10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins
10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins

10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins

Larry Holzwarth - February 17, 2018

It was called Swinging London. The Beatles, the Stones, Herman’s Hermits, The Kinks and many others provided the soundtrack. Carnaby Street, Twiggy, and Jean Shrimpton provided the fashion. Mary Quant introduced the miniskirt. The BBC’s dominance of the British airwaves was challenged by pirate radio. American teens became familiar with the names of London Streets which took on an almost mythical resonance; like King’s Road, Kensington and of course Abbey Road. All things British became popular in America, the Union Jack, James Bond, Lulu, The Avengers. The British Invasion was more than the steady stream of recording artists which featured on The Ed Sullivan Show.

London of the sixties may have seemed like the perfect place to be for young Americans of the era, but it had a seedy underworld, and that was ruled by a pair of identical twins named Reggie and Ronnie Kray. Incestuous, vicious, amoral, and cruel, the Kray twins and their associates, known as the Firm, ran the criminal activities of London’s East End with coldly efficient ruthlessness. They also became celebrities through their association with singers, actors, politicians, and artists. Their West End nightclubs were visited by Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, George Raft, and many other celebrities from England and the United States; photos of the twins were often featured in the British tabloids. At the same time they were murderous thugs, operated protection rackets, and practiced hijacking, kidnapping, and arson.

10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins
Carnaby Street, London in 1966, the peak of the period known as Swinging London. National Archives of the UK

Here are some of things you may not have known about London’s notorious Kray twins.

10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins
Reggie Kray (second from left) as he was awaiting trial in 1968. National Archives UK

Before the Sixties

Ronnie and Reggie Kray were identical twins with Reggie the elder by ten minutes. When their father was drafted into the Army during World War II he demurred, going underground rather than serve, an action noted by his sons. As teens the twins were involved in gang activities on East End streets, and both took up amateur boxing. Their criminal activities were known to the authorities, but not to the point where either of the twins could be arrested and charged. Following the Second World War conscription in England continued, and the twins received their call to National Service in 1952.

They were assigned to the Royal Fusiliers, found military service not to their taste and deserted on their first day after Ronnie assaulted a superior. Arrested by the Metropolitan police the following day, they were briefly held before being returned to the army. Convicted by the army they were incarcerated, during which time they were guilty of multiple assaults, attempted arson, petty thefts from other prisoners, and enough criminal behavior to earn them both dishonorable discharges, which combined with their criminal records was enough to deny them boxing licenses in England.

Peter Rachman was a notorious slumlord and extortionist who also engaged in prostitution in west London, running brothels out of buildings he owned. The Krays, who purchased a small club and began running protection schemes after their release by the army, targeted the slumlord to acquire a property from which to run a larger club. Part of their protection rackets was arson on properties whose owners refused to comply with their strong arm protection schemes. In 1960 Ronnie Kray was convicted of arson and sentenced to 18 months. While he was in prison Reggie, with the assistance of the twins’ elder brother Charlie, used an extortion scheme to acquire the property.

Using the threat of arson Reggie acquired a check from Rachman, which was returned for insufficient funds. Rachman feared being under continuous extortion from the Kray’s, and arranged a deal by which the twins would acquire a club known as Esmeralda’s Barn, for return of the bad check and a promise of remaining free from the Kray’s protection rackets. The recently passed Betting and Gaming Act of 1960 would allow the twins to operate a legal gambling operation in the club, using it as a cover for other illegal activities and a means to launder money from their other rackets.

Once the club was in their hands, and Ronnie was released from prison, he used the club to operate various vice businesses and for his own personal use. Ronnie was semi-openly gay, and chose to hire young men who appealed to his tastes as waiters, dealers, and croupiers in the club. The twins welcomed guests who ran up large debts in the club, particularly those who engaged in gay sex on the premises, as they were exceptionally open to blackmail. At the time, although gambling had been made legal, homosexuality had not.

10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins
The Kray twins in the mid 1960s. The Sun

Nightclubs

Esmeralda’s Barn was not the first nor the last club owned by the Krays, who hired a manager to operate it for them and continued with their protection rackets and other criminal activities. The Krays would use either muscle, extortion, or money obtained through illegal activities to obtain shares in varying amounts of more than 30 nightclubs, bars, and restaurants in London. They appeared in their clubs regularly, dressed stylishly and associated themselves with the celebrities who appeared in their properties. Photographed with the celebrities, they became celebrities themselves.

