Then & Now: Last orders

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The Independent Online
3.07am, 8 March 1966: The Richardson brothers, south-east London gangsters, with their minder James 'Big Jim' Moody, got involved in a vicious scrap with rivals at Mr Smith's Club in Catford. The shoot-out that followed, through death and arrest, left the field clear for the Krays to take over the Richardson patch. The only member of the Richardson gang left worth killing was George Cornell. Two days later Ronnie Kray carried out the execution.

'It was a very casual death. Cornell was perched on a stool, at the far end of the bar, drinking light ales with a couple of friends. The pub was almost empty; it was 8.30pm and the evening trade had barely started . . . The barmaid had just put a record on the juke- box to liven things up when Ronnie's arrival made this unnecessary. Ian Barrie was with him. Both had guns.

' 'Well, just look who's here,' said Cornell, and smiled. He had an unattractive smile. Instead of answering Barrie fired two warning shots into the ceiling . . . Then Ronnie shot Cornell through the head and walked back to the street where his car was waiting. The barmaid went to the wounded man, but there was little she could do. By the time Cornell reached hospital he was dead. When the police arrived at The Blind Beggar nobody had seen a thing.' - from The Profession of Violence by John Pearson.

1 June 1993: James Moody, on the run since escaping from Brixton Prison in 1980, was drinking at The Royal Hotel, Homerton, east London, when a man walked in, ordered a pint at the bar, then calmly shot Moody dead as he stood by the pool table. Police believe the assassination, the fourth London shooting in a week, is related to drug dealing.

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