Considered the hardest man in London, Jimmy Moody was heavily involved in numerous criminal enterprises beginning as an enforcer for the Richardson Gang, whilst also working on behalf of their bitter rivals the Kray Twins. He was eventually placed at the top of Scotland Yard's Most Wanted List after helping an IRA member escape from prison in 1980. Moody then moved to Ireland and became involved with the Provisional IRA, allegedly committing murders on behalf of the terror group. He is also suspected of involvement in numerous unsolved murders and upon his returned to London in the late 1980's he had no shortage of enemies. His past would eventually catch up with him in June 1993, when he was shot dead by a lone gunman at the Royal Hotel in Hackney.
James Alfred Moody was born at Looe, Cornwall, England on 27 February 1941. His mother, Rosina Hart was a wartime evacuee from Camberwell in London and his father fought and died during World War II when his ship was sunk by a torpedo from a German U-Boat. One of three children, Moody grew up in London and by the mid-1950's during his teen-aged years, control over London's criminal underworld underwent a sudden change, when leadership was assumed by men like Jack "Spot" Comer and William "Billy" Hill.
Together they conducted the smuggling, protection rackets and extreme violence that came with enforcing their hold over the West End. Spot and Hill were involved in numerous criminal activities, and were suspected of planning the 1952 Eastcastle St. postal van robbery, which netted £287,000 and a bullion heist in 1954 which totalled another £40,000. Hill had become something of a mentor to two young up and coming criminals, the twins Reggie and Ronnie Kray, who were just beginning their criminal activities. However, by 1956 the working relationship between Spot and Hill had deteriorated and eventually ended with an attack on Spot and his wife by Hill's body guard Frankie Fraser.
Jack "Spot" Comer
Spot Comer retired after this, but Hill continued to conduct his criminal affairs into the 1960's, overseeing a gambling con known as the "Big Edge" at the Clermont Club. The Club, located at 44 Berkelely Square, was the first London Casino opened by John Aspinall who used the premises to fleece unsuspecting gamblers, and some of Britain's wealthiest people out of millions of pounds. After two years, the operation was closed down and by this time the Kray Twins were operating their own lucrative nightclubs and protection rackets. Around this time Moody began working as an enforcer for the Krays rivals, the Richardson Gang who controlled South London.
Known as the "Torture Gang" because of their proclivity for pulling teeth with pliers, brothers Charlie and Eddie Richardson invested in the scrap metal business in Camberwell, but also ran fruit machines, extortion, illegal gambling and prostitution and had an infamous reputation as London's most sadistic gangsters. The Krays and Richardsons formed an uneasy alliance along with a third group, the Nashes from Islington who were described as "the wickedest brothers in England". This relatively short period of peace allowed Moody to perform freelance work for the Krays, and he soon developed his own fearsome reputation, being considered "the hardest man in London" by his peers. Moody had made a home for himself in Dulwich with his wife Valerie who gave him a son in 1966 and four years later a daughter, who would be the mother of his granddaughter.
This peace was soon shattered in March 1966 when an altercation at one of the Richardson's club, Mr. Smith's resulted in the death of Richard Hart, a Kray associate. Moody was present that evening and rescued Eddie Richardson who was wounded during the violence that night, bundling him into his Jaguar and driving him to safety. In the aftermath several members of the Richardsons were picked up by police, and although Moody was found not guilty of affray, he was now involved the ongoing feud between the Kray and Richardson brothers.
Two nights later, Ronnie Kray shot dead Richardson enforcer George Cornell, because had previously referred to the Kray Twin as a "fat poof". Eventually the leaders of both gangs would fall. By July 1966, Charlie Richardson was arrested for allegations of torture and Eddie was soon picked up for affray and sentenced to five years. At the subsequent Torture Trial, the brothers would be found guilty and Eddie had ten years added to his sentence, whilst Charlie was handed a 25 year sentence. The Kray Twins would also be arrested several years later on 8 May 1968, and Ronnie was charged with the murder of Cornell and Reggie for the murder of another criminal, Jack "the Hat" McVitie.
