October the first marks the anniversary of Reggie Kray’s death, one of London’s most notorious gangsters and a man who spent thirty three years behind bars, confined to a cell.
Reggie Kray was only released when he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and had just eight weeks left to live.
Today the Havering Daily spoke to former east end gangster Chris Lambrianou about Reggie and how he remembers him.
Chris was convicted alongside nine other members of ‘the firm’ in 1968 and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for the murder of Jack ‘the hat’ McVitie, a murder he did not commit.
Chris shared his memories on Reggie. ‘Reggie was a man who lost a lot in his life. He lost his wife and this left him completely distraught, full of pain, grief and anxiety. A pain that you can’t imagine.
‘I remember him coming out from the Carpenters Arms and walking away, I asked him if he wanted a lift, but the man was full of pain and anguish and just wanted to go home to his wife.
‘He was a very sad and lonely man who knew at the end that he wanted to walk away from it all and claw back his time, time that had been lost behind bars. Crime was the old days for him.
‘He wanted to focus on doing charitable work and try and find some peace in his life. I don’t think he ever recovered from the death of his wife Frances.’
Frances Kray killed herself at the age of twenty three years old, leaving Reggie Kray a broken man who never saw the sunlight again.
‘However people see Reggie Kray’, continued Chris, ‘Whether it be as a saint or a sinner he was a man who went deep into himself. He paid a very heavy price. He never had the chance to see his parents out on the streets enjoying their last days, he never saw daylight again.
‘It clearly shows that crime does not pay.
‘I do have good memories of Reggie, he was the kind of man who helped other people. During our trial after we had all left the dock, Reggie would always come round and give us all neck messages to try and boost our spirits.
‘On the bus being taken to and from prison, we would all sing old school songs like the ‘Lambeth Walk’ or ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’ just to lift our spirits and hopes.
‘After being convicted both Ronnie and Reggie had no hope, they had lost everything. And when Ronnie died, the rope was cut and Reggie had lost his other half.‘
‘In life you take wrong roads, it must have destroyed their mum to see her three sons put into prison two of which died in prison. Nobody would want to step in their shoes. It does send out a very strong message, crime does not pay.‘
‘Rest in peace Reggie.’