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Having "My Say" to help save "The Final Say"

After reading Carlton’s book “The Final Say” I wasn’t left feeling he’d threatened national security, territorial integrity, or public safety. Instead he spoke of his life and perspectives on matters that affected it. With regards to health matters, he spoke of his own family for all of this is his right. It’s also the right of a man to convey a story—his version of events—the way they unfolded for him and for this to happen with the help of a co-author.

This right, the right to tell your story through your co-author—and in this case it’s Jason Allday—is ruffling some feathers. Let’s face facts, books like this often do. Freedom of speech coming at a price when someone doesn’t want you to have a voice. Protection of health or morals, and the protection of the reputation of others are the final aspects of the Human Rights Act 1998 that allow us freedom of speech—the same act that allows others their say on the same subject in question.

Whatever your views on how anyone has lived out their past, this is my view… books such as Carlton’s are a valuable source of social history without which a large chunk of society is lost if events are not recorded. Within the pages we learn of social change, injustice, triumph, grief, and all manner of concepts that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the foresight it takes in putting pen to page. That takes courage.

An event that took place in 1995 is of course at the epicentre of yet more controversy, something that surely needs placing to rest or investing by an independent police force team if the first haven’t done the investigation justice. Not an investigation that’s needed to be carried by an author I’ll not name here—nor should he be silencing anyone who voices differing perceptions to his own. Perceptions that differ to the official investigations and to his original views I might add.

I’m of course talking about the Rettendon murders—also branded the Range Rover killings and the Essex Boy murders or however else it may have been phrased over the years. Carlton, my apologies for dragging this up but some of my readers will not know the history of this case:

Three friends, Tony Tucker, Patrick Tate and Craig Rolfe were shot, execution style in a gateway along Workhouse Lane in Rettendon in Essex on 6th December 1995. This had followed the death of a young girl from Latchingdon (also in Essex and not far from this scene) after taking ecstasy. Leah Betts fell into a coma, her ex-police officer father shared photographs of her across the news and other media which touched the hearts of the nation. At the first inquest for Leah’s death it was found that due to the amount of water she had consumed she’d slipped into a coma. Subsequently, at a further inquest it was concluded that Leah would have survived either the water consumption or the ecstasy alone but not the combination. She died on 17th November, less than a month before the three friends were found dead in the Range Rover.

Rumours soured through the press and it wasn’t long before these two events were linked. It was at this time (and not before) that the “Essex Boys” gained their notorious name for this wasn’t how they were known when they were alive.

 What we must ask is why should silence be an option? What could possibly have been said in “The Final Say” that’s so upsetting to one person to elicit legal action against Jason Allday—not the person who was friends with one of the murdered men, but the man to whom Carlton entrusted his story and who put that pen to the page. That makes no sense to me.

Desperate times indeed. Why the need to silence this book? That gets me asking some serious questions.

Carlton has begun action to save his book "CARLTON: The Final Say"
You are able to help him at the link below
Go Fund Me

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by Donna Siggers

Camden's own 'Ocean's Eleven' Background and Tour

Terry Ellis is the first to be featured twice on my Soul2Ink blog, not only am I an avid supporter of his writing but am also proud of the man he’s become. Stuck within a negative cycle Terry had found himself in trouble from an early age, nurtured into believing that to thieve and earn a living from crime was perfectly fine as long as you didn’t get caught. At a young age a brick missile split open his head, giving him concussion which changed his personality (and that’s most definitely a reality I can relate to). Such physical trauma can change us, for Terry he no longer felt pain and had no filter on certain emotions, such anger. This was catalyst to how a young boy’s life would manifest alongside the behaviour he had already learnt. Terry’s own mother took him shop lifting and ordered him through factory windows to pass out to her what she required from within in order to sell their loot at bingo—this concept worked for her as long as Terry didn’t get caught. Money, he managed to earn on his own criminal activities with mates wasn’t turned away back home either. Terry was under the care of a social worker and when he became too difficult to handle and had run out of chances with them his mother abandoned her son and left him at a children’s home where he’d get regular beatings from the offset.

All this happened before Terry was twelve years old.

Moving from one children’s institution to the next became a way of life—as did standing before a judge. Eventually Terry was forced into the countryside far from his beloved Camden. Ironically, among the country bumkins as he calls them (and I qualify as one of those) he settled down—but not until they accepted school wasn’t going to be a part of his routine. Unfortunately, it fell apart when Terry’s young girlfriend became pregnant and he had no choice but to move back to London, where he lived in a flat with lads much older than himself.