Moody had survived the fall of both gangs, however he would also be imprisoned, not for his links to organised crime but for the murder of a young merchant seaman. In 1968 Moody and his older brother Richard became involved in an altercation with William Day, a navy steward. After words had been exchanged, Day was later found in the garden of his house with head injuries, from which he later died. Moody and his brother were found guilty of manslaughter and both men received six year sentences. When he was released in 1972, the criminal underworld had once again undergone a dramatic change and he soon joined a group of criminals led by Charlie "Chopper" Knight, who targeted armoured security vehicles.
The armed robbers raided the delivery vans, with Moody wielding a chainsaw to cut large holes in the sides to steal the cash, resulting in the media dubbing the raiders, the "Chainsaw Gang". This moniker changed when police began to notice the gang always struck on Thursdays, which was the payroll delivery day and soon the newspapers were referring to the group as the "Thursday Gang". During one raid in the Blackwall Tunnel in 1978, Moody disguised himself as a policeman and stopped the security van before confiscating the car keys of several other motorists in the tunnel to prevent them from raising the alarm. The gang stole around 2 million and were decades most successful robbers before Moody was caught in 1979. He was suspected by police of involvement in three armed robberies which netted the gang £930,000, and sent on remand to Brixton Prison to await trial.
During his time at Brixton, Moody soon struck up a friendship with his cell mate, Gerard Tuite, who was a member of the Provisional IRA. Together they formulated a plan of escape and on 16 December 1980, Moody, Tuite and another prisoner, robber Stan Thompson tunnelled their way through the walls of their cells in the top security wing and then dropped down into the yard. The trio used builders planks and scaffolding to scale the 15 foot perimeter wall and made their escape.
This came at a time when imprisoned IRA members were holding hunger strikes and Tuite's escape was a cause for celebration which boosted the morale of the terror organisation, who allegedly paid Moody £10,000 for his involvement. Moody was immediately placed at the top of Scotland Yard's Most Wanted list and police issued 16,500 wanted posters for Tuite, who was eventually caught on 4 March 1982. Moody however managed to elude capture, fleeing to Northern Ireland where it was believed he began working for the Provisional IRA in Belfast, and although little is known about his activities, he is suspected of committing contract killings on their behalf.
Nothing more was known about the whereabouts of Jimmy Moody until his murder in 1993, after 13 years on the run. Unbeknown to the police, 52-year-old Moody had been living in a council flat on Wadeson Street in Hackney, east London since his return from Ireland in the late 1980's. On 1 June 1993, he went to his local pub, the Royal Hotel at around 7:30pm and was at the bar drinking most of the evening. He was known by locals of the area as "Mick the Irishman" and kept mainly to himself, revealing little of his past to anyone. By 10:00pm there were only four occupants in the bar, Moody, the landlord Joe Anderson and a young couple.
At around this time a stolen white Ford Fiesta pulled into the car park and a man, who was later described by witnesses as being in his 30's or 40's, with blonde or greying shoulder length hair and wearing a light brown jacket, made his way into the pub and ordered a drink at the bar. He then turned to Moody, who was still seated, and pulled out a Webley 38. revolver and shot him four times. The man then attempted to calmly escape the pub from another exit but found other patrons arriving and so left the way he entered, and drove off. Detectives believed the murder bore all the hallmarks of a gangland execution, and Moody had no shortage of enemies. Witnesses described how the killer had swore at Moody before he pulled the trigger, which seemed to indicate a more personal motive.
It was only after his death that Moody would be linked to numerous unsolved murders committed during his years on the run. He was long suspected in the murders of Peter and Gwenda Dixon, a couple who were walking along the Pembrokeshire coast and were found dead on 29 June 1989. Many believed the Dixon's had inadvertently stubled upon a Provisional IRA weapons cache and were killed to ensure their silence. However, the murders were later found to be committed by Pembrokeshire serial killer and rapist John Cooper, who was found guilty of their deaths in May 2011. Moody has also been linked to the 1989 murders of a couple at Epping Forest. On the evening of Friday, 22 December 1989, the bodies of 39-year-old Terry Gooderham and his 32-year-old girlfriend Maxine Arnold were found in Gooderham's Mercedes which was parked at the well-known courting spot, they had both been shot to death.
