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Fraser has spent 40 years in prison, including seven for slashing Jack ‘Spot’ Comer, a 1950s gang leader, 10 years for his role as the ‘dentist’ in the so-called Richardson Torture Gang and five for leading the Parkhurst prison riots in 1970.
Along the way he served time at Cane Hill mental hospital and Broadmoor, from where he acquired the nickname. An affinity for ‘doing screws’ meant he was also probably one of the few prisoners to spend his last 20 years in prison without remission. His proudest boast is that he beat up the executioner, Albert Pierrepoint, in Wandsworth prison the day he hanged Derek Bentley – ‘the best thing I ever done’. As for the much bandied title ‘Britain’s most violent man’, he says: ‘Whether I merited that honour, I don’t know. Sure I was violent, but only to people like myself . . . I suppose I ranked high. I’m quite proud of that.’
First ‘nicked’ for stealing cigarettes at 13, Fraser became a minder to the gang leader Billy Hill during the 1950s. When, in the Sixties, control of Soho and the West End passed to the Kray twins and the Richardson brothers, Charles and Eddie, Fraser acted as the Richardsons’ enforcer. The word was that he carried a pair of pliers in his top pocket as a reminder to the loose mouthed.
The gang’s activities brought Fraser and Charlie Richardson to the Old Bailey in 1967 for the ‘Torture Trial’. Fraser was sent down for 10 years, Richardson for 25. ‘There wasn’t any torture, honest. Wouldn’t I have liked to say in all the time I was sitting in my cell, at least I hurt them? At least then there might have been some satisfaction.’
But no. The black box produced by the prosecution which electrocuted victims through electrodes attached to the genitals was ‘rubbish’. Allegations that the gang nailed one man’s foot to the floor and removed another’s teeth with pliers were ‘all false . . . Today, we wouldn’t have even been charged, let alone gone to prison.
‘In those days untold innocent people were convicted. Evidence was really piled on by coppers to make it sound much worse than it was.’ Fraser believes the cases of the Guildford Four and Tottenham Three exposed a racket of ‘fabricated evidence’ and ‘villainy’ in which the police had been engaged for decades.
For all the brutality perpetrated, a kind of mock heroic romanticism has grown up around London’s gang leaders. In films and autobiographies, we are told they loved their mothers and gave to charity. Even the police have fed the myth: when Sir Stanley Bailey retired as chief constable of Northumbria, he reflected on the ‘good times’ when Messrs Kray, Richardson and Fraser controlled the East End.
Fraser, needless to say, agrees: ‘Old ladies would walk anytime without being interfered with, children too. Yes, we were violent, but only between ourselves. Honest hard-working people were safe, women and children untouchable. There’s no place in London now where it’s safe to walk.’
Fraser should know. Stepping out of Turnmills club in Clerkenwell, in August 1991, he was shot in the head. The police suspected a gangland hit. Fraser claims it was undercover police. Since coming out of his last stretch in 1985, he has gone straight – thanks, he says, to the gentle persuasion of his girlfriend, Marilyn Wisbey, daughter of the Great Train Robber, Tommy. ‘It was logical. I am not nippy enough to smash windows and jump into cars anymore.’
Gangland figures including former 1960s crime lord Eddie Richardson turn out for funeral of notorious enforcer ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser
- Dozens of mourners gathered for Frankie Fraser’s funeral at Honor Oak Crematorium in south London today
- Gangsters Eddie Richardson, 78, and Chris Lambrianou was among several mourners paying their respects
- Fraser was an ‘enforcer’ in the Richardson Gang – also known as the notorious ‘torture gang’ in the 1960s
- Frankie Fraser died aged 90 on November 26 after falling critically ill and being taken to King’s College Hospital
Mourners gathered for the funeral of ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser today after the notorious enforcer died in hospital last month at the age of 90.
Former gangster Eddie Richardson, 78, was among those who turned out to pay their respects to one of the capital’s most feared criminals at a crematorium in south London today.
The pair were part of the Richardson gang – also known as the ‘torture gang’ – and had a reputation as London’s most sadist gangsters, where Fraser was the gang’s ‘enforcer’ and infamous for pulling people’s teeth out with pliers.
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Mourners gathered for the funeral of notorious gangster ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser – held at Honor Oak Crematorium in south London today
Also at the funeral was former henchmen to rival gang leaders Ronnie and Reggie Kray, Chris Lambrianou, who was convicted for his involvement of the 1967 murder of Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie, as well as one of the Great Train robbers – Bobby Welch – who attended in a wheelchair.
Fraser fell critically ill and was taken to King’s College Hospital in south-east London last month, where he underwent an operation and was put into an induced coma. He was on the intensive care unit when his family decided to switch off the life support machine on November 26.
Relatives say doctors failed to spot a fracture in his leg and believe if it had been spotted earlier then he may still be alive. They are reportedly planning to sue the hospital.
Fraser had been one of the last surviving ‘celebrity criminals’ after he joined turf wars between London gangs in the sixties.
