‘The minute you put that knife in your pocket is the minute you knock on the door of hell,’ these were the words of former EastEnd gangster Chris Lambrianou who spent fifteen years in prison as a Category A prisoner.
Chris was in the dock with London’s most notorious gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray in what was the longest murder trial in 1968 that the country had ever seen.
Today, Chris speaks to the Havering Daily about knife crime and gang culture.
“A knife belongs in a kitchen drawer, the minute you put that knife in your pocket is the minute you are knocking on a prison door and that door is hell.
“Ask yourself why are you putting that knife in your pocket and joining that gang? Is it because you want to belong? Is it through fear? Is it because you can’t express yourself?
“Before you put that knife in your pocket, think of the tears your family will shed when you go behind the prison door because you will. Everything carries a price and carrying a knife carries a huge price.
“Inside all of us, there is a decent person. Be that person. Walk away from crime and be the bigger man.”
Chris Lambrianou was put in prison for fifteen years for murder. A murder he did not commit and was not even present for.
“I was at a party at a flat, Reggie Kray pulled a gun to Jack McVitie’s head, the gun did not go off. I left at that point and he was handed a knife and proceeded to stab McVitie to death. His stabbing put all of us away for murder.
“Prisons are hell and I am speaking from experience. When you go to prison it’s not just you that goes down but your whole family. They shed tear after tear with the pain of losing a son to crime.
“Prisons back then were harder, we had no Xbox or other luxuries. We had prison wardens who spat in your food, who kept you in solitary confinement.
“In Leicester, we were in a prison where the unit we were in was called the ‘submarine’, no windows no daylight and cameras watching you all the time. If you caused trouble, then they would send you to the furthest prison away from your family, that’s how it was then.”
Chris went to prison in 1968 and was a free man in 1983. He spent a whole decade behind bars.
“There are no heroes in prison, the only heroes are the mothers and wives left to pick up the pieces of the mess you have caused.
“Today drugs rule prisons, drugs are the prison currency. I have worked with offenders who have come out of prisons addicted to drugs.
“If you put that knife in your pocket as you leave your house it will destroy your life and your family’s because at some stage you will get caught. All it takes is one moment of madness and your life will turn to hell.
“Don’t carry a knife, be a decent human being, turn your back on crime.”