Charlie Webb’s World
Meet Sydney Patrick “Baccarat King” Kelly
When Webb was twenty-five, Sydney Kelly was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment and 15 lashes of the cat o’ nine tails for razor slashing, his favoured way of exacting retribution. In one instance, after having been bested in a fight he gathered together a couple of accomplices and made his way to the home of the man who had humiliated him where they overpowered and held him down while Kelly bent over and slashed the man’s face.
Kelly was a close associate of Norman Bruhn.
Meet Norman Bruhn
When Webb was twenty-two Norman Bruhn was shot and killed at Darlinghurst in Sydney eight months after he was allegedly forced to leave Melbourne for Sydney by rival Squizzy Taylor.
Bruhn was dockworker, gunman, thief, stand-over man and pimp who became known for his garroting skills. He became a member of Sydney’s infamous razor gangs before being murdered.
Meet Squizzy Taylor (again)
When Webb was twenty-two Squizzy Taylor, a member of the Bourke Street Rats was killed in a shoot-out with Snowy Cutmore. The diminutive Taylor was a murderer, thief, pickpocket, stand-over man, shop-breaker, sly grog artist, pimp, cocaine dealer and illegal baccarat school owner. His schoolyard nickname was the result of a habitual squint in one of his eyes.
Meet Joseph Cotter.
When Webb was seventeen Cotter took a potshot at Squizzy Taylor, hitting him in the thigh, hence the crutches and phalanx of body guards in the above pic. Cotter had one of the worst WW1 war service records on file and was involved in all sorts of criminal endeavours when finally discharged.
Meet Snowy Cutmore
Webb was twenty-two when Cutmore and Squizzy Taylor shot it out in a pistol duel. When the police arrived they found Cutmore dead in his bed, his mother and Taylor both wounded, Taylor died soon after been taken to hospital. Cutmore’s mother survived.
Meet James Coates
When Webb was forty-two when the internationally known con man Coates was shot and killed after attempting to enter the protection racket by way of Melbourne’s illegal baccarat schools. Coates was hated and feared as a double-dealer and possible informer.
Meet Freddie ‘The Frog’ Harrison.
Ten years after Webb was found dead Harrison, who was suspected of murdering James Coates had half his head blown off by a shotgun at South Wharf in Melbourne in 1958 .. proving that hatreds ran deep in the Melbourne underworld.
Meet Angus Murray
When Webb was nineteen Murray was the last man hanged at the Old Melbourne Goal after being found guilty of the murder of T.R. Berriman, bank manager. When Murray was arrested he was found to be in a house along with Squizzy Taylor and Ida Pender.
Meet Ida Pender, wife of Squizzy Taylor.
When Webb was forty (about) he was known to be employed as a nit-keeper at one of Melbourne’s illegal baccarat schools.
When Webb was forty-one he terminated a violent and abusive relationship with his wife. He also attempted suicide in the same year by overdosing on phenobarbital.
When Webb was forty-three he was found dead under suspicious circumstances on an Adelaide beach.
Russel Street detectives believe the unknown man whose body was found on Somerton Beach, Adelaide on December 1 was well-known in Melbourne baccarat circles.
When Webb was ….. ? his brother Roy married the daughter of Joe Gavey, an infamous Melbourne criminal, also at the wedding was one Charles Alsop, a criminal associate of Gavey’s. Both men were known to be associates of Squizzy Taylor. It is safely assumed that Charlie Webb was at the wedding.
any mistakes are mine
Knowing all these ‘gentlemen’, I can’t help thinking that Carl must have been living on ‘the edge’ so to speak. Never knowing from one day to the next if he was going to be questioned about his loyalties, or to be invited to a meeting ‘somewhere in the local countryside’.
WOW what a line up, and you can thrown in Freddy the Frog as well. Tough company for Carl’s but then his own wife swears in an affidavit that Carl pulled a knife on a mate in his own home over a friendly card game. Imagine his reaction to some punter who got him offside in an underground baccarat den.
Wouldn’t mind a pic of Gavey and all Squizzy’s offsiders in the crutches shot.
Freddy the Frog Harrison is believed to have killed James Coates. The murder happened in a vacant lot/playground on Punt Road, near the corner of Union Street, Windsor. This is very close the 97 Punt Road, Windsor address that Charlie’s nephew, Charles Richard Webb, was registered at when he enlisted for WWII service in 1942. He was married and no longer living there at the time of Coates’ July 1947 death (the house is no longer there – I don’t know if this was ever Russell Webb’s address of just Charles’), however, this could all seem very close to known territory.
Balanced against possible underworld connections and baccarat action we need to consider Charlie’s earlier life in outer suburban Springvale – working in the bakery and perhaps using his electrical fitting skills in a local business (eg Kelly and Lewis, near the bakery), his schooling and his work at the. Red Point Tool Company. It would be interesting to know if his name ever came up in investigations or if he was a fringe player. If Charlie was caught up in the baccarat action I can see why Cottesloe may have been calling!
Harrison was killed in 1958.
I’m inclined to believe that Charlie’s death was suicide but that he was on the edge of what could be a dangerous world.
I’d agree with suicide, Jo, particularly as there was doubt expressed by Dwyer about Cowan’s conclusion that he found no signs of any common poison. Given Cowan’s senior position it would not have been out of the ordinary for him to have given the testing to a less expert individual and not admit to doing so.
