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Bernard Hugh (Barney) Dalton (1892–1929)

So far no success has attended police efforts to apprehend the men responsible for the murder of one man, and the wounding of two others, in Crown-street, East Sydney, on Saturday evening.

The victims of this latest manifestation of underworld hate were: Bernard Hugh Dalton, 39 years, of Little Coomber-street, Paddington, shot in heart, dead; Walter Tomlinson, 31, years, no fixed address, shot through chest and arm, condition critical; Edward Brady, 29 years, shot through hand.

Cold-blooded deliberation characterised the crime. Dalton and several other men emerged from the Strand Hotel at the corner of William and Crown streets, a few moments after six o'clock had struck. They stood on the pavement outside the Crown-street entrance of the hotel.

An instant later several shots were fired. Dalton clutched at his breast, wavered to and fro on his feet, and collapsed slowly to the pavement. A pool of blood slowly formed about his fallen body. The horrified onlookers then saw Tomlinson stagger back with a crimson stain on the centre of his shirt, while the third man, Brady, looked at his hand in amazement. "I'm hurt," he said.

According to the statement he subsequently made to the police, Thomas Kelly, who has been committed for trial on a charge in connection with the Woollahra bank hold-up, was passing at the time. He carried Dalton and Tomlinson to his car, and drove them to St. Vincent's Hospital. Dalton died almost immediately. Tomlinson's condition yesterday was critical, and his dying depositions were taken.

A curious feature of the affair was that immediately after the men were taken to the hospital, a crowd of people beseiged the gates in their anxiety to see them. They were so clamorous in their demands, that a constable was stationed there to assist the hospital authorities.

Later in the evening of the shooting, Brady walked into Sydney Hospital, gave his name as O'Neill, and asked for treatment for his wounded hand. He was interviewed by police from Darlinghurst, and arrested on a vagrancy charge. Yesterday he was again taken to the hospital for treatment, and then removed to the Darlinghurst lock-up.

Under the name of Irvine, Brady was involved in a brawl in the same locality a few days ago. When interviewed by the police on Saturday, he was unable to give a coherent account of the shooting. He could recollect nothing except the fact that he heard some shots, and then felt a pain in his hand. Getting into a cab, he said, he was driven to Sydney Hospital. 

A large body of police from headquarters and Darlinghurst, under Inspector Lynch, reached the scene of the crime within a few moments, and made a thorough search of the neighbourhood. They found a pistol of curious design, containing one live cartridge and six empty shells. The barrel of the gun, from the detachable breach to the muzzle, measured about 12 inches.

Although several people who were in the street at the time, are said to have seen a man with a gun disappear down a lane opposite the hotel, soon after the shots were fired, no one has been induced to come forward and make a statement. There is little doubt that fear of the gunman's vengeance is responsible for the silence which is handicapping police.

Three persons were questioned later in the evening, and were held on vagrancy charges. 

The police are convinced that the shooting marks another stage in the long drawn out vendetta between rival underworld gangs, a vendetta which has been marked at intervals by many desperate shooting affrays.

Tomlinson, whose condition is still critical, was badly wounded in July last in the affray at Maroubra, when George Gaffney was shot dead. This was believed to have been a development of a quarrel which started when two women fought each other in the yard at Central Police Station. The next stage was an affair in which Frank Green was shot in the shoulder.

After treatment at Sydney Hospital, Green was taken by Edward Devine and his wife, Matilda Devine, to their Maroubra home. The same evening, Gaffney and several other men drove up to the Devine home in a car, and several shots were fired. It was during this fusillade that Gaffney was killed and Tomlinson wounded.

Tomlinson was subsequently acquitted of a charge of attempting to murder Devine, who himself was acquitted of the murder of Gaffney. 

As a result of a shooting affray in which Constable Jackson was shot at in July last, Tomlinson was charged with riotous behaviour. Wiliam Archer, who had a vagrancy charge preferred against him after the same affair, was in May charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm after the affray in Eaton Avenue.

Another mysterious shooting took place last month, when George Williams was wounded at the Kensington racecourse, by a pistol shot fired at close range. No arrest was affected in this case, in which, as in most of these underworld shootings, the victim declined to make any statement concerning the possible identity of the attacker.

Police inquiries, directed by Inspector Lynch, will be continued to-day in an endeavour to clear up the affair of Saturday night.

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Citation details

'Dalton, Bernard Hugh (Barney) (1892–1929)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]




9 November, 1929 (aged ~ 37)
East Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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