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Snowy Cutmore

Excerpts from The Historical Feature

“Daily Mirror” (Sydney) Wednesday February 28th 1990

Hoodlums did society a favour by blasting each other to death.

The kingpin of the Melbourne underworld for years after the end of World War 1 was a bowler-hatted, diminutive figure named Leslie “Squizzy” Taylor.

One evening in 1927, he went gunning for “Snowy” Cutmore, a rival gangland boss, who was reportedly lying ill in bed with flu, barely able to lift his head.  Revolver in hand, he invaded Cutmore’s sick room, unaware that his suspected victim had prepared himself for trouble with a gun under the pillow.

In the gun duel that erupted in the bedroom of a squalid Carlton slum house, Cutmore put a shot near Taylor’s heart before falling back dead with a bullet in his brain.  Taylor staggered out but died shortly after in Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital – and two of Australia’s most vicious criminals had cancelled each other out.


Back when the roaring twenties dawned, a former New York criminal, Lew “The Count” Stirling had arrived on the scene and ruled Melbourne’s Fitzroy gang.  As his chief aide and enforcer, The Count had enlisted John Daniel “Snowy” Cutmore, a 90kg local bruiser and hold-up man, who was ruthless, tough and violent. He was notorious in Fitzroy as a crazy brawler in brothels and drinking dens.  In his half-drunken rages, he was like a wild animal, once branding a reluctant prostitute with a hot iron.

There was bitter open warfare between the Fitzroy gang and Squizzy Taylor’s gang for years. Hit-and-run shooting affrays flared and there were constant brawlings and knifings.  

By 1923, The Count was in prison and Snowy Cutmore had fled to Sydney to join up with one of the infamous razor gangs operating there.  In 1927, Snowy Cutmore  arrived back in Melbourne.  Word flashed through the underworld that he had come to shoot Squizzy Taylor and take over the Melbourne rackets.  In fact, Snowy had quit Sydney because police had him marked down as a prime suspect for the murder of another Melbourne hoodlum, Norman Bruhn, in a Darlinghurst lane.  

Squizzy decided to get in first and shoot Cutmore.  But instead of deputing someone else to do the job, he went gunning for his old enemy himself, so sure of his power that he believed he could get away with murder, even before witnesses.

Late on the afternoon of October 27, armed with a revolver and accompanied by two of his followers, Taylor went looking for Cutmore in several Melbourne hotels he frequented.  Someone whispered to him that Cutmore was in bed at his mother’s house, hardly able to lift his head because of influenza.  Taylor took a taxi to one of a terrace of four slum dwellings in Barkly St, Carlton, where Snowy’s mother lived.  Cutmores sister answered the door. Squizzy brushed past her and walked down a passage to a room at the rear where Cutmore lay on a double bed in the gloom, waiting for his mother to poultice his chest.  Gun in hand, Taylor burst into the room and began shooting at what he thought was an unarmed man.  But Cutmore whipped a revolver from beneath his pillow and returned the fire.  Snowy’s mother rushed in and fell with a bullet from her son’s own gun.  The battle continued until both revolvers were empty.  

Leaving Cutmore dead from five bullets, Taylor, with blood pouring from his wounds, managed to get back to the street and fall into the taxi.  His companions ordered the driver to rush him to hospital. Squizzy died soon after arrival and so one vicious gun duel had rid Melbourne of two of the most dangerous criminals in Australia.


Another story about Snowy

Charlie Cleary was born in 1888 and was known in later life as the "Fighting Newsboy" he was a fly weight boxer. Charlie married Ellen McElvogue in 1907 in Melbourne. He was murdered in 1917, shot in the head and the police reported in the "Argus" that they were trying to trace John Daniel Cutmore alias "Snowy Cutmore" for questioning.  Apparently it had something to do with Charlie being keen on "Squizzy Taylors" girlfriend.

EB Odds & Ends
A Newsletter of Eagles Byte Historic Research
January 1997, No. 16


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