London crime history, this is where you will get the opportunity to learn about London gangster history, big London names, crimes, streets and places of interest of the City of London and surrounding boroughs. With additional links to sites and YouTube videos that may be of interest if you are researching anything or anyone that we have listed.
Names included on this list have books written by them/for them or about them, and some of these can be found in our books section.. We will keep building this list and descriptions so you can learn more about London crime history. As you explore the London crime website, we hope that you will find and learn more on this fascinating subject!
If you look further into some of the stories and cases, you may find that you don’t agree with the guilt or innocence of the suspects, But you can make your own mind up… we are not the Judge here! This isn’t about modern London, there are other resources online that cater for more the more recent crimes in and around London, just look at the news or Police websites. We certainly do NOT condone crime of any kind, this is purely a look at Old London and London crime history, gangsters and villains.
London Crime History A TO Z
Acid Bath Murders
John George Haigh (1909-1949) Killing at least six victims for their money, and then dissolving the bodies in steel drums of sulphuric acid. Haigh also claimed to have a compulsion to drink human blood. Despite trying to establish himself as insane, several doctors examined him before and after trial and concluded that he was in fact sane. Haigh was executed at Wansworth prison in August 1949. Weird fact, Haigh left his clothes to Madame Tussaud’s where a wax dummy of him was created!.
Depicted by Tom Hardy in the hit TV series “Peaky Blinders”, the real Alfred Solomon and his brother Harry aided by an Italian gang headed by Darbi Sabini controlled north London and terrorised the horse racing tracks across the country. They were a formidable force, providing “protection” to racegoers, yet robbing others!
Baker Street Bank Job, 11th September 1971
LLoyds bank being the target, a team first tunnelled from a shop two doors away and up through the floor of the vault! they then settled in to drill there way into the safe deposit boxes held there. Apparently, in 1973, four members of the gang were jailed for a total of 44 years, and around £231,000 was recovered. There were rumours that one of the safety deposit boxes contained compromising photos of Princess Margaret and John Bindon, but these were never proven. The Bank Job, a film starring Jason Statham is based on this, and although it may not be absolutely historically correct, it is a good film!
Battle of the Fratellanza club. Great Bath Street, Clerkenwell
As a part of the war between the Darbi Sabini gang, their former allies the Cortesis, and the Yiddishers, Darbi and brother Harryboy were set upon by the Cortesis at the club on the 19th November 1922. The Cortesis lived local to the club, and Darbi and Harryboy were on enemy ground. Darbi was punched and beaten, Harryboy was shot and wounded. Two of the Cortesis were sentenced to three years penal servitude each, the Sabinis then extended their empire to the west end, installing one armed bandits and taking shares in gambling and drinking clubs.
Bedlam/Bethlem/St mary of Bethlehem
A psychiatric hospital, founded in 1247 as a priory, and a hospital since 1330. Bethlehem has moved three times from its original location in Bishopsgate, its famous history has inspired many books and films. Ever wondered where the word for chaos and confusion comes from? Londoners abbreviated Bethlehem to bethlam, which was often pronounced as “bedlam”!
In 1403, the hospital treasurer was found guilty of embezzlement and theft of hospital property, and with an old regime of punishment and religous devotion, chains, locks, stocks and manacles were part of the hospital inventory and usually used to treat the poor and marginalised (of which were believed to be dangerous).
(William Charles Hill) Born in St Pancras, 13th December 1911. A perpetrator of London organised crime from the 1920s through to the 1960s.. to smuggling, protection rackets, and extreme violence. He masterminded the Eastcastle Street Robbery, which pocketed him and his gang a cool £287,000, (over £6 million in today’s money!)
Bow Street Runners
Bow Street runners was the public nickname for what could be classed as the first British police force. Prior to the Bow Street runners, the law enforcement system were with private citizens, and so Judge Henry Fielding regulated and legalised their activity thus creating the “Bow Street Runners” Founded in 1749 and disbanded in 1839, personnel were merged with the Metropolitan Police.
Brink’s Mat robbery
26th November 1983 Unit 7, Heathrow international trading estate, although the robbers thought they were going to achieve a £3.2 million haul, when in reality, upon discovering 3,000 kilo’s of gold bullion, a record £26 million worth of gold bullion, diamonds and cash was stolen from a warehouse in the west of Greater London.
