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  Illustration: Sherry Tolputt
parents.“We was able (sic) to buy the mansion and the cottage for 11-grand” Ronnie told Mr McGibbon. “It would be worth a million pound today. We had to have it all decorated and redone.”
They fantasised about retiring there to live like squires, and spend their time buying antiques and drinking gin and tonic in The Crown and The Red Lion. Local children apparently enjoyed rides on the duo’s pet donkey, Figaro. Some villagers recognised them from photographs in the newspapers, but Ronnie claimed it made no difference. “They still liked us. We got on well with them,” he said.
Charlie commented: “For two young men with a couple of corpses on their consciences, they were remarkably
relaxed.” In fact, the only offence the twins felt the authorities would be able to pin on them was tax evasion.
In May 1968 the twins spent their last weekend of freedom socialising with a boyhood friend from Hadleigh in The Crown. After that, police dug up the garden of The Brooks and also drained the moat at Gedding Hall in fruitless searches for McVitie’s body.
After the longest criminal trial in history in 1969, a jury found the twins guilty of murder and they were imprisoned for life, the judge ordering that they serve a minimum of 30 years before being considered for parole. Charlie got 10 years for the part he played in The Firm.
Ronnie, having been declared insane,
died in 1995 after suffering a heart attack in Broadmoor. Reggie followed him in 2000 after being freed from Wayland Prison in Norfolk due to terminal cancer. Charlie had died a few months earlier. He was back in prison serving 12 years for drug smuggling.
All these years later, the public remains both fascinated and repelled by their transgressions. What that says about the nation’s psyche is a whole other subject.
n Robin McGibbon’s biographies and talking book, Me and My Brothers, Krays: Their Life behind Bars and The Kray Tapes: The Voices of Ronnie, Reggie and Charlie are available online and from bookshops.
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