Joseph Leslie ‘Squizzy’ Taylor

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Joseph Leslie ‘Squizzy’ Taylor is associated with Fitzroy, Victoria located at these coordinates -37.7987007, 144.9786869

Career criminal, aspiring jockey, and film star.

Notorious 1920s gangster Squizzy Taylor modelled his criminal career on American bootleggers (illegal alcohol traders). His crimes escalated to armed robbery, drug trafficking, race fixing, prostitution and jury rigging. He was linked to several high profile and violent crimes including the murder of a police constable and robbery at Trades Hall, the murder and robbery of commercial traveller, Arthur Trotter, and the armed hold ups and murder of two bank managers in Bulleen and Glenferrie. In 1919, a dispute over gangland territory resulted in the ‘Fitzroy Vendetta’ shootings.

Squizzy, described as a dapper little braggart, mixed with petty criminals around Melbourne’s race courses, strutted through the courts, and sent verses and letters to the press.

In 1924, Taylor’s 21 year old wife filed for divorce based on grounds of adultery. Taylor then married his lover IIda Muriel Pender with whom he co-starred in a film about his life in 1923. It was banned by the censor, but released in 1925 renamed Bound to Win.

Squizzy died in a violent shootout against Sydney gangster John ‘Snowy’ Cutmore in Fitzroy in 1927.

Record Citation: VPRS 515/P0, Central Register of Male Prisoner, unit 60, folio 43
Record URL:
Agency: VA 1464 Penal and Gaols Branch, Chief Secretary's Department
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Date: 1924
Record Type: Prison Register
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Language: en
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User Tags: squizzy taylor, underbelly, snowy cutmore

Squizzy Taylor horiz.jpg

Squizzy Taylor.jpg
Squizzy Taylor’s mug shots from his prison records show the transition from young aspiring jockey,
to suave and dapper showman in 1914 and hardened criminal in 1924.


Squizzy Taylor and Snowy Cutmore

Part of a long and continuing tradition of criminals happy to share their stories with the media, Leslie ‘Squizzy’ Taylor made himself notorious in Melbourne in the decade following World War I for dealing in prostitution, violence and drugs. He remained out of prison due to his success in jury-rigging, and he grew increasingly influential in networks of criminal colleagues that were involved in gang wars in Fitzroy and Sydney.

John ‘Snowy’ Cutmore dealt in cocaine and was a rival to Taylor in the Fitzroy gang wars. On 27 October 1927, Cutmore was laid up with ‘flu in rooms he shared with his mother and wife at 50 Barkly Street Fitzroy. Taylor showed up in the rooms together with an associate, apparently to confront Cutmore, while a third man waited outside.

Both Taylor and Cutmore had revolvers and shot it out. Cutmore died at the scene, his mother was wounded, and Taylor was shot in the side, later dying at St. Vincent’s hospital.

The inquest proceedings therefore covered both men. Despite there being several witnesses it was not clear what had happened. The men’s motives for the confrontation were unknown, Taylor’s associates had disappeared, and confusing the issue was a third gun found a short distance away. The coroner returned an open verdict, meaning he could not, on the evidence presented, determine who had fired the shots that killed Taylor and Cutmore.

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