Fun loving criminal Dennis Stafford was born in 1934, two streets and two months apart from the Kray twins. He admits to some minor scams and was fascinated by the intricacies of robbery, he admits to country house burglary before he graduating to the club scene. At the age of 22, he received a seven year prison sentence for burglary.
In 1967, Dennis Stafford was arrested along with Michael Luvaglio for the killing of Angus Sibbett in what has become known as the “one armed bandit murder”. Much controversy has surrounded this case, while Michael and Dennis have always maintained that they are both innocent. In fact, Dennis Stafford’s legal team have often said it would be impossible to secure a murder conviction today on the evidence produced at his trial.
Eastcastle Street Post office van Robbery
1952, Central London. Organised by Billy Hill, a massive £287000 taken from the Royal Mail.. no one was ever convicted!
Master criminal that led the team which carried out “The Great Train Robbery” of 1855.
From being a bodyguard for the well known gangster Billy Hill, Frankie Fraser later teamed up with the Richardson Gang as their enforcer.
Hatton Garden Heist
Easter weekend, April, 2015. One of the biggest burglaries of the century from an underground facility at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company in the Hatton Garden area takes place.
Four experienced elderly men planned and carried out the burglary, and nobody really knows the true value of the haul..(although figures of up to £200 million have been mentioned!).
Founder of the Bow Street Runners.
Jack “Spot” Comer
(Born 12th April 1912, Died 12th March 1996.) Born Jacob Colmore to Polish parents, The family Name had changed from Comacho to Colmore, and later to Comer. He grew up in Whitechapel. From being in a gang at the age of 7, he proved his abilities as a streetfighter, and joined Alfred Solomon’s gang, the Yiddishers. It’s debateable as to how he got his nickname “spot”, some say he was called this because he was always on the “spot” when there was trouble, but others say it’s because he had a mole on his left cheek. He became a powerful force in the East End, making huge money from running drinking clubs and gaming rooms, and taking protection money from businesses across the capital. His rise was a violent one, and he had a broad knowledge of criminals who he could call on for jobs. It was under his leadership that the likes of Billy Hill and The Kray Twins were able to rise through London’s underworld.
Jack the Ripper
Also known as “The Whitechapel murderer” and “leather apron, this unidentified serial killer was linked to the “Whitechapel murders”, active in the areas in and around the Whitechapel district of London between 31 August and 9 November 1888.There were five victims linked to the ripper, but there were other murders in the area up to 1891, police were unable to connect conclusively all the killings to the murders of 1888)
There are many theories as to the true identity of the “ripper”, some have suggested he was a man in regular employment and lived locally while others have considered that the killer was an educated upper-class man, possibly a doctor or an aristocrat from another better classed area.
The Ripper appears in many fictional stories, comic books, games, songs, poems, plays, operas, television programmes and films. There are a wide range of true crime books that cover the Jack the Ripper murders, and they can make for some gruesome reading. As a subject, it is far too big to go into detail on this page, but please follow the link provided for further information if you dare!
Jack the Ripper The Jack the Ripper murders history site. Where they discuss the Whitechapel murders of 1888, outline the full history and assess the various suspects.(fascinating site.. No need to list any more!)
A Master English criminal of early 18th-century London, leader of thieves and highwaymen, extortionist, and fence for stolen goods. Separating the myth from the legend, about a man some historians credit with being the architect of organised crime.
John “biffo” Bindon is a modern legend. An English actor and bodyguard who had close links with the London underworld, his film-star looks, charm and talent brought him worldwide exposure. His story reads like the plot of a movie which Big John himself might have landed a part in. Usually typecast in tough-guy roles, his on-screen persona was chillingly close to the real-life one. Big John’s nickname came from his status as a legendary sexual performer, so it was no surprise that his encounters with stunning women, most famously Princess Margaret, led to numerous high profile relationships. But most of all, Big John was a warm-hearted, complex man, utterly devoted to those who have him respect and always prepared to be the last line of defence to those closest to him. He emerged from a poor, working class London childhood and fraternised with the Krays and the Richardsons, but eventually turned his back on crime to play major parts in films such as Mick Jagger’s “Performance”, The Who’s “Quadrophenia” and Michael Caine’s “Get Carter”. In 1978 Bindon was tried for the murder of London gangster Johnny Darke. Bindon pleaded self-defence and was acquitted, but the case damaged his reputation, and this coupled with being seen as difficult to work with by directors meant his acting career declined. In the 1980s Bindon became reclusive; he died in 1993 from cancer
Much has been written about the Brother Ronnie and Reggie Kray. With countless books, films, documentaries and websites devoted to the fascinating lives of the Kray twins, we will go no further than to lead you in the direction of the best Kray twins website which is a full source of all the facts!
