Constable John CONNELL
Assault – Baton
23 November, 1841
On the day of his death Constable Connell attended a street brawl outside the Bee Hive Public House in Sydney. The brawl involved (and was probably started by) one Patrick O’Neill (alias Neale or Kelly), described by the Sydney Morning Herald at the time as being “a stout, athletic man“. When the constable attempted to separate the brawling parties by taking hold of O’Neill by the collar, the offender punched Connell to the ground and then took hold of his baton. He then delivered a savage blow with the baton to Connell’s face, above his right eyebrow, “rendering him senseless“. The constable was immediately taken to hospital suffering from a severe concussion however he passed away a few hours later.
Constable Ward attended the scene of the assault and immediately set out after the offender, attending his home in Castlereagh Street. There he found O’Neill and his wife preparing to leave. He arrested O’Neill and shortly thereafter placed him in the Sydney Watch-house.
The Sydney Monitor of 26 November, 1841 reported the coroner’s inquest into the death of the constable.
MURDER – THE INQUEST.- On Wednesday last. an inquest was held at Driver’s public-house, corner of King and Elizabeth Streets, on the body of John Connell a constable, who, as we stated in our last publication, was killed by a person (named Patrick O’Neill) when endeavouring to take him into custody. By the evidence adduced at the inquest, it appeared that on Tuesday evening, a disturbance took place between the prisoner (O’Neill) and another individual at Cunningham’s public house, in Campbell Street, and that upon the deceased’s attempting to quell the same, and to apprehend the prisoner, the latter struck him with such violence as to cause his death – Constable Ward of the B. division stated that he apprehended the prisoner at his house in Castlereagh Street.
At the time of his death the constable was attached to the Sydney Police Force.