“Squizzy” Taylor shot in Carlton

“Squizzy” Taylor shot in Carlton
Jeff Atkinson

One of the more notorious incidents that happened in Carlton at that time was a shoot-out in which two crime figures, “Snowy” Cutmore and “Squizzy” Taylor, ended up dead.

Cutmore was a violent man with a string of convictions for assault, stealing and resisting arrest. He was originally from Melbourne, but in the early 1920s had moved to Sydney, where he enhanced his criminal reputation as a member of a notorious “razor gang”. In October 1927 he decided to return to Melbourne with his wife, and holed up at his mother’s house at 50 Barkly St, Carlton. A few days after he arrived, he found himself confined to bed with a bad case of influenza.

Joseph Theodore Leslie Taylor, known as “Squizzy” was a notorious and colourful underworld figure in Melbourne in the 1920s. A dapper little man, he earned his income from armed robbery, prostitution, the sale of illegal liquor and drugs, and from race-fixing and protection rackets.

Snowy and Squizzy were old foes. Snowy had been linked to the murder of one of Squizzy’s allies, who had been gunned down in an alleyway in Sydney, and the police believed Squizzy had vowed revenge against the men who killed him. When he heard that Snowy was back in town, he set out to find him. On October 27, 1927 Squizzy and two associates met at the Bookmakers Club on Lonsdale St. They hired a car and had the driver take them to a succession of pubs in Carlton in search of Cutmore. Unable to find him, they then went to the house in Barkly St.

Letting themselves into the house they found Snowy in his bedroom. But he had a gun. A series of shots were fired by both sides in quick succession. Snowy, still lying in bed, was shot dead. His mother, hearing the shots, ran into the room and was wounded in the shoulder. Squizzy was shot in his right side and badly wounded. Staggering outside, he was helped into the waiting hire car, which sped off towards Saint Vincent’s Hospital. On the way, his associates jumped out and fled. By the time the car arrived at the hospital, Squizzy was unconscious. Within half an hour he had succumbed to his wounds.

His death and funeral attracted a lot of public attention. He was buried a few days later in the Brighton cemetery. On the morning of the funeral, the police had to be called to control a large crowd that had gathered at his house and swarmed around the hearse. A newspaper described it as “a disgraceful exhibition of morbid curiosity, coupled with a callous disregard for the feelings of the bereaved.”

At the inquest into the shooting, the Coroner was unable to determine who shot who and delivered an open verdict. It has been suggested that the police were so glad to see the end of Squizzy Taylor that they were not particularly interested in pursuing the matter further.

The house in Barkly St where the shooting took place was in a row of rather sombre bluestone houses known as Barkly Terrace, originally built in 1862. It survived for just over 100 years until 1965 when it was demolished under a Housing Commission order and replaced by a block of flats •

Caption: Squizzy Taylor in October 1922, five years before the deadly shoot-out in Carlton, arriving in court on crutches after being shot in the leg in an earlier incident (Photo: HWT library).

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