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Bryan Taylor

Life and Crimes Part 2

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Why Jack Pacholli left Sydney.
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Jack Pacholli was a very interesting character and in the late 50’s and early 60’s ran with a crew in Sydney containing the likes of Charles “Chicka” Reeves, who would eventually be shot in an underworld dispute, and “Barney” Ryan, a very big man as I remember, and a gentleman as far as the way he treated me and other people around him. Barney’s reputation was quite different. People outside of his own circle were terrified of him as he was known to be quite violent when the need arose. Chicka also had a reputation as someone not to be crossed and could also be very violent and while not a big man was not short of resorting to using a weapon to make up for his lack in size.
On Saturday nights there was a dance held at the Waterloo Town Hall that was a must attend for certain people involved in the Sydney underworld and on one night in March 1965 a young up and coming thug and want to be gangster, Ronald “Ronnie” Feeney, was in attendance. Also in attendance was a well known underworld thug, John “Jackie” Hodder, who by reports at the time was trying to muscle in on some of the Sydney operations of Lennie McPherson. McPherson was not happy with this as he saw himself as the “Mr Big” of the Sydney underworld and needed to show others who was the “Boss”. Little did other people know that “Mr Big” as he liked to be known was already an established police informer and had the protection of the “best police force money could buy”. Ronnie Feeney, trying to establish himself as a force in the Sydney underworld, was willing to do anything to make his mark. I became very good friends with Ronnie Feeney years later and he told me that McPherson said to him that night in the Town Hall “if you want to kick on Ronnie you need to stick this (a knife) into that dog over there” pointing to Hodder. Ronnie wanting to score with ”Mr Big” took the knife and stabbed Hodder in front of the people in attendance. As amazing as it might sound the band didn’t even stop playing and Hodder died on the dance floor with the patrons continuing to dance around his bleeding body.
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See newspaper article,8103035
The following police investigation was to say the least a shambles. McPherson not wanting his “boy” to get into any trouble took advantage of the situation to get rid of some of his opponents in the Sydney underworld and gave the police information that Chicka and his mates were responsible for the death. The police arrested Chicka Reeves, Barney Ryan and Chicka’s girlfriend for the murder alleging that Chicka’s girlfriend handed him the knife. At one of the court cases that followed the charges against Barney Ryan were dismissed through lack of evidence. This left Chicka and his girlfriend facing murder charges. Because of the methods employed by the NSW police at the time it looked certain they would be convicted and possibly receive a life sentence for the crime. Before the matter went to trial the police, who knew Chicka was innocent offered him a deal that if he pleaded guilty to manslaughter they would drop the charge against his girlfriend. The deal was 3 years jail. Not long after being freed Barney was in attendance at another Saturday night dance at the Botany Town Hall with his wife and children when he was informed that a crew was waiting for him to leave and they were going to gun him down as soon as he left the premises. Barney being the man he was, did not want his family to get caught up in the situation, went outside on his own to deal with the matter, but was gunned down and killed. To my knowledge no one was ever charged over his murder.
Jack Pacholli was now vulnerable and knew that his card was marked as far as Sydney was concerned so this situation and the fact he was not a police informer told him Sydney was not the healthiest place for him to reside. The police at the time let the crims run on the condition that they fed them information on the criminal activities of others otherwise they would arrest them and put them in jail, even if they had to manufacture the evidence against them. This was done by what was known as the “load” where they would place a gun or explosives, such as gelignite, in one’s possession or “verbal” them, a false confession, and get them a prison sentence. Another friend of mine Jack Richardson later told me of the day some infamous Sydney detectives pulled him up in Kings Cross and said to him they wanted more from him. Jack thinking they just wanted more money, which was common practice at the time, commented that he thought he was paying them enough was quickly told that it was not more money that they wanted, but information on other criminals. Jack, not being a police informer, told them to FUCK off and leave him alone. He was then told in no uncertain terms that if he did not cooperate as they suggested that Melbourne might be a nice place to move to as if he stayed in Sydney it was either play the game or go to jail. When Jack protested that other Sydney crims were not