Wife mounts a bedside vigil as Reggie Kray is expected to die 'within days'

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The Independent Online

The one time scourge of the East End, the now dying gangster Reggie Kray, 66, is "comfortable" in hospital, doctors said yesterday, but is unlikely to be discharged in the "foreseeable future".

The one time scourge of the East End, the now dying gangster Reggie Kray, 66, is "comfortable" in hospital, doctors said yesterday, but is unlikely to be discharged in the "foreseeable future".

The surviving Kray twin, who was released from prison on compassionate grounds by the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, on Saturday, is suffering from advanced cancer of the bladder. Reports indicate that Kray, who served 32 years, is expected to die within days.

Kray is being treated at Norfolk and Norwich Hospital after being moved from Wayland Prison, near Watton, Norfolk. A hospital spokeswoman said: "Mr Kray is stable and had a comfortable night and he will remain in hospital for the foreseeable future.

"His wife has confirmed he will definitely not be leaving the hospital in the next week."

Several friends visited Kray and one man told waiting reporters outside the hospital: "He's all right." Kray's wife, Roberta, is maintaining a vigil at her husband's bedside in his private room. Before visiting Kray, his solicitor, Trevor Linn, said: "I am hoping Reggie Kray will confound all the experts and be leaving hospital soon. He's as tough as old boots."

The East End of London was preparing itself yesterday for Reggie's expected funeral. The Krays are still held in high regard by many locals despite their years of murder and violence. When Ronnie Kray died earlier this year a huge funeral cortÿge, with the hearse covered in flowers, passed through the streets of Stepney, disrupting traffic for many hours. It is expected that Reggie's funeral will be even more lavish to mourn the passing of an era in East End history.

Mrs Kray said this weekend: "There are mixed emotions. I'm pleased that he has got his freedom. It is something he has been waiting so long for. But he is seriously ill.

"The thing that he would like to say is to thank everyone for their support and best wishes which have been sent to him. He will not be leaving hospital in the immediate future. He has compassionate parole, but cannot leave here at the moment.

"However, we're hoping that he will able to get out for a few days. He is conscious and able to speak, but it is a difficult time."

The Krays were jailed in 1969 for a range of offences of which the most serious was the murder of George Cornell at The Blind Beggar pub in Mile End Road. He was shot by Ronnie Kray with a 9mm Mauser pistol following a gangland dispute.

The Krays had controlled the East End with protection rackets backed up by a violent team of "heavies". Their reign of terror was brought to the end by a legendary Scotland Yard detective, Leonard "Nipper" Read.

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