Court told of Kray, the lovely, lovely man

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The Independent Online
A strange choice of character witness he may be, but the 73-year- old former gangster "Mad" Frankie Fraser, notorious for his brutality in London's East End during the 1960s, yesterday appeared before Woolwich Crown Court to vouch for the character of old-time gangland opponent, Charlie Kray.

Mr Fraser, who has spent a total of 42 years behind bars, quipped: "It's the first time I have ever walked out of a court free," as he was discharged.

This aside typified much of the proceedings where the worlds of show business, glamour modelling and crime rubbed shoulders.

Mr Fraser, dressed smartly in a black and white chequered jacket and tie, told the court of Kray: "He is a coward, but a lovely, lovely man. You couldn't trust him to steal a penny. He would run a mile."

The diminutive Mr Fraser, who recently launched a guided tour service of the Kray's former East End empire, added: "He could not say boo to a goose. Everybody knew that he was different from his brothers."

Looking firstly at the defence counsel, Jonathan Goldberg QC, and then at Judge Michael Carroll, he continued: "My heart really bleeds to see him in the dock. He is as innocent as you are and you are my Lord."

Later under cross-examination, he told counsel for the prosecution Kelsey- Fry QC: "You are probably more into drugs than he is,", a comment which earned a gentle rebuke from Judge Carroll.

During Mr Fraser's evidence, Mr Kray, a former navy boxer, sat hands clasped and head bowed at the back of the court. Wearing a navy blue suit, blue shirt and dark tie, Mr Kray smiled as his old adversary took his seat.

Another witness, William Murray, who plays tough-talking Detective Sergeant Don Beech in the television series The Bill, described how Mr Kray helped him to launch his acting career after the two met in an East End boxing club.

"I was promised a grant to go to acting school but not until the end of the first year," said Mr Murray, 54. "I mentioned this to Charlie and he told me that they would pay for my first year ... There was many a time when he would stick a fiver in my top pocket."

A former beauty queen and winner of the inaugural Miss UK contest in 1958, Eileen Sheridan-Price, described the Kray family and their attitude towards drugs.

"It was a much nicer, safer place when they [the Krays] were around ... We could do with a few more of the Krays around today."

Mrs Sheridan-Price, wearing a brown suit, pearl necklace and dark sunglasses, described how Mr Kray had once described drug dealers as "the scum of the earth".

Later she blew kisses to Mr Kray as he sat at the back of the court, to which he responded with a broad smile.

Earlier the court had heard testimony from a barmaid from Birmingham, Michelle Hamdouchi, who described a brief affair she had with one of the undercover officers investigating the cocaine ring of which Mr Kray is said to have been a part.

Ms Hamdouchi had met the officer, known only as "Brian", at Mr Kray's birthday in July last year. She explained that the two had returned to her home and had sex.

The following morning, she said, he had given her children pounds 40 before she drove him to a meeting with Mr Kray.

Later she described an evening in a hotel at Waltham Abbey, Essex, where she, Brian, another officer known as Jack and Victoria Adams, one of the Spice Girls, had drunk throughout most of the night.

She explained how the officer told her that the deal with Mr Kray had fallen through but an alternative purchase of cocaine had been arranged. Earlier in the case Brian, speaking from behind a screen to ensure his anonymity, had denied the affair with.

Mr Kray, 70, of Sanderstead, south London, denies two charges of offering to supply cocaine and of supplying 2kg. The trial continues.