Its here he discovered dole money wasn’t enough and the glory of armed robbery was both encouraged and gave Terry an adrenaline lift. A lift he became addicted to, it seems. I know from my own experiences that you can never quite fulfil that first adrenaline hit for the trouble with that naturally produced chemical is that the first can never be repeated and you’re left forever chasing it. The risks need to be higher in order to reach you needs—its no different to other addictions and Terry has beaten those too.

I’ll not detail the criminality leading up the Verizon “job” or the various holidays at Her Majesty’s pleasure that Terry talks you through in his book, for I’d actually like you to read his book! Instead, I want to share a personal experience that will embed this story into my memory forever.


David Last, Donna Siggers and Terry Ellis outside the Verizon Building
(photo credits to Anna)
Buy Verizon here

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Between Christmas 2021 and the New Year Dave and I spent time in London. At short notice we met up with Terry and his lovely partner, Anna for a cuppa. They whisked us of separately for slightly different tours before we met back up outside the Verizon building in Camden. Terry walked us around the vast building, sharing with us detailed explanations of how they planned and executed what became branded Camden’s own ‘Oceans Eleven’ robbery. This brazen act saw them walking away with an incredible £5m worth of data chips and £100m in data.

There were no guns involved. Just men in [fake] blue and their dogs.

One of the many things I like about Terry is that he doesn’t hide from his past—he owns it in a way that helps others find the right path. He found that for himself through a programme at Grendon Prison, his book on that was the first ever feature on the Soul2ink blog that you can read right here.


by Donna Siggers


Stalking

Living a full life is important to me as trauma has touched my psyche too many times to count, and has done so on deep and personal levels. Approaching the launch of my new book I’m going to be addressing some subjects over the next few weeks that are, shockingly, a part of many people’s lives. I do so with the intention to uplift the spirit of anyone going through the torment of each given subject and hope that it gives them strength. 

Unfortunately, being stalked has formed a part of my past. Unwanted attention curtailing the freedom of another person to the point they are left feeling in a constant need of being careful is a good description of stalking. Although each individual, isolated incident might seem innocent enough to onlookers, these repeated behaviours mount up. In doing so they amount to a course of conduct causing significant alarm, harassment or distress that is unwanted attention.

This behaviour is, therefore unacceptable.

Stalking is a form of mental assault, which at times can also become physical. There are laws in place to protect against it but unless you are under direct threat of violence its often difficult to get anyone to take you seriously (especially the police) and you have to provide written, photographic or video evidence that you are under direct threat of violence to be taken immediately seriously. 

Stalking is a dangerous game to be on the receiving end of. It leaves you in a position of choice—crumbling under the pressure or in becoming stronger. Personally, I was left having to decide on tactic changes, on having to leave the house at differing times and living behind closed curtains in order for peace.

I knew my stalker, which is often the case. Ironically they are the most dangerous kind. It started with a letter and some flowers, with the letters turning to emails and phone calls. My ordeal lasted six years.

Now with a platform to speak out about the torment that some endure, I believe it important to speak out, for silence solves nothing. Some might think I’m holding onto my past—to those I say I share to help others have the strength to make this stop.

I struggled in silence for too long. I relied on those who said they couldn’t help. Help is out there if you know where to seek it.

I would like to add that the person on the receiving end isn't always a woman and that in some cases it is the woman doing the stalking. 

Help is out there... here are the websites etc,

If you are in immediate danger always call 999 and ask for the police.

The National Stalking Helpline through the British government will take you to three links: 

First: The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which was set up after estate agent, Suzy Lamplugh went missing on 28th July 1986 9in Fulham. She was officially declared dead, presumed murdered in 1983. The trust was set up "because what happened to Suzy must not happen to anyone else". The website is filled with useful information.



