“I started clubs where drinking was 24 hours. They were a bit illegal”
The Richardson brothers — Charlie (born 18 January 1934) and Eddie (born 1936) — ran criminal activities in south London. They began the Peckford Scrap Metal Company in 1956 in Addington Square, but that was really a front for their crimes.
The following year the Richardsons had five scrap yards in south London and savings of £20,000. “I started clubs where drinking was 24 hours. They were a bit illegal, given the licensing laws, but the police were on the payroll,” Charlie revealed.
He also knew how to create goodwill among the locals. “People would tell me of burglaries to their houses… we would know within hours who had done the job, give them a smack and tell them to fuck off to the West End to steal from rich people.” The Richardsons created a number of “long firms” — buying goods and paying all bills on time to establish a line of good credit and then making a large order and disappearing without paying. They kept their employees in line with extreme violence, administered by the likes of Mad Frankie Fraser.
In 1959 Charlie was charged with receiving stolen sides of bacon and sent down for six months. In May 1960 he fled to Canada, after being charged with receiving stolen metals. He returned to England and, with witness intimidation, avoided prison. Eddie, in partnership with Fraser, ran a successful slot machine business off Tottenham Court Road and tried to distance himself from Charlie. In 1966 the Richardson gang was arrested after a fight at Mr Smith’s Nightclub in Catford at which a man was shot and killed. Eddie was shot in the buttocks and thigh, Fraser in the thigh. They were charged with murder and affray. Fraser was found not guilty but in a retrial Eddie was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
Charlie, meanwhile, had sent Johnny Bradbury to South Africa to kill Thomas Waldeck, a business associate. On 29 June 1965 Waldeck was shot dead. Bradbury was arrested and sentenced to hang. He agreed to inform on Charlie in return for clemency. Charlie was arrested on 30 July 1966.
The trial — known as the Torture Trial — began on 4 April 1967. A number of victims of Richardson torture testified to their agonies. Jack Duval had been beaten with a golf clubs, Alfred Blore had to stand against a wall while kitchen knives were thrown at him; Benjamin Coulston had his teeth pulled with pliers (a particular favourite of Mad Frankie), and Lucien Harris had electrodes applied to his genitals. The Richardsons claimed that all the men were lying and there was even some attempt at jury nobbling. The jury eventually found both men guilty at 8.13pm on 7 June. Eddie was sentenced to ten years inside and his brother to 25 years.
Mr Smith’s Nightclub, Catford, London, England
2am Tuesday 8 March 1966
In May 1980 Charlie escaped from an open prison and stayed at large for some time. He was released in July 1984. Eddie was released in 1976. In October 1990 he was sentenced to 25 years in jail for drug smuggling. He was released after serving less than half the sentence.