Crime in Carlton

Stories from Carlton's Colourful Criminal Past

The Bag Man

Barlow the Embezzler

Bringing Home the Bacon

Catnapping in Carlton

Coining in Carlton

A Costly Bunch of Flowers

A Foolhardy Act?

High Kicking in Carlton

Last Drinks for Squizzy

Murder at Mallow House

The Nagging Wife

A Passion for Silk

The Price of a Newspaper

A Rogue and Vagabond

A Rude Awakening

Shooting in Shakespeare Street

Snowdropping in Carlton

A Sweet-Toothed Robbery in North Carlton


24 Shakespeare Street
Photo: CCHG
The Shooting Scene
24 Shakespeare Street North Carlton


18 Murchison Street
Photo: CCHG
Scene of Alleged Knife Attack
18 Murchison Street Carlton


Notes and References:
1 Biographical information sourced from birth, death and marriage records, and electoral rolls.
2 The Age, 9 January 1909, p. 20
3 War Service Record of George Quigley, No. 3911 (NAA: B2455)
4 War Pension Investigation, 18 March 1932 (NAA:B741, V/9617)
5The Age, 7 June 1933, p. 13
6 Coincidentally, George's wife Elsie Quigley was involved in a domestic shooting incident in Fitzroy in 1920. The charges were later dropped.
7 Criminal Presentations (VPRS 17020/P1/49)
8 There was a charge against George Quigley of "illegally using a horse and gig" in Ballarat in March 1922, but his identity was in question because this "George Quigley" was also known as "George O'Keefe."
9 The Argus, 28 April 1922, p. 9
10 The Age, 18 May 1922, p. 6
11 Prisoner No. 36181, Victoria Prison Register, vol. 71, p. 292
12 The Age, 16 July, 1924, p. 11
13 The Argus, 16 July 1924, p. 17
14 Criminal Presentations (VPRS 17020/P1/60)
15 The Age, 17 April 1926, p. 13
16 Record (Emerald Hill), 23 June 1928, p. 3
17 High Street Carlton, which no longer exists, ran for one block between Lygon and Drummond Streets. Properties in High Street were compulsorily acquired by the Housing Commission of Victoria in 1958 and redeveloped as high rise public housing in the 1960s.
18 The Argus, 29 June 1946, p. 3
19 The Age, 9 June 1947, p. 10. The death notice appeared in the "On Active Service" column of the newspaper, but no record of George Quigley's service beyond his discharge from the AIF in 1919 has been located.

Shooting in Shakespeare Street
15 April 1922

On the evening of 15 April 1922, a shot rang out in Shakespeare Street, North Carlton. Mary Skelton felt a sharp pain in her arm and saw the blood. She had been shot and the man who shot her was her lover George Quigley.

Mary Amelia Skelton née Grant was a married woman, living with her husband William Skelton at 24 Shakespeare Street, North Carlton. Mary and William were married in 1909 and they lived in Clifton Hill and High Street, Carlton, before moving to the two storey rental property in Shakespeare Street. William was a labourer and his work sometimes required him to live away from home.1

George Quigley, also married, was a wharf labourer and returned World War 1 serviceman. He married Elsie May Davey in 1908, but within 3 months he was charged with unlawfully deserting his teenage wife, as he had neither a job nor the means of supporting her. At the time of his enlistment on 31 July 1915, George was 25 years old, working as a wharf labourer and living in Market Street, Fitzroy. He saw active service in France and was discharged from the AIF on 14 July 1919.2,3

It is not clear whether George returned to his wife Elsie after his discharge. When Elsie was investigated for pension fraud in 1932, she was reported as stating that her husband had gone to war and "no one knows where he is or what has become of him." Elsie was subsequently found guilty of claiming a war pension under false pretences. A year later in June 1933, when she was living in Little Palmerston Street, Carlton, she pleaded guilty to a charge of shoplifting a coat from Holders Pty. Ltd. in the city. Elsie was sentenced to 14 days' imprisonment and her co-accused, niece May Davey, was given a suspended sentence of 14 days' on her entering into a good behaviour bond for two years.4,5,6

As a wharf labourer, George worked in an environment where there was ample opportunity for pilfering and other crimes. He was charged with assault in May 1920, for which he received a fine of £5 or 14 days' imprisonment. In October 1921, he was charged with stealing two dozen table forks, the property of J. and A. Boyes ironmongery store in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. He pleaded not guilty in the General Sessions Court of Melbourne in November 1921 and was given a suspended sentence of six months' "on his own bond of £50 to be of good behaviour for two years."7,8

So far, George had avoided a custodial sentence, but this changed with the more serious charge of attempted murder in 1922. The evidence presented in court also sheds some light on George's personal life in the immediate post-war years. Mary Skelton stated that she had known George Quigley for 4 years and had lived with him for 18 months. She had left him about 5 months previously to live with her sister in Drummond Street, Carlton, then she returned to her husband William Skelton. On that April evening, George Quigley visited the Skelton house in Shakespeare Street, in the hope of persuading Mary to return to him. She would not allow him to enter the house and, in the ensuing struggle, a shot was fired and Mary was wounded in the arm, though not seriously. She was taken by her sister to Melbourne Hospital, where she was treated as an outpatient.9

Quigley pleaded not guilty to the charge of attempted murder and was committed for trial at the Supreme Court of Melbourne on 15 May 1922. In his defence, he claimed that he had not intended to shoot Mrs Skelton and that the revolver had gone off accidently. John Kennedy, a witness who lived nearby in Lygon Street, reported hearing a shot and the voice of a man saying, "There's no harm done. It's a pity it didn't settle you." Considering the evidence, the jury was on George's side, possibly swayed by the romantic nature of the crime, and returned a guilty verdict of unlawfully wounding without intent to do grevious bodily harm. George Quigley was sentenced to 12 months' gaol and he served an additional 6 months' sentence for breaking his previous good behaviour bond.10,11

