A FEW hours after he broke into the cellar of the Grose Farm Hotel, Joseph Byrnes was found asleep in the bar after polishing of a bottle of whiskey and two bottles of wine.
Byrnes, who was almost totally deaf and suffered a speech impediment, was committed for trial on a charge of breaking into the Camperdown pub and stealing liquor in 1945.
The Grose Farm Hotel in Sydney’s inner-west was established in 1861 and was named after a grant to Lieutenant Governor Francis Grose in 1792, which gave its name to the larger area set aside for the University of Sydney in the 1850s.
The Missenden Road pub, rebuilt in its art deco style in 1939, and known for its unique horse-shoe-shaped bar, was renamed the Alfred Hotel in the 1980s after the nearby Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
Joseph Byrnes meanwhile was given an 18 month good behaviour bond for his botched robbery of the Camperdown pub when he faced court on May 24 1945.
Byrnes, 31, who lived almost behind the pub in Dunblane Lane, was found asleep in the bar by Detective Harry Jackson.
Detective Jackson was called to the hotel, where he saw Byrnes, who was wearing woollen gloves and had socks pulled over his shoes.
Jackson told the court that Byrnes had entered the pub by means of an “ingenious electrical gadget of his own invention”.
Byrnes showed the invention when he appeared in court. It comprised of a torch battery bound with string and wire, to which was attached an eight inch length of wire. At the end of the wire were a small mirror and a globe.
Byrnes said it had taken him an hour to make. He passed the mirror and globe through an aperture in the cellar door and, after lighting the globe, was able to see the inside lock of the door reflected in the mirror. With the aid of some stout wire, he pulled the lock back.
Byrnes said had broke into the bar to have a few drinks, and remembered nothing more until his arrest.
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