Policeman shot dead in bar of Perth’s Brisbane Hotel

brisbane hotel perth with insets

The Brisbane Hotel, Highgate, Perth. Insets: Left, Edward Kelly and Sgt Alexander Mark. Picture: Google Streetview and Perth Mirror 1928.

NOW a popular pub in the Perth inner city suburb of Highgate, the Brisbane Hotel has traded for over 120 years.

The pub, located at the corner of Brisbane and Beaufort Streets, was established in 1898.

In recent years, the pub has been given a fresh new look, with a focus on food. On their website, the owners describe the venue as having a “local pub vibe with the quality of a small bar”.

“We have evolved through the years, becoming a significant landmark of Perth. As the years have passed, and the face of Perth has changed, The Brisbane still stands… if these walls could talk!”

front bar brisbane hotel perth wa

WHERE THE TRAGEDY HAPPENED.—The front bar of the Brisbane Hotel, where in struggle with his assailant, Sergt, Mark received the bullet wound from which he died. Inset: The plate glass window shattered by the bullet that just missed the barman. Picture: Perth Mirror March 10 1928.

Well, here’s our little attempt at giving those walls a voice. In the corner pub’s long history a tragic event unfolded in 1928 when a police office, Sergeant Alexander was fatally shot dead its public bar in 1928.

Edward “Ned” Kelly was eventually found insane and spent most of the remainder of his life in a lunatic asylum.

The murderer caused a sensation in 1929 when at the age of 57 he escaped from the Claremont Hospital for the Insane. He returned to the asylum voluntarily and was famously photographed by the Perth Mirror, returning through the rear entrance, a week later.

Edward Nicholas Kelly died at the age of 82 in 1957.

kelly on the right outside asylum perth mirror smaller

THIS EXCLUSIVE PICTURE shows Edward Nicholas Kelly (right) with E. L. Handcock (‘Mirror’ representative — left) after Kelly had agreed to return to the Asylum. The asylum buildings can be seen in the background. Picture: Perth Mirror 1929

The following story of the police officer’s murder was published in the Perth Mirror on Saturday March 10 1928:

Fatal Sequel to Struggle in Hotel

“He met his death in the execution of his duty. . . His bravery was of the highest order. To save a life he lost his own.” This sincere tribute to the late Sgt. Mark prefaced the opening of the charge against Edward Nicholas Kelly of the willful murder of Sgt Mark in the Police Court this morning.

Fatally, wounded in a struggle in the bar of the Brisbane Hotel on Wednesday evening Sergeant Mark, of the Highgate Police lingered till yesterday after noon when he died in Perth Hospital from the effects of his wound. The shooting followed on an hour of hectic excitement. Kelly bad been drinking in the bar and being refused further drink had gone away, it is alleged, with the threat to shoot up the two barmen and the barmaids. In town he was quickly in the lime-light. Eye-witnesses say he fired three revolver shots in the shop window of Jack Cuneen’s in Wellington-street, and then with the smoking revolves in his hand went and sat in the chair of a nearby barber’s.

Before detectives arrived he had made off again and warning away the two lads who pursued him engaged a taxi to drive him to the Brisbane Hotel. Here events moved swiftly. Walking straight up to the bar Kelly is alleged to have drawn a revolver and fired a shot that was only inches astray of the barman’s head and shattered a plate glass window.

Another bullet crashed into the ceiling before Sgt. Mark and a bystander named John Tovey grappled with the gunman.

In the struggle the gun went off again and the bullet entered the sergeant’s body. Gamely he hung on till Kelly was disarmed and then was hurried to the Perth Hospital, while Kelly was taken in charge by the police.

From about 6 o’clock on Wednesday evening till Friday afternoon the sergeant clung to a slender chance for life. But yesterday as he gradually went down his dying depositions were taken, Kelly being brought to the hospital to hear them.

With the death of the sergeant the original charge of attempting to kill was altered to one of willful murder, and Kelly charged on that count this morning was remanded to Fremantle gaol.


The deceased sergeant had been 30 years in the force, popular and a markedly, efficient officer. For some time he was located at Pinjarra where he was highly regarded and only recently returned from the long-service leave.


Edward Kelly, who looked more at ease than the dejected spectacle he presented on Thursday, was charged this morning with the willful murder of Sgt. Mark.

When the usual remand for eight days was granted he was bundled into the prison van and taken immediately to Fremantle Gaol.


Before proceeding with the business of the court this morning, said Mr. F. F. Horgan in the Police Court this morning, “it is my sad duty to refer to the death of the late Sgt. Alexander Mark, of the W.A. Police.

“No words or mine can sufficiently voice the high opinion of him held by those who knew the late officer, particularly his comrades in the force. He met his death in the execution of his duty. What greater or more noble sacrifice can a man make?

“The State has lost a gallant officer, his fellow-officers a good, staunch comrade, and the public a most worthy citizen. His bravery was of the highest order. To save a life he gave his own. My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his wife and son.”

Mr. N. P. Lappin, on behalf of the Bar, also added words of sympathy and a tribute to the memory of the courageous officer.

The last sad rites were performed this afternoon when Sgt. Mark’s body was borne to the cemetery at Karrakatta. The cortege was accompanied by many of his former comrades and by a large number of his friends. Sergeant Mark’s funeral was in many respects reminiscence of that of the late Inspector Walsh and Sgt. Pitman, who like deceased, were shot in the execution of their duty.

brisbane hotel perth google 2019 b

Brisbane Hotel, Perth. Picture: Google Streetview


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Categories: Perth Hotels, Western Australia hotels


1 reply

  1. Any history on the Norwood Hotel, a really old fashioned watering hole. Steve Spanbrook was licensee when I worked there in the late 60’s. Jack Flynn was bar manager. East Perth Football Club followers used to drink with Steve.

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