On the evening of the murders, the couple had left their Walthamstow flat, presumably with the intention of returning that same night because they left the lights on, whilst Arnold left her handbag and Gooderham his wallet and watch. Investigators believe the couple had either been set-up to meet a contract killer or were abducted from the home they shared and driven by the killer to Epping Forest, then executed. When police looked into Gooderham private life they found the accountant and auditor for pubs and wine bars across London, spent half his time with Arnold, and the rest with another blonde with whom he was having an affair. There were various motives and theories on why the couple were killed, with some believing Gooderham was murdered because of an ongoing gangland fued and was somehow involved in criminal activity, and that Arnold was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Moody was suspected of involvement in the death of Nick Whiting, who's body was discovered in July 1990. Whiting was a former British champion saloon car driver who owned his own car dealership, the All Car Equipe in Wrotham, Kent. On 8 June 1990, he vanished after a raid on his showroom, in which five of his prized cars, worth a total of £100,000, were stolen. Over the course of several days, the vehicles were all recovered, but there was no sign of the company's millionaire boss Whiting. When police looked into his business dealings, they found he was a close associate of Kenneth Noye, one of the men suspected of involvement in the 1983 Brinks Mat Heist, during which thieves planned to steal £3.2 million from a warehouse at the Heathrow International Trading Estate, but came away with over £26 million in gold bullion, diamonds and cash.
On 2 July, police received an anonymous tip-off that led to the discovery of Whiting's body, which had been buried in a shallow grave on Rainham Marshes in Essex. He had been stabbed nine times and shot twice in the head and detectives suspected he had been abducted from his workplace, beaten, bound, gagged and placed in the boot of a car from where he was later frog-marched for two miles before being executed. It was strongly believed Whiting had been murdered because he was suspected of being a police informant, and was one of a number of men associated with the Brinks Mat Heist who would be found dead in the years after the robbery.
On Sunday, 24 March 1991 at around 10:30pm, 44-year-old Peter Rasini was returning to his home at River Avenue in Palmer's Green when he was ambused on his doorstep and shot four times. His daughter found his body and called the emergency services, but he was alread dead. A man was seen running down River Avenue towards Oak Tree Road immediately after the shooting, and he was described by witnesses as between 40-50 years old, 6ft tall, heavily built and wearing a bomber jacket and hard heeled shoes. The man was un-used to running as he was panting as he approached a waiting van, which then sped off. For several evenings prior to the murder of Rasini, a different van was seen by witnesses parked on Oak Tree Road, which was close to where Rasini operated as an antiques dealer in Paddington, not far from Marble Arch. Moody was considered a prime suspect in Rasini's death, the motive for which is still unclear.
Arnold and Gooderham
In the aftermath of the arrest and imprisonment of the Kray Twins, several criminal organisations moved to fill the vacuum left by the downfall of their Firm. Two of those organisations were the Brindle Family and the Arif brothers, who were of Turkish descent and feared through-out London. A gangland feud soon erupted between the two families which would see the arrest or deaths of most of their leaders. 23-year-old David Brindle was shot and killed in August 1991 at the Bell Public House in Walworth, along with an innocent customer. Two men were seen committing the crime by witnesses, who reported one of the men shouted, "This is for Abbi", before they opened fire.
Detectives believe this attack was in retaliation for the death of 30-year-old Ahmed "Abbi" Abdullah, a cousin of Dogan Arif, who was murdered in a betting shop at Walworth, South London, in March 1991. Tony Brindle was arrested for the crime, but was later cleared of involvement along with his brother Patrick. Moody is believed to have been one of the two men responsible for the murder of the youngest member of the Brindle family. Just as these murders were to remain unsolved, so would the murder of Moody himself with the motive and killer still a mystery.
Written by Nucleus
Written by Nucleus