George was released from gaol on 25 August 1923 and, less than a year later, he was facing another assault charge involving Mary Skelton. They were living together at 18 Murchison Street, Carlton and, on the evening of 4 July 1924, Mary alleged that George had thrown a knife at her. There was no doubt that Mary was injured - she was bleeding from a head wound that required hospital treatment - but the circumstances of the alleged assault were questionable. George refuted her allegation, claiming that Mary had attacked him and he had pushed her away and her injury had resulted from a fall. When the case was heard in Carlton Court on 15 July, Mary admitted to having had been drinking on day of the assault. George was sentenced to one month's gaol and he was released on 14 August 1924.12,13

The last stint in gaol was not quite the end of George's criminal history, nor was it the end of his domestic strife with Mary. In April 1926 he was charged with receiving stolen goods, a case and a number of magnetos, being the property of the Melbourne Harbour Trust Commissioners. Quigley and his co-accused Frank Currie pleaded not guilty in the General Sessions Court of Melbourne and both were discharged. George was living in Cobden Street, South Melbourne, at the time and Mary was at the same address. In June 1928, Mary Skelton laid a charge of assault against George Quigley, but she failed to appear in South Melbourne Court. The chairman made a comment that "It's only history repeating itself," while the sergeant said that the man and woman had a brawl, and the woman "made a convenience of the police." Perhaps this was the story of George and Mary's life together.14,15,16

George and Mary moved back to Carlton, living at 14 High Street, from 1930 onwards. Mary suffered head injuries in a fall from a tram in St Kilda Road in June 1946 and she was treated in Prince Henry's Hospital. The following year, on 6 June 1947, George Quigley died at Heidelberg Military Hospital, aged 58 years. He was buried in the Warringal Cemetery, Heidelberg. His death notice, published in The Age on 9 June 1947, refers to George as "dearly beloved friend of Mary Skelton". Mary remained in High Street, Carlton until the 1950s. She died in 1963, aged 78 years.17,18,19

More information on George Quigley


Mallow House
Photo: CCHG
Mallow House
50 Dorrit Street Carlton


Notes and References:
1 Jean Lee : The last woman hanged in Australia, Random House, 1997
2 The murder, subsequent trial and judicial hangings were widely reported in newspapers from November 1949 to February 1951
3 Death Certificate of Jean Lee, No. 1831, 1951
4 Death Certificate of William George Kent, No. 9339, 1949
5 Probate File of William George Kent, No. 417/766, 1950 (VPRS 28)
6 The Argus, 28 August 1858, p. 8
7 Building information sourced from Melbourne City Council Rate Books and Valuation Field Books for Smith Ward
8 Property ownership information sourced from land title files
9 The Courier-Mail, 9 November, 1949, p. 5
10 Melbourne Times, 24 November 1976, p. 1

Murder at Mallow House
November 1949

November 7 marks the anniversary of the death of William George "Pop" Kent, whose brutal murder in 1949 shocked the nation and divided public opinion on the death penalty. Pop Kent, a 73 year old retired hotelkeeper originally from the Western District of Victoria, operated an apartment house known as "Mallow House" at 50 Dorrit Street Carlton. A sometime SP bookie, Kent was rumoured to have a substantial amount of money, and this may have made him an obvious target for robbery. On that fateful day in November 1949, Kent met up with Robert Clayton, his partner Jean Lee and Norman Andrews at the University Hotel nearby in Lygon Street. The three convicted criminals, recently arrived from Sydney for the Spring Racing Carnival, had already come to the notice of police for robbing or extorting money from unsuspecting men.

Enjoying the company of his new friends and no doubt flattered by the attentions of the good-looking Jean Lee, Pop Kent invited them back to his room at Mallow House for drinks after hotel closing time. What began as a sociable round of drinks ended a few hours later with the bashing, torture and strangulation of Pop Kent. Local residents became concerned for Kent's welfare and called the police who, on entering the room, found Kent dead and the room ransacked. Jean Lee's good looks, which she used to her advantage when picking up men, proved to be her downfall. Jean and her partners-in-crime had been seen in company with Kent at the University Hotel and Mallow House, and witness descriptions led police to a city hotel, where the three were arrested and charged with murder the following day.1

At the trial in March 1950, amidst dramatic courtroom scenes, all three were found collectively guilty of murder and sentenced to death by hanging. The verdict was overturned by appeal in May 1950, on the grounds that statements of the accused were improperly obtained by police, and a retrial was ordered. But this ruling was subsequently overturned by the High Court and the original guilty verdict was reinstated. Nine months later on Monday 19 February 1951, Jean Lee, Robert Clayton and Norman Andrews were executed by hanging at Pentridge Prison in Coburg. In keeping with prison practice, their bodies were buried in the prison grounds.2

Jean Lee made her mark in history as the last woman hanged in Australia, and the only woman hanged in Victoria in the 20th century. She was survived by her daughter Jillian, living in New South Wales with her grandmother. William George Kent was buried in Melbourne General Cemetery Carlton on 9 November 1949, two days after his murder. His estate was valued for probate purposes at £274, 6 shillings and 5 pence, £100 of which was goodwill of his apartment house business, and he had nil real estate holdings at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife Florence and eight of his nine children.3,4,5

The murder of Pop Kent marked a low point in the history of Dorrit Street, but it was not always that way. Dorrit Street, sometimes known as Little Dorrit Street, began with grand aspirations in 1858 when The Argus advertised for sale "the finest sites for residences around Melbourne". In 1860 Melbourne City Council recorded 10 rateable properties in Dorrit Street, mostly one- and two-room wood structures, and within the next few years brick construction took over. Mallow House began its life as a 3 room brick cottage owned by William Lynch in the mid 1860s and was later rebuilt, or substantially altered, as a two-storey, six room house in 1889/90. In 1914, when the house was still relatively new, it was bought by Italian immigrant Rocco Gagliardi and was the Gagliardi family home for many years. As an apartment house in the 1940s, it had become run down and newspaper reports painted a bleak picture of Mallow House as "an old two-storey house", "indescribably filthy" and "infested with fleas".6,7,8,9

