There has long been rivalry over the selling of fast foods and such, which has led to outbreaks of violence and intimidation. From the days of barrow boys selling hot dogs at night-time, to selling ice cream in the capitals, it can be a lucrative business. The ice cream wars centred on having the whip hand, particularly in London, where unscrupulous vendors fleece the tourists. One vendor, described by the media as being "big & tough" stood up to rivals armed with firearms, attempting to intimidate him out of his pitches. Nowadays, ice creams vans are used as fronts for drug selling. But one man rose above his rivals to become the "King of the hot dog business" and made a substantial living from it. This was Gary "Mr Big" Thompson. He started in the business at 12 working from his fathers` hot dog barrow. Years later, he had vans attending events all around the country.
Not everything ran smoothly for him. He was convicted of assault on a business rival in 1978 and fined. In the 1980`s he was imprisoned for a VAT fraud. But it was over the August Bank Holiday weekend in 1990 that Thompson ran into a very serious situation. He had all his vans out over the weekend and on the Monday, he and his assistant, John Weston, were ambushed outside the Thompson home in Oadby, in the Midlands. They had collected all the takings from the vans, which had returned to the depot in Leicester, and drove to Thompson's` home. It was there that they were ambushed by two men, one with a gun. Both Thompson and Weston were shot to death. Later, two men were charged with murder. One was Terence Burke, who claimed that Thompson knew about the robbery and that it was an insurance fraud. Burke claimed there was no intention to kill anybody but Thompson`s large guard dog. The other man charged was Warren Slaney. His alibi was that he was at a party and produced numerous witnesses but he and Burke were convicted.
Warren Slaney has spent twenty two years protesting his innocence and his family have run a campaign to have his conviction overturned. The evidence they present is that witnesses said the assailants were two large and broad men, one with a pony tail, large moustache, dark tan, but Slaney is white, 5`8" tall and weighed just nine and a half stone! He also has had metal plates inserted into his hands which restrict the movements of his digits. There was no forensics to link him to the crime. His home was searched FOUR times but absolutely nothing was found. A witness gave evidence that she falsified a statement to Police. All this was ignored by the Jury, his family say. Burke claimed that Slaney threatened him in jail, whilst on remand but was any proof of this presented? Such a claim could help a jury convict a person. But is Warren Slaney guilty or innocent? I do not know, but the Slaney family keep their campaign running and will not give up. A point to ponder; if the witnesses are right and it was two big broad men, it brings to mind how more than two dozen witnesses who saw the car of murder victim Hilda Murrell being driven by a big, broad shouldered man aged 25 - 40, got it so wrong because the "actual" driver was 5` tall, skinny, aged 16, who could not drive. Funny that!