Second: Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service, who assist high risk victims of stalking throughout England and Wales. You would be put into contact with Paladin through the police. Their website address is down right now but is normally available if you google "stalking government UK"


Third: Protection Against Stalking, which was set up after Clare was murdered at work by her ex boyfriend by Clare's mother, Tricia. Committed to raising awareness of stalking and supporting victims and their families they can be contacted via the link below,




Additionally, Solace Women's Aid is specifically located in London for women and children. It gives free advice and support on how to build safe, strong lives enabling futures free from abuse and violence.

https://www.solacewomensaid.org/get-help/other-support-services/paladin-national-stalking-advocacy-service




Rise Of An Extremist

Frank Portinari is one of life’s gentlemen. A devoted family man who has been with the same lady since the year dot. A father and grandfather, a grafter, and a man passionate about his beliefs. Now a published author, public speaker, and podcaster it is through writing I came to know of Frank and became acquainted with him. We’ve not met, as yet, but Frank when we do, I’m keeping it in mind not to debate with you if you’ve a cuppa in your hand! (For all that have read Frank’s book, that was my favourite part). Wars have been won on the strength of tea when food was scarce, and Frank was heading for war.

I brushed on the importance of social history being recorded in last week’s blog post and Franks story most certainly falls into this bracket. I’ve discussed this with him before, but I believe the political aspect of his life should be used for higher educational study. I don’t say this lightly or to flatter. Instead, as someone who was there and risked their life for someone else’s fight, and who had the gumption to place the facts into a book then not only do they deserve that recognition, but students deserve to have this knowledge available to them.

Reading Frank’s book is a fascinating insight into two aspects of his life. There was one side of him that went to football, firstly in peace and then as the football hooligan era took hold, not—a public show of bravado of men drinking and having a punch up at the weekend.

‘Left-Right Loyalist: From One Extreme To Another’ is the name of the book I have—with a new editor (Shaun Attwood) there’s been a name change and re-launch since. ‘Loyalist Paramilitary Gunrunner: From Extremism to Prison’ might give a little insight into where Frank’s political alliance finally landed after some deliberation, it’s what made sense to him. Its this alliance that’s the main focus of Frank’s book, and the second side of a complex mind. After becoming frustrated with Britain being bombed by the IRA he’d wanted to make a difference and the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) entered his life at the correct time to make this happen for him—it’s an alliance he took to the extreme. Unlike most Frank was prepared to act and as with anything he puts his mind to, his heart doubles that passion. It wasn’t long until he’d gained trust and hierarchy as he became caught up in ‘the troubles’ of Northern Ireland. Frank was running guns over the border.


Frank's book, now called 'Loyalist Parliamentary Gunrunner: From Extremism to Prison
is available via this link

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The UDA used a cover name in order that they wouldn’t become outlawed and were better known as the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) which prevented them becoming a terrorist group. It wasn’t until 1992 this occurred.

Making you feel part of his story as you read, you are spied on, friends are shot, and that circle of friends to be trusted becomes increasingly small. Gunrunning is a dangerous business and Frank is in the midst of it. He makes you feel you are too as his reality seeps into your psyche.

We lived these times through news stories—I have relatives who were in the army who served in Northern Ireland and a friend who lost his father who was shot by the IRA. Frank was there, he lived the experience and I urge you to read his book, without prejudice in order to gain understanding of why and how people got caught up in the troubles.

Frank served time for his participation and is still welcomed in Ireland today.

Currently writing his second book (which I’m looking forward too immensely) I’m very much interested in how, when—and of course why—Frank changed, as the man he is today certainly is reflective of the one he’s written about in his debut book.

There are two more links I'd like to share with you, the first is for 'Frankly Speaking With Frank Portinari' which is, of course, Frank's podcast (I'm honoured to have been a guest so my personal thanks to Frank and Mat The Hat Media). There have been many inspirational guests appearing—
including some featured right here on my Soul2Ink blog—so pop along, press subscribe and have a listen!

Frankly Speaking with Frank Portinari—Frank's all-inspiring podcast
You can subscribe and listen right here

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Finally, I'd like to both congratulate and wish Frank and the team involved on the upcoming documentary on his life, which I know is in association with Johnny Kinch. As a first for my blog I'm sharing a funding page but its certainly not a first for me to get behind film making. It will be [quote] "A documentary of social and historical importance."

'From One Extreme To Another With Frank Portinari'
Documentary Funding Link


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Meeting Carlton

Many years we’ve Tweeted, and for many years more I’ve followed the story of Carlton Leach. It was of course “that case” that highlighted his existence to me (for I wasn’t within that world).

At the time of Leah Betts’ death I lived not so far from Latchingdon and have just move away from Southminster within the last month. Before that my location was much more rural. I'd like to point out Carlton didn't have involvement in Leah's death.

