The Krays – Kings of the Underworld

The Kray The Krays are probably the most well known of all British Gangsters, and to some are probably the only British Gangsters that they have heard of. The Krays are not only well known but are looked upon by many as good guys. Many people that were around at the time (and presumably had never got on the wrong side of them)  would recall how the streets were much safer when the Krays were about. Twin brothers Ronald “Ronnie” Kray (24 October 1933 – 17 March 1995) and Reginald “Reggie” Kray (24 October 1933 – 1 October 2000) were English gangsters who were foremost perpetrators of organised crime in London’s East End during the 1950s and ’60s. Ronald, commonly referred to as Ron or Ronnie, most likely suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. With their gang, “The Firm”, the Krays were involved in armed robberies, arson, protection rackets, assaults, and the murders of Jack “The Hat” McVitie and George Cornell. As West End nightclub owners, they mixed with prominent entertainers including Diana Dors, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland and with politicians. The Krays were much feared within their milieu, and in the ’60s became celebrities in their own right, even being photographed by David Bailey and interviewed on television. They were arrested on 9 May 1968 and convicted in 1969 by the efforts of a squad of detectives led by Detective Superintendent Leonard “Nipper” Read, and were both sentenced to life imprisonment. Ronnie remained in Broadmoor Hospital until his death on 17 March 1995, but Reggie was released from prison on compassionate grounds in August 2000, eight weeks before his death from cancer.

Early life

Ronnie and Reggie Kray were born on 24 October 1933 in Hoxton, East London, to Charles David “Charlie” Kray, Sr., (10 March 1907 – 8 March 1983), a scrap gold dealer, and Violet Lee (5 August 1909 – 7 August 1982). Reggie was born roughly 10 minutes before twin Ronnie. Charlie and Violet already had a six-year-old son, Charlie Jr, (9 July 1926 – 4 April 2000).[6] A sister, Violet, born 1929, died in infancy. When the twins were three years old, they were struck down with diphtheria and recovered. Ron almost died from a head injury suffered in a fight with his twin brother in 1942. In 1938, having previously lived in Stean Street, Hoxton, the Kray family moved to 178 Vallance Road, Bethnal Green. At the start of the Second World War, Charlie Kray Senior was called up into the army but went into hiding. The twins first attended Wood Close School in Brick Lane and then Daniel Street School. The influence of their grandfather, Jimmy “Cannonball” Lee,led both boys into amateur boxing, which was at that time a popular pursuit for working class boys in the East End. An element of rivalry between them spurred them on, and they achieved some success. They are said never to have lost a bout before turning professional at the age of 19.

National Service

The Kray twins became notorious locally for their gang and the mayhem they caused. They narrowly avoided prison several times, and in early 1952 they were called up for national service with the Royal Fusiliers. They deserted several times, each time being recaptured. While absent without leave, the twins assaulted a police officer who had spotted them and was trying to arrest them. They were initially held at the Tower of London (they were among the very last prisoners ever kept there) before being sent to Shepton Mallet military prison in Somerset and jailed for a month awaiting court-martial. They ended up being jailed in the Home Counties Brigade Depot jail in Canterbury, Kent. Their behaviour there was so bad that in the end they were given dishonourable discharges from the service; for the last few weeks of their imprisonment, when their fate was a certainty anyway, they tried to dominate the exercise area immediately outside their one man cells. They threw tantrums, upended their latrine bucket over a sergeant, similarly dumped a dixie (a large camp kettle) full of hot tea on a guard, handcuffed another guard to the prison bars with a pair of stolen cuffs, and burned their bedding. Eventually they were discharged, but not before escaping from the guardhouse and being recaptured by the army one last time. The escape was executed when they were moved from a one man cell to a communal cell and they assaulted their guard with a china vase. Still, once recaptured and while awaiting transfer to civilian authority for crimes committed during their most recent period at large, they spent their last night in Canterbury drinking cider, eating crisps, and smoking cigarillos courtesy of the young national servicemen who were acting as their guards.

