Murder outside Paddington pub: Smoking gun placed on the bar of Rose & Crown Hotel

Rose and Crown Hotel Paddington1949 anu
Joe Ryan’s Rose and Crown Hotel, Paddington, 1949. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.
The scene shortly after when Ruby Brasier was gunned down outside her home. Picture: Brisbane Telegraph, October 30, 1952
Ruby Brassier 1952
Ruby Brasier. Picture: Sydney Truth, November 16, 1952.

THE son of Paddington publican, Joe Ryan was preparing the Rose and Crown Hotel for another day’s trading in the Spring of 1952 when one of his regular customers calmly walked into the bar, and placed a smoking gun on the counter.

“Here’s the gun, Johnny. Ring the police,” 24-year-old Kenneth John Brasier said.

Johnny had just watched in horror as Brasier violently shot eight bullets into his wife, Ruby on the street outside the pub. Today the Sydney pub, at the corner of Gipps and Glenmore Roads, is known as the Village Inn.

“Righto, Ken,” Johnny replied, and placed his handkerchief around the gun’s barrel. He then put the gun near the cash register and called the police.

The murder of Ruby Brasier, 26, outside her home on Gipps Street about 10.30am on October 29, 1952 caused a sensation at the time.

Young Johnny watched from the bar room when Ken Brasier’s estranged wife walked outside the front gate of her house. She was separated from her husband.

About the same time her husband appeared. They began arguing, when Ruby tried to walk inside and her husband blocked her way.

The publican’s son told police he watched as Ken pulled something from his pocket.

“I heard the sound of shooting. She raised her forearm as she went to shield herself,” Johnny said.

Kenneth John Brasier

“The next shot, or shots, were after she fell to the ground. Then I realised it was no joke. I saw her husband stand half bending over her, firing the last shots at the lower part of her body.”

Brasier, who was living in Liverpool Street, Paddington, was charged with feloniously and maliciously murdering his wife. He was also charged with being in possession of a .32 calibre Colt revolver without a licence.

In March 1953 a Sydney jury rejected Brasier’s defence of insanity and instead found him guilty of murder. He was sentence to death.

Brasier appeared unaffected by the verdict. His mother and sister, both of whom had given evidence for him, were led weeping from the court.

The Crown claimed that the killing was an act of vengeance because Mrs Brasier refused to return to her husband.

Despite the sentence, Brasier never went to the gallows, and after spending time behind bars, and later psychiatric hospitals, died in Sydney at the age of 58 in 1986.

Denise Love Andrews writes: “OMG, you just gave me the shock of my life! That was my Uncle Ken, my Mother’s younger brother. There was so much to that story, on both sides. I can only mention one; Ken was a young man with mental issues, had suffered a massive traumatic brain injury when he jumped off a tram into the side of a truck, he was not expected to survive but did. He was besotted with his wife. According to the government psychiatrist he was not fit to stand trial. He was sentenced to death. He spent every day for many of the years that he spent, mostly in psychiatric hospitals, waiting for the hangman to come for him. His sentence had been commuted to life. He was a talented artist, I have several of his paintings, including the portrait that he painted of me, one of only two portraits, that I’m aware of, that he painted, the other was of his second wife, a lovely lady he met at Callan Park. He was finally released, I think late 1970s, lived with his wife in Balmain, continued to paint, still fought his demons, and died of cancer in 1986.”

village inn paddington 2017
The Village Inn, Paddington, 2018. Picture: Mick Roberts Collection

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