Gangland Robbers

Gangland Robbers by James Morton

Book: Gangland Robbers by James Morton Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Morton
Murray, on his own release, paid to have Bennett’s claim investigated, and also left money with the Salvation Army to pay his fare to Melbourne, where in 1916 he had teamed up with Taylor.
    On 18 September the next year, Murray, Bennett and Taylor robbed the Middle Park branch of the ES&A Bank. Murray was to enter the bank, while Taylor was the observer and organiser. In theory, it was to be an easy raid.
    The bank teller was the only person on the premises and Murray, wearing a large pair of motorcycle goggles as a disguise, ordered him to lie on the floor. He bound and gagged him, and was rifling through the safe when a messenger from another bank arrived. The messenger knocked and, getting no reply, looked through the letterbox. He then ran off to find a telephone to call the police. Taylor had left a horse and cart at the rear of the bank to take Murray to a waiting car that Bennett was driving. The next day, the car was found abandoned in Albury, and the police caught Murray and Bennett in the local post office, where Murray was in the process of posting £480 to Sydney. Naturally, Taylor was never charged.
    The trial judge said he regretted he was unable to declare the men habitual criminals, as their previous offences had not been dealt with by the Victorian courts, but he was able to achieve the same end by ordering their detention in a reformatory. The sentence would be fifteen years’ hard labour, with subsequent detention in a reformatory at the governor’s pleasure. He hoped it would be many years before they were at liberty, as surely no government would be so foolish as to let them out, as the Western Australian government had done with Bennett.
    Bennett served most of his term but Murray’s confidence in him was sadly misplaced. After his release, Bennett was hanged on 27 September 1932 for the rape of a 4-year-old girl he had lured into a disused house. The last person allowed to make a speech from theVictorian gallows, Bennett spoke for nine minutes. Meanwhile, Murray had had additional troubles of his own.
    In the winter of 1923 Taylor decided it was time for the release of his old friend Angus Murray, then in Geelong Gaol. He set about planning his escape and on 24 August, Murray made his break. A rope with a hook, as well as a fretsaw and some money, had been smuggled into the prison, and Murray cut through the bars of his cell and hooked the rope to the outside wall. As he scaled it, he touched an alarm wire. Nevertheless, he managed to get away and, as the
Victoria Police Gazette
reported, was then, carrying a travelling rug and a small brown case, on his way to a safe house. The police thought he would return to Melbourne and roadblocks were set up, but instead he remained at Geelong for a week before he was driven to the city.
    Although Taylor lived for a number of years after it, the robbery of the manager of the Commercial Bank in Glenferrie six weeks later marked the beginning of the end of his career. Murray had been at large for less than two months when, on 8 October, he and the lame Richard Buckley robbed Thomas Berriman as he followed his usual Monday routine of taking a bag of notes to the Glenferrie railway station, to catch the 11.13 to Melbourne. The previous May, two bank clerks had been peppered and threatened with a pistol in Spencer Street, and thieves had made off with £2750. Now Berriman carried a gun.
    Taylor’s plan was simple. Berriman would be attacked as he walked to the platform. The bag, together with any gun he was carrying, would be snatched, and Murray and Buckley would jump into the waiting car. The driver was to be Taylor but, when it came to it, our hero preferred to skulk outside the police headquarters in Russell Street, so setting up a cast-iron alibi. Buckley, now sixty years old, was still on parole from the Trades Hall sentence. As Berriman came down the ramp, Buckley asked him if he could carry his bag, which contained more than £1850,

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