Nightclub owners

Their criminal records and dishonorable discharges ended their boxing careers. As a result, the twins turned to crime. They bought a run down local snooker club in Bethnal Green, where they started several protection rackets. By the end of the 1950s, the Krays were involved in hijacking, armed robbery and arson, through which they acquired a few clubs and other properties. In 1960 Ronnie Kray was incarcerated for 18 months on charges of running a protection racket and related threats, and while he was in prison, Peter Rachman, the head of a violent landlord operation, gave Reggie a nightclub on the Knightsbridge end of Wilton Place beside Joans Kitchen a bistro, called Esmeralda’s Barn. The site is now where the Berkeley Hotel is, the club itself was on the corner opposite the church. This increased the Krays’ influence in the West End of London, with celebrities and famous people rather than East End criminals. They were assisted by banker Alan Cooper who wanted protection from the Krays’ rivals, the Richardsons, who were based in South London.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia 

Part 1 of the BBC 1 documentary on the notorious Kray Twins

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Brink’s-Mat Robbery

The Brink’s-Mat raid was the robbery of the century, the stuff of legends in the criminal underworld. On November 26, 1983, a group of robbers burst into the Brink’s-Mat warehouse near Heathrow Airport, expecting to find a decent-sized haul of cash – but instead they stumbled upon nearly seven thousand gold bars worth £28 million. More than twenty-five years later, £20 million of bullion remains unrecovered, and it is thought that most people in possession of gold jewellery made in the UK after 1983 are wearing Brink’s-Mat

Brink's Mat after the robberyScene: 1983 police van and officers

 

Fool’s Gold: The curse of the Brink’s-Mat gold bullion robbery

More than 20 people whose lives were touched by the bullion have met an untimely, often gruesome end since the record-breaking raid, an investigation has revealed.

When veterans of London’s criminal underworld meet, they grimly refer to the Brink’s-Mat millions as Fool’s Gold.

Just after dawn on November 26, 1983, six armed men burst into the Brink’s-Mat warehouse at Heathrow expecting to find £3 million in cash.
Instead, they stumbled across nearly seven thousand gold ingots, worth nearly £28 million.
The heist turned them into some of Britain’s richest men and filled the pockets of countless other crooks as the gold was melted down and the money laundered to fund shady activities such as drug smuggling.
Just three out of 15 men involved in planning and executing the robbery were ever convicted – robbers “Mad” Mickey McAvoy and Brian “The Colonel” Robinson and security guard insider Tony Black, Robinson’s brother in law.

Brink's Mat

The vast majority of the gold – worth over £500 million at today’s prices – has never been recovered.
But nearly 30 years on, most of those involved have come to regret the day they ever came into contact with the Brink’s-Mat bullion.
More than 20 people connected to the heist are dead.
They include an ex-policeman who ended up with an axe in his head, an underworld figure gunned down on his yacht off Corfu and an enforcer now believed to be part of the foundations of the O2 Arena in London.

A senior detective who worked on the investigation said he was never surprised by the brutal murders.
He said: “These villains were out of control, many of them off their heads on drugs bought with their new-found riches.
“The trouble was that when that money either ran out, or in the case of some of them, never materialised, there was only one way to respond – to kill people to show others that even 25 years after the robbery, if they dared to cross the gang they would still pay with their life.”
Bullion from Brink's Mat

 

Bullion: The heist gang came into riches

 

The book, The Curse of Brink’s-Mat: Twenty-five years of Murder and Mayhem by Wensley Clarkson, traces the fate of the men whose lives became entwined with the case.
It tells how the idea of a curse was the last thing on the minds of the six robbers who, after tying up guards at the depot, found riches beyond their wildest dreams.
Robinson, McAvoy, Brian Perry and three other men managed to disable the security alarm and enter the warehouse thanks to “insider” Black, who worked at the depot.
Once inside, they doused the guards with petrol and threatened to set them alight unless they revealed the combinations to the vault, which they knew contained £3million.
But when they got inside, they could hardly believe their eyes. Stacked in front of them were 6,800 gold ingots, hundreds of thousands of pounds, travellers’ cheques and two boxes of diamonds.
The men spent the next two hours loading their battered blue Transit van before making their getaway.
The stolen vehicle creaked under the weight. By the time the alarm was raised 15 minutes later, the robbers and the loot had vanished.

Posh: Brian Perry’s house
Brian Perry's House

 

It seemed like the perfect crime – but none of the gang had experience in gold, so they had to recruit other underworld figures who had. So much was melted down that it is thought that most people with gold jewellery made in the UK after 1993 are wearing Brink’s-Mat.
Soon millions of pounds were flooding the underworld and unleashing a tide of gangland violence and murders from London’s East End to the Costa del Sol.
The effect was not just felt by criminals. The double-strength ecstasy that killed Leah Betts, 18, in 1995 was almost certainly imported using money from the robbery.
Police were certain that the gang must have had inside help and were quick to suspect Black, the last guard to arrive on the morning of the raid.
He confessed that he had provided information and a duplicate key, and named three of the robbers, McAvoy, his brother-in-law Robinson, and a man called Tony White.
Robinson and McAvoy had spent six months planning the crime, but on finding themselves millionaires they aroused suspicions by moving from their council homes to mansions in Kent. McAvoy is reputed to have named two pet rottweilers Brinks and Mat.

