Family History – The Inquest

At the inquest on 18 August 1933 into the untimely death of John Campbell Pollock, Lucy M gave evidence that she was the cook at the Doutta Galla Hotel at Newmarket, Victoria, and she had known the deceased as a lodger for about 9 1/2 months but there had been no relationship between them. His room was about two yards away from her room but on the opposite side of the passage. She last saw him alive about 2.30 pm on Thursday, 20th July 1933, and he appeared as if he had been drinking; he was addicted to drink, mostly spirits, she said. She had retired to her bedroom at about 3 pm and did not hear any reports, adding that she was not a heavy sleeper. That afternoon he had come to her room holding a revolver out in his hand, she grabbed his hand and called out to Ruba G who, at the sight of the revolver, ran downstairs. He dropped the revolver and Lucy fled into room 25. A few minutes later she returned to her room with other persons. She placed a chair under the knob of the door when she retired for the night and did not leave the room again until morning.

Ruba G, waitress at the hotel, said that when she heard Mrs M call out, she went to her room and saw the deceased holding a revolver close to Mrs M’s head. He said “I will do for you yet”. Ruba ran downstairs to Mrs O, saying “Quick. Mr Pollock has got a revolver at Lucy’s head.” She next saw the deceased at 7 pm when he came to the dining room for dinner. He said that he wanted to see Liz and apologise. Ruba retired to bed at about midnight and did not hear any reports during the night. Next morning some time after 9 am she heard a noise which she thought was made by the deceased pushing up his window. On the previous day she had overheard Lucy M tell the deceased to get out of her room as he was driving her mad. Occasionally the deceased and Mrs M had arguments with each other.

James O, manager of the hotel, said John Pollock had resided at the hotel since December 1932. He last saw him alive in the sitting room when he left the room to retire about 10.30 pm. The deceased was a late riser and Mr O went to room 26  at about 11.20 am and found him lying on his back on the floor near the foot of the bed; there was a revolver lying on the floor at his feet, and he noticed a wound to the forehead. He called a doctor who attended and pronounced him dead. Mr O then called the police. He had not heard any shot fired during the night or that morning.

The deceased was a fairly heavy drinker and attended race meetings frequently, often putting as much as 50 or 100 pounds on a horse. The deceased had shown Mr O a revolver three months before, similar to the one found in his bedroom, and he had assured Mr O that he had a licence for it. The deceased had not paid for his board for some time and still owed 14 pounds 6 shillings.

When Mr O was told that Mr Pollock had pointed a revolver at the cook’s head, he could not find him in the hotel. Later, Mr O asked him for the revolver but he replied that he had chucked it away. The manager had not advised the police of the scuffle with Mrs M.

First Constable A R Doyle said the five-chamber revolver had two live cartridges and two empty shells in it. The bed had been slept in and the room had not been disturbed in any way. There were no powder marks on the deceased’s forehead and the bullet wound was in the centre of the forehead. From letters and papers found it appeared the deceased was in financial trouble and his cheque book showed that large amounts had been paid out and his bank account had been cleaned out.  None of the occupants of the hotel had heard shots fired although passing trains might have drowned the noise of a shot. There were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of John Campbell Pollock. On recall by the Coroner, Doyle thought that the body had not been moved prior to his arrival at the hotel.

Well, dear reader, did Jack Pollock shoot himself, did Mrs M fire the fatal shot, or had Squizzy Taylor and friends executed him for non-payment of gambling debts and covered their tracks expertly? Was my mother right in saying he was too much of a coward to shoot himself. Am I right in saying my uncle Jack was too much of a coward to face up to the situation he had created for himself? You be the judge.

– almewett

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Published in: on June 27, 2011 at 5:25 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. Squizzy Taylor would have had to come back from the dead to shoot Uncle Jack – which is not to say Jack didn’t have IOU’s residing in some other pocket.

    I think on balance, though, that if the Police did not find any suspicious circumstances it is more likely that the coroner’s finding was correct. It is known that Jack had a revolver that he was waving around in a bit of a state.

    Presumably there was no evidence that the hotel had been broken into. It is not highly likely that anyone would have scaled the Doutta Galla Hotel to the third floor to shoot Jack. (Have you seen a photo of the Doutta Galla Hotel? If not, here is one:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kevinwhelan/2287968802/ )

    If Jack owed money, it looks like he had already paid it out – large sums gone from his bank account. He owed money, probably to more people than the landlord, apparently not working, and no way to pay any money back. And no money to buy more drink. (I’ll bet the landlord didn’t give him drink without payment, even if he was behind in his rent.)

    It’s an interesting story, thanks.

    Best wishes,

    Lenore

    • Thank you, Lenore, for the info re Doutta Galla Hotel. I visited the hotel in the 1970s and they showed me the room where Jack Pollock was shot; it was being used as a store room. There was at least one female worker who refused to go into the room as she believed it was haunted. Your comments have prompted me to consider posting an update on the incident in my other blog Do You Know at almewett49.wordpress.com


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