In the 1950s, Dorrit Street was under threat from redevelopment of the Royal Women's Hospital, expanding to meet the growing demands of the post-World War 2 "Baby Boom". The hospital began acquiring properties in the late 1950s and by the early 1970s owned the entire west side of the street, earmarked for demolition, and several houses on the east side. But Mallow House was spared and today stands proud and tall, a lasting memory of the events of 7 November 1949.10


Clare Castle Hotel
Photo: CCHG
The Beaufort (Former Clare Castle Hotel)
421 Rathdowne Street Carlton


50 Barkly Street
Image Source: Chronicle (Adelaide), 5 November 1927
50 Barkly Street Carlton
"A sombre bluestone house"


Lintel from Barkly Terrace
Photo: CCHG
Stone Lintel from Barkly Terrace
A silent witness to the events of 27 October 1927


33 Macarthur Place
Photo: CCHG
Right of Way, 33 Macarthur Place Carlton
A Belgian revolver was found near the side fence


12 Murchison Street
Photo: CCHG
12 Murchison Street Carlton
Home of hire-car driver John Hall in 1927

Last Drinks for Squizzy Taylor
27 October 1927

The Clare Castle Hotel, renamed The Beaufort in 2012, has special significance as a hotel visited by notorious gangster Squizzy Taylor on his last fateful journey of 27 October 1927. The hotel, on the corner of Rathdowne and Palmerston streets, dates back to 1866 and was first licensed to John Ryan. The building later underwent extensive renovations, which were completed in September 1927, a few weeks before Squizzy's final visit. 1,2,3

Squizzy's last journey began at the Bookmakers Club in Lonsdale Street, where he and his two associates hired a car driven by John William Hall. Following Squizzy's directions, Hall proceeded along Exhibition and Rathdowne Streets to Carlton. Contemporary newspaper accounts differ in the location of hotels visited by Squizzy and his associates - Rathdowne, Drummond, Elgin or Lygon Street - and many other aspects of the case. According to Hall's statement at the inquest, the three men went into a hotel on the corner of Rathdowne and Palmerston Streets, and two other unnamed hotels in Drummond Street. 4,5,6

After leaving the hotels, they went to Barkly Street and Squizzy directed Hall to park on the right hand side of the street, near the intersection with Nicholson Street. And it was at Barkly Terrace, on the northern side of the street, where Squizzy was fatally wounded in a shootout with his rival John Daniel 'Snowy' Cutmore. No. 50 Barkly Street, one of five cottages comprising Barkly Terrace, was a boarding house operated by Snowy's mother Bridget Delia Cutmore. Snowy Cutmore was pronounced dead at the scene by local doctor Alan McCutcheon, from 88 Rathdowne Street, while Mrs Cutmore was wounded in the shoulder, but she survived. Squizzy, driven by John Hall, made it to St Vincent's Hospital in Fitzroy, where he died within half an hour of admission.

On that day in October 1927, three people were shot and three firearms were involved. After Squizzy's death at St Vincent's, a pistol was found in his pocket, though his widow Ida stated that he was not carrying a weapon when he left his home in Richmond that morning. A Belgian revolver, believed to be fired by Snowy Cutmore, was found the next day by Mrs Hudson in the backyard of her home at 33 Macarthur Place South, just inside the fence adjoining a right of way. The third firearm, a Webley Automatic Colt revolver, was discovered by police in a lavatory cistern at the rear of 50 Barkly Street, but this was not made public at the time. Despite detailed ballistics evidence presented at the inquest, the coroner Mr Berriman was unable to determine who shot who, and an open verdict was returned. 7

Squizzy was buried in Brighton cemetery on 29 October 1927, accompanied by "a disgraceful exhibition of morbid curiosity, coupled with a callous disregard for the feelings of the bereaved". The funeral was arranged by Josiah Holdsworth of Lygon Street and local legend has it that the undertaker was never paid for his services. 8,9,10

Hire-car driver and Carlton resident John Hall, who was abandoned by Squizzy's associates and left with the responsibility of taking him to hospital, was probably also out of pocket. John Hall was living at 12 Murchison Street, a short distance from Barkly Street, at the time of the shooting. According to rate book and directory records, he lived there from 1927 to 1928. The house, which still stands today, was built in 1916 by Carlton builder W.D. Wilson for Sarah Wood.11

Snowy Cutmore was buried in Coburg cemetery and his widow Gladys stayed on at Barkly Terrace for a few years. Snowy's mother Bridget Cutmore lived there until her death in 1938, aged 70 years. Barkly Terrace, originally built in 1862 and described in The Sun as "a sombre bluestone house", was owned by Alfred Abraham Solomon and his executors from 1919 to 1940, and then by members of the Labattaglia family. In an ironic twist, Francesco Antonio (Frank Anthony) Labattaglia was the third husband of Squizzy's widow Ida Pender. They married in 1933, after Ida divorced her second husband George Lewin (aka Mickey Powell) in 1932, on the grounds of desertion. 12,13,14,15,16,17,18

Barkly Terrace survived its first hundred years, then it was placed under a Housing Commission order in 1963 and demolished in 1965. The "sombre bluestone house", as described in The Sun in 1927, was replaced by a block of flats. A stone lintel salvaged from the demolition site remains a silent witness to the events of 27 October 1927.19,20