In December 1984, Robinson and McAvoy were jailed for 25 years each while Black was sentenced to six years.
But there were still many villains at large and an extraordinary amount of gold – and in the coming years, death and betrayal were linked to the infamous robbery.

Kenneth Noye

The first death occurred in 1985, when Kenneth Noye (pictured), recruited for his links to the smelting trade, stabbed an undercover detective John Fordham in his garden.
At the resulting trial, the jury found Noye not guilty of murder on the grounds of self-defence.
He was on trial again in 1986 after police found 11 bars of gold at his home. He got a 14-year sentence.
Cops revealed Shirley Bassey’s hit Goldfinger had been primed to play on the stereo whenever anyone walked into Noye’s lounge.
He is currently serving life for the murder of 21-year-old motorist Stephen Cameron in a road rage attack in front of Cameron’s girlfriend Daniella Cable, 17, near the M25.
The curse has hit many in the criminal underworld including Great Train Robber Charlie Wilson, who was gunned down at his Marbella home after £3million of Brink’s-Mat money went missing in a drug deal.
In 1996, Keith Hedley, a suspected money launderer, was shot dead by three men on his yacht off Corfu.

Two years later, Hatton Garden jeweller Solly Nahome, who had helped move hundreds of gold bars, was also shot dead outside his home.

Perry, who was jailed for handling gold, died after being shot three times in the head in South London at the age of 63 following his release in 2001.

CAUGHT IN THE CURSE

The same year, Brink’s-Mat gang member George Francis, 63, was gunned down at point-blank range in his car outside the courier business he ran in South East London.

Three decades on, the hunt for the missing gold continues. And with a new generation of gangsters looking for it, police believe the death toll will rise.

Most of the bullion is believed to be buried, with only a few old lags knowing the whereabouts.

Most believe it is only a matter of time before the curse of the Brink’s-Mat gold claims its next victim.

Caught up in the Brink's Mat

 

Caugh

Linked to the Brink's Mat

Victims

BRIAN PERRY – Brink’s-Mat gang associate shot dead in Bermondsey, South London, in 2001.

JOHN FORDHAM – Undercover policeman who was stabbed to death in 1985 by Kenneth Noye

SOLLY NAHOME – Bullion smelter was gunned down in 1998 outside his North London home.

KEITH HEDLEY – Money launderer was shot dead by three men on his yacht off Corfu in 1996.

CHARLIE WILSON – Great Train Robber shot at home in Spain in 1990 along with dog.

GILBERT WYNTER – Enforcer who disappeared in 1998 is believed to be in foundations of the O2 Arena in South East London.

NICK WHITING – Suspected “grass” stabbed nine times and then shot twice with a 9mm pistol in 1990.

PAT TATE – Associate of Noye shot dead with two other men in Rettendon, Essex, in 1995.

STEPHEN CAMERON – Stabbed to death by Kenneth Noye in 1996 road rage incident on the M25.

LEAH BETTS – Died in 1995 aged 18 after taking ecstasy thought to have been imported using Brink’s-Mat money.

DAN MORGAN – Ex-cop found dead in South London in 1987.

DONALD URQUHART – Money launderer who was shot by a hitman in West London in 1995.

GEORGE FRANCIS – Publican who handled gold, shot in Bermondsey in 2003.

JOHN MARSHALL – Associate of Noye shot in Sydenham, South London in 1996.

DANNY ROFF – Gangster mown down in Bromley, Kent, in 1997.

SIDNEY WINK – Gun dealer believed to have supplied the guns for the Brink’s-Mat raid committed suicide by shooting himself in 1994.

ALAN DECABRAL – Witness due to give evidence against Noye ended up peppered with bullets in a car park in Ashford, Kent, in 2000.

JOEY WILKINS – Vice King who grassed on Noye died mysteriously in 2007 after an apparent robbery on the Costa del Sol.

ALAN ‘TAFFY’ HOLMES – Brink’s-Mat detective shot himself in 1987.

MICHAEL OLYMBIOUS – Drug dealer ended up dead in 1995.

Death scene

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