I have had to stop my car because of some lights. Your drive as near to the left as possible, sometimes in the middle. Mr. Cross was perfectly sober that night when he left Port Macquarie. The two cars did not strike one another. I saw a man named Manwarring at the cars later on. One wheel of O’Neill’s car was lying up against the running board and the other lying on the road. The casing was still on the wheel. Manwarring picked up the car door handle and handed it to me.
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To Mr. Joscelyne: The lights of O’Neill’s car were very bright, and dazzled me. The lights were noticeable as soon as we turned the corner. Mr. Cross had not moved his car at the time the Constable arrived. It took a fair effort to get the cushion off the bumperette. From my- experience I would not say Mr. Cross was driving too close to the other vehicle. The spare wheel was about level with the running board and projecting out towards the middle of the road. The outside edge of that wheel would be about the middle of the road. For a car to pass it would have to be right over on its correct side of the road. I have known Mr. O’Neill for over 40 years. 1 did not recognise him when I got out of the car. The back of O’Neill’s car was not jacked up, but down on the hub. Mr. Cross was keeping well on his proper side of the road. My daughter and I sat on the ballast log of the culvert after Mr. Cross went away. My daughter wore a white dress. My daughter stood beside the car and I walked down the road about 30 or 40 yards and could not see her. The lights of the car were still on then. Mrs. O’Neill said the boy had been lying on the cushion when I took it back.
To the Coroner: I think it would have been impossible for Mr. Cross to have seen Mr. O’Neill or the boy at the side of the car.
To Sergeant Turner: I did not suggest that the boy had been lying on the cushion. Mrs. O’Neill said the boy had been lying on the cushion, but did not say where. There is a down-grade on the road, and if the car engine were shut off momentum would carry the car on. I did not see anybody on the roadway when we were approaching or passing the car. I never saw anyone before the impact took place. The car continued straight forward after the impact.
To Mr. Joscelyne: Mr. Cross’s car was well over on the left hand side of the road when it was pulled up. When I got out of the car I stepped on to the gravel on the side.
To the Coroner: I have no doubt that Cross was on his right side.
James Stephen Manwarring, sworn, deposed: I live on the Wauchope road, about 4½ miles from Port Macquarie. On 5th January I was awakened about 10 p.m. and told there was a car smash along the road. I got the hurricane lantern and went to see if I could give any assistance. On arrival at the cars I enquired from the lady if anyone was hurt, and she said one child had been badly hurt. As I turned the corner on my way down, I noticed one car was facing Port Macquarie with its light beam very bright straight along the road. The lights dazzled my eyes and that was the reason I particularly noticed it. The bend mentioned is about 150 yards from the scene of the accident. The other car was on the extreme left of the road, facing west. That car was about 20 feet away from the back of the ether car. I saw a couple of women and a couple of men at the cars. On my way down I met a car coming to Port Macquarie near the bend of the road. I have since learnt that that was the car that conveyed the deceased to town. Whilst at the cars I picked up one tyre, leaning against the running board, and put it at the back of the car. There was another tyre on the road, which had a cover over it. The tyre I placed at the back of the car appeared to be fairly flat. I did not see the cushion. I only inquired if anyone was hurt when I arrived. The lights were very bright, and I could not see beyond the lights of the car, and don’t think it was possible to do so. I could not see anyone until I got right alongside the car. I am not related to any of .the parties, and have only known them since the accident. I heard a cushion had been picked up, but never actually saw it. I knew where the accident was because I could see the lights beaming, and went that way. I never noticed the tyre in the cover was damaged in any way when I picked it up. It was lying on the road, alongside the running board of the car. The outside edge of the tyre would be about 2 feet 6 inches from the car running board. A car could just about pass between the tyre and the road. I was there about half an hour. After Mr, Cross left, a man and lady remained there.
To Mr. Joscelyne: I had to come past the bend of the road to reach the cars from my house. I walked down the road from the bend. The dazzling beam of the car lights struck me at the bend. The top of the light there appeared to be level with my eyes. The grade from the car was up hill. Mr. O’Neill’s car appeared to me to be very close to the centre of the road. All four wheels were standing on the bitumen at the road. The tyre appeared to be somewhere about two feet across. The outside edge of the tyre would be about the centre of the road or a little further over to the wrong side of it. From what I observed and the position of the tyre on the road it would not be possible for another car to pass close to Mr. O’Neill’s car. I don’t think it would be possible for another car to strike anyone standing on the running board of Mr. O’Neill’s car without passing right over the tyre. I did not see the marks of the jack or car on the road. To Sergeant Turner: I could not say if the hub of the wheel was on the ground or up on the jack at the time. The wheel could have rolled away from the car. The four wheels of Mr. O’Neill’s car were on the bitumen. I could see where the water table was when walking down and the distance the car was from it. There was some mention about a cushion, I believe. To the Coroner: The four wheels of the car were on the bitumen. Any one coming into Port Macquarie could not pass outside of Mr. Cross’s car on the wrong side when I saw it. The car was then on the edge of the left-hand side of the road facing Wauchope. Mr. Cross’s car was not moved after I got to the scene of the accident.