Notes and References:
1Squizzy Taylor was born Joseph Leslie Theodore Taylor in Brighton in 1888.
2 R.K. Cole Collection of Hotel Records, Melbourne Suburbs, Vol. II, p. 203
3 Building Application File no. 9385, 1927 (VPRS 11201)
4 The shooting incident and subsequent inquest were widely reported in newspapers in October and November 1927.
5 Inquest Deposition File 1927/1331 (VPRS 24)
6 In The rise and fall of Squizzy Taylor: A larrikin crook, author Hugh Anderson names the Clare Castle Hotel in Rathdowne Street and the Morning Star Hotel, "then south down Drummond Street, with two hotel calls on the way." However, the route map reproduced in the same publication does not extend into North Fitzroy, the location of the Morning Star, and John Hall's inquest statement does not support the Morning Star claim.
7 Inquest Deposition File 1927/1331 (VPRS 24)
8 The Argus, 31 October 1927, p. 21
9 A memorial plaque in Brighton cemetery records the final resting place of Squizzy Taylor and his baby daughter June, who died in January 1921 aged 7 months.
10 The Melbourne Times, 2 September 1981, p. 10
11 Building Application File no. 35, 1916 (VPRS 11201)
12 Victorian Electoral Roll, Melbourne Division, Carlton and Carlton South Subdivisions 1927-1938
13 Death Index Victoria, Reg no. 3030, 1938
14 The Sun, 28 October 1927, p. 3
15 Certificate of Title, Vol. 4214, Fol. 615, 1919
16 Certificate of Title, Vol. 6402, Fol. 391, 1940
17 Marriage Index Victoria, Reg. no. 2000, 1933
18 The Argus, 30 July 1932, p. 24
19 Register of Demolitions, no. 2416, 1965 (VPRS 17292)
20 Building Application Index, no. 37919, 1965 (VPRS 11202)

Related item:
Squizzy Taylor


Carlton Cellars
Photo: CCHG
Scene of Robbery in 1917 (now Carlton Cellars)
Corner of Canning and Richardson Streets
North Carlton

A Sweet-Toothed Robbery in North Carlton

In February 1917, just before Valentine's Day, two thieves managed to dodge police bullets and make off with 2,800 pounds of sugar, 112 pounds of rice and 15 shillings in cash. The well-planned robbery took place around 3.30 am at William Drum's licensed grocery store, on the corner of Richardson and Canning Streets, North Carlton. The two men had loaded up their horse-drawn cart and were about to make their exit when they were challenged by Constable Simon McKenzie, on patrol from the North Carlton Police Station and armed with a revolver. The horse and cart took off and Constable Simon McKenzie fired 3 shots at the horse, which would have been the 1917 equivalent of shooting out the car tyres. But the bullets missed their mark, as did the remaining 5 shots aimed at the cart driver. The thieves got away with their haul, valued at about £40 and most likely destined for the re-sale market. A search of Mr Drum's premises revealed that two locks on the front door had been forced open and the arc light in front of the store had been disabled. Surprisingly, two demijohns of whisky, valued at £10 each, were left behind in the shop.

Spare a thought for Constable McKenzie - instead of being hailed the hero of a thwarted robbery attempt, he probably copped a ribbing from his fellow police officers because he couldn't even shoot a horse and cart.

References:
The Age, 13 February 1917, p. 6
The Argus, 13 February 1917, p. 9


A Rogue and Vagabond


Image Source: Weekly Times, 17 December 1870, p. 9
John Sullivan (right) shooting at Mounted Police Constable Mays

What is the legal definition of frequenting a public place? This question was posed in Carlton Court in April 1887, when John Sullivan faced a charge of being a rogue and vagabond, and a suspected person frequenting a public place. Sullivan (also known as John Lewis, John Lewis Elliott and William Jackson) was born in South America in 1850 (or earlier) and worked as a sailor before embarking on a life of crime. He was imprisoned at Richmond stockade for nine months in 1864 on a charge of larceny. The following year, in June 1865, he served three concurrent sentences in Pentridge prison for burglary and receiving stolen property. During his time in Pentridge, he committed numerous offences, ranging from the seemingly trivial (talking and laughing ; having tea, sugar etc) to the more serious (fighting ; disorderly conduct). These offences added time to his sentence and he was finally released in December 1869.1,2

Sullivan may have learned a few tricks while in Pentridge, for he resumed his criminal activities and became notorious as the Yarra Flats bushranger. He evaded police for some time, then Sullivan and fellow bushranger, Charles Smith, were bailed up by Mounted Police Constable Mays in December 1870. Mays narrowly dodged a bullet fired by Sullivan - a charge that Sullivan was later to deny as accidental - but he succeeded in arresting Smith. Sullivan was eventually arrested further up the Yarra track and brought back to Melbourne to face charges of attempting to abscond, horse stealing and shooting with intent. In February 1871, he was sentenced to six months hard labour (in irons) on the first charge, eight years on the second and seven years on the third. His prison record describes him unflatteringly as having a swarthy complexion and a "face blotched with pimples". True to his form, Sullivan added to his sentence by committing various offences while in gaol, including a serious assault on fellow prisoners Roland Leigh and James Doolan, and a knife fight with former bushranger Captain Moonlite (alias Andrew Scott). In October 1884, having spent the greater part of the last twenty years in prison, Sullivan was once again a free man - though not for long.3,4,5,6,7

Less than two months after his release from Pentridge, Sullivan was back in court facing a charge of assaulting a man named George McLeish in Bourke Street, Melbourne. McLeish had just come out of a theatre when he was approached by two woman, one of whom was Sullivan's wife. Sullivan took exception to McLeish talking to his wife, even though she had initiated the conversation, and punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. A passing police constable intervened and prevented the violence from escalating. When Sullivan appeared in the City Court a few days later on 17 December 1884, he admitted his prior convictions and begged for leniency, stating that since leaving gaol he had endeavoured to earn an honest living by keeping a small shop. He was sentenced to two months' imprisonment and would have spent Christmas 1884 in gaol. Sullivan and his wife were involved in another incident in April 1886, when he was found fighting with her in a city street and disturbing the peace in the early hours of the morning. Both husband and wife were taken into custody, but the court favoured Sullivan, who stated he was trying to take his wife back home, and fined her 10 shillings. At the time, it was reported that he had a shop in Collingwood and his wife assisted him in the business.8,9

