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JACK ‘THE HAT’ McVitie
Jack ‘the hat’ McVitie, was an enforcer, a hit man, a killer, if somebody stepped out of line ‘call in Jack’. He was known as ‘the hat’ because he always wore a trilby hat. Many said this was because he was prematurely bald and wanted to conceal it.
Frankie Fraser, another ‘enforcer, spent time in his company in prison and became friends with the man he called ‘ lovely’. Two peas in a pod.
But in the mid 60s he expanded from debt collecting and contract killing and became embroiled in the drug scene becoming an addict himself which led to a falling out with the Kray twins for whom he had ‘done some work’ before. The result of the drug taking was that he was getting abusive to others and very arrogant. He got thrown out of Freddie Foreman’s night club in Balham for causing trouble and pretty soon was not welcome in most others. He even tried to shoot Tommy Flanagan in the Regency Club and had a knife fight there in the basement which had him thrown out only to return and threaten the owners John Barry and his brother. The Barrys had a quiet word with their club ‘protectors’ the Krays and asked them to sort McVitie out before he ruined theirs and others clubs businesses.
The Krays did have a quiet word, more than once, but McVitie didn’t listen and although not a member of ‘the firm’ he had done jobs for them and owed them money for not fulfilling one contract which was the murder of their business manager Leslie Payne who they thought was about to tell the police about their criminal activities. McVitie got paid £500 upfront for it but in the end took so long they had somebody else do it and wanted their money back.
Reggie Kray had one last meeting with Jack and although he gave him a severe warning about his behaviour he came away from the meet convinced that Jack wouldn’t alter and would become a bigger embarrassment unless stopped. A plan was hatched to kill McVitie.
The following evening 29th October 1967 Tony and Chris Lambrianou had a night out at the Carpenters Arms where the Krays were holding court. Tony was a member of The Firm, Chris wasn’t and worked the Birmingham area.
After a few drinks the Lambianous moved onto the Regency club where they were joined by Jack McVitie, Johnny Hart and the Mills brothers Tony Lambrianou left them for a while and returned with the news they were invited to a party at ‘Blonde’ Carol’s Basement place at Evering Road, Stoke Newington where plenty of women were available.
It was a set up, Tony had left not to go Blonde Carols but to meet Reggie Kray upstairs at the Regency where he had been told to get McVitie down to Blonde Carol’s at Evering Road. When they got there the Krays were there with two minders, Firm members Ronnie Bender and Ronnie Hart and the Mills brothers. Reggie gave McVitie a real tongue lashing and true to form McVitie gave one back. Reggie held a gun to McVities head and pulled the trigger, twice, and both times nothing happened.
The Mills brothers scarpered quickly knowing what was going to happen, Chris Lambrianou also left getting a hostess called Connie Whitehead to drive him home. Then at home he had a change of heart and worried about his brother Tony so he armed himself and went back.
His brother Tony was safe outside but in the basement he found Jack McVitie dead and Ronnie Bender who had been left to clean it up and dispose of the body wondering what to do.
Tony Lambrianou tells a different story, he says that when the gun wouldn’t fire Reggie told Chris to go and get another one. McVitie put up a fight but Reggie Kray used a knife to stab him in the chest and face until he was dead in a ferocious attack. The twins then quickly left leaving the others to clean up and do the disposal.
The body was wrapped in an eiderdown and put in the back of Tony Lambrianou’s car with brother Chris and Reggie Bender following in another car. The plan was to dump it in South London so the Richardson’s would get the blame. But they panicked and dumped it on the south side of Rotherhithe Tunnel outside St Mary’s Church, Rotherhithe. When the Krays were told they went mad as this was Freddie Foreman’s patch and they were great friends. A call was made to Freddie who had the body picked up and moved before anybody else found it. Where did it end up? Only Freddie Foreman knows and he’s in his late 80’s now and probably will take the secret to the grave. Some say it went to a pig farm in Essex, some say it went out to sea at Newhaven and was dumped with weights attached and some say it’s in a grave at Gravesend Cemetery, Kent.
( as a side to this, old gang wars never die…at Thomas Wisbey’s ( Grt Train Robber) funeral in February 2017, Foreman then 82 and Eddie Richardson then 84 had a punch up in the pews….true.)