Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read who put the Kray twins behind bars has died

The detective Len ‘Nipper’ Read who put the Kray twins away has died at the age of 95.    

The Met legend, who left school at the age of 14, was a Detective Superintendent in the Metropolitan Police and made his name as the man who nicked Ronnie and Reggie Kray.

He was also part of investigative team who helped crack the Great Train Robbery. 

‘Nipper’ Read worked tirelessly to bring the East End mobsters to justice, collecting four years worth of evidence before leading the team to arrest the twins in 1968, along with 15 other members of the Kray’s gang.

Born in Nottingham in 1925, Read joined the Metropolitan Police in 1947. He learned to box, winning his first medal in 1937. He joined the Grundy Club, which was where he was nicknamed Nipper.  

Detective Supt Leonard 'Nipper' Read seen outside Tintagel House H.Q. during his involvement in the Kray Case.

Detective Supt Leonard 'Nipper' Read seen outside Tintagel House H.Q. during his involvement in the Kray Case.

Detective Supt Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read seen outside Tintagel House H.Q. during his involvement in the Kray Case.

He rose through the ranks of the Met police to become part of the team solving the Great Train Robbery.

The following year he was transferred to the Kray case.    

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police Heritage Centre said: ‘We are sad to announce that Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read QPM died this morning aged 95.

‘A Met legend, he is best known for his part in bringing the Kray Twins to justice and his autobiographies hold places of honour in our collections.’ 

East End mobsters, the Kray twins, were arrested in May 1968 by a team led by Nipper Read. They were subsequently convicted of murder the following year and jailed for life.      

London gangsters the Kray twins, Reggie (1933 - 2000, left) and Ronnie (1933 - 1995) after spending 36 hours helping the police with their inquiry into the murder of George Cornell, 6th August 1966. They were found guilty of murder in 1969 after a trial at the Old Bailey

London gangsters the Kray twins, Reggie (1933 - 2000, left) and Ronnie (1933 - 1995) after spending 36 hours helping the police with their inquiry into the murder of George Cornell, 6th August 1966. They were found guilty of murder in 1969 after a trial at the Old Bailey

London gangsters the Kray twins, Reggie (1933 – 2000, left) and Ronnie (1933 – 1995) after spending 36 hours helping the police with their inquiry into the murder of George Cornell, 6th August 1966. They were found guilty of murder in 1969 after a trial at the Old Bailey

Mr Read would later say: ‘The label of ‘The man who brought down the Krays’ has followed me since then and will live with me forever.’

In interviews about his investigation into the Krays notorious activity in the East End, he admitted it had been a difficult process to pick his own team as there were  ‘bent coppers’ on the gangsters’ payroll.   

‘I couldn’t tell them what they’d be working on so I called them all together and locked them in a room and told them that what they were about to hear was for their ears only,’ Mr Read said.

He later became the British Boxing Board of Control chairman and WBC vice-president. He wrote a biography of the twins called ‘The Man Who Nicked the Krays.’

In 1951 he married Marion Millar and they divorced in 1979. He married Pat Allen in 1980, who had worked on the Kray inquiry.

Pat Allen survives him, along with Maralyn, his daughter from his first marriage. 

The Kray twins ruled their crime empire in London’s East End with an iron fist. 

They also owned a string of nightclubs and counted a raft of celebrities, who they were regularly photographed with, among their friends.

Detective Supt Leonard 'Nipper' Read at a hearing in the 60s

Detective Supt Leonard 'Nipper' Read at a hearing in the 60s

Picture shows former Detective Chief Superintendent Leonard 'Nipper' Read, who was the original officer in charge of the Babes in the Wood murder case leaving the Old Bailey

Picture shows former Detective Chief Superintendent Leonard 'Nipper' Read, who was the original officer in charge of the Babes in the Wood murder case leaving the Old Bailey

Picture shows former Detective Chief Superintendent Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read, who was the original officer in charge of the Babes in the Wood murder case leaving the Old Bailey

Judy Garland, Diana Dors and Barbara Windsor attended the clubs owned by the twins.

The murders of George Cornell and Jack ‘the Hat’ McVitie set in motion the twins downfall.

On March 9, 1966, Ronnie Kray walked into the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel, east London, and shot George Cornell in the head.

Cornell was a prominent member of the Richardson gang, who were engaged in a feud with the twins and whose actions the night before set in motion the events that would end George’s life:

March 8, 1966 – Richard Hart, an associate of the Krays, is shot dead out the back of a nightclub in Catford, south east London, which is under the ‘protection’ of the Richardson gang and their enforcer Frankie Fraser. He was killed after a brawl broke out but it is still unclear if he was shot intentionally. 