The following year, 1887, was an eventful one for John Sullivan. In February, he was involved in an early morning fracas at the home of Mr Cousens at Ten Foot Hill, Castlemaine. An altercation took place between Sullivan and a man named Thomas Ray, who struck Sullivan on the forehead with a hammer, inflicting a severe wound. Sullivan retaliated and threatened to "knock Ray's brains out", when the potentially serious situation was averted by the arrival of police. The two men and Thomas Ray's wife Esther were charged with creating a disturbance. In Castlemaine Police Court on 9 February, Thomas Ray was fined £1, in default seven days' imprisonment, while Esther was fined the greater amount of £6, in default two months' imprisonment, for using obscene language. Sullivan was discharged and then immediately re-arrested as he left the court. Sergeant Nowlan recognised Sullivan's description from the Police Gazette and arrested him on a charge of larceny as a servant. He allegedly stole 15 plugs of tobacco, 4 shillings in silver and a pair of scissors from his employer, John Kelly, at North Fitzroy on 27 January 1887. Sullivan was remanded, at his own request, to appear at Fitzroy Police Court, where he would be in a better position to raise bail, set at £50, and two sureties of £125 each. On Monday 14 February, the court was told that Sullivan was an employee of John Kelly, a barber and tobacconist of St George's Road, North Fitzroy. Kelly had left John Lewis (as he was then known) in charge of the shop for an afternoon and, when he returned, he found that Lewis had decamped and the stated items were missing. But this must have been Sullivan's lucky month, for he was once again discharged, on the grounds that there was no evidence that he had taken the stated items.10,11,12,13,14

Two months later, in April 1887, Sullivan's luck had run out when he was arrested outside the Dan O'Connell Hotel, on the corner of Canning and Princes Streets, Carlton. He was allegedly the "lookout" for Robert McFadden, who had broken into the hotel with intent to commit a burglary. Nothing was stolen and Sullivan's initial charge was being an accessory before the fact. But his criminal past had caught up with him and the charge was subsequently altered to being a rogue and vagabond, and a suspected person frequenting a public place. His defence was dependent on the curious interpretation of a public place as being a street that led to "any river, canal, quay, etc.", as defined by the Colonial Act. Sullivan's defence counsel, Mr Leonard, argued that Canning and Princes Streets were not public places according to the Colonial Act definition. He cited the 1883 case of Benjamin Adams, who was arrested in Victoria Parade, Collingwood, on a similar charge and the conviction was quashed on appeal. On the charge of "frequenting", Leonard cited a case recently decided by the English Court of Exchequer in which being seen once in a street did not constitute frequenting. Leonard had done his research and prepared his case well, but the Bench was against him. They favoured the broader interpretation of a public place as being any street and frequenting as being seen one or more times in such a street. Sullivan was sentenced to one month's imprisonment and Mr Leonard, in fit of pique, reportedly said: "Hand me down my law hooks. I'll never take the trouble to hunt up law cases for this Bench again".15,16

What became of Sullivan after his release from prison? It is unlikely that he would have returned to work at John Kelly's barber shop and the publicity surrounding his criminal record, and his propensity for violence, would have discouraged most employers from taking him on. His Victorian prison record shows no further custodial sentences, however Sullivan was known by several different aliases and may have re-invented himself. He could have travelled, interstate or overseas, and established himself in a new town or country. Remember that he was once a sailor - what better way to escape your past?

Notes and References:
1 The Age, 28 April 1887, p. 6
2 Central Register of Male Prisoners, no. 7265, Register 10, p. 672 (VPRS 515). This record states that Sullivan was 19 years old in 1865.
3 Weekly Times, 17 December 1870, p. 9
4 Central Register of Male Prisoners no. 7265, Register 13, p. 298 (VPRS 515). This record states that Sullivan was born in 1850.
5 The Argus, 2 September 1875, p. 4
6 The Argus, 19 January 1876, p. 4
7 The Australasian, 1 December 1877, p. 1
8 The Age, 18 December 1884, p. 1
9 The Age, 19 April 1886, p. 6
10 Bendigo Advertiser, 10 February 1887, p. 3
11 Bendigo Advertiser, 11 February 1887, p. 3
12 Mount Alexander Mail, 11 February 1887, p. 2
13 Victoria Police Gazette, 2 February 1887, p. 40
14 Mercury and Weekly Courier, 18 February 1887, p. 3
15 Avoca Mail, 29 April 1887, p. 3
16 Mercury and Weekly Courier, 23 June 1883, p. 2


Barlow the Embezzler

George Booker Barlow was a respectable married man, the eldest son of the Rev. Robert Barlow, formerly of St. Mark's Church, Fitzroy. He was born in Ireland in 1854 and migrated to Australia as an infant in 1855. Barlow was employed at the Carlton branch of the London Chartered Bank in Elgin Street, where he had worked as a cashier and accountant for 15 years. He was a valued employee and anyone could trust him with their money. Or could they? On Monday 29 August 1887, Mr Reed (Read), inspector of branches for the bank, turned up unexpectedly to examine the books. Barlow made a hurried exit, taking with him the loaded revolver that he kept under the counter. He did not return to work that day and, in the meantime, an examination of the books revealed a deficit of several hundred pounds. Furthermore, Barlow had apparently made no attempt to conceal his embezzlement. The police were notified and a warrant was issued for his arrest.1,2,3

