Frank Mitchell

Frank Mitchell was a giant of a man and as strong as an Ox. He had a long history of violence, and from the age of seventeen, was always in and out of prisons or mental institutions. He had been declared insane on a couple of occasions and spent time in both Rampton and Broadmoor. He wasn't really crazy, he just had the mind of a child and like a child had many a tantrum.

While serving time in Broadmoor, he escaped and broke into an old couple's house and held them captive with an axe he found in their garden shed. He forced them to watch television while he drank tea with the axe neatly balanced across his knees.

'The MAD Axeman' was captured and sent to prison for life.

Frank was sent to Dartmoor where he continued to serve his time.

No one could contol him not even the prison guards. He was left to get on with his sentence without too much hassle from the authorities. He would roam the moors while out on working parties and even visit the local pub with a scew keeping watch for him. As long as he was back in time for the evening role call he was left to his own devices.

He had already served nine years of his life sentence and at the age of 37 had many more ahead of him. The Home Secretary hadn't given him a release date and with no light at the end of the tunnel there was nothing to hope for.

Ronnie and Reggie had already met Mitchell years before in Wandsworth. Frank kept up this relationship and often wrote to Ron telling him of his frustration at not being given a review date for his case.

Many reasons have been given for the following events that took place but two things are certain: the Twins did mastermind Frank Mitchell's escape from Dartmoor and he did disappear shortly afterwards.

The Twins say that their reason for breaking Frank Mitchell out of prison was purely to highlight the fact that he hadn't been given a release date and that if they could keep him out long enough without him getting into trouble then they would have to consider his case.

On the 12th of december 1966 Frank Mitchell escaped from Dartmoor prison.

To say that he escaped leads you to believe that he was held captive which isn't quite true. The security at Broadmoor was so lax that he just walked out to a previously arranged rendezvous point where he was picked up and taken back to London.

Before the escape Reg Kray had visited the prison (in disguise) with the boxer Ted 'Kid' Lewis to show some boxing films. A good time was had by all and he was invited back 'anytime' by the prison Governor.

Frank was picked up by Albert Donoghue, 'Mad' Tommy Smith and Billy Exley.

As the car sped back to London, Frank changed into some clothes provided by Tommy 'The Bear' Brown an ex-boxing champ. They were all elated at how smoothly things had gone, all except Frank Mitchell who didn't show any emotion at all.

It was arranged that he should be taken to Nobby Clark's flat but when they got there he had second thoughts and said that the plans had been changed and that he had to be taken to Lennie Dunn's flat in Canning Town.

The plan was to send letters to the newspapers so that they would publicise Frank's case and force the authorities into doing something. That was Mad Teddy Smith's role and he managed to get Frank's plea into the Times and the Daily Mirror.

While all this was happening Frank was kept locked up in Lennie's flat with members of the Firm taking turns in keeping him company. It was decided that he should have a woman to satisfy his other needs so a hostess was chosen for him from the Winston club. Her name was Lisa Prescott and she hit it off with Frank straight away. She knew who he was and that there was a nationwide hunt to find him but that didn't really matter.

Although Frank had Lisa to keep him occupied he would have very bad mood swings which went from being hyperactive and wanting to play games with everyone to being very depressed and threatening the Firm and the Twins.

Ron had been the main instigator in getting Frank out of prison but never ever visited him while he was on the run and Reg had only been there once to sort out a companion for him.

Frank saw this as disrespect after all the promises they had given him.

He was getting restless being couped up in a little flat after spending many years in relative freedom on the moors. His liberators now taking on the role of gaolers. He and Lisa were guarded night and day by Scotch Jack Dickson and Billy Exley who would report everything back to Ron and Reg.

The Firm were there to stop Lisa from leaving if she didn't get on with Mitchell and to stop Frank from going walk about and getting into trouble.

Frank was making more and more threats saying that if the Twins didn't come to see him then he would go to them. It was clear that they couldn't handle him and that a solution to the problem had to be sought. What is puzzling though is what made the Twins think that they could control Frank when all the top prisons and institutes couldn't.

What options did they have?

If they had told the police where he was then Mitchell would have implicated them in the breakout. If they had just released him then he would have been caught and he probably would still have pointed the finger at Ron and Reg.

It is at this point that the Frank Mitchell story takes two different routes.

Ronnie Kray's version says that Billy Exley and three greeks offered, for a price, to get Mitchell out of the country. They took him away but found that he was too much of a handful and they ended up killing him. He had three bullets fired into him with Exley fireing the fatal shot.

Albert Donoghue's version was more or less the truth. He says that he brought Frank Mitchell out to a waiting van under the pretext of him spending christmas in Kent with Ronnie Kray.

Frank climbed into the back of the van and sat on one of the wheel arches.Sitting opposite was Freddie Foreman and his pal Alfie Gerrard. Before the van had hardly moved Frank had been fatally shot. It took twelve bullets to finish him off. One of the major differences between Donoghue's story and Foreman's is the amount of money paid for the contract. Albert says that he delivered 1000 to Foreman on the Twins behalf. But Fred says that he did it as a favour for 'one of the chaps' and there was no payment involved. This account of the killing has been substantiated by Foreman himself in his book 'Respect'.


© 2012 Vardin Stephen & All rights reserved.