Most of those Melbourne villains used guns and knives to kill … not poison. Women on the other hand thought differently as there are plenty of examples of them knocking off unwanted husbands with various potions.
it would have been inevitable for CW to have been drawn in to the underworld seeing that his brother married into it. His condition and love for puzzles naturally would led him to be attracted to games and playing cards was one of his thngs. I would imagine that he was on the run and left the scene and went to Cottesloe
“They said the man talked to few people. He was employed at the baccarat school for about 10 weeks, then left without saying why or where he was going.”
but maintain that it was not suicide rather a foiled attempt by the nurse to revive him. there was no poison in his system although he presented with symptoms of poisoning.
There was no evidence of poison yet someone went to great length to strip him of any identification that would lead back to finding out who he was and eventually to the culprits. it was not the Melbourne underworld who got him rather an opportunist thief and incompetent nurse aided by a couple of pharmacists. thoughts are they were in an illegal game when CW started feeling unwell and a dose of digitalis administered
also can anyone explain why hooded persons would be threatening anyone who came forward to id CW’S body in particular Roma Magnusson?
Suspect the Mangnoson stuff is unrelated/misunderstood. Old Keith had his own skeletons. Not sure there’s much connection between the Melbourne underworld and Adelaide (for all Adelaide’s curious crimes and murders, it seems to have been less affected by the sorts of criminal activity that became big on the Eastern Seaboard. I’m not real sure why this is – I could make some guesses, but they’d be just that).
For the threats against Mango to be true, you’d have to conclude that Mango’s claims were correct (how many other people coming forward were warned off?). That would imply that the thugs thought Mango’s claim of Karl Thomson in the Riverland would somehow lead to Carl Webb (most obviously that Webb is Thomson). That also implies that the nasties in Melbourne were interested in the fact that Webb was in the Riverland – in fact if they’re worried his ID there will lead back to them it suggests perhaps he was there for nefarious reasons….
I find it hard to buy the idea that:
a) Webb had been in the Riverland and his pals in Melbourne were acutely aware of it
b) The Melbourne friends had sufficient connections in Adelaide to send someone down Largs way to hassle Roma.
Interestingly Squizzie’s (ex)wife moved to Adelaide as they split – that to me suggests Adelaide might have been seen as a ‘safe’ escape from the Melbourne Underworld….
You expect me to believe the brother of a war hero being a football player and worked building warplane dashboards or instruments was suddenly a junkie and mobster? Why did he stop working ay the factory, did his wife or her family have something to do with it?
Perhaps you should read his wife’s divorce petition again.
I read the divorce papers but it doesnt mention why carl stopped working at the factory. It does mention his wife was a pharmacist and he was found overdosed on several ocations, once with phenobarbital. Was the wife drugging him to keep him with her. She obviously didnt want to leave… First kick on My spine and I’m out of there…
Mate just about everyone had a brother , uncle or father who was in WW2 and played football. Not sure how that disqualifies you from getting into these circles. Squizzy Taylor came from a good hardworking family who had their own business and Squizzy himself worked with horses and was a talented jockey as a young man.
Lets face it Carl was a wife beater , a sore looser and hopeless gambler who’s own family wrote off
@slidingglass … rather than post all your recent comments separately I’ve combined them into one for easier access, and apart from a few tidy-ups have left everything as you originally intended.
(1) Why didn’t the police ever arrest Charles Webb? Maybe because Doff exaggerated things and was probably abusing Charles. Why was it that Dorothy wasn’t the one found dead on the beach?
(2) Are there any witnesses to her beatings like pictures or is it just her Word because no policeman ever arrested him.
(3) Remember he was found dead poisoned, not Dorothy. Someone placed him on the beach and removed his items.
(the next one is for you dude ….)
(4) You didn’t mention any thug having a hero brother or being a real sports person or having a job in something considered important.
You’ve hit on a good point Slide perhaps you could share it with the authorities. When investigating a crime elliminte any suspects who played football or have a sibling who served their county.
dude, do you know when Webb shot through to WA and for how long? I’ve posted the question onto Dome’s site as well ..
Hi Pete – nothing is confirmed. There was a 1958 newspaper ad, posted by Charlie’s sister’s lawyers, looking for Charlie as he was a beneficiary to her will. You can view the ad – posted by Lachlan Kelly, on Derek Abbott’s “Identifying the Somerton Man” Facebook page. In the lawyers’ deposition for Charlie & Doff’s divorce hearing it says that a maintenance order was made at the Prahran Petty Sessions Court on 1 May 1947 and was last complied with in June. Doff also believed Charlie had left Bromby Street in April, although there are ads in November 1946 selling furniture & effects (as per the landlord’s report in the divorce deposition). From all of this I would suggest a date of June or July 1947, although it could be earlier. Personally I think we need to be mindful with speculations as Charlie now has a contemporary family to consider, they are probably still trying to make sense of all this too! Joe Gavey also has contemporary descendants. There probably is an Underbelly episode or two, however, lurking in Prahran & South Yarra of the 1940s…Maybe you’re hatching a novel? I’m wondering if the Punt Road baccarat school was in the contemporary backpackers’ hostel at St Kilda Junction, owned by Tony Mokbel’s partner Danielle Maguire! (Ex Chinese restaurant ‘70s -90s, beautiful but odd old building).
Thanks Jo, you’re a blinking marvel, and no, no novel is being hatched here, although I’ve got a trilogy of seedy reminiscences on sale ver’ cheap.
My gestimation is that Carl hopped on the transcontinental in mid 47.
My feeling from the look of his case he appears to be a well organised traveller (takes one to know one) His case is the bog standard short trip pack. He didn’t over pack , had all the essentials , a couple of changes and knew how to keep himself clean shaven and presentable on the road.
To me that’s says he was a frequent traveller during the missing years between when he leaves Bromby st and his demise. So to your question PB “for how long?” I think he was moving about a lot in his last 2 years. Could have been back an forth to Melbourne.