One of Britain’s most notorious criminals has died after a lifetime of notoriety during which he became known as “Mad” Frankie Fraser. The East End gangster, once dubbed Britain’s “most dangerous man”, passed away at King’s College Hospital, London, today. The 90-year-old had been on a life-support machine, in an induced coma in intensive care, after problems during an operation on a fractured leg last week.
Fraser’s friends and family had gathered round his bedside in recent days. A family source knew the end was coming: “Doctors fear that because of his age his body is struggling to cope with the operation. It does not look good at all.” And one friend said earlier this week: “Frankie’s one tough bastard - but this looks like it might be the end. Everyone fears the worst.”
His family decided to withdraw life support for Fraser this morning. And his son Dave, 66, told the Daily Mirror: "We’re just glad he’s not in pain and isn’t suffering any more. He had a good innings and fought until the end but it was just too much for him."
Fraser spent virtually half his life in prison for violent offences, for convictions which included torture. His “Mad” Frankie nickname came as a result of him pretending to be mentally ill to avoid being drafted during the Second World War.
In the fifties he worked for crime lord Billy Hill, and was paid £50 a time to carry out razor blade attacks. And the enforcer was one of the few survivors from the sixties turf war between rival London gangs led by the Richardson brothers and the Kray twins. Fraser worked for the Richardsons, and his methods of "persuasion" included pulling out the teeth of his victims.
In 1991 he survived an assassination attempt after being shot in the head but refused to tell police who the gunman was. “If you play by the sword, you've got to expect the sword,” said Fraser.
The official Frankie Fraser website states: “Frank has been a contract strong-arm, club owner, club minder, company director, Broadmoor inmate, firebomber, prison rioter but - first and last - a thief. 26 convictions. 42 years inside.”
His last stint in jail ended in 1989, and recent years had seen him living in sheltered housing at Bermondsey, South-East London. Fraser could not keep out of trouble though. Last year he was given an Asbo after a row over a chair with a fellow resident at the care home where he lived.
Timeline: The life and times of Mad Frankie Fraser
- 1923 – born in Lambeth, south London
- 1936 – charged with his first crime: stealing a packet of cigarettes
- 1941 – sent to borstal for breaking and entering a hosiery shop in London
- 1950s – worked for crime boss Billy Hill and carried out razor attacks on victims for £50 each
- 1960s – joined the Richardson gang as an enforcer
- 1966 – charged with the murder of Richard Hart, who was shot at a club in London. The charges were dropped after a witness changed their evidence
- 1967 – went on trial at the Old Bailey for pulling out people's teeth with pliers. Sentenced to 10 years in prison
- 1969 – helped lead the Parkhurst Prison riots on the Isle of Wight
- 1989 – Fraser’s last jail term ended
- 1991 – survived being shot in the head outside a club in London
- 2013 – given an Asbo after after a row over a chair with a fellow resident at the care home where he lived
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