Charlie Richardson died in December His brother Eddie Richardson is still alive and will be 84 on January 21, A bodyguard for Billy Hill and then later a member of the Richardson gang, "Mad" Frankie Fraser spent 42 years in prison for his many violent crimes - and it was clear why he was considered "mad". For it was he whose preferred method of torture, on behalf of the Richardson gang, was allegedly pulling victims teeth out with a pair of pliers.
But he was actually certified "insane" on two occasions and spend time in Cane Hill Hospital and Broadmoor Hospital. He wrote his autobiography, had a documentary made about him and even gave gangland tours around London.
They enjoyed poetry
His murder got the Kray twin sentenced to life in prison. Before his death, Stepney-born gangster Cornell was a tough enforcer for the Richardson gang - with a reputation known for being absolutely fearless. It is said he was actually a childhood friend of the Krays but joined up with their rival gang who used him for talks with the brothers.
The story goes that Ronnie Kray calmly shot Cornell in the top of his forehead above his right eye. The bullet passed right through him and he was taken to hospital where he died.
Kray and his associate meanwhile, got into a waiting car outside. Starting off with one strip club in Bower Street, by the late 60s they controlled 19 of the 24 strip clubs in Soho. In , Silver was charged for living off immoral earnings but let off because the judge decided there was no case to answer. Then in , Silver was again arrested and charged for living off immoral earnings after renting out a room above a strip club to dancers who also worked as prostitutes. He was sentenced to six years in prison.
Charles Sabini was known as "king of the racecourse gangs" and his Clerkenwell-based gang ruled over the south east's racecourses in the early part of the 20th Century. Sabini, the son of an immigrant Italian father and an English mother and born in Saffron Hill - then known as London's Little Italy - became the south's top gangster of the time. He controlled the best pitches at each horse race and had his men guarding the bookies under his power - the bookies were allowed to only half of each pound they made. As well as making money from racecourse protection rackets Sabini's firm was also associated with other criminal activities and ran several nightclubs.
His organisation was said to have used Sicilian gunmen and razor attacks to terrorise. One policeman apparently stated that he and his thugs used to "stand sideways on to let the bookmakers see the hammers in their pockets". By Tom Matthews. Deborah Morris What's on writer. But there are many more gangsters who held a reign of terror over the city throughout history.
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In typical tabloid style, no names were mentioned, but identities were obvious. Their reign of violence continued more or less unchecked for another four years and the police seemed helpless.
Items once owned by Kray twins going under the hammer
The local community kept silent if questioned, and the East End kept a closed mouth for the law. Ronnie was especially concerned with a celebrity lifestyle.
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His homosexuality was an open secret in the underground world, but it was his psychopathic nature that gave most cause for concern. Fellow criminals were far too scared of him to consider teasing him for what was at that time a criminal activity and social stigma. The Kray twins were not physically large men, but there is no record of them ever losing a fight or brawl.
Ronnie was the most feared due to his unpredictability, but Reggie was not to be underestimated. Known for being the quieter of the two, Reggie aimed to have what he referred to as "the good life", with a wife, material possessions and respect. The veil of silence that met the police from any victims of the Krays meant that they were allowed to go about their illegal business largely unchecked. Scotland Yard knew exactly what they had been getting up to, but without witnesses, they were helpless to convict them. In , Ronnie shot a man, and the police attempted to arrest him, but Ronnie pretended to be Reggie and had a convincing alibi for the time of the shooting.
Krays confessed most outrageous sex secrets to me
This was one incident in a long string of embarrassments for the police, in their attempts to curb the twin's activities. And they eventually had to release whichever of the Kray twins they had in custody. This escape bolstered Ronnie's confidence, but caused a rift between the twin's previously incredibly close bonds.
Ronnie felt invincible against the law whilst Reggie preferred to keep their heads down and concentrate on the money-making side of things rather than just violence for violence's sake. Ronnie eventually fell foul of the law and was sentenced to three years for a beating that both the twins had taken part in. Ronnie had nothing to fear from prison life and he ran his business in much the same way as he did on the outside.
Meanwhile, Reggie seemed to find some sort of relief out of the shadow of his brother, and started showing his ability as a leader rather than second-in-command; he even started some legitimate businesses. It wasn't long before Ronnie was moved to a prison on the Isle of Wight. Where without any of his previous contacts, he began to withdraw into himself, and the mental disorder that was always beneath the surface, began to become more apparent. Just after Christmas , Ronnie learnt that his beloved Aunt Rose had died, and his psychosis became so severe that two days later he was certified insane.
Ronnie was transferred to a hospital, and it was here that he and Reggie hatched an escape plan - once again it was done using the swapping of identities. After his escape, Ronnie's mental health deteriorated further, and he became more and more paranoid. This resulted in Reggie, Charlie and the rest of the family doing what was previously unthinkable, and turning Ronnie over to the police.
Ronnie went without a word of complaint, and completed his sentence in Wandsworth Prison. On his release Ronnie seemed to have come through the other side of his madness, but his illness and prison life changed him physically. He was no longer identical to Reggie. He looked much worse. Ronnie tried to get back into the business, but his normal behaviour did not last long and he became a violent embarrassment and a liability to his twin, who seemed to be getting more involved in the legitimate side of things.
Reggie just wanted a quiet life, whilst Ronnie was more concerned with gangland respect and pure violence that was not always needed. The Krays had convinced people that they had policemen, politicians and other high-ranking officials in their pockets, and their name was enough to invoke fear with no need to enforce any violence. Club owners even approached them first for "protection" and a large part of their income came from elaborate, clever and non-violent fraud schemes. The Krays and their men were by no means the only gang in London, and this led to infighting and rivalry that eventually would spill over into violence - particularly with associates of the Richardson brothers.
An extremely violent and remorseless criminal, Fraser attempted to take over a chain of gambling machines that had belonged to the Krays. In return for Fraser's infringement, the Krays tried to bully the Richardson's into sharing the percentages from another of their rackets. This in turn annoyed another associate of the Richardsons - George Cornell. Cornell was a huge well-built man - known to be a bully - and he had worked with the Krays before moving over the join the Richardson gang. The rumour on the street was that Cornell had been there that night, and it was he who had shot Hart.
This might not seem unusual for a man as violent as Cornell, but the man he shot was not just some lowlife nobody. Richard Hart was a cousin of Ronnie and Reggie Kray, and as 'the family' was the most important thing to the twins, a personal slight had to be avenged. The incident at Mr Smith's had already brought down the Richardson gang, but that was not enough for the Krays to justify the murder of one of their cousins. On March 9th , Ronnie, Reggie and other members of their firm were drinking in The Lion pub when they were informed that Cornell was drinking in the Blind Beggar pub just down the road.
Ronnie didn't hesitate as he pulled out a pistol and shot Cornell three times in the head. It was never proven that Cornell was responsible for Hart's death, but unfortunately for him, any other member of the Richardson gang was either in hospital or in prison at the time, and Cornell was the only one available to bear the brunt of the Kray's revenge.
Soon after, Ronnie sank into another depression, and he was not alone, as his brother reeled under guilt about his wife's suicide. Reggie's dream of a nice, quiet life was slowly ebbing away. McVitie had been an associate of the twins for some time, and although he never actually belonged to the Firm, he was used regularly employed by the twins to commit various jobs for them. Ronnie had paid McVitie in advance to kill Leslie Payne, whom he believed was going to inform on him to the police.
McVitie never carried out the execution, but stupidly kept the money. And if that wasn't dangerous enough, McVitie had the cheek to threaten several bar owners who were under the protection of the Krays.
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