Boss brained in self-defence

Cunnamulla Cemetery, Queensland. Image: Sharyn Moodie

James Brennan was a drover who was killed in outback Queensland via the handy instrument of a shovel.

Or to use the eloquency of the Truth newspaper of the time, ” With a Shovel, Batters Out His Boss’s Brains.

The wielder of said shovel, William Shehan, also spelt Shean, but also known as Shannon, was found not guilty of murder though, as Brennan had just walked towards him with a gun in his hands and foul intent, and had also just thrown a pair of hobbles at him.

The two were part of a droving party taking cattle to New South Wales. They were camped at Shamrock Wells near Cunnamulla.

The pair was arguing over whether Shannon had mistreated a mare in some way, and he had quit his job over breakfast. There was subsequent discussion over whether Brennan would pay Shannon his wages owing.

In the words of Shannon to the Brisbane court, as reported by The Brisbane Courier:

 “I told him he would not hustle me out of his wages in the way he had done some other men.

Brennan then called him a —-, and threatened to shoot him.

Shannon said he had replied, “You had better not.”  With that Brennan had thrown a pair of chain hobbles at him and said

“You —–, I will get the rifle and shoot you now. ‘

Brennan, in the last few minutes of his life

With that he made a rush towards the cart, where Shannon could see the rifle standing.

Shannon said he ducked as he saw the hobbles coming, and, seeing the shovel at his feet he picked it up, ran to Brennan and hit him.

 Up to this, he said, he had been on friendly terms with Brennan.

The jury found the Shannon “not guilty,” and he was discharged.

Cunnamulla, Queensland, Australia

Sources: The Brisbane Courier  Friday 17 November 1911 

Truth, Sunday, November 19, 1911, page 3

Published by Sharyn Moodie

Travelling around Australia for work, I've found so many amazing headstones. But what is more amazing is the stories behind some of these deaths, and the way newspapers of the day reported them.

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