It might have been 30 years since Ronnie Kray instilled fear among his gangland rivals on the mean streets of east London but when he died from a heart attack, aged 61, those brains were secretly removed and taken to a laboratory in Oxford.
Rumours of the removal of the Kray twin's grey matter in 1995 have been common currency in the Sunday tabloids for more than a year but they were confirmed by a tearful Charlie Kray yesterday during his defence against charges that he was involved in a pounds 39m cocaine ring.
Woolwich Crown Court was told that two men, Ronald Fields and Robert Gould, have admitted offering to supply pounds 39m of cocaine and providing 2kg of the drug but Mr Kray, 70, denies being involved.
The Crown has claimed that Mr Kray was involved in a conspiracy to flood the streets with cocaine over two years. John Kelsey-Fry, prosecuting, alleged that Mr Kray stood to gain pounds 8m from the plan, but the "criminals" with whom he was dealing were undercover police officers.
However, Mr Kray insists that he never intended to supply any cocaine and was simply "stringing along" his contacts in the hope of perpetrating a sting against them.
During questioning by his defence counsel, Jonathan Goldberg QC, Mr Kray said Home Office pathologists had removed Ronnie Kray's brain for experimentation and had not told his widow, Kate, even when his body was buried.
"After he died, a few months later I think, my brother found out before I did that they had removed Ronnie's brain, after he was dead, for an experiment," said Mr Kray. "Everyone was ringing up about it and was very upset about it ... Finally, they returned the brain in a casket and it was reburied."
Last year, under the headline "The great brain robbery", the News of the World revealed details of the removal of Ronnie Kray's brain. Kate Kray told the newspaper she was furious. "After 27 years locked up I thought death had finally freed Ronnie," she said. "But now I'm outraged to learn there's part of him still imprisoned in a jar with a little paper label. It's disgusting ... You'd think someone could have consulted with me or said, `Listen Kate, OK if we take Ronnie's brain for a bit?"
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