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The 78-year-old – a heavy smoker – had suffered from emphysema for some years but is understood to have died from blood poisoning following a gall bladder complaint. His sister Elaine and some of his children were by his bedside.
Richardson was at one time the most feared criminal in the capital. He developed an empire in South London in the 1950s and 1960s which embraced fraud, gambling, protection rackets – and generated terror through torture, claims which he later denied.
He was arrested on the day England won the World Cup in 1966. His trial heard he was alleged to have used iron bars, pliers and electrodes on anyone who crossed him.
The Camberwell-born crime lord was found guilty of fraud, extortion, assault and grievous bodily harm, and was jailed for 25 years.
Together with his brother Eddie, he was as infamous as Ronnie and Reggie Kray and ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser.
Known as the ‘Torture Gang’, their trademark was pinning victims to the floor with six-inch nails and removing their fingers and toes with bolt cutters.
The Richardson Gang were also known for torturing enemies at their scrap metal yard by attaching electrodes to their nipples and genitals and delivering electric shocks, having already placed them in baths of water to make the electricity more potent.
The gang would frequently carry out mock trials for victims, before administering punishments including whippings, cigarette burning and teeth being pulled out by gang member 'Mad' Frankie Fraser.
They were then made to clean up their own blood.
They also set up bogus firms, acquiring goods on credit and selling the stock before making off with the cash.
Born into a war-torn London, Charlie was two years older than his brother Eddie and six years older than their youngest sibling, Alan.
He and Eddie, turned to a life of crime when the departure of their father left their family penniless.
Eddie Richardson last night confirmed his brother died yesterday morning in a London hospital.
He said: ‘I haven’t spoken to him in years so I am not the best person to speak to about his death. But he will be missed by his six children.
‘I can’t say he was a good father, but he was a father. He leaves a big family behind him.
‘Members of his family were with him in hospital. I’m sure they will be upset and disappointed, losing a dad is difficult.
‘I lost count of how many grandchildren he had.
‘It came as a surprise to some, but not to me. He had been ill for years and has suffered with breathing problems – emphysema – for a long time due to smoking.’
In 2004 his life story was told in a film starring former pop star Luke Goss.
Richardson always insisted the torture stories were just a myth and were simply used to help convict his gang.
He added: ‘If you can find anyone who says they got nailed to the floor by us or got their toes cut off I will give you £10,000 for each one.
'We were fitted up. I never touched a single toe. I did 18 years for nothing.’
He escaped from an open prison in 1980 and fled to France.
During attempts to publicise his requests for freedom, Richardson even dressed as Santa Claus and gave presents to children.
He was later re-arrested and returned to jail, before being allowed out again on day release in 1984.
Richardson first met the Krays in prison, and a feud developed between the two sets of siblings in 1965.
The two pairs had several run-ins over the years and their rivalry nearly spilled over into full-blown war in the late 1960s.
VIDEO – TRAILER OF TRUE STORY OF 1960’S GANGSTER CHARLIE RICHARDSON
19 September 2012:
He was not guilty of the crime he was convicted and the conviction and sentence was politically motivated.
Charlie was a great person and a true friend. I am only sorry that in the past six years I was not able to have his conviction overturned but again political forces influenced everything. Charlie though never gave up the fight and neither will his family or I no matter how long it takes.
Charlie participated in a recent documentary for SKY and it is clear in that documentary that his conviction had elements of political dark forces spilling all over it. We will miss him and for my part it was and remains an honour to be his friend. RIP Charlie!
DOCUMENTARY ON SKY NEWS - 9 SEPTEMBER 2012
Notorious Gangland Boss Bids To Clear Name
Torture gang boss Charlie Richardson is trying to have his conviction overturned - a quarter of a century after finishing his jail sentence.
He says a key witness lied and the Judge was biased because he knew one of his fellow defendants and the jury foreman.
Mr Richardson, 72, is asking for an appeal hearing on the basis that his conviction was unsafe.
He told me: "I know it's all a long time ago, but there are things that were wrong, legally, and they deserve to be examined.
"Some witnesses exaggerated or made up evidence in return for the police turning a blind eye to their own crimes."
Mr Richardson was jailed for 25 years in 1967 after the Old Bailey jury heard lurid evidence from men who fell out with Charlie and his brother Eddie and were summoned to their scrap metal yard in South London.
A key prosecution witness was travel agent Lucian Harris, who said he was tortured for information after his partner disappeared owing the Richardson’s money.
He told me: "They had one of those little dynamo contraptions that garages use for testing spark plugs.
"And they bunged the two electrodes on various parts of your body and then turned the handle and, of course, it produces tremendous muscle reactions. I fell off the chair."
But Mr Richardson's lawyer, Giovanni di Stefano, has unearthed a statement allegedly made recently by Mr Harris, retracting his damning trial evidence.
In the statement, Mr Harris says he wasn't tortured, simply roughed up, and was persuaded by a senior detective to lie in court in return for help in avoiding a customs investigation into his own business.
In a file being considered by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the lawyer also argues that the trial Judge had once clashed with another defendant, "Mad" Frankie Fraser, and was biased against all those in the dock.
The Judge also knew the father of the Jury foreman and that alone should have prompted him to let another Judge hear the case, according to Mr di Stefano.
He said: "There is no time bar on appeals when the interests of justice outweigh unfair trials, no matter how historic or infamous the defendants."
Video: Gang Leader Wants To Appeal Conviction
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