Notorious Charlie Richardson was the most feared gangster in 1960s London. Boss of the Richardson Gang and rival of the Krays, to cross him would result in brutal repercussions. Famously arrested on the day England won the World Cup in 1966, his trial heard he allegedly used iron bars, bolt cutters and electric shocks on his enemies.
The Last Gangster is Richardson’s frank account of his largely untold life story, finished just before his death in September 2012. He shares the truth behind the rumours and tells of his feuds with the Krays for supremacy, undercover missions involving politicians, many lost years banged up in prison and reveals shocking secrets about royalty, phone hacking, bent coppers and the infamous black box.
This is a shocking and gripping account of London’s underworld in the 60’s. We’ve got an extract to share from the Publishers:
The Last Gangster: My Final Confession by Charlie Richardson
‘At the start of the case the jury, chosen to decide on our future accommodation, were told by Justice Lawton: ‘It has taken one hundred and four prospective jurors before we were able to decide on you twelve. It is now up to you to decide the fate of one of the most notorious crime gangs in London. It will not be an easy task.’
I vowed that it would not be an easy task. I saw Tommy Clark and Roy Hall – also alleged members of the ‘torture gang’ – making the same vow as they concentrated as never before.
‘You are about to embark on a case which may affect the future of the law in this country. Therefore I wish to inform you that, for the duration of the case, you will be under surveillance. This means that plain-clothes police officers will shadow you to and from your homes, so that no improper approach may be made by anyone.’
The judge informed the jury that special telephones would be installed in their homes. These would provide
direct access to the police. The jurors were told that, should anyone make any approach, they should use these telephones. A quick glance around the court told me that there was no chance of nobbling anyone. I’d never seen security like this before. There were police here, there and everywhere.
Roy Hall whispered that he had more chance of being called up for the England squad than escaping the net here. My fellow accused – brother Eddie, Tommy Clark and Frankie Fraser – stared straight ahead, wondering
what would be next on the agenda. The entertainment was about to begin.
I could hear several loud gasps as the lurid details were read out in court. The allegations of pain, allegedly inflicted by a barbaric torture device, made me join in the gasping session. Had I really ordered my right-hand man to turn the handle, making sure that leads were attached to the most sensitive areas of Lucian Harris’s body?
I’d done a lot worse, you understand? Wasn’t it more of a crime to bug Harold Wilson’s phone? They never got me for that. I was the pioneer of phone hacking in the ‘Swinging Sixties’ and they never knew. If only they’d had a sniff about that, eh? And what about those bent cops I’d paid off? Maybe I should be standing trial for nobbling juries. No, none of that. Here I was, facing a long stretch because of a piece of crap called Lucian. Spiffing effort, old chap. Shame you turned out to be such a rotter.
If I’d been in the dock for destroying the Queen’s evidence – well, evidence about her sister, as it happened – then fair enough. But having to listen to this lanky scumbag with a pointed beak stitching me up was doing my head in. What sort of a name was Lucian, anyway? He probably went to a swanky school with a friend called Rupert. There were no Lucians or Ruperts in my family. And I didn’t come across many during everyday life, enforcing my rules in my manor.
The maltreated and abused Mr Harris looked around the court to obtain as much sympathy as possible. The press pack had their pens poised, and the jam-packed crowds in the public gallery twitched in anticipation. Harris began his tale of woe, giving me accusing looks as he tried his best to seal my fate.
It had all happened, he said, because he owed me a few bob.’