The Krays ran an organized crime ring known as the Firm, which was involved in armed robbery, extortion, arson, truck hijacking, murder, and protection rackets. While running their organized crime empire the brothers cultivated the image of celebrity businessmen, driving around London in luxury automobiles, and becoming part of the image of swinging London, albeit the adult version of the city rather than that associated with rock and roll. Diana Dors, a British film actress in the style of Marilyn Monroe, was a frequent guest of their clubs.

So was Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, George Raft, Brian Epstein and many other celebrities, most of whom were aware of whispered rumors of ties to organized crime by their hosts. Ronnie Kray acted the part of the influential gangster in public, with promises of favors unavailable through ordinary means. The twins made quite a bit of money through their clubs, which they used to help fund illegal activity, their lifestyle, and the members of law enforcement who were on their payroll.

While the Kray’s were building their images as successful nightclub owners and celebrity businessmen they were involved in a developing feud with another organized crime group operating in the South of London. It too was run by brothers, Charlie and Eddie Richardson, both of whom operated semi-legitimate businesses which served as fronts for illegal activities including those practiced by the Kray’s. Eddie’s main business was operating what in America were known as one armed bandits, and in England at the time were called fruit machines. His brother was scrap metal dealer.

They too found a thriving underworld and as they and the Krays expanded their criminal activities an uneasy coexistence threatened to expand into a turf war. The Richardson gang was exceptionally violent, often using torture on victims before killing them, including extracting teeth with pliers or nailing victims to the floor. They were also notorious for conducting mock trials of victims which led to various tortures including electric shock. Punishments were often meted out for crimes which did not require, in the minds of the Richardson’s, actual killing.

10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins
Despite many enemies in the London underworld the twins walked the streets openly, as in this East End street. Getty

The Richard Hart Killing

In December of 1965 George Cornell, an associate of importance to the Richardson gang, attended a Christmas Party held at the Astor House. Cornell had known the Kray twins since childhood, and may have briefly worked with them in the late 1950s. By 1964 he was working for the Richardson gang and was a major dealer of drugs in London and a supplier of pornography. Cornell was a heavy user of several of his pharmaceuticals, and was known to be both unstable and occasionally unreliable, but his drug business made him a major earner for the Richardsons.

Because Cornell knew both Kray twins he was often a go-between between the Richardson’s and the Krays. Members of both gangs were in attendance at the Astor for the Christmas party and after some drinking and verbal confrontation Cornell called out that Ronnie Kray was a “fat poof,” poof being a term used derogatorily for a homosexual. Ronnie Kray was not present at the party, according to some accounts which claim that he learned of the insult later.

In March 1966, members of the Kray and Richardson gangs had another confrontation at a club in the London neighborhood of Catford, known as Mr. Smiths. During this confrontation a shootout occurred, with one of Ronnie Kray’s close associates, Richard Hart, being shot dead. A co-operating witness told police that the shooter responsible for Hart’s death was a Richardson associate named Frankie Fraser. Fraser was an enforcer for the Richardson’s and well known to the police.

The witness informed the police that Hart had tried to flee the club when the violence began and Fraser pursued him, shooting him dead in the club’s stairwell. Hart was shot multiple times. When the Richardson’s learned the identity of the witness (how was never established publicly) his story changed and he said that while Fraser was in the club at the time, he (the witness) couldn’t say with certainty whether Fraser had shot Hart, or even if he had been engaged in the gunfight at all. Fraser was acquitted of the murder, though he was convicted of the charge of affray.

Nobody was ever convicted of the murder of Richard Hart, although the incident led to multiple members of the Richardson gang being arrested and convicted of affray. One witness claimed to have seen Cornell kicking the dead Hart, but in the absence of corroboration and since Cornell had an alibi, he was never charged. Ronnie Kray was informed of Cornell’s possibly being at the scene of the shooting, as well as the derogatory comment he had made the preceding Christmas.

10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins
Former Kray associate and Richardson gang member George Cornell, murdered by Ronnie Kray. Getty

George Cornell Shooting

The day following the shooting of Richard Hart at Mr. Smiths, George Cornell visited one of the gang members who had been injured in the shooting, who was being treated at Whitechapel Hospital. Afterwards, along with his friend and associate Albie Woods, Cornell went to the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel, a location already famous as being the site of the sermon which led to the creation of the Salvation Army. The Krays lived just a short distance from the site.

