Sunday, 19 May 2013

Gangs of Britain PT3

Looking at families other than the "Two" in London, let us have a look at a feud between two families that almost resulted in one of them standing on the gallows.  This feud was between the Copleys and the Porritts.  What set this chain of events off, was, quite simply, a woman. Flo Copeland had been the girlfriend of Ed Copley, who had been killed in a high speed chase, and had taken up with George Porritt.  This did not bode with the Copleys, and after a huge row between Copeland and one of the Copley women, things then escalated.  Half a dozen men, armed, laid seige to the Porritt home.  George had a small arsenal of weapons in his home, and fired a shotgun when seeing two men attacking his step-father.  The blast hit and killed his step-father but completely missed the two assailants.

    Under the new terms of The 1957 Homicide Act,  murder by firearm was one of the crimes that fell under the criteria of Capital Murder, and through this, Porritt was charged with Capital Murder, and convicted in July 1961.  The jury did give a recommendation of mercy, but under the Law, he had to be sentenced to death.  Appeals went to the Court of Appeal, with petitions being presented, and indeed, a petition from the Copleys themselves citing that George was goaded into shooting by his step-father.  He was reprieved ONE day before his execution.  But love did not run smoothly, Porritt married another woman whilst in prison.

    The Hennessey Brothers, Micky, Peter & Bernard, from South London, ran a pub, the Dog & Bell, and had their involvement in differing crimes.  Micky had faced arrest over an importation of cocaine along with notorious Police informer Roy Garner and Nikolaus Chrastny.  A substantial amount of cocaine was found by Police at the home of Chrastny.  Bernie had a conviction for conspiracy to rob and Peter had received a substantial sentence for a warehouse burglary.  Peter was involved in the mass brawl at Mr Smith`s club in Catford with members of the Richardson mob.  Peter had a fight with Eddie Richardson, and came off second best, Richard Hart was shot dead, Frank Fraser was wounded, as was Richardson, Harry Rawlins was wounded in the arm.  Fraser was acquitted over the murder of Hart.  Fraser was convicted of affray, as was Richardson in a second trial.  Onthe opposing side, Billy Hayward and henry Botton were convicted.

    Years later, Peter Hennessey was murdered at a boxing tournament held at the Royal Garden Hotel.  This was well attended y the South London Underworld, and trouble broke out when Hennessey decided to stage an extra collection for an invalid wife of a friend.  But a row broke out between Hennessey and Patrick O`Nione, resulting in a huge fight.  Hennessey was stabbed dozens of times, and his alleged killeres, O`Nione and Jim Coleman were acquitted.