Monday, 23 June 2014

Bertie Smalls - The First Supergrass

Debate rages as to who was the first real supergrass, but the title should go to one Derek Creighton "Bertie" Smalls, a prolific armed robber, who earned the notoriety of informing on all his associates, getting an unprecedented deal of immunity from prosecution, and serve no jail time for his acts of violence.  Smalls, born in 1935, was a career criminal who had at one time been a "ponce" or pimp.  Not the sort of trade to endear you to heavy crime villains.  But he graduated to armed robbery, and was part of the so-called "Wembley Mob" that was hitting banks all over London.  Their biggest haul was a raid on Barclays Bank in Wembley, that netted the gang £138,000.  An informer had given the names of all the gang, to Police, so they skipped the country, with Smalls staying in Spain and keeping tabs on British newspapers, for anything about Police activity.  He returned after things had quietened down but not enough for him to be arrested in Northampton in 1973.

    He was facing a long jail sentence so he asked if he could cut a deal.  The Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Norman Skelhorn, brokered the deal that saw Smalls tell all and give evidence in court, so in return he had complete immunity and faced no charges.  All his associates went down heavy, with some singing, "We`ll meet again, don`t know where, don`t know when".  This deal caused great ructions within the legal field as it was a charter for the worst kind of villains to face no punishment for atrocious crimes.  A compromise was reached with a tariff of just five years, which people like O`Mahoney, Charlie Lowe, Donald Barrett, David Smith, Billy Amies, Maxie Piggott, George Bradshaw, and many others used to escape punishment.

    Smalls` role was that of a frightener, to terrorise the people in the bank into submission.  He admitted he was good at it.  His demeanour was not very good until one of the accused, Danny Allpress, asked Smalls who would be keeping his wife company whilst he was in hiding.  This angered Smalls, who immediately changed his approach, and came alive.  A big mistake by Allpress.  After the trial, Smalls declined offers of plastic surgery and moving abroad, and basically moved around the country.  He was once beaten up in South London, and on another occasion, one of his convicted friends, Bobby King, saw him in a car and so followed him.  At the end of the tail, he decided to let it go, and drove off.  Smalls died at his home in Croydon on 31st January 2008.

    Some people think the first supergrass was Leslie Payne, the financial brains behind the Krays. (and Tony "gang boss" Lambrianou tried to make out that Reg Kray could have been a successful businessman!!!!!!!)  Payne would be a supergrass nowadays, as that comprises of villains informing on the crime they were involved in, not grassing up every single crime and person you can think of.  In a five year period, Police had conducted 175 supergrass deals, after the millenium, but not the sort Smalls, O`Mahoney & company had.