Chris Lambrianouy, a former accomplice of Kray, has set up a charity to help kids stay away from crime
A former Kray accomplice and Britain’s one-time most wanted armed robber have joined forces with an ex-detective to lure youngsters away from crime.
Chris Lambrianou, one of Ronnie and Reggie Kray’s most feared gang members, teams up with Terry Ellis, who has spent nearly nine years in prison after a wave of robberies of millions, and retired Metropolitan Police officer Jon Wedger.
All three help run Changing Lives, a charity that aims to distract young people from crime by guiding them and working with them to find work.
So far, the project has helped a number of former criminals, including teenagers involved in knife gangs, a hardened bank robber and a prolific prostitute.
The charity is based in the Pillar of Fire Ministries in Dagenham, Essex, a stone’s throw from the East End mansion that Lambrianou de Krays helped run with an iron fist.
In his heyday of the sixties, he regularly gave beatings on behalf of the twins and famously helped clean up the murder of Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie after being stabbed to death by Reggie Kray.
Chris Lambrianou commanded fear and respect in the most brutal and bloodiest of worlds as an accomplice to Reggie and Ronnie Kray (above)
Lambrianou (left) was convicted of his part in the murder of Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie and was imprisoned for 15 years. In prison, he says he had a vision that changed his life. Pictured: With Ronnie Biggs (in the wheelchair) at the wake for Bruce Reynolds, the mastermind of the Great Train Robbery
Dave Cortney (left) and Chris Lambrianou attend the funeral of Bruce Reynolds, mastermind behind the Great Train Robbery
He had to pull socks on his hands to mop up McVitie’s blood and then with his brother, Tony Lambrianou, drove the body south of the Thames and left in a car outside a church. The pair eventually ended up in prison for their part in the infamous gangland murder in 1967.
More than 50 years later, Lambrianou, still a bear-like figure at the age of 82, is now trying to stop knife crime in the inner cities.
He helped rehabilitate the former by encouraging criminals to leave gangs and go to boxing gym, and help them find work.
He said: ‘These children carry knives because they are usually scared, afraid of being stabbed if they don’t have a knife.
But the longer they carry that knife – the more likely they are to use it – destroying not only the victim’s life and their family, but their own as well.
‘We reach out to these young people and try to help them get away from people who look like they want to take them under their wing, but in reality treat them like a commodity and nothing more.
‘We have so far taken countless young people off the streets and helped them to the gym, where they can use their energy in a positive through boxing.’
Lambrianou, who now lives in leafy Oxfordshire, added: ‘Myself and my brother – and others – were in prison for a moment of madness.
“We weren’t using the knife that killed Jack or even were there when he was killed, but we got sucked in and crime has a habit of doing that to people.
‘I saw what it did to my old father, who had to go all over the country to see me in prison and then my brother.
“Your family serves with you in every minute, it corrupts your soul, and if we can stop a 12-year-old from picking up a knife and going out with the intention of harming someone – then we’ve done well.”
Ellis, now 56, has spent a quarter of his life behind bars after being convicted of a £ 5 million robbery of a technology company in King’s Cross, London, looting 100 rooms and handcuffing all staff.
Lambrianou with retired Metropolitan Police officer Jon Wedger
He and an accomplice were disguised as police officers, a trick they regularly performed during robberies.
Now, after being attacked with child killers and rapists, he also campaigns against violence and helps ex-offenders gain access to housing when they leave prison, as well as work.
He said, ‘I’ve spent half my adult life in prison and I’ve seen how it can be a revolving door for people who can’t seem to escape this crime life.
‘What we teach perpetrators who come out of the prison system is that they don’t have to rely on those instincts to go out and rob people, or sell drugs, etc.
By helping them find a place to live when they get out of the prison system, the foundation is there to find work and earn money in an honest way.
“There’s a chance when people get out of prison – they’re more than just their past – it’s about realizing it.”
Former DC Wedger, meanwhile, was part of a team of detectives who brought Tracey Connelly to trial for the torture and murder of her toddler son Peter, Baby P, in 2007.
More recently, he was involved in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (ICCSA).
He said: “During my police career, I never thought I would partner with some of the country’s most notorious former criminals, but as the charity’s name suggests, we have changed lives.
‘We not only help ex-criminals turn their fortunes, but also victims of abuse, victims of human trafficking and so on.
‘We help them get back into society, escape gang crimes, prostitution / exploitation and hopefully a job. We have some excellent testimonials and I’m really proud of that. ‘
One of the project’s success stories is Anthony Roberts, 35, who made headlines in 2007 when he was jailed for robbing guards delivering cash to North London banks while disguised in clothing traditionally worn by Muslim women he stole from Regents Park Mosque.
When he was 22 years old, Roberts was sentenced to seven years in prison after admitting three charges of theft at Kingston Crown Court.
He was helped by Changing Lives and now helps the charity save others like him by helping ex-offenders seek advice.
Lambrianou (far right) is now helping Afghanistan veterans struggling to adjust to civilian life after witnessing the horrors of war. Pictured: Lambrianou shakes hands with guests including Eddie Richardson (center, man’s arm) at Mad Frankie Fraser’s funeral
He said, “Everyone needs someone to believe in them and lend them a hand at some point in life, and it’s no different for perpetrators leaving prison or youths trying to escape gangs.
Changing Lives has people from all walks of life, from different backgrounds, those who have made the same mistakes I have and others who have fought to get people on the right path all their lives.
“The charity helps people to get a grip on their past and teaches them what they can do to make life better.”
Another former criminal, the charity rescued his former prostitute Isibeal Rafela, who was trafficked to Britain from her native Nigeria.
She added, “If it wasn’t for people like Chris, Terry and Jon, I would still be out on the street and endanger myself. They change life. ‘