Cornell and Woods stayed at the bar in the pub until just after eight in the evening, when Ronnie Kray and his associate Ian Barrie came into the Blind Beggar. They had been at another neighborhood pub when Kray was informed that Cornell was nearby, and Kray had his regular driver and bodyguard, John Dickson, take him to the Blind Beggar. As they walked into the pub, Barrie drew his pistol and fired up to five shots into the ceiling as a warning to the bartender and other patrons, who quickly sought shelter. According to witnesses, who later refused to testify, Cornell was slow to react.

Others later said that Barrie did not fire into the ceiling until after Kray had shot Cornell, and did so then as a warning of what would happen if anyone talked to the police. Supposedly Cornell got up from his stool upon seeing Kray and remarked, “So, look who’s here,” or words to that effect, before Kray drew a pistol and shot him once, in the head, in full view of the patrons and the bartender. Kray then turned and walked out with Barrie following him. Whichever version is correct, Cornell died the next day at around three in the morning, without ever regaining consciousness.

Within a short time following the shooting members of the Firm were visiting witnesses and the staff at the Blind Beggar. Kray was held briefly, but in the absence of any witnesses willing to testify could not be charged with the crime. Years later a businessman who claimed to be present in the Blind Beggar during the shooting stated that Cornell had said, “Well look at what the dog’s dragged in,” to Kray and the room in general just before Kray shot him.

The shootout at Mr. Smiths and the subsequent violence at the Blind Beggar was the beginning of the end for the Richardson gang, but did little immediate harm to the Kray’s, who took the opportunity to expand their criminal operations into their rival’s territory in southeast London. It was later asserted that Ronnie Kray was already suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the killing. In 1968 he was finally charged with the murder of George Cornell, and part of his defense was his mental state at the time of the murder.

10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins
The Mad Axeman of Dartmoor escaped with the aid of the Kray’s, who murdered him less than two weeks later. Plymouth Herald

The Dartmoor Prison Escape

In the 1950s Ronnie Kray was serving a prison sentence in Wandsworth Prison when he met and became friends with Frank Mitchell. Mitchell had previously escaped from custody, on more than one occasion, attacking guards and policemen in the process, and during one escape had held a couple hostage in their home, using an axe as a weapon. When he was recaptured the press dubbed him the Mad Axeman. In 1958 he was sentenced to life in prison, and by 1962 he was in Dartmoor prison, where for good behavior he was granted several privileges, including being allowed to work outside the prison walls as a trusty.

Mitchell had been promised a release from custody date for his continued good behavior but by 1966 had yet to receive one. This angered him, and Ronnie Kray, and Kray convinced his reluctant brother Reggie that helping Mitchell escape would both increase the twins standing in the underworld and draw public attention to the neglect directed towards an otherwise model prisoner. Much later evidence would surface that Reggie was jealous of a possible lover’s relationship between Ronnie and Mitchell. This suggestion arose from papers which indicate an incestuous relationship between the twins, desired by Reggie in part to keep his homosexuality hidden from the outside world.

It was a disguised Reggie who briefed Mitchell on the plan at Dartmoor Prison, and it was several associates of the Kray’s who waited in a getaway car on the moor for the prisoner to simply walk up to them after requesting of a guard to be allowed to feed some moor ponies. Mitchell’s affinity for animals were well known to the guards, and the request was not an uncommon one when he was outside the walls on working parties. The Kray associates brought Mitchell to London, where the brother’s hid him in a small flat. The escape took place on December 12, 1966.

By Christmas Eve the Krays were fed up with Mitchell. The nationwide manhunt was too intense to allow him to leave the hiding place and there was no way to move him to another location. Turning him into the authorities or simply releasing him to his own devices was impossible since he would be able to inform the authorities of the Kray’s part in his escape. Mitchell was also upset with the Krays, mostly for not allowing him to visit his parents or having them visit him in the flat, which the Krays could not allow due to the diligence with which Mitchell’s family was being watched.

On Christmas Eve, under orders of Reggie Kray, Mitchell was informed he was being moved to a safe house outside of London. He was loaded into a van by several Kray associates, and once inside was shot multiple times by at least two gunman. His body was never found. Many years later one of the gunmen involved claimed responsibility for both the killing and the disposal of the body. He claimed the body was weighted and thrown into the sea. In his autobiography Reggie Kray later wrote, he called the Frank Mitchell affair the biggest mistake of his career.