When the police arrived at Barlow's house in Heidelberg, his wife Annie was frantic with worry. Her husband had not come home at the usual time and he had left his horse and buggy, which he used to travel to and from work, stabled at Foley's Hotel. Further investigations revealed that, shortly after leaving the bank, Barlow had gone to the Flower Hotel in Drummond Street and settled a wager he had lost over a football match between Carlton and South Melbourne. He was last seen in Brunswick by an acquaintance named Davis, who was surprised that Barlow did not acknowledge his greeting and instead headed off in the direction of the Merri Creek. An extensive search of the creek and surrounding district failed to find any trace of Barlow, and concerns were raised that he may have taken the revolver in order to commit suicide.4,5

George Barlow was on the run for a week when, once again, he was seen by an acquaintance. He turned up at Stockwell's hotel in Molong, a small town in the central west region of New South Wales, on Monday 5 September. A man in the bar thought he recognised Barlow as an acquaintance from Melbourne, though he could not quite place him. But his hard stare was enough to spook Barlow, who took off and spent the next two miserable nights sleeping rough in the bush. He returned to Molong on the Wednesday morning, where his bedraggled appearance and distracted manner attracted the attention of Police Sergeant Harley. Barlow, fearing that he was about to be arrested, identified himself and surrendered to police. He also admitted that, had he stayed another night in the bush, he would have committed suicide. Barlow was arrested and taken to Sydney, then Constable Quilty escorted him back to Melbourne to face charges.6

The initial hearing was held before the Carlton Bench on Saturday 17 September, with Mr Leonard representing Barlow. Barlow was charged with embezzling £500, the property of the London Chartered Bank. He denied the charge, stating that he only taken his month's wages. Bail was granted at £300, with a surety of the same amount, and Barlow left the court and went home with his wife. Three days later, he was re-arrested and back in court, facing additional embezzling charges dating back to February 1887. This time he was committed for trial and bail was set at £1,500, with a £500 surety. George Barlow had his day in court on Monday 3 October and, probably realising that the game was up, he changed his plea to guilty of embezzling three sums of money, amounting in total to £645. He was remanded for sentencing and faced the court again on the following Monday 10 October.7,8,9

Before Judge Worthington, Mr Reed, whose vigilance had brought about the downfall of George Barlow, deposed that the prisoner had been in the service of the bank for 15 years, and had always done his work satisfactorily until recent events. He said he was inclined to think that the prisoner had brought himself to his present position through drink and bad company. Judge Worthington was not moved by any suggestion of mitigating circumstances and said that drinking and bad company were not excuses for crime. He further discounted a medical certificate, stating that Barlow was suffering from a "dangerous complaint", on the grounds that the prisoner would have access to medical treatment while in gaol. Judge Worthington, believing that those who breach a position of trust should be severely punished, sentenced George Barlow to three years' gaol, with hard labour.10,11

George Barlow spent two years and two months in Pentridge gaol. His prison record shows that he was released early, by special authority, on 21 December 1889. Unlike some of his fellow prisoners, he recorded no offences while in custody, and did not commit any additional offence after his release. His time at Pentridge, doing hard labour, must have taken its toll on the former bank employee who was accustomed to a desk job. He died in Brunswick on 13 September 1892, aged 38 years, and he was remembered by his widow Annie in a memorial notice published in The Argus in September 1893.12,13,14

Notes and References:
1 George Booker Barlow married Harriet Annie Merritt in 1883.
2 The former London Chartered Bank building is on the north west corner of Elgin and Drummond Streets.
3 Barlow's embezzlement and subsequent trial were reported extensively in newspapers from September to October 1887.
4 Foley's Hotel was in Bourke Street, Melbourne, but it was more likely that Barlow stabled his horse with Thomas Foley in Drummond Street, Carlton. The stables were a short walk from the London Chartered Bank and within a closer commuting distance from Heidelberg.
5 The Flower Hotel, where Barlow paid his football wager, was at 463 Drummond Street. The hotel ceased trading in February 1908 and the land was compulsorily acquired by the Housing Commission of Victoria as part of its slum reclamation program.
6 The Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, 10 September 1887, p. 575
7 The Age, 19 September 1887, p. 6
8 The Age, 23 September 1887, p. 5
9 The Argus, 4 October 1887, p. 5
10 The Argus, 11 October 1887, p. 6
11 Barlow's description in the Victoria Police Gazette of 7 September 1887, p. 262, noted "subject to heart disease".
12 Central Register of Male Prisoners, no. 22123 (VPRS 515)
13 It was not uncommon for prisoners to be charged with seemingly trivial offences and have their sentences increased.
14 According to Barlow's prison record, his wife Annie was living in Church Street, Carlton, while he was serving his sentence in Pentridge.


Catnapping in Carlton

Illegal detention is hot topic in Australia, debated by politicians, lawyers and human rights advocates. In 1903, a dispute over the ownership of a cat led to a curious case of illegal detention, heard in Carlton Magistrates Court before JPs Edwards and Clyne. Felix Mortimer, an icecream vendor and resident of Reeves Street Carlton, sued his neighbour Michael Cregan, publican of the Ancient Briton Hotel in Rathdowne Street, for illegal detention of his cat. The cat in question, which did not appear in court, was described by the claimant as a black and white "Mauritius" cat with a burn mark on its tail. Mr Mortimer claimed that he had brought the much-travelled cat with him from his native Mauritius and, to the amusement of the court, that he loved the cat as if it was his own child. The defendant, Michael Cregan, claimed that he had owned the cat for more than 12 months, while Felix Mortimer stated that his cat had been missing for a few weeks and Cregan would not return it. The court decided in Mortimer's favour and ordered that Cregan return the cat or pay the amount of 5 shillings, fixed by the court as the value of the cat, and 19 shillings costs.

Michael Cregan was publican of the Ancient Briton Hotel, on the north corner of Rathdowne and Reeves Streets, from July 1899 to July 1905. The hotel itself dates back to 1867 and was originally licensed to John Reeves, who once owned the street that bore his name. Reeves suffered financial losses and was declared insolvent in 1868, forcing sale of the hotel building and all the houses in Reeves Street. The Ancient Briton Hotel continued to trade for five decades, with a succession of publicans and the occasional breach of licensing regulations. The hotel was delicensed in 1919 and the nine room brick building became a residential property.

