Tuesday, December 14th, 1999
Justice Takes A Step Back Into The Wicked Past
Just when the evidence purported to show that senior members of the judiciary had, in the main, left behind the ostrich image of thrusting their heads in the sand, Her Honour Judge Anne Goddard QC at the Old Bailey stepped back into the past and destroyed the respected improvements made by her colleagues.
On Friday the 10th of December Judge Goddard sentenced 21-years-old Charlie Rumbol of South London to seven years imprisonment for the alleged manslaughter of love rival, Robert Radford whose family live in South London. I do not know the full facts of the case and am only able to comment on the evidence of which I am aware.
Sadly Robert died after receiving one punch. By any stretch of the imagination this cannot be anything other than a terrible accident.
Charlie Rumbol is a very promising boxer with championship title potential. Her Honour Judge Goddard QC made an implied reference probably taken from the book of 'Old WivesTales' in that that the punch by boxer Charlie, that was accepted by the jury as the cause of the death of Robert, was a special lethal weapon. Therefore, Her Honour decided this required severe punishment.
Her Honour Judge Goddard QC said when sentencing Charlie, "You are a professional boxer. Your fist was your weapon and Robert Radford died. His parents have suffered unspeakable grief. This did not happen in the heat of the moment and you have not shown any remorse by acknowledging your guilt."
How wrong is it possible for an Old Bailey Judge to be? I learnt the answer to this question when Judge Frederick Lawton QC allowed fictional events to be presented as fact in the
in the infamous media labelled 'Torture Trial' at the Old Bailey which saw Charlie Richardson sentenced to 25 years and I received ten years. Judge Lawton's outrageous behaviour was not due to naivete because he was away far from being naïve. He had personal and career reasons for his outrageous behaviour.
Fortunately, these motives played no part in the misjudgment of Her Honour Judge Goddard QC. The main cause of her failure to deliver acceptable justice would appear to be artless ignorance.
Her implied view that boxers have instilled in them in the boxing gymnasium some special magical ingredient that gifts them with superhuman punching power is absolute rubbish. Punching power is something a person has or does not have. It cannot be manufactured.
The most knowledgeable boxing coaches in history have never been able to make a non-puncher become a KO specialist and never will be able to do so. The very best a good coach may be able to do is to maximise the punch of a boxer by coaching the boxer to throw punches from positions that ensure the best effect is achieved. For instance if you throw a punch with your feet in flight and not anchored to the floor the power is seriously decimated. If you hit an opponent with an open leather glove the effect is minimal but it may cause cuts.
However, this is commonsense and not special boxing knowledge. That which boxers are taught is to throw combination punches and his boxing coach would have taught this to Charlie Rumbol.
If a Formula One motor driver killed a person with a moving car would the killing deserve extra punishment due to his more scientific driving ability? The answer in the positive is not necessarily true. So why should a boxer be misjudged to have special punching power in his fist that is greater than that of any other male person and be given additional punishment by a Judge, who should know better, in a criminal court?
In my experience a boxer is not always the winner in a street fight.
Charlie Rumbol pleaded not guilty and strenuously denied the charge but if the jury was right and he was the person who hit Robert Radford then it is reasonable to presume he was an angry young man. Anger does not allow rational thinking and any good advice that may have been given by the punch thrower by a boxing coach probably played little or no part when he threw the fateful punch.
The crucial factor is that the person who hit young Robert Radford threw just ONE PUNCH.
Had he been intent on causing serious injury to Robert then he would have thrown combination punches and, as is usual in street fights, he would have probably used his feet or a weapon.
The presumptions of which we are aware of Judge Goddard QC are seriously flawed because to plead not guilty does not in itself indicate lack of remorse and all the indications point to the conduct of the person responsible for the death of Robert Radford as being reaction behaviour by an angry young man
Robert was not beaten up. He was hit with just ONE punch and then tragic conditions took over and very sadly the young man died. In these circumstances how is it possible to view it as just a seven years sentence that will seriously affect, and may even destroy, the chosen professional career of Charlie Rumbol, and for which he has a God given talent?
It is an irresponsible and a bad judgement for which Judge Anne Goddard QC should reflect upon and be ashamed. No doubt in the past she has, and in the near future will do so again, pass a far less severe sentence on a mugger who deliberately beats up an old person that will probably ruin and shorten the life of this elderly person.
Of course there has to be sympathy for the Radford family because the loss of their son is a tragedy. In no way do I wish to intrude on their grief, however, with the utmost respect, I would implore them to dig deep and face up to the fact that ruining the life of another young man will not bring back their beloved son. Nor should it be considered a consolation for their very sad loss to see Charlie Rumbol unjustly punished.
It may take special people to forgive the person responsible for this tragic accident and I am sure it will not be easy but when the anger has subsided I hope the Radford family will reconsider the circumstances and be those special people.
Had it been Robert Radford that had thrown the ill-fated punch then I would have written exactly the same condemnation of the sentence and, if necessary, made the same appeal to the Rumbol family. Happenings occur to people in their lifetime that cause terrible loss and emotional devastation, which defy balanced explanation. Very unfortunately the tragedy that befell Robert Radford is an instance of this human ravage.
Presumably Charlie Rumbol will appeal. There is no doubt that the Appeal Court is made up of wiser heads than that of Judge Anne Goddard QC. For the sake of everyone involved in this dreadful tragedy I hope their wisdom prevails and they put to right this draconian punishment.
Ross Benson is a former high profile gossip columnist and society columnist, and I would be the first to admit that I am, gladly, no match for him in these areas.
However, when Mr. Benson elects to write about gangland and its characters he is playing on my home ground.
