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Gangster Kray's final journey

LONDON, England -- Thousands of people turned out today in the East End of London to bid farewell to gangland killer Reggie Kray.

Spectators stood six deep along Bethnal Green Road in the East End of London for Kray's funeral procession.

Reggie Kray and twin brother Ronnie reigned over London’s underworld in the 1960s while also mingling with the celebrities and politicians of the day.

The pair were jailed in 1969 for murdering two other hoodlums who crossed their path.

Spectators clambered on to roofs and hung out of office windows to get a glimpse of the cortege, drawn by four plumed horses.

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Hundreds more were gathered outside St Matthew's Church a mile away where the service was being held.

The organiser of the security operation for the funeral had estimated that more than 100,000 people would line the streets as Kray's body made its way to Chingford Cemetery in north-east London.

Many people in the crowd spoke highly of Kray. One 79-year-old former insurance worker, who did not want to be named, said: "The Krays only killed villains and they done all that time.

"You get people today who kill and rape women who are out in no time.”

Outside a coffee shop next door to the funeral directors hung a brightly coloured banner bearing the legend: "Goodbye Reggie. RIP".

Three hundred yards down it turned left into Vallance Road, the street where the Krays lived as children.

Once at the church the polished, dark wood coffin, topped with a floral cross, was being carried by four pall bearers, chosen by Reggie's widow Roberta.

They were boxer Alex Myhill, Kray's solicitor Mark Goldstein, East 17 singer Tony Mortimer and Bradley Allardyce, who knew Kray at Maidstone Prison.

Compassion

Roberta was at Reggie's bedside for the few weeks he enjoyed outside prison before he died.

Reggie was let out of jail on compassionate grounds by British Home Secretary Jack Straw once the diagnosis came through that the 66-year-old killer had inoperable bladder cancer.

Reggie Kray was convicted for stabbing to death Jack "The Hat" McVitie, a heavy-drinking, small-time villain who had "taken liberties" with Kray orders and who also owed them money.

His brother Ronnie was convicted of shooting dead George Cornell, a gangster from the rival south London Richardson firm.

Cornell had allegedly called homosexual Ronnie a "fat poof." If that was not bad enough, in the psychopathic Ronnie's eyes Cornell also had the temerity and the foolhardiness to be drinking in a pub on the Kray turf.

When word came through Cornell was enjoying a beer in the The Blind Beggar on the Mile End Road, east London, it was the last one he supped before Ronnie put a bullet through his temple.

After a lifetime of crime and prison, celebrity and notoriety, the last of the Kray brothers is dead. He will be interred in the family plot at Chingford Mount cemetery where the East End runs into Essex.

From CNN.com Europe



RELATED STORIES:
Reggie Kray obituary
October 1, 2000
What is behind mobster mania?
October 1, 2000

RELATED SITES:
The Kray Twins: Brothers In Arms
Cockney Online - The Kray Twins
The Krays

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