References:
The Age, 1 October 1903, p. 6
The Argus, 1 October 1903, p.5
Index to Defunct Hotel Licences (VPRS 8159)

Related Item:
Reeves Street Carlton


Coining in Carlton

A Carlton woman, searching for her husband's secret stash of whisky in May 1918, made a startling discovery. Instead of the demon drink, she found a parcel of 250 shiny, new two shilling pieces stuffed behind the fire grate. She gave one of the coins to a friend, a soldier who was staying with her while he was on leave from the army. He went to the local hotel and tried the "pub test". The savvy publican recognised the "silver" coin as being made from base metal and, taking a hammer, he hammered it to the bar counter. Back at the house, the woman was in a panic as she feared she could be charged with being in possession of counterfeit coins. She placed them in a stocking and later threw them into the Yarra River at Princes Bridge.

The matter, like the coins, might have rested there in the murky depths of the Yarra River, except that the soldier had taken a few coins as souvenirs and they later turned up in circulation at Camp Maribyrnong. The police were called in, but the soldier was not charged because he had given the coins away and had not intended to profit from the transaction. After investigating, the police concluded that the coins, all dated 1908, were most likely the hoard of two "coiners" who were operating in Carlton in that same year. In April 1908, Arthur James and Emily Quilky were arrested and charged with larceny, and with having coining implements in their possession. The police had gone to a house in Barkly Street to recover stolen goods and, in the process of searching, they found plaster moulds of half crowns and coins in various stages of manufacture. Did the two spurious coin discoveries take place in the same house, 10 years apart? The 1918 newspaper accounts do not identify the street address or the names of the people involved - suffice it to say that the evidence was circumstantial.

This was not the only coining case in Carlton. In March 1914, Frederick Thorpe and his wife May (Mary) were arrested and charged with manufacturing, and having in their possession, counterfeit sovereigns. They lived in Lygon Street and, in the early hours of the morning, several police detectives visited the house and found the coins hidden under the mattress on which Mr and Mrs Thorpe were sleeping. Both denied having any knowledge of the "coining plant" that was found in the house, claiming it must have already been there when they moved in. The case was heard in the Criminal Court in April 1914 and, after an hour's deliberation, Frederick Thorpe was found guilty and sentenced to three years' hard labour. He had a series of prior convictions, dating back to 1907, and he spent the following years to 1925 in and out of gaol. May Thorpe, who had a young baby at the time, was found not guilty and went home to contemplate a life without her husband.

References:
Geelong Advertiser, 6 May 1918, p. 5
The Age, 1 May 1908, p. 6
The Age, 17 April 1914, p. 14
The Argus, 17 April 1914, p. 12
Prisoner No. 31480, Victoria Prison Register (VPRS 515)


Bringing Home the Bacon

In 1890, a "respectable looking man" named John Skelton escaped a charge of stealing a side of bacon, valued at 37 shillings and sixpence. He was discovered in a shed at the rear of the premises of Mr Kenny, at North Carlton, in which a quantity of bacon was stored. He was seen handling the meat, but in Carlton Court on 16 April 1890, he denied that he had any felonious intention, and had simply gone to the place to have a sleep. As it was noted that he was showing signs of heavy drinking, this could be seen as a plausible explanation. Skelton's defence counsel argued that there was no evidence of a theft having been committed, as the bacon had not been removed from the shed. The bench found in favour of the defendant, who probably went home to nurse his hangover.

Reference:
The Age, 17 April 1890, p. 5


The Bag Man

John Smith, an elderly man down on his luck, helped himself to six manilla bags that were hanging from the doorway of Mr. W. T. Thompson, ironmonger, of Elgin Street Carlton. Smith was arrested soon afterwards and appeared in Carlton Court the following day, 2 February 1894. He pleaded guilty to the charge of stealing the manilla bags, valued at six shillings, stating that he was poor and had taken the bags in order to procure food. The Bench took a lenient view of the case and sentenced him to 14 days' imprisonment. One wonders what sentence would have been imposed had he not been treated leniently.

Reference:
The Argus, 3 February 1894, p. 5


The Price of a Newspaper

Robert Campbell, a newsagent of Rathdowne Street, was fed up with pilfering. He faithfully delivered newspapers to doorsteps in Carlton - come rain, hail or shine - but he was losing an average of 20 newspapers a week through theft. So it was with bittersweet satisfaction that he saw Herbert Beard, someone he had known as a very respectable man, in Carlton Court facing a charge of stealing The Age newspaper, valued at one penny. Charles Coltman, a resident of 427 Rathdowne Street, stated that he had seen Beard open his front gate, pick up the newspaper and walk away with it. Constable Gillespie, who was on watch nearby, had also seen Beard take the newspaper and he made an arrest. In his defence, Beard claimed that he had taken the newspaper to read the job advertisements and he did not intend to steal it. Campbell, while he regretted seeing Beard in his present predicament, considered that action had to be taken to stop newspaper pilfering. Beard was fined ten shillings - 120 times the price of the newspaper he took.

References:
The Age, 25 June 1913, p. 11
The Argus, 25 June 1913, p. 10


A Rude Awakening

William Thompson fell asleep on the verandah of his house in Little Barkly Street, Carlton, on a Saturday evening in January 1899. He awoke an hour later to discover that his trousers had been slashed while he slumbered. Not only that - his watch and chain, and over 30 shillings in cash, were gone. It was the watch that led police to make an arrest in Lygon Street several days later. William Baker, a convicted criminal, offered the watch as security for a loan from Solomon's pawnbroker in Lygon Street. Mrs Solomon recognised the watch as stolen and alerted the police, who arrested Baker. Baker went on to assault police at the Carlton Police Station, adding resisting arrest to his list of charges. At the Carlton Court on Friday 20 January 1899, Baker pleaded guilty and, having recently been released from four years in prison, was sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment for larceny and 3 months' for resisting arrest. The watch was no doubt returned to Mr Thompson, but it is unlikely that the stolen cash was recovered or that Thompson was compensated for the damage to his trousers. Hopefully Mrs Thompson was handy with a needle and thread.

