THE publican of Carlton’s United States Hotel had endured four raids by thieves within nine months before shooting dead an intruder in May 1925.
Publican John Maxwell O’Shea shot Henry ‘Pony’ Dodds while he was attempting to climb over the back fence of the hotel.
The Victorian licensee reportedly had frequently complained to the police, and sought their protection against “undesirables” who drank at his pub.
Dodds was known to the police, and for many years conducted an all night pie cart outside St Paul’s Cathedral, in Swanston street.
At one time Dodds was a well-known boxer, but it had been 14 years since he donned the gloves to fight in any contest of note.
From a statement made to the police, it appears that Dodds and a number of other men had been drinking till early hours of a Sunday morning. An effort was supposed to have been made to get more beer, and Dodds was in the act of climbing the gate of the hotel yard when he was mistaken for a burglar and shot.
The publican informed the police that he fired to frighten the intruder, but that the bullet hit Dodds in the head.
Owing to the unsavoury reputation of the neighbourhood, O’Shea had obtained a permit to carry a revolver.
O’Shea was charged with murder and he was bailed with two sureties of £250 each to appear in court on June 1. The West Australian reported on Monday 22 June 1925:
Publican Acquitted. Melbourne, June 19.
Shot in the head with a bullet from a revolver outside the United States Hotel, at the corner of Neill and Canning Streets Carlton, early on the morning of May 17. John Henry Dodd, aged 42 years, pie salesman, of Drummond street, Carlton, died at the Melbourne Hospital four hours later. Jack Maxwell O’Shea, aged 34 years, licensee of the United States Hotel, who was committed for trial by the Coroner on a charge of manslaughter, appeared before Mr. Justice Mann in the Criminal Court today. Detective Gooden said that he inter-viewed O’Shea, who made the following statement: — “About twenty-five minutes to 1 o’clock I was talking to a Mr. Day in the back parlour of the hotel. I heard a banging and knocking on the back gate, so I telephoned to the Carlton police. I told the police that a gang was trying to break into the hotel, and a constable replied. ‘We will send someone down right away.’ I said, ‘You had better hurry up, because I will shoot the first man who breaks in,’ and the reply was, that is the best thing you can do.’ I looked out of an upstairs window, and saw a man on top of the back gate with three or four others helping him over. I fired a shot from a revolver containing .32 calibre bullets, intending to frighten them away. The man on the gate fell out into the street. I did not know whether I had shot him. My wife heard the men call out, ‘You have shot Doddy, and we will get you.’ A verdict of not guilty was returned, and O’Shea was discharged.
The United States Hotel was de-licensed in December 1925, and later became a shop. Today it has been converted into a residence.
Jack O’Shea and his wife Edith went on to host the Imperial Hotel at Bairnsdale, and later the Commercial Hotel at Prahan. He lived his final years out in William Street South Yarra, and died at the age of 58 in 1949.
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