10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins
Jack McVitie, murdered by the Kray’s allegedly for failing to carry out a contract killing. Daily Mirror

The Jack McVitie Murder

Jack McVitie was a member of the Firm, the Kray’s organization, although quite low in the pecking order. He was used as an enforcer and contract killer. In the fall of 1967, Ronnie Kray learned that McVitie, called The Hat by his fellow firm members, had failed to carry out a contract to kill Leslie Payne, for which he had already been paid half of his fee of one thousand pounds. Concerned that such reticence could be damaging to the twins’ authority, Ronnie decided that McVitie should be killed, to set an example for other Kray associates.

Ronnie and Reggie Kray established the pretence of throwing a party to convince McVitie to visit a cellar room in Stoke Newington. When McVitie arrived, Ronnie Kray began verbally abusing him, and McVitie and Ronnie Kray engaged in an argument which quickly became heated. Reggie Kray drew his pistol and attempted to shoot McVitie in the head, pulling the trigger at least twice, but the gun failed to fire on both attempts. Ronnie than grabbed McVitie in a headlock, but McVitie slipped out of it only to be grabbed from behind by another associate, Ronnie Hart.

While Hart held McVitie from behind, pinning his arms to his body, Reggie Kray used a carving knife, brought to the cellar room for the purpose of carving up the body, and stabbed McVitie in the head and chest repeatedly, twisting the knife following each thrust. When the dying and possibly already dead McVitie was allowed to drop to the floor by Hart letting him go, Reggie continued to stab and twist the knife in the wounds, in the torso and neck. At least four Firm members witnessed the murder and its violent nature, which Ronnie Kray hoped would be reported back to other members as a warning. In fact most members of the firm did not believe that the murder was warranted.

Disposing of the body proved problematic for the twins, who left the job of disposal and clean up to their subordinates. The body was too large for the trunk of the car and the body was placed in the back seat by three associates, one then drove the car with the body and the other two followed. They became separated. When they did find each other the car with the body was out of gas. They left the car containing the body in a nearby churchyard, hoping that the crime would be attributed to local gang activity. What they had done was reported to Charlie Kray, he in turn informed the twins.

The twins had another associate retrieve the body from the abandoned car and dispose of it in the river. The haphazard disposal by close associates should have been a warning for the twins, who had alienated many of their associates by the murder and the violent manner in which it had been carried out. Many associates and Firm members believed that a similar fate could easily befall them, and willingness to testify against the twins in return for a break from the authorities was discussed among some associates and their attorney’s.

10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins
Reggie and Frances Kray. She left him after eight months. Later he told a cellmate that Ronnie murdered her. Daily Mail

Frances Kray

Ronnie Kray was, for the time, openly homosexual, despite the laws in England making it illegal to engage in homosexual behavior. His brother Reggie later claimed to be bisexual, and the relationship between the twins included rumors of incest in their lifetimes. After their deaths documents were discovered which appeared to confirm these rumors, with one of the reasons being Reggie Kray’s concern over his sexual orientation being discovered. Despite this, Reggie Kray was married twice.

Reggie Kray’s first wife was Frances Shea, and during 1960 they dated extensively and exclusively. When Kray went to prison for a time early in the decade, he wrote to her. Many of the letters survive. After his release the relationship continued. In 1965, despite the disapproval of her parents and the refusal of their local parish priest to officiate the marriage, believing that the marriage would lead to serious harm to one or both of them, they were married. It was the height of the Swinging London era, and the wedding photographer was David Bailey, one of the most famous photographers to capture the time on film.

During their Athens honeymoon, Reggie left his bride alone at the hotel and sought out young Greek boys. Once back in England Frances became the target of emotional and physical abuse. Frances was shocked to the point of nausea at the sight of blood, so her new husband deliberately cut his hand and forced her to watch it drip blood. After just a few weeks of marriage, Frances returned to her family, but Reggie refused to leave her alone. By 1967 they were, at least to outer appearances, reconciled as a couple but not yet living together.