Gangster Eddie Richardson, 78, (left) – leader of the Richardson gang, which Fraser was a member of – was among the mourners, and (right) a picture of Fraser in the back of the hearse
The procession was led by two funeral directors, who walked in front of the hearse as it made its way to the crematorium in south London
Pallbearers carry the coffin inside the crematorium, where family and friends came together earlier today to pay their respects to the gangster
Fraser’s second eldest son, David Fraser (left) arrives at the funeral of his father, along with Bobby Welch, one of the participants in the 1963 Great Train Robbery
Two men embrace as guests start to arrive at the funeral. Fraser’s family decided to withdraw his life support on November 26
Before becoming a member of the widely feared Richardson gang, which included Eddie’s brother Charlie, he was a bodyguard to notorious gangland leader Billy Hill, where he took part in bank robberies and carried out razor blade attacks – which earned him £50 a time.
He has spent 42 years – almost half his life – in jail for 26 offences. The former gangland leader was handed an Asbo last year after flying into a rage with a fellow pensioner at his care home.
Today friends and family dressed in black as they attended the funeral where tributes were laid, including a rose which said ‘totally fearless, not mad’.
Floral tributes were left for Fraser, who died after complications following surgery at King’s College Hospital, where it is believed he went for a hip operation before doctors discovered a fracture. The family are believed to be suing the hospital
A floral tribute attached to a red rose reads ‘Frank, totally fearless not “mad”‘ (left) and the hearse arrives at the crematorium (right)
Reformed associate of the Kray twins, Chris Lambrianou, (left) and an unidentified mourner (right) made their way to the service this morning
Mourners join hundreds of people for the funeral of Fraser, who spent more than half of his life behind bars after racking up 26 convictions
One of the funeral directors places a floral tribute reading ‘Dad’ on top of the vintage Rolls Royce hearse among other flowers, which spelled out ‘grandad’ and ‘Frank’
GRANDFATHER WHO HAD WIFE AND TWO GIRLFRIENDS AT SAME TIME
After being released from jail in the Eighties, Frankie Fraser met girlfriend Marilyn Wisbey – daughter of the Great Train Robber, Tommy Wisbey – and they were together until 2001.
This was despite Fraser already having a girlfriend, Val, and also a wife, Doreen.
He was a father to four sons – Frank, David, Patrick and Francis.
One grandson was footballer Tommy Fraser, a former Brighton and Hove Albion and Port Vale and Barnet midfielder.
Frankie Fraser himself was an Arsenal fan, while another of his grandsons, James Fraser, signed a short-term contract for Bristol Rovers – and played for non-league Worthing.
In addition, a third grandson, Anthony Fraser, was arrested in Gibraltar in 2011 over an alleged drug-smuggling plot after a police manhunt. Officials extradited him to Britain – but it’s not clear whether he ever went on trial.
Another of Frankie Fraser’s sons, David, was also jailed for drugs offences, while grandson Jamie was sent to prison for armed robbery.
Frankie Fraser had two other sons, called Patrick and Francis – with the latter being the only one who never went to jail.
Family members hugged each other as the hearse arrived with his coffin, adorned with wreaths of flowers which read ‘dad’, ‘grandad’ and ‘Frank’.
Chris Lambrianou, who spent more than 15 years in prison for murder and said he ‘found God’ in prison, attended along with other former gangsters.
Bobby Welch, who was convicted for his part in the 1963 heist on the Glasgow to London mail train which netted the gang £2.6 million – the equivalent of £40 million in today’s money, attended today. The former nighclub boss was jailed for 30 years and released in 1976.
He was left crippled after an operation on his leg went wrong. After being released from jail he became a gambler and a car dealer in London.
The vintage hearse used to transport the coffin was the same one used at the funeral’s of fellow gangster Charlie Richardson in 2012 and of TV reality star Jade Goody in 2009.
Fraser’s son was seen walking behind pallbearers as the coffin was carried inside Honor Oak Crematorium in south London today.
Born Francis Davidson Fraser, he earned his title as ‘Mad’ Frankie, during the Second World War, when he feigned a mental illness to avoid being called up to the front line.
He was the fifth child of a poor family – his mother was Norwegian-Irish and his father was half native American.
When he was five he started he developed meningitis after he was knocked down for running in the road as he begged for cigarette cards and was injured.
His first conviction was for stealing cigarettes and after his second he was sent to an approved school.
At 17 he was sent to borstal for breaking and entering a hosiery shop in Waterloo, central London, and was then given a 15-month prison sentence for shopbreaking.
After that he was sent to prison for a smash-and-grab raid on a jeweller’s where he met influential London villain Billy Hill, who he went on to work for.
He was sent to prison for attacking Hill’s rival Jack Spot in 1956 and given seven years. Following his release he was courted by the Kray Twins and the Richardson gang but chose the latter.