Convicted alongside Dennis Stafford in 1967 for the murder of his friend, Angus Sibbet on 5th January 1967. Despite pleading not guilty, on 15th March 1967 both men were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Michael Luvaglio had been actively trying to clear his name and prove his innocence for over 50 years. Since leaving prison in 1979 Michael has dedicated his life to helping those less fortunate, working for more than 25 years with London based charity SHARE.
SHARE stands for Self Help and Rehabilitation for Employment and was established in Wandsworth in 1972. Now, covering many London boroughs, SHARE work with disabled people who need extra help and support in order to achieve their potential and realise their dreams and aspirations. Unfortunately, Michael has since passed away and never realised his dream of proving his innocence in this case.
Michael Luvaglio’s own website Villain or Victim
One Armed Bandit Murder
Although the cime did not happen in London, the case has strong links to London. The murder of Angus Sibbett in 1967 under Pesspool Bridge in South Hetton, County Durham, was known as the ‘one-armed bandit murder’. His colleagues, Michael Luvaglio and Dennis Stafford, were convicted of his murder three months later. The crime was believed to have inspired the Michael Caine film ‘Get Carter’. The screenplay was adapted from Ted Lewis’s 1969 novel “Jack’s Return Home”.
The following trial resulted in life sentences for Dennis Stafford and Michael Luvaglio. Both men were released on licence 12 years later. Angus Sibbet was a money collector for a “social club services” run by Michael Luvaglio’s brother Vince Landa, which supplied working men’s clubs with fruit machines (one armed bandits). On the night of 4 January 1967, Michael Luvaglio and Dennis Stafford were to meet Sibbet at the Birdcage club in Newcastle at 12.30am, Sibbet’s body was discovered the following morning in the back seat of his Jaguar at 5.15am by a miner at Pesspool Bridge in South Hetton, having been shot three times. Stafford and Luvaglio were both found guilty of the murder, and were sentenced to life in prison. The pair were released from prison after serving 12 years. Both men have strongly denied the Killing.
Witness tells how mystery armed man confessed to infamous One-Armed Bandit murder (Northern Echo)
Michael Luvaglio’s own website Villain or Victim
Wikipedia, one armed bandit murder
Innocent.org Michael Luvaglio and Dennis Stafford – the one-armed bandit murder
Foot Steps in the Snow
Home of a rather small police “box”.. Actually fitted into one of the light pillars in the corner of Trafalgar Square, sadly no longer used by the police!
Situated near to the present-day Marble Arch, the hangings that took place at the Tyburn Tree were in excess of 50,000. Most of the executed had been taken through the streets from Newgate prison. Huge crowds would turn out to enjoy the free entertainment, cheering on the felons that they regarded as heroes.
World Cup Theft in March 1966..
An interesting piece of London crime history. What a year for England! Bobby Moore lifts the Jules Rimet trophy in July 1966, but only four months earlier, the trophy was on display at Westminster’s Central Hall and thieves sneaked in between patrols, forced open the glass case and took the trophy. There was a full scale investigation by the Metropolitan Police and there was no solution. A note was sent to the Met Police demanding £15,000.00 for it’s safe return (around £197,000 in todays money!). In an attempt to capture the sender, a petty criminal was caught, however, the Trophy was still not recovered. But when a collie dog by the name of “pickles” was being taken for a walk in Upper Norwood, South London, the dog unearthed a parcel beneath a hedge outside the owner’s home. This was the moment the missing cup came to light.(Pickles netted the owner a £5000 reward, and the dog was also awarded a silver medal by the National Canine Defence League!)