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The BBC's George Eykyn
"Reggie Kray's funeral is expected to be a lavish send-off"
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Sunday, 1 October, 2000, 15:49 GMT 16:49 UK
Reggie Kray dies
Roberta and Reggie Kray
Reggie attended Ronnie's funeral with wife Roberta
Reggie Kray, one of the most notorious gangsters of the 1960s, has died peacefully in his sleep after a battle against bladder cancer.

Kray, 66, died in the honeymoon suite at the Beefeater Town House Hotel in Norwich, Norfolk.

The former gangster was officially freed from prison on 26 August by Home Secretary Jack Straw because of his deteriorating health.

Reggie is a prime example of how you should teach your children not to behave

Friend Dave Courtney
He had been moved to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital from Wayland Prison near Watton, Norfolk, 10 days earlier.

Kray chose the Town House because he wanted to look out over a river after serving 31 years for the murder of fellow gangster Jack "The Hat" McVitie in a flat in Stoke Newington, north London.

He was sentenced to life at the Old Bailey in 1969 with a recommendation that he serve no less than 30 years.

Kray's wife Roberta, 41, who had maintained a bedside vigil since his release, and former gangland friends Freddie Foreman and Jerry Powell were at his side when he died.

His lawyer Mark Goldstein said: "The last couple of weeks have been spent in the hotel.

"He has been very sickly most of the time and has been listening to music.

Barbara Windsor
Windsor: Kray was charming and polite
"The hotel was chosen because it was near a river. It was hoped that he and Mrs Kray could go for walk but because of the illness that never transpired."

Even in prison, Kray had never been able to escape from the constant media attention he was subjected to, Mr Goldstein continued.

"He was an icon of the 20th century."

Kray's twin Ronnie, who died in prison five years ago, had been jailed for life for murdering George Cornell.

Their elder brother Charlie died in April this year, aged 73.

Great loss

Reggie and Ronnie controlled the most notorious criminal gang ever seen in Britain during the 1950s and 1960s and had a mafia-style grip on the East End of London.

Barbara Windsor, who was friends with both Charlie and Reggie Kray, said Reggie's death was a great loss.

The EastEnders actress described him as a "charming and polite" man who she had kept in contact with through phone calls and letters after they met through the showbusiness scene.

People knocked me for talking about him, but you can only speak as you find

Barbara Windsor
"Over the years, I just kept in touch with him. We would have a chat. He usually wanted me to do something for charity for him," she said.

Ms Windsor also said she had supported the campaign for Kray's release.

"I never stood there with banners, but I think if somebody gets 30 years for murder it should be across the board," she said.

"People knocked me for talking about him, but you can only speak as you find," Ms Windsor concluded.

Dave Courtney, a close friend of Kray's from South London, said: "Reggie is a prime example of how you should teach your children not to behave."

He said Reggie's widow Roberta was "the best thing that ever happened to him".

"She's an absolute diamond. Most people think someone who marries a prisoner must have something wrong, but there's nothing wrong with her."

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