Fraser in his police mugshot in the 1960s (left) and during his documentary ‘Bad Boys Of The Blitz: Frankie Fraser’ in 2005 (right)
A group of men arrive dressed in black for the funeral of Fraser, whose preferred torture technique was to pull people’s teeth out with pliers
A woman, wearing a Burberry scarf and leather skirt, arrives at the crematorium carrying a package, as mourners wait for the hearse to arrive
Another guest arrives carrying a cardboard box whilst wearing a poncho (left) while a woman clutches the order of the service, which has a recent picture of Fraser on the front
Eddie Richardson (centre, holding man’s arm) and Chris Lambrianou (far right) shake hands with guests outside Honor Oak Crematorium
It was Frankie’s son David (left) who revealed his father had been given an Asbo in 2011 after getting into an argument with a fellow pensioner at his care home. Bobby Welch, (right) was jailed for 30 years and released in 1976 and also attended the funeral
A mourner wears a trilby hat with an image of a gun on the side. Fraser had been one of the last surviving ‘celebrity criminals’ after he joined turf wars between London gangs in the sixties
Fraser spent 42 years – almost half his life – in jail for 26 offences, including razor attacks which earned him £50 a time from gang boss Billy Hill
Floral tributes are laid out in honour of Fraser, reading Grandad, Uncle and Dad and one in dedication to his favourite football team – Arsenal
A vintage car arrives at the funeral ahead of the procession. Hundreds of people packed the crematorium today to pay their respects to Fraser
They set up a fruit machine enterprise, which they would sell to pub landlords, to cover up their crimes.
In 1966 he was charged with the murder of Richard Hart, who was shot at a club in Catford, south-east London, but the charges were dropped when a witness changed their testimony.
The following year he was involved in a torture trial at the Old Bailey, where members of the gang were charged with electrocuting, whipping and burning those disloyal to them.
Fraser himself was charged with pulling out people’s teeth with pliers and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Mourners file their way into the crematorium for the funeral of Frankie Fraser, who died after complications during surgery, in south London
David Fraser, Frankie’s second son – who was once jailed for drug offences, watches as the pallbearers remove the coffin from the hearse
The vintage Rolls Royce hearse is believed to be the same one used at Charlie Richardson’s funeral in 2011 and Jade Goody’s in 2009
Author Kimberley Chambers posted on Twitter this morning that she would be attending the funeral of the ‘legendary Mr Fraser’ today
Pallbearers from the funeral company, F.A. Albins & Sons, which has been running for 200 years, and still uses one of its original hearses
David Fraser shake hands with a guest as they follow behind the coffin as it makes its way inside the crematorium. A message can be seen on top of the flowers on the coffin
During his time behind bars he was involved in violence and was a major instigator in the Parkhurst Prison riots on the Isle of Wight in 1969.
It is thought that it was during these riots that he sustained an injury, relating to the fracture he suffered shortly before his death.
Fraser’s last jail term ended in 1989, but in 2011 he was handed an Asbo after getting into an argument with a fellow pensioner at his sheltered accommodation in Bermondsey, south-east London.
He had four sons – Frank Jr, David, Patrick and Francis. His youngest son was the only one of his children who did not go on to have a criminal career.
His wife Doreen, who he married in 1965, died in 1999. He went on to have a relationship with Marilyn Wiseby, daughter of the Great Train Robber, Tommy Wisbey.
Frankie Fraser (centre), pictured with Reggie Kray (right), at the funeral of Ronnie Kray in east London in 1995. The pair were rivals in the 1960s but in later life he put the past behind him and came together to pay his respects
LONDON’S GANGLAND UNDERWORLD IN THE 1960s
Fraser (left) pictured with film actor Stanley Baker (centre) and Eddie Richardson (right)
The Richardson’s, along with ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser and George Cornell, were the main rivals of twin brothers Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Kray and Reginald ‘Reggie’ Kray during the 1950s and ’60s.
The two rival sets of brothers controlled London, operating through armed robberies, arson, protection rackets, assaults and torture, with the Krays based in East London and the Richardson gang from South London, also entrenched in the West End.
Their turf war began after a brawl during a Christmas party at the Astor Club in December 1965.
It was here that George Cornell, insulted Ronnie Kray, calling him a ‘fat poof’ after first meeting the Krays while in Shepton Mallet Prison.
Shortly after the incident Cornell was seen walking down Whitechapel Road shouting: ‘Where’s that fat w*****?’ referring to Ronnie Kray.
Ronnie Kray showed up at the Blind beggar pub where Cornell was drinking, and shot Cornell through the head at close range.
In March 1966 a gun battle took place in a club called Mr Smiths in Rushey Green with the Richardson gang going there with the intentions of wiping out the Krays.
However there was only one member of the Kray gang present. He was shot dead. Frankie Fraser was shot in the hip and Eddie was shot in the backside.
They were taken to hospital and on their release they were charged with affray and sentenced to 5 years in prison. Fraser was originally charged with the murder of Dickie Hart but was found not guilty.
Other notable characters in the Richardson gang included the notorious hit man Jimmy Moody, Roy Hall (who operated the electric generator), Albert Longman, and Tommy Clark.
Moody was the main enforcer for the Richardsons, but also did ‘freelance work’ for the Krays and became one of the most feared criminals to emerge from the London underworld.
A further member of the gang, Harry Beard, is known for frequently urinating on a collector of protection money, who was twice warned by the Richardsons after he pocketed the money.
Another infamous killing at the time was that of Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie, a minor member of the Kray’s gang, killed by Reggie Kray, in a move that eventually led to their co