treated this way he was informed that this was how it worked and all the Sydney crims who survived were in fact police informers, that was how they stayed out of jail for so long. Jack actually hailed a cab in front of the police and went straight to Sydney airport to catch a plane to Melbourne later ringing his defacto wife and telling her to pack up as he was sending a truck around to pick up their stuff and take it to their new home in Melbourne. Jack Pacholli later told me the same ultimatum was put to him and also the fear of being gunned down like Barney Ryan, because of his association with that crew, made Jack decide that a move of residence to Melbourne might be a good idea as he also had a wife and children to think of, one being son Mick, who is today owner and Chief Editor of the Toorak Times.
Ronnie Feeney also shifted residence to Melbourne for the same reasons in that he was marked man over the Hodder incident. The truth was everybody in the underworld knew the real story of the Hodder matter. Ronnie Feeney had also woken up to the fact that McPherson was a police informer and he was not going to be a lackey to him and therefore lost his back up from Lennie and his protection from the police, so he too became vulnerable. Ironically Feeney would later, himself, become a police informer.
After the breakup of the Sydney crew I had been involved with I had decided to go to the City of Churches, Adelaide, and follow my new found talents of extracting money from businesses and banks with pieces of paper, also called cheques, and take advantage of the flaws in the PBA system used by major retailers at the time. My thinking being that the population and police of this backwater were no match for a smart arse like me. How wrong was this to be? What I had not taken into account was that Adelaide, compared to Sydney, was only a small place and also had its share of police informers. The PBA thing was quite simple. I would go into a major department store and purchase goods for less than $10. The staff would then ask “cash or charge”. My answer was “charge”. The system was that employees did not check if you had an account if goods were under this figure and you were just asked to sign a docket. As I used my correct name and address it was not technically a criminal offence, but subsequently a bad debt. The department stores could then only try to pursue the person for the money. Believe it or not it took the 3 major department stores 3 months before they woke up to what was happening. As the average wage at the time was only about $40 a week this was easy pickings as cigarettes for example were about $8 a carton and were easily saleable in the pub. After being informed on for this and some “kite flying” I had been involved in I was picked up by the police and questioned. I of course denied any involvement and as the police only had informants information they had to let me go, but with a promise they were going to “get” me. After my experiences in Sydney I presumed this meant they were going to “load” me up so I decided Adelaide was not such a soft town after all. I decide to go to Melbourne to test my talents there as being a city almost the size of Sydney I would be able to remain less conspicuous. Being who and what I was, I was drawn to St Kilda and the infamous George Hotel, which in the day was a hangout for people with a similar attitude to mine.
Please don’t get me wrong here, I am not for one second condoning or recommending this way of life to anyone and advise younger ones now that this is not the way to go. In fact I made sure my own children did not follow my path and have tried my best to convince others seemed destined to follow this road that it is the wrong way for them and will only lead to misery and heartache, not only for themselves, but also for their families and loved ones. Some people might question why someone like myself would volunteer themselves to a life of crime as I did. This is something I will try and explain in later articles as having given it a lot of thought later in life, I have my own theories.
At the George Hotel I ran into a few blokes I had known in Sydney and very quickly was reunited with a number of other scoundrels involved in living on the edge of the law. One of the other people II ran into was Jack Pacholli, who by now had decided that the “Gangster” life was not for him, and he was working for a John “Fingers” Short , another old Sydney friend of mine who had retired from the Sydney criminal scene, as a “phone blower” or phone salesman selling advertising in various publications AJS Publications, John’s company, produced. It was through John that I reunited with Ronnie Feeney, who now operated under the name of Ronnie Royal and Jack Richardson, who was living as Jack Oliver. It seemed like half the people I knew from Sydney were now living in Melbourne.
Jack Pacholli being an independent person only worked for AJS Publications long enough to study how things worked and then went out on his own. This was to lead to the birth of “The Toorak Times”.
Continued in Part 3. The “Birth” of The Toorak Times

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Updated 8th January 2014 at 10:06 PM by Bryan Taylor

Bryan Taylor