When Reggie suggested that they attempt to have a second honeymoon in Ibiza in the summer of 1967 she agreed and together they planned a trip. Frances went with Reggie to purchase the tickets after which she returned to her brother’s apartment in London, where she was staying at the time. While there she committed suicide, or so it was believed, although the Kray’s pushed the story of accidental overdose of sleeping pills since there was no suicide note. Reggie Kray paid for her funeral, which included huge floral displays, including one over six feet tall in the form of a wreath spelling out her name.

Two events happened within just a few months of the funeral. The murder of McVitie took place just four months following the funeral and some have speculated that the loss of Frances may have been part of the reason for the uncontrolled violence with which Reggie Kray had killed McVitie. However before the McVitie murder the man who had spent today’s equivalent of $30,000 on his wife’s funeral was already involved in a relationship with a woman in her early twenties who appeared with him publicly, helping to mask his other sexual behavior.

10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins
From left Reggie, Charlie, and Ronnie Kray, shortly before they were convicted. Wikipedia

Inspector Leonard Read

Leonard Read was a former serviceman and World War II veteran who had been with the Metropolitan Police since 1947. In 1967 he was assigned as Detective Chief Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police Service’s Murder Squad. With the Richardson gang largely destroyed by the arrest and convictions of several associates and both Richardson brothers in prison, Read made the arrest and conviction of the Krays a priority for his department. He found more and more willing to testify against the twins, but little in the way of hard evidence.

In 1964 Read had investigated Ronnie Kray and his relationship with Robert, Lord Boothby, a Member of Parliament and the Conservative Party. Ronnie Kray had met Boothby through a mutual acquaintance and aware of the value of having a prominent politician subject to blackmail, Kray provided Boothby with male prostitutes and underage boys. When Boothby’s activities were pointedly hinted at in a tabloid story, the daily newspapers and Detective Read investigated. At the time the majority of the story was known by a Conservative paper, the Sunday Express.

The Party and Boothby leaned hard on the paper to quash the story, which it did. Still, the story was out in the tabloid, which supported the Labor Party, and Boothby recruited a member of the Labor Party, also associated with Ronnie Kray for services similar to those provided Boothby, to threaten to sue the paper for libel. With both major political parties pressuring the paper the story was killed, and with no support to investigate the Kray’s from either party Read had little support for his investigation. The 1964 incident gives insight into how deeply the Kray’s tentacles ran into the government, and how they were able to avoid prosecution for so long.

With Read focused on obtaining evidence to convict the Krays the brothers used their reputation, enhanced by the demise of the Richardson gang, to intimidate witnesses and victims of their protection rackets into refusal to talk to the metropolitan police. Read and his investigators found themselves dealing with a populace which although clearly in fear of the brothers was not willing to co-operate with the authorities. They also found that loyalty to the Kray’s was faltering, especially among members of the firm, and Read decided to exploit the growing weakness.

By the end of 1967 Read had obtained evidence directly linking the twins to several crimes, but in none of them was there sufficient evidence to obtain a conviction. Read had also learned of a rumor, later confirmed by Kray associate Freddie Foreman, that members of the Firm, angered over the murder of McVitie and fearing similar fates awaited them, had decided to take action of their own. Rather than co-operate with the authorities who may botch the case, leading to retribution, these members intended to assassinate both twins using car bombs.

10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins
The Old Bailey in the City of London, where the Kray twins were tried in 1968. Wikimedia

Arrest

Early in 1968 Inspector Read and agents of Scotland Yard met with prosecutors and others to finalize a strategy for taking down the Kray twins. Read wanted arrests and convictions for murder, and hoped to avoid the need to arrest the brothers for lesser offenses, for which he had sufficient evidence to obtain convictions, because the lighter sentences which would result would allow the brothers to continue to run their criminal enterprises from prison. With the knowledge of rifts in the Firm, it was agreed to move forward with the arrests in the hope that other members of the Firm would make a deal to testify in the hope of obtaining a lighter sentence.

Ronnie and Reggie Kray were arrested by the Metropolitan Police on May 8, 1968 and held separately in London. Fifteen members of the firm were arrested at the same time, all kept separate from each other, in order for them to be unable to create alibis or corroborate what was being told to the police under questioning. The Kray’s attempted to circumvent this arrangement through the use of their attorney’s but with limited success. The Kray’s did manage to create a plan through which underlings in the firm would confess to the killing of George Cornell, Jack McVitie, and Frank Mitchell.

