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9 May 2009

On this day in history: Kray Twins arrested, 1968

During the 1960s, Ronnie and Reggie Kray, dominated organised crime in the East End of London, but following an extensive investigation Inspector Leonard "Nipper" Read of Scotland Yard arrested the twin brothers and sixteen members of their gang on 9th May 1968.

Both brothers had careers as professional boxers before turning their energies towards criminal activity. Starting out running protection rackets from a run down snooker club in Bethnal Green they were soon organising armed robberies and hijackings. The brothers invested the proceeds of these crimes in property including West End night clubs where they mixed with celebrities. They even achieved celebrity status themselves, being photographed by David Bailey - including the iconic image seen above.

In 1969, a trial that lasted nearly six weeks found the 35 year old brothers guilty: Ronnie for the murders of Jack "the Hat" McVitie (one of their own gang) and George Cornell (a rival gangster); Reggie was also found guilty of the murder of McVitie and as an accessory for the killing of Cornell. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment. Ronnie died 1995 while still incarcerated in Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital. Reggie was released in August 2000 and died a couple of months later.

The Kray twins are popular characters with some people even today, in spite of their violent criminal activities. There is an official website for the twins and their elder brother Charlie. For a different evaluation of their activities see the history page about the Krays at the Metropolitan Police Service web site.


The Exaggerator said...

IIBC, the Kray twins would be the inspiration for Monty Python's "Ethel the Frog" sketch, with Doug and Dinsdale Piranha loosely modelled on the Krays.

(Not to mention the added Pythonic touch of Dinsdale having fantasies about a giant hedgehog known as "Spiny Norman.")

Borkiman said...

You are probably right regarding the Krays as inspiration. They loom large in British culture.

Thanks for the comment