Ronald Joseph Hart was supposedly a first cousin of the twins on their mother's side. He was a key member of The Firm towards the late 1960s despite being the youngest member.
He turned Queen's Evidence at the Old Bailey Kray trial in 1969 when the twins attempted to get him to stand for Jack McVitie's murder.
Hart was born in Bethnal Green in 1942 to Thomas Joseph Hart and Mary Ann Burling (who married in Stepney in 1937). During the early 1960s Hart and been attempting to join The Firm. After being released from prison, he contacted the twins for financial reasons and guidance. Reggie in a later book recalled that:
"Hart... came knocking on the door at Vallance Road one day and said, ‘Hello, I’m your cousin. I want to join your gang.’ We’d never met him before but our checks showed he seemed to be reliable – another mistake – and so we took him on. He was our cousin but he had the habit of calling us both ‘uncle’."
Ronnie and his brother Terry Hart were related to the Krays through the Lee Family. Their aunt Henrietta Margaret Hart, married Joey Lee, who was the Kray's great uncle. He had also worked as a sea merchant when he was younger.
Allegedly "a young man with boyish good looks who admired the twins’ way of life", Hart joined the firm towards the latter years of its lifespan, and it is presumed the twins accepted him more likely due to the family relation. By the time he met the twins, he was already a pimp and small-time criminal. He was at the centre of the whole Kray operations, including the murder of George Cornell. He can be seen in various photographs of The Firm during their height in the 1960s, in nightclubs and various other events.
It was alleged that on the night in 1967 that Jack McVitie was murdered at 97 Evering Road, he was held in a bearhug by the twins' cousin, Ronnie Hart, and Reggie Kray was handed a carving knife. According to Ronnie Hart (the Kray's cousin), Reggie stabbed his stomach and his chest and finished by impaling him through the throat on to the floor. Reggie claimed during the trial in 1969 that it was Hart who did the stabbing.
Arrest and conviction
Eventually, a Scotland Yard conference decided to arrest the Krays on the evidence already collected, in the hope that other witnesses would be forthcoming once the Krays were in custody. On 8 May 1968, the Krays and 15 other members of the Firm were arrested. Exceptional circumstances were put in place so as to stop any possible co-operation against any of the accused. Nipper Read then secretly interviewed each of the defendants and offered each member of the Firm one chance to come onto the side of law and order. Whilst in prison, the Krays had come up with a plan, which included Scotch Jack Dickson to confess to the murder of Cornell, Ronnie Hart to take the McVitie and Albert Donoghue to stand for Mitchell.
Ronnie Hart had initially not been arrested and was not a name initially sought after by the police. With Donoghue's testimony in August 1968, Ronnie Hart was the only person involved in the McVitie murder who had not been caught. Hart knew that the police were searching for him and at 4.30 a.m. on 31st August, he called Tintagel House and handed himself in. Offering the same terms as the others arrested, Hart then told Read everything that had happened during McVitie's murder, although he did not know anything about what happened to the body. This was the first time that the police knew exactly who was involved and offered them a solid case to prosecute the twins for McVitie's murder.
After being asked by the twins to stand for Jack McVitie's murder, Hart then told Nipper Read everything that had happened, although he was not aware of what happened to the body. This statement then allowed the police to establish the key events that led up to the murder and subsequently allowed them a strong position to prosecute the twins.
It is known that Harry Hopwood and Ronnie Hart disposed of the gun and the knife in the Regent's Canal. The gun has since been found and is in a museum. A failed attempt was also made to locate the carving knife from the river bed but nothing was found. He turned Queen’s Evidence in court and produced the longest account of the McVitie affair. His statement was written on the 16th October 1968. He received a three-year prison sentence for a garage hold up.
He subsequently disappeared and despite assistance from Scotland Yard's missing person bureau, it is unknown what happened to him. Hart allegedly attempted suicide but then emigrated to Perth, Australia to escape possible vengeance attacks by Kray sympathisers and was put on police protection.
It is possible he is still alive but no information has ever been released (although he allegedly passed away from cancer in 2013 whilst living in Perth, Australia).
He was portrayed by Chris Mason in Legend (2015).
- Bennett, John. Krayology (2015). Mango Books.
|People associated with The Krays|
|Kray Family||Ronnie • Reggie • Charlie • Violet • Charles|
|Shea Family||Frances • Frank • Elsie • Frank Sr.|
|Lee Family||Cannonball Lee • Grandma Lee • Aunt Rose • Aunt May • Uncle John|
|The Firm||Albert Donoghue • Ian Barrie • Leslie Payne • Big Pat • Ronnie Bender • Ronnie Hart • Teddy Smith • Jack Dickson • The Bear • Chris Lambrianou • Tony Lambrianou • Connie Whitehead|
|The Richardsons||Charlie Richardson • Eddie Richardson • George Cornell • Mad Frankie Fraser • Roy Hall • Jimmy Moody • Barry Harris • Albert Longman • Tommy Clark|
|Gangsters & Criminals||Freddie Foreman • Jack Spot • Billy Hill • Bert Rossi • Albert Dimes • Eric Mason • Johnny Squibb • Ginger Marks • Leslie Holt|
|Civilians||The Barmaid • Blonde Carol • Maureen Flanagan • Nipper Read • Lord Boothby • John Pearson • David Bailey|
|Victims||George Cornell • Frank Mitchell • Jack the Hat|