Ronnie Knight

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Ronald Knight (born 20 January 1934)[ citation needed ] is a British former nightclub owner and convicted criminal.


Early life

Born in Hoxton in the East End of London, he was responsible for minor infractions of the law when young, whereas his brothers Johnny and James were involved in more significant crimes. [1] Along with Johnny, Knight was friendly with the Kray brothers, but, he says, was not connected with their illegal activities. He also had another brother, David and a sister, Patsy. [2] Knight was sentenced to 15 months in prison in 1961 for dealing in stolen goods. [2]

The two clubs he ran, the Artistes and Repertoire Club (known as the A&R) on Charing Cross Road and its neighbour Tin Pan Alley in Soho, London, were drinking establishments favoured by the criminal underworld. [1] [2]

Later criminal trials

Zomparelli killing

David, Knight's brother, was stabbed to death by Alfredo Zomparelli, who himself was murdered in 1974 after being released following a prison sentence for manslaughter (Zomparelli had pleaded self-defence). After hitman George Bradshaw confessed to his involvement, and alleged Knight had paid him £1,000 for the task, Knight was arrested for the murder of Zomparelli and tried at the Old Bailey in 1980; Knight was acquitted. [1] In his later Memoirs and Confessions (1998), Knight said he had hired a hitman, Nicky Gerard, to carry out the killing [3] (Gerard, later also murdered, was acquitted at the same trial as Knight) in payback for the murder of his brother. [4] Under the double jeopardy rules in force at the time, it meant he could not be tried a second time, [5] although Knight again denied responsibility in 2002. [2]

Connection to 1983 Security Express robbery

Knight spent a decade on the run living in southern Spain's Costa del Sol, [2] after fleeing on the night his brother was arrested in 1984 for a robbery at a Security Express depot the previous year. [6] John Knight was later imprisoned in June 1985 for 22 years for co-arranging the robbery. Their other surviving brother James was among the other gang members and received eight years for handling stolen money. [7] [8] While evading extradition in Spain, Ronnie Knight ran an Indian restaurant named Mumtaz and an eponymous nightclub, RKnights, the scene of violent crimes including a physical attack upon Knight, but by the mid-1990s, he was in financial difficulties. [9]

After returning to Britain in May 1994, [10] Knight was jailed for seven years in January 1995 for handling £300,000 in stolen money from the £6m armed robbery at a Security Express depot in east London in 1983. He said he was not involved in the robbery, and the prosecution counsel Michael Worsley QC agreed the charge should remain on file, but Knight did plead guilty to handling the stolen bank notes. Judge Gerald Gordon said when sentencing Knight: "Clearly, I do not know what precise role you played. But professional robbers such as those involved are not going to hand over the sort of sums you got unless the person to whom they give it is very deeply involved himself". [11]

Personal life

Knight left his first wife Elizabeth White, to marry actress Barbara Windsor in 1964; [2] the couple divorced in 1985. [12] In 1987, Knight married Sue Haylock, his third wife, in Fuengirola. [9]

Selected publications

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  1. 1 2 3 Campbell, Duncan (5 January 2018) [1995]. "Ronnie Knight, the clubland charmer who fell under the spell of fame – archive, 1995". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Ronnie and his readies". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 4 June 2002. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  3. "Police bid to break gangland silence". BBC News. 3 December 2000. Retrieved 6 January 2018.
  4. Summers, Chris (11 December 1999). "Deaths linked to gangland feud". BBC News. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  5. Glinert, Ed (2007). West End Chronicles: 300 Years of Glamour and Excess in the Heart of London. London: Allen Lane. p. 335. ISBN   9780141024646.
  6. "The world's biggest robberies". The Guardian. 28 January 2008. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  7. "A tale of two dodgy Knights". Evening Standard. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  8. Morton, James (2009) [2000]. "East End Gangland". London: Hatchette Digital/Little, Brown. p. 227. ISBN   9780748114047.
  9. 1 2 MacKinnon, Ian (5 January 1995). "End of an era for the Costa del Crime". The Independent. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  10. "Ronnie Knight on 7m pounds armed raid charge". The Independent. 2 May 1994. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  11. MacKinnon, Ian (5 January 1995). "Knight jailed for seven years". The Independent. Retrieved 5 January 2018.
  12. Griffiths, Eleanor Bley (22 September 2017). "How accurate is BBC drama Babs? Everything you need to know about the real Dame Barbara Windsor". Radio Times. Retrieved 5 January 2018.