As a gossip and society columnist, and eventually a commentator on world affairs, I enjoyed Mr. Benson's columns. He wrote well and his comments were often amusing and sometimes interesting. However, his attempt at writing factually on gangland entitled 'The Hit Men' (Daily Mail, 10th December) is laughable - if it were not the cause of deep distress to the innocent relatives of those who are the victims of so many repeated fabrications on gangland.
I am able to state categorically that every part of the 'Hit Men' that deals with Albert Dimes is fiction and of a poor quality. Albert Dimes was one of life's gentlemen. He probably selflessly helped more people down on their luck or with personal problems than any other individual person known to many others and I. His generosity is legend.
There is absolutely no truth in the statement by Mr Benson that Albert attacked Jack Spot with a razor. The facts are a reverse of that statement. It was Jack Spot armed with a knife that attacked the unarmed Albert in Frith Street, Soho. Such was the character of Albert Dimes that despite being stabbed three times and losing a great deal of blood, he had a trial of strength with his attacker and forced Spot to release the knife. Spot was a heavily built and powerful man but he never had the character fibre of Albert Dimes.
There is ample evidence of these facts in the Old Bailey trial transcripts that resulted in the prosecution midway through the trial throwing in their hand against Albert and the case was thrown out.
The main business of Albert was that of a bookmaker and he was a fearless layer of the odds.
To suggest that Albert was a protection racketeer is as accurate as suggesting that the good people who freely give their time to support the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds are also gangsters.
Members of the reputable Tolaini family who owned the Latin Quarter restaurant/nightclub are alive and well. Ask them if they ever had a protection demand from Albert Dimes? Or for that matter any other? Tony Zomparelli the man alleged by Mr. Benson as being the top enforcer for Albert carried out mundane jobs of work for me. To suggest he was a gangland top enforcer is nonsense.
If Albert had need of a top enforcer, which he did not, then he would not have chosen Tony Zomparelli. Tony was likeable and genuine and it is best to leave it at that. The reason that he stabbed to death David Knight had nothing whatsoever to do with any protection racket.
Regretfully I have to remind Mr. Benson that to call an Italian an 'Eyetie' is akin to calling a black person a nigger. The only difference is that most Italians on the surface appear less concerned about the subject.
Alfie Gerrard never at any time worked for Charlie or Eddie Richardson.
Albert Dimes married a lovely and very respectable woman and their children do them credit. He moved his family to a very good area in the London suburbs where his wife still resides. It is these innocent people who have to suffer from the distortions and lies.
When one of the richest men in the world asked Albert to visit him at his home for the purpose of seeking counsel from Albert. Albert took with him as a visiting present a collection of opera records featuring the great tenor Enrico Caruso. The records were encased in a beautiful walnut wood box. It was a rare collector's item of quality but then Albert was always a man of quality. The fabulously rich man could not conceal his admiration for the class of a man who would think of such a high standard gift.
You may ask why would a man who could afford the finest of professional advice seek the counsel of Albert. The reason is because Albert was a man of vast practical experience and a
confidence with Albert was truly sealed. Even one of the world's richest men could not buy such loyalty.
No doubt the FBI agents who, who according to Ross Benson, named Albert as the Mafia liaison man are the same agents who told us that Lee Oswald alone-assassinated President Kennedy and Earl Ray was solely to blame for the murder of Martin Luther King. You have to remember that I was in Brixton prison with Earl Ray.
There is no doubt that Albert was the confidante of people from all walks of life. He judged people as he found them. Their material assets or reputations meant nothing to this very special man. His only prerequisite was that you had to be genuine and he was a shrewd judge of character.
For many, many years he implored me to go into legitimate business and eventually I did. With his unstinting help the venture was very successful until unforeseen circumstances took over and sinister Establishment figures took advantage of these circumstances and forced the venture out of business.
Through Albert I met lawyers who acted for Presidents of the United States, a top CIA agent,
leading international union officials, MP's, captains of industry, icons from the sporting world, stars of film and other entertainment categories, outstanding authors, journalists, publishers, great artists, the list is almost endless. These people were all pleased to call Albert Dimes their friend.
I have encountered a number of misfortunes during my lifetime but they all pale into insignificance when compared to the privilege that I enjoyed through the friendship of Albert Dimes. They broke the mould when that man died.
His family requested a private funeral and details were kept private. Despite this hundreds of people from all parts of the world, including those mentioned above that were available, were in attendance. Unfortunately, I was in prison and could not be present but I am reliably advised that many powerful 'Hard Men' unashamedly had tears streaming down their faces as they watched the cortege pass by them.
This could only happen at the passing of a man of rare quality.
I am delighted that after rejecting a number of film scripts based on my life some of which came from top film producers and movie companies, I was beginning to despair that I would read a script that I could endorse. It is well known that British cinema has a poor record for producing films based on the gangster culture.
Then a longstanding friend of mine who really knows the inside story presented a script that is based on my life. This original screenplay has the working title of 'The Good Life'. It is an exceptional movie text that I am delighted to endorse. It is very, very good and will make a powerful movie.
Many of the myths associated with gangland are dealt with by facts in the script. The script will prove an eye-opener for people like Mr. Benson and when the movie is made I will invite him to see it as my guest.
In the meantime I suggest that the 'fountain of knowledge' from where Mr. Benson gleaned the information to write 'Hit Men' is thoroughly cleaned because it is heavily polluted and does him no credit. If he paid any money for the fictional data then he should get his money back.
Ross Benson is too good a journalist to write trash and I hope he returns to the subjects he knows well.