Grosvenor Hotel, Ultimo – Man kicked to death

The Grosvenor Hotel, Harris Street Ultimo

The Grosvenor Hotel, Harris Street Ultimo

IN the early hours of New Year’s morning a horse trainer named Robert Crooks, 28, was brutally done to death in Quay-street, Ultimo.

Crooks received dreadful injuries at the hands and feet of his cowardly assailants; but,notwithstanding the fearful nature of his injuries, did net succumb until this morning. Already two brothers, named David and Alfred Carroll, are in custody on suspicion of having been concerned in causing Crook s death, and other arrests are likely to follow. A good deal of mystery surrounds the whole affair, but as far as the investigations of the police go, it would seem that the attack upon the deceased was not premeditated. It was rather the outcome of a sudden burst of savage fury directed by a gang of roughs against one who was supposed to have thwarted them in some way, and hence offended against the unwritten laws of ‘pushdom.’

Deceased resided at the Grosvenor HotelHarris-street, Ultimo, and on New Year’s Eve he made one of a band who proceeded to serenade the neighborhood and make night hideous with tin whistles and trumpets — forms of torture inseparable from New Year’s celebrations in Sydney. The contingent with which deceased associated himself must have numbered over 100. Calls would appear to have been made at several public houses. The band was bent upon making a night of it, and about 3.30am the members thereof found themselves in Quay-street, Ultimo,within a quarter of a mile of the hotel where Crooks lived. A halt was called in front of a house, the inmates of which were known to deceased, a piano was playing in the house, and those with Crooks proceeded to give the household a taste of their musical abilities by a concerted performance of tin trumpets. Many of the crowd were more or less intoxicated, and it was not long before a row was in full swing.

Deceased, it is asserted, had some words with a man over a trumpet. While the former was blowing it, one of the gang is alleged to have roughly snatched it from him, going through the operation of what is known as ‘blocking his hat ‘ at the same time. Crooks resented this, and struck his assailant in return. Something approaching a free fight followed, and deceased, it is said, was attacked, not only by the man who had assaulted him in the first instance, but by at least half a dozen or the fellows immediate’partisans. In a few minutes the unfortunate Crooks was literally done to death. A blow from a stone broke his nose. He was speedily knocked down,and then half a dozen inhuman ruffians veritably played football with him. They kicked the unfortunate victim of their spleen across the roadway, and didn’t desist until he was insensible.

At least 150 persons witnessed the brutal ill usage of Crooks; but as far as the police can ascertain, little or no effort was made to rescue the man from the gang of savages into whose murderous clutches he had fallen. Leaving Crooks upon the road for dead, those who had been concerned in the attack upon him dispersed. He was afterwards found by Constable Travers of No 2 station, who had him removed to Sydney Hospital. A terrible sight he presented. He was covered with blood, his nose was broken, his face battered almost out of recognition, and his body a mass of bruises. On being admitted to the hospital Crooks was treated by Dr Throsby. The man recovered somewhat, and complained of being injured internally. Crooks, judging by the number or contusions visible, was kicked repeatedly in the abdomen. After remaining some hours in the institution, the authorities for some reason or other allowed Crooks to leave the hospital, and he was taken to his home by a young man named William Shinick,who knew him intimately. But it was a fatal move.

Crooks rapidly grew worse, and he had to be taken back to the hospital, where he died early this morning. The hospital authorities appear to have been ignorant of Crooke’s precarious condition. MrDelohery, S.M., was to have taken his depositions, but when he was communicated with the victim of the outrage was dead. Those who witnessed the assault preserve the utmost reticence concerning the whole affair, dreading, doubtless, lest they should be singled out as victims too if they gave any information. Under the circumstances the work of the police has been anything but easy. It was 3 o’clock this morning when Detective Keating and Plainclothes-constable O’Dea were placed in charge of the case.

Crooks was then dead, and upon the officers devolved the task of bring to justice those responsible for his death. Two hours later, as the result of inquiries they had made, Keating and O’Dea went to a tobacconist’s shop in George-street west, where they arrested David and Alfred Carroll, who were still in bed when the detectives reached their domicile. The first-named is a carter, and his brother is a hairdresser. Both were charged on suspicion with having been concerned in causing deceased’s death.They were brought up at the Central Police Court and remanded to the Coroner’s Court. Other arrests will probably follow.[We learnt by telegram on Friday that the two men David and Alfred Carroll had just been committed for trial for manslaughter.’]

– Kalgoorlie Miner (WA) Monday 16 January 1899.


WHILE on duty in Harris-street, Ultimo, at 1.30am yesterday, Constables Good and Nutt,of No. 2 Station, noticed ‘a man prowling about the Grosvenor Hotel, at the intersection of William Henry and Harris streets. As the constables approached the man he made off, and it was discovered that the grating over the cellar of the hostelry had been unfastened. Into the cellar went the constables, and found two men, whom they covered with revolvers. The couple promptly obeyed the request to put up their hands. They were easily hand cuffed and taken away to the police station. The prowler who had apparently been keeping watch was out of sight when the party of four made their .exit from the cellar.

– Sunday Times (Sydney) Sunday 5 July 1914.




Categories: NSW hotels

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