The Kray’s intended to have Albert Donoghue confess to the murder of Mitchell. He refused and after he told the police what he knew of the twin’s crimes, the floodgates opened. John Dickson, who had been Ronnie’s driver, gave information on the Cornell murder and after police tracked down another witness and arranged for a new identity for her, she agreed to testify in court. Ronnie Hart, cousin of the twins and a witness to Reggie’s murder of McVitie, provided police with testimony covering the events of that night. With solid evidence and testimony of murder charges against each of the twins the authorities went ahead with the case.

During the trial the jury was watched over day and night by a special detail of more than sixty uniformed officers for their protection. The defense worked to discredit each witness as members of the criminal underworld, lying to incriminate the twins for crimes which they themselves had committed. When the witness to the Cornell murder, a former barmaid with no links to criminals, this argument was of little use, and her testimony was critical in the case against Ronnie, who claimed temporary insanity.

In the end, both brothers were convicted and both were sentenced to thirty years in prison, without the possibility of parole. Several members of the Firm were likewise convicted and sentenced to prison and the gang was effectively brought to an end. The Frank Mitchell case was not tried at that time, the prosecutors decided to hold it in abeyance for later trial, and the Kray’s were essentially sentenced for the murders of Cornell and McVitie. Charlie Kray was also convicted at the same time and sentenced to ten years for his part in covering up the murder of McVitie.

10 Over the Top Activities of the Notorious Kray Twins
After years in prison Ronnie Kray was found insane and transferred to Broadmoor Hospital. Wikipedia

Final years.

Reggie Kray was sent to Maidstone Prison as a Category B prisoner. In the UK Category B prisoners are considered to be escape risks, but are allowed some privileges. Reggie Kray remained in Maidstone for the first eight years of his sentence before being transferred to the Category C Wayland Prison. In 1990 a film was made about the brothers and a publicist for the film met Reggie in prison. They later married. Following the release of the film campaigns were started to have both brothers paroled, none were successful. In 2002 one of Reggie’s former cellmates told a reporter that Reggie’s first wife Frances had been murdered by Ronnie Kray.

Ronnie was classified as a Category A prisoner. Denied all privileges and interaction with other prisoners, he was classified as criminally insane and sent to Broadmoor Hospital in 1979. Officials at Broadmoor discovered that despite being incarcerated separately, Ronnie and Reggie Kray had been for some years operating a bodyguard service from their respective cells. Charlie Kray was likewise involved, with another partner outside of the criminal justice system. It was quite possibly their first legal business, and after investigating the authorities could find nothing about it which would lead them to close it down. Among its customers was Frank Sinatra, who had hired bodyguards from the firm, Krayleigh Security Enterprises, when he attended Wimbledon.

Ronnie Kray wrote a book he entitled My Story, in which he claimed to be bisexual and had once considered marriage to a woman who later married one of his boyfriends. Ronnie married twice while in Broadmoor, his first marriage lasted four years before ending in divorce, his subsequent marriage was about as long and also ended in divorce. The year following his second divorce he suffered a heart attack at Broadmoor and died at the age of 61.

Reggie became a writer too, producing a book which he entitled Born Fighter. He also became a born again Christian during his incarceration and granted numerous interviews to reporters, television programs, and authors. He was still in Wayland Prison when he was diagnosed with cancer of the bladder and was released on compassionate grounds when it was determined to be inoperable and he had just weeks to live. He died at the age of 66 in October 2000. Charlie Kray died earlier the same year. While the twins were incarcerated they were tried for the murder of Frank Mitchell. Both were acquitted.

Eddie Richardson described the Kray twins as “small time gangsters.” He claimed that the twins lacked the intelligence to come up with their own schemes and attempted to copy those of the Richardson gang and whenever they were confronted for it they backed down. He also said that the true leader of the Firm was Charlie Kray. Regardless, the Kray twins still retain a hold over a large portion of London and beyond, with many fascinated by their crimes and celebrity during the days of Swinging London.

 

Sources:

The Guardian – The Selling of The Krays: How Two Mediocre Criminals Created Their Own Legend

The Independent – The Krays: Why Do People Still Admire the Notorious East End Gangsters Who Murdered Their Way to Wealth?

Killer Reads – The Krays and Me by John Pearson

Notorious: The Immortal Legend of the Kray Twins by John Pearson

The Sydney Morning Herald – Dare to Speak Their Names

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