Reference:
The Age, 21 January 1899, p. 9


A Costly Bunch of Flowers

Picking flowers seems like a harmless activity, but for William Angus, a coach builder, it cost him dearly. Two police officers patrolling the grounds of Melbourne University on a Sunday in July 1901 noticed that flowers had been stripped from shrubs in the quadrangle. They came across Mr Angus, holding the incriminating evidence of a large bunch of flowers, and made an arrest. Angus pleaded guilty to a charge of stealing about 100 camellia blooms, the property of the Melbourne University Trustees. He was fined 40 shillings, or in default one month's imprisonment. The sentence took into account the damage caused to the shrubs by breaking off the stalks, and perhaps the presiding magistrate was a camellia fancier or keen gardener.

Reference:
The Age, 23 July 1901, p. 9


High Kicking in Carlton

Some hotel patrons are known to kick up their heels after a drink or two, but few would reach the impressive height of 7 feet (over 2 metres) achieved by a young man named O'Connor at the Horseshoe Hotel in 1901. Mr O'Connor was a regular drinker at the Horseshoe Hotel in Lygon Street, Carlton, and on the evening of 5 August, he entertained his fellow drinkers with a display of fancy high kicking. The jovial mood changed when his mother arrived, with three police officers in tow. Mrs O'Connor was fed up with her son's drinking and she called the police to fetch him home. On seeing his mother, he burst into tears and threw his arms around her neck. From his emotional outburst, the police deduced that he was a "crying drunk" and made an arrest. But O'Connor was not the person charged over this incident. The hotel licensee, Mary Fitzpatrick, was charged with breaching the Liquor Licensing Act and her "crime" was permitting a drunken person to be on her licensed premises. When the case was heard in the District Court her defence counsel argued that Mr O'Connor was not drunk, as he would have fallen over after executing his high kicks. The court considered that O'Connor had been drunk within the meaning of section 131 of the act, and fined Mary Fitzpatrick £4.

Notes and References:
The Age, 23 August 1901, p. 6
The Argus, 23 August 1901, p. 5
The Horseshoe Hotel (formerly King's Arms Hotel) was on the west side of Lygon Street, between Magenta Place and Argyle Place South. It was delicensed in December 1925.


A Foolhardy Act?

Who would be foolhardy enough to rob the local police station? This question must have crossed the mind of Constable Atherton when he confronted James Cahill at the Carlton Police Station in October 1925. He noticed that Cahill was behaving suspiciously and carrying several items, including a brush that was identified by initials. Cahill claimed that the items were his and that he had "never stolen, even a match" in his whole life. But these items were identified as the property of Constable Sumpter, who lived at the police barracks at Carlton Station. Cahill, a 42 year old labourer who had recently arrived in Melbourne from Albury, claimed to have no knowledge of how or why he had got into the police barracks, or removed the items from Constable Sumpter's locker. He was hungry and simply looking for something to eat. On 27 October 1925, he was charged at Carlton Court with stealing a hair brush, clothes brush, comb and tobacco pouch, and fined £2, in default fourteen days' imprisonment. At least he would have had something to eat in prison.

Reference:
The Age, 28 October 1925, p. 14


The Nagging Wife

Ernest Butler, who was found guilty of stealing bedding from a lodging house, blamed his nagging wife for his predicament. Butler, a labourer, and his wife occupied a room in a lodging house in Drummond Street, Carlton. Eleanor Blake, the lodging house keeper, noticed several items of bedding missing from their room and called in the police. Butler admitted that he had stolen and pawned two sheets, two blankets and a honeycomb quilt, valued at £2, at the insistence of his nagging wife. The case was heard at Carlton Court a few days before Christmas on 22 December 1925. A sentence of one month's imprisonment was recorded but, possibly in the spirit of the season, it was suspended on a good behaviour bond for twelve months.

Reference:
The Age, 23 December 1925, p. 12


Snowdropping in Carlton

At the lower end of the clothing scale, Carlton police had to deal with a spate of clothesline thefts in July 1934. Following a visit by senior Plain-Clothes Constables Madin and O'Brien to a house in David Street, a large quantity of clothing, some of which was still wet, was seized. Two men were charged and taken into custody, while police were left with the daunting task of trying to identify the owners of the stash of stolen clothing.

Reference:
The Age, 28 July 1934, p. 16


A Passion for Silk

Silk has always been considered a luxury fibre, the preserve of those who can afford it, and this makes it an attractive theft item. In February 1936, some inventive thieves managed to steal £200 worth of women's silk underwear from Beatall Manufacturing Co. in Barry Street, Carlton, without even entering the premises. They forced open a window and used an iron rod with a hook at one end to pull the boxes of underwear towards the window.

Reference:
The Argus, 6 February 1936, p. 10

A few years later in April 1939, nearly 180 dozen pairs of silk stockings, valued at £500 were stolen from a distributing centre of Prestige Ltd. in Nicholson Street, North Carlton. The crime was solved within hours, due to the vigilance of First Constable Maher. In the light of his torch, he noticed three men carrying large sacks at the corner of Station and Curtain Streets, North Carlton, about 3.30 am. He challenged the men, who dropped the sacks and ran away in different directions. Constable Maher managed to arrest of one of the fugitives, and the sacks were found to contain the stolen stockings. The other thieves were arrested in subsequent raids on premises in Drummond Street and Lygon Street. All in a good night's work for First Constable Maher.

Reference:
The Argus, 13 April 1939, p. 3


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