Nipper Read was was also part of investigative team who helped crack the Great Train Robbery. Twelve of the robbers were jailed for a combined total of more than 300 years after they stopped the Glasgow to Euston overnight mail train on August 8 in 1963

Nipper Read was was also part of investigative team who helped crack the Great Train Robbery. Twelve of the robbers were jailed for a combined total of more than 300 years after they stopped the Glasgow to Euston overnight mail train on August 8 in 1963

Nipper Read was was also part of investigative team who helped crack the Great Train Robbery. Twelve of the robbers were jailed for a combined total of more than 300 years after they stopped the Glasgow to Euston overnight mail train on August 8 in 1963

March 9, 1966 – Jimmy Andrews of the Richardson gang was injured in the fight at the club and was taken to Whitechapel Hospital for treatment.

George Cornell crosses into Kray territory to visit him at the hospital along with friend Albie Woods. He is later seen walking drunk down Whitechapel Road and entering the Blind Beggar pub, where he is heard insulting the Krays.

At around 8.30pm, Ronnie Kray enters the pub with two associates and walks up to Cornell, who is said to have greeted him by saying ‘Look what the cat’s dragged in’. Kray then shoots him in the forehead with a Luger pistol.

Kray and his friends leave and Cornell is rushed to hospital but pronounced dead at 3.30am. The bullet supposedly passed right through his head.

According to urban legend, his wife Olive then went to the Krays’ family home in Bethnal Green and threw a brick through the window.

Police surround the pub, where there are blood stains on the floor. Police arrest Ronnie but, despite several eyewitnesses identifying him as the killer, they are forced to release him as no one will testify.

May 8, 1968,- Led by Inspector Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read, Scotland Yard’s murder squad arrest both Krays and 15 other members of their gang, based on evidence collected over the past four years.

Ronnie is charged with Cornell’s murder while Reggie is charged with killing Jack ‘the Hat’ McVitie. Witnesses come forward to testify and both are convicted in 1969, and jailed for life.

Ronnie spent time in jail at Durham and Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight before being transferred to Broadmoor in Berkshire, where he was eventually certified insane and later died of a heart attack in 1995.

Reggie was jailed at Maidstone Prison for eight years before being transferred to Wayland Prison in Norfolk. He was released on compassionate grounds in 2000 suffering from bladder cancer, and died in his sleep in October of that year.  

Read was played by Christopher Ecclestone in the 2015 film Legend. 

Tom Hardy was cast as Reggie and Ronnie Kray.

Ronnie and Reggie Kray, the twins who ruled the East End of London with an iron fist

Ronnie Kray, who with twin brother Reggie brought fear and terror to London‘s East End in the 1950s and 1960s

On March 9, 1966, Ronnie Kray walked into the Blind Beggar pub in Whitechapel, east London, and shot George Cornell in the head.

Cornell was a prominent member of the Richardson gang, who were engaged in a feud with the twins and whose actions the night before set in motion the events that would end George’s life:

March 8, 1966 – Richard Hart, an associate of the Krays, is shot dead out the back of a nightclub in Catford, south east London, which is under the ‘protection’ of the Richardson gang and their enforcer Frankie Fraser. He was killed after a brawl broke out but it is still unclear if he was shot intentionally.

March 9, 1966 – Jimmy Andrews of the Richardson gang was injured in the fight at the club and was taken to Whitechapel Hospital for treatment.

George Cornell crosses into Kray territory to visit him at the hospital along with friend Albie Woods. He is later seen walking drunk down Whitechapel Road and entering the Blind Beggar pub, where he is heard insulting the Krays.

At around 8.30pm, Ronnie Kray enters the pub with two associates and walks up to Cornell, who is said to have greeted him by saying ‘Look what the cat’s dragged in’. Kray then shoots him in the forehead with a Luger pistol.

Kray and his friends leave and Cornell is rushed to hospital but pronounced dead at 3.30am. The bullet supposedly passed right through his head.

According to urban legend, his wife Olive then went to the Krays’ family home in Bethnal Green and threw a brick through the window.

Police surround the pub, where there are blood stains on the floor. Police arrest Ronnie but, despite several eyewitnesses identifying him as the killer, they are forced to release him as no one will testify.

May 8, 1968 – Led by Inspector Leonard ‘Nipper’ Read, Scotland Yard’s murder squad arrest both Krays and 15 other members of their gang, based on evidence collected over the past four years.

Ronnie is charged with Cornell’s murder while Reggie is charged with killing Jack ‘the Hat’ McVitie. Witnesses come forward to testify and both are convicted in 1969, and jailed for life.

Ronnie spent time in jail at Durham and Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight before being transferred to Broadmoor in Berkshire, where he was eventually certified insane and later died of a heart attack in 1995.

Reggie was jailed at Maidstone Prison for eight years before being transferred to Wayland Prison in Norfolk. He was released on compassionate grounds in 2000 suffering from bladder cancer, and died in his sleep in October of that year. 

 

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