Mary Browning, sworn, deposed: On 5th January I was returning home from Port Macquarie in Mr. Cross’s car. About 4½ miles out I noticed the lights of another car, which appeared to be coming towards us. Our car was travelling at about 20 miles per hour when we turned the bend of the road. Mr. Cross dimmed his car lights before reaching the other car. The other car lights were very strong. I heard a scream as the car was passing O’Neill’s car, and a bump. Both seemed to come together. I got out when the car stopped, about 20 feet past the other car. I noticed Mr. Cross mention as became round the bend that the lights were strong. I never noticed anything lying about.
To Mr. Joscelyne: Mr. Cross was driving slowly at the time he passed the other car. I noticed the cushion when Mr. Cross was turning his car round. My father took the cushion off the back of the car and back to the other car. I was talking to Mrs. O’Neill for a while. I never took particular interest as to the positions of the cars or anything lying about. I did not see anybody before Mr. Cross’s car stopped.
William Patrick O’Neill, sworn, deposed: On 5th January I was driving my father’s car, returning to Port Macquarie. About 4½ miles out I had a puncture. I pulled to the side of the road, and we all got out. I asked my father was I well over on the side of the road. He walked round the front and had a look at the near side wheel and said I could not get off much further. I had noticed I was well off to the side of the road. I took the front cushion out and leaned it against the off-side mud-guard, and got the necessary tools out and proceeded to jack up the rear driving side wheel. I took the wheel off and leaned it against the running board. I then proceeded to take the spare wheel off from the front mud guard on the driver’s side. Previous to this three cars passed, two in the direction of and one coming from Port Macquarie. As the first car was coming towards us my father remarked, ‘be careful.’ My mother, father and child walked to the back of the car as it went pass. They did not go to the back of the car when other cars passed, as there was sufficient room. The clamp on top of the spare wheel appeared to be jointed. While shaking it to release it the back wheel slipped off the jack, the hub of the car going to the ground. I then managed to get the spare wheel out, and placed it, with the cover on, leaning against the running board next to the cushion. I. then went towards the back of the car to jack it up again, and had trouble to get it under part of the car to get it up. I asked father to pull on the back bumper bar to enable me to get the jack under. My mother had a torch, and my little boy was helping my father. I noticed a car coming from Port Macquarie, and my father asked if it would be necessary to pull him up to give us assistance, but I said no. The next thing I knew the car had run into us. I was then at the back wheel starting to jack the car tip. I heard my boy scream and my father also. The deceased would then be in the middle of the road, two to three yards from the back of the car. 1 picked him up from that position, and carried him over to where my father was, more to the back of the car, but not so far out to the middle of the road. My mother was kneeling down near father, and told me he was all right 1 told her my little boy had been badly hurt, and that I would get the car to take me to the hospital. Father then got to his feet and staggered across the road. I asked those in the other car to take me straight to the hospital. Constable Dent then came along in his car. I. spoke to him, and he brought myself and my son to Port Macquarie to Dr. Murphy’s surgery.. The boy was later taken to the hospital. On the advice of doctors I had him removed to Sydney, where he died in Prince Alfred Hospital on 20th February, 1937. I never took particular notice of the position of the other car after the accident. Mr. Cross’s car was at the back of ours, and appeared to be about the middle of the road. Constable Dent brought us straight into town. I noticed Mr. Cross’s car coming, but did not take particular notice. There is an up ray, down ray and dimmer on the lights. The light was put on the down ray. The car is an ordinary standard Buick. Deceased had not been on a seat on the road at any time. He was trying to help me all the time. I never heard any conversation about the boy sitting or sleeping on the cushion. I think the cushion was the first thing hit. There was no possibility of deceased being struck by the jack. I saw the nature of the injury at the surgery and think the door handle the only possible thing that could do it. The four of us were all round the back wheel of the car at the time. I don’t think my son could have gone out into the middle of the road without me noticing aim. My father and son were about four yards apart on the road after the accident.
