Report from The Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer on Fri 16 Mar 1917 involving Alf O'Neill:

POLICE COURT.

An Important Case.

WHEN IS A TRAVELLER NOT A TRAVELLER?

The P.M. Rules: When he arrives in Town where he Resides.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 14.
(Before Mr. Potts, P.M.)

Sholto Douglas Oakes and Albert Miller were charged with drinking on hotel premises during prohibited hours, not being bona fide travellers or lodgers, and falsely representing themselves as travellers to obtain liquer.

Plea, not guilty.

Mr. G. F. Solomon appeared for the defence, while Sergeant Moore prosecuted.

Constable Caldwell deposed: About 8.15 p.m. an the 2nd instant, I was near the Wingham Hotel; I saw the two defendants in company with William O'Halloran and Patrick Hanney: they walked past me out of the hotel, and left the front of the hotel in two motor cars; I walked across the park to O'Neill's hotel; both cars pulled up, and defendants and the other parties went into O'Neill’s Australian Hotel; a few minutes later Oakes or O'Halloran - I wouldn't swear which - sang out to Alf. O'Neill “come and give us a drink Alf.” O'Neill left the verandah and went into the hotel; later I went in, and I saw the two defendants and O'Halloran and Hanney, and a man named Summerville at the half-door at the side bar: I said to them “What are you fellows doing here?” Summerville said “I'm a boarder.” Said to the others “And what are you doing here?” Oakes said “We're travellers - we all came from Newcastle.” I said “You are home now; and when you reach your destination you are not entitled to refreshments.” Hanney said “I'm a traveler - I have to go eight miles home, and I claim I'm entitled to refreshments.” O'Halloran said “I have to drive Mr. Hanney home, and I have not yet reached my destination.” I said “You had a drink at Harry Cross’, and you have the hide to come here and have another one.” Miller said “You'll have to prove it.” I replied “I can prove what I say before Mr. Potts.” Hanney said “It’s no use arguing, Mr. Caldwell knows we had a drink at Cross’, and what's the use of saying we never.” I said to Alf. O'Neill “You know these men and most of them have reached their destination.” He said “I know them, but they told me they were travellers.” Asked whether he was going to serve them on that he never answered. Alf. O'Neill was in the bar serving drinks; on the half-door bar there was one beer glass and four smaller ones, and three spirit bottles; I turned round to walk out and walked up the hall and turned back; they each drank their drinks in my presence, and then followed me out of the hotel; I saw some money there on the counter.

To Sergeant Moore: Know the two defendants - Oakes lives in Farquhar Street, and Miller in Dingo Street.

To Mr. Solomon: When the men came out of O’Neill’s hotel they walked towards Farquhar Street; Oakes lives 300 or 400 yards from the hotel; Miller lives half a mile away; had no reason to doubt that they came from Newcastle; it was just an ordinary day; they had one drink at Cross’; know they had one because the publican told me; had a good idea they had a drink at Cross’; but had nothing definite to prove it; don’t know what drinks the men had at O'Neill’s; don't know where the men came from when they went to Cross’; and no idea where Oakes went after he left O'Neill’s; a man was at his destination when he arrived home; could not say whether Oakes had been home when he went to Cross’ and O'Neill’s; they made no pretence of evading me at O'Neill’s - they were not trying to get drink on the sly; when they called O'Neill I did not warn them; did not bother summoning Hanney and O'Halloran, as they were not home - Hanney had to travel eight miles further; in leaving Cross’ the direct course to Oakes’ residence would be past the Australian Hotel.

Alfred O'Neill deposed: Am a brother of fine licensee of the Australian Hotel and occasionally I do bar work for him; remember the night of 2nd instant; remember Oakes, Miller, O'Halloran and Hanney coming to the hotel; remember them calling me, and asking for a drink; they said they were travellers, and had come from Newcastle; know Oakes lived in Wingham; also Miller; it was a little after 8 o’clock.

To Mr. Solomon: Could not say where Oakes or Miller live; served Oakes with a soft drink; never served him with anything else; when they told me they came from Newcastle I considered they were entitled to a drink.

Henry Geo. Cross deposed: I am licensee of Wingham Hole; remember the night of 2nd inst., when Oakes, Miller Hanney, and O'Halloran came into my hotel.
Mr. Solomon objected to any evidence being given as to what defendants told Cross.

Sergeant Moore contended that he was entitled to get the evidence.

H. Cross, continuing, said they came to his hotel, said they were travellers, and were supplied with drinks; it was about 8 o'clock.

To Mr. Solomon: Served Oakes with a soft drink; the others had intoxicating drinks; the men had their drinks and went off; do not know where Oakes lives; Miller’s house is on the other side of the railway line.

Sholto Douglas Oakes deposed: Am an auctioneer and live in Wingham; on the 2nd March came from Newcastle; two cars were brought up; Messrs. Smith, O'Halloran and Hanhey were in one, and Miller and self in another; went to Cross’ Hotel and had a drink; honestly believed we were travellers: after I left Cross’ to my place would be nearly half a mile; my intention was to end the journey at my house; after leaving Cross’ we went round to Farquhar  Street, pulled up and went into O'Neill’s Hotel; had a bitters and soda; Miller then drove me home; up to that time I had not been home; told Caldwell we were travellers, and told him we came from Newcastle that day; the ordinary route from Cross’ Hotel to my place would be round O'Neill’s Hotel -  the shortest and best.

To the Sergeant: It would be about the same round by the Police Station; in coming in from Kranbach we passed my place at the back; I live in Farquhar Street; and we came down Canget Street; Smith lives at Tinonee.

To the Sergeant: As far as I know Smith was not round looking for me after we left O'Neill’s.

Albert Miller deposed: Came in and went to Cross’ - from there to O'Neill’s; I was driving the car; drove Oakes down, and he saw Smith on business; When in O'Neill’s Hotel he (witness) claimed a drink because he regarded himself as a traveller and considered he was entitled to; still thought so.

To the Sergeant: By going up to Oakes’ by the round-about-way he had to go home it was a mile and a half.

This was the case for the defence.

Mr. Solomon asked for both informations to be dismissed, and pointed out that so far as Oakes’ case was concerned, there was no evidence that he drank liquor within the meaning of the Act - also he was a bona fide traveller.

In the case of Miller Mr. Solomon contended that he was hired by Oakes, and until Oakes had relieved him of his engagement he (Miller) was still a traveller.

Sergeant Moore contended that the Act relating to soft drinks was provided for in an amended Act. Any how the charge against Oakes could be altered by the Bench to one of being illegally on the premises.

Mr. Solomon objected to this being done.

The Sergeant said he would give further consideration to the matter.

The P.M. dismissed the charge against Oakes, and found that against Miller proved. Fined 14s and 6s costs.

Mr. Solomon asked for one month in which to pay.

The Sergeant said he had no objection.

Time granted.