To Mr. Joscelyne: The spare tyre was placed practically perpendicular against the running board so it would not slip. The cushion was almost perpendicular too. I did not see the wheel, my father or my son hit by the car. I heard my father say the boy was on the running board. The boy said he was either on the running board or making an attempt to get there at the time. – My mother was more to the side of the car than the back of it. Both tyres were leaning on the running board at the time, and the cushion against the front mudguard. My idea is that the on-coming car first hit the cushion and it or the car hit the tyres. The cushion has more or less knocked my boy against the oncoming car. Mr. Cross was veering off and missed us more at the back. That is my idea of it. I don’t suggest he saw any one. He hit something and veered off. I saw the lights coming straight at us, and said, ‘Oh, my God, we’re being hit.’ I think my boy was hit by the cushion. The cushion may have hit the first wheel and missed the other. The mud-guards were not close enough to hit. The spare wheel could have slipped out without me noticing it. With the lights on the down ray they would show a good driving light. Probably they would show 100 yards. The back wheel being down would throw the lights up a little. The lights waver on a moving car. I was at the back of the car all this time. Only 15 seconds would elapse from the time the car turned the corner till it reached us. The boy could not wander out in that time. He would not necessarily be obscured by my father. I was devoting attention to my boy and went over to see how my father was.
To the Coroner: When I got into Constable Dent’s car we passed Cross’s car on the wrong side. I did not shout out to the oncoming car when it appeared to be going to hit us. I picked the boy up in the middle of the road. He was not struck there. My boy would be practically leaning up near the back mud-guard. Something was said about lights, but I said it was no time to be arguing about anything. I would say the car was travelling at 30 miles an hour. The car pulled up in about 15 feet.
To Mr. Joscelyne: I don’t think a car travels much under 30 miles an hour. I judge the pace by the distance my boy and my father were knocked. At the time of impact I would say the car was travelling in the vicinity of 30 miles an hour. If I meet a car with very bright -head- lights I pull over to my right side as far as possible. If the lights are then dazzling me I slow up with the brakes and perhaps stop. I think Mr. Cross said at the hospital, ‘the lights beat me.’
To Sergeant Turner: Mrs. O’Neill was holding the torch most of the time near the right of the back wheel. My boy may have held it some of the time.
To the Coroner: Deceased left no estate. He was covered with an Industrial insurance policy.
Alfred John Cross, sworn, deposed: I am a farmer, and reside at Lansdowne. On 5th January I was travelling by car between Port Macquarie and Wauchope, about 9.30 p.m. I turned a corner about 4½ miles from town, I saw a car with very bright headlights, and was under the impression it was moving. I dipped my lights and decreased my speed. As I approached, owing to the bright lights, I could not see anyone. Immediately, after getting alongside the car I heard a bump and a scream. I immediately applied my brakes and pulled up. The scream and bump were practically simultaneous. I pulled up on my correct side of the road and ran back. I first saw Mr. and Mrs. Herb O’Neill. Mrs. O’Neill asked me to assist Mr. O’Neill to his feet, and I did. Then I was informed of the boy and asked would I take them to hospital. . I proceeded to the car and started, when Mrs. Browning sang out there was something on the back of the car. Mr. Browning removed the cushion. Constable Dent arrived, and took Mr. O’Neill and his son towards Port Macquarie. I pulled my car over and Constable Dent went by on the wrong side. I then moved my car to the left hand side of the road and went back to see what assistance I could render Mr. and Mrs. O’Neill. The former was complaining about his back, and appeared to be slightly dazed. Mr. O’Neill asked me would I bring them into Port Macquarie, which I did. Mr. Manwarring came along just before I turned my car round. Mr. O’Neill was feeling the effects of the bump, and found it difficult to get into the smaller car. I was driving by the headlights when approaching Mr. O’ Neill’s car, and was trusting to him to do the same. When two cars are approaching there is always a dark spot. I was travelling round about 20 miles an hour. I pulled the car up in a very short distance. I never felt any skid with the car. I never noticed any spare wheels or the portion of the cars. I was more concerned about the people who had been injured. To me the bump appeared to be round about the hood and the door. I only felt the one bump. I know now two persons were struck. I knew that just after. The deceased would be about 4ft. 6 in. or so in height. Mr. O’Neill is a tall man. By the tear in Mr. O’Neill’s coat it is surmised the hood may have struck him. It is only surmise. The cry appeared to immediately follow the bump. I never felt any bump myself and was driving with my arm over the door. I am a total abstainer. I have held a driving licence a little over five years.
To Mr. Joscelyne: Mr. Herb. O’ Neill was slightly behind his own car, towards the middle of the road. I only wanted to render assistance and was not taking any notice otherwise. I could not see anyone at the side of the car. I considered I would miss the car and was travelling quite safely. After I passed the headlights everything was dull for a brief period. I visited the scene of the accident next day with Mr. Browning. The dent in the road where the jack slipped was 8ft. 6:n. from the ballast log. That would be about 4ft. 6in. from the edge of the bitumen. I mentioned to Mr. O’Neill the night of the accident the lights had me beat.
To the Coronet: Constable Dent passed by my car on the wrong side, as I explained. 1 never saw the ballast log on the culvert. I was driving by the lights on the other car being under the impression he was travelling. I had no idea there were people on the road.
The Coroner found that deceased died from pulmonary embolism, as the result of a motor car accident, and that no blame was attachable to anyone.