My readings of course begun with the tabloids all those years ago, and some years later what became known as ‘The Essex Boys’ were a focus for my studies along with another Essex case. It became apparent that everyone had differing opinions on what might have happened leading up to the key events and indeed events themselves. Over the years stories and official statements of truth seem to have altered.

When Carlton published ‘Muscle’ I finally had a grasp—a behind the scenes look if you like—into a life of loyalty and respect. It was also a life of steroids and a few misdemeanours. Moreover, it was an insight into the rise of what would be known as the Inter City Firm (or ICF) which later transpired into what has become the film franchise Rise of The Foot Soldier.

Carlton’s second book was indeed entitled Rise of The Foot Soldier, in line with that first film for he was involved during the beginning—he's not now. The scenes of that first film reflected reasonably accurately what I'd learnt historically.

Several years passed before Carlton put pen to paper again but I’m thankful he did. His latest book ‘Carlton: The Final Say’ is a true insight into his life. The forward is a fitting introduction by Jason Allday, before Carlton takes you from his early childhood through to the humble man he is today—and he is a humble man. It’s a tear-jerker at times, especially when talking about his father. Carlton allows you into his home and heart throughout his ‘final say’. Muscle was about bravado but this one is about humanity as he chats his way through life from being a young boy growing up with his sister within a loving home to the present day, reflecting along the way. Don’t get me wrong, he soon lets you know if something doesn’t sit right and two names that come to mind are Bernard O’Mahoney and Nipper Ellis—in all honesty they don’t sit right with me either.

The Final Say evaporates myth and mystery because of a willingness to speak out. As with Muscle, what I like about this latest book is the brutal honesty. By sharing both books Carlton has contributed to recording his part in the making of social history and I believe that’s important. Stories like this are lost in time if they're not recorded for future generations. They become distorted, exaggerated and altered through differing perceptions but when they are written by those who were there such as in Muscle or who knew those involved in other matters and their truth hasn't faltered over the years, then speaking out matters.

Carlton's latest book, 'Carlton: The Final Say is available from Amazon
by clicking on the link here

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We had the great pleasure of meeting Carlton (and his family) at the end of last year at one of his book signings. It was an opportunity for Carlton to be on stage having a chat with the host before opening the questions to the audience. Again, his candid approach showed me that all he wants is for what is now branded ‘The Essex Boy case’ to rest now—for everyone involved to be allowed to grieve in peace and move forward. He shared publicly his opinions on sensitive subjects which matched my own.

Carlton, thank you for allowing me to blog about your books and for your support over the years.

My respect, always.

by Donna Siggers


Mistaken Identity, Near Death and True Love

Savage knife attacks happen far too often and the death rate from such events is far too high. When you hear that someone has survived it gives you a lift—a victory over crime—something to celebrate!

Then you read just how long it can take to recover, that perhaps after twenty years recovery is still on going and you begin to realise the extreme effects of survival. This is Darren Barden’s reality. This is Darren’s story—its two years since Darren published his book, so in reality we’re talking twenty-four years since this near fatal attack.

Let's Skip To The Good Bits, Darren's book is available on Amazon
CLICK HERE

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Delving a little deeper, you come to realise it’s a story of mistaken identity. A senseless attack on someone uninvolved in whatever might have been going on in whatever world he suddenly became mixed up within, when all he actually wanted was to continue with his quiet family life.

That’s unfathomable when you think about it—so we suggest you don’t try to analyse it too much.

Left for dead with his wife and baby boy (who was teething) upstairs, Darren bleeds out in the family home. Somehow, rather than calling out for his wife, Darren manages to phone the police and for an ambulance and then his parents—an act which he duly regretted.

Surviving his wounds turned out to be the easy part!

The battle that commenced against depression and PTSD would grip Darren for the years that followed—they took him to the darkest corners of his psyche and from reading his book his paranoia must have pushed his wife Wendy to her limits, but she turned out to be Darren’s rock.

Their story is also one of love and each time Darren tried to test boundaries Wendy was there to pull him in closer to her. They stood the test of time, they endured what most couples wouldn’t have handled—their love survived. Mercifully.

 

 Darren and Wendy Barden

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Imagine, if you would for a moment (and this is something Donna can relate with all too well) that you experience trauma. There is a lot of action happening around you that perhaps you’re unaware of at the time. Your loved ones are very aware of what is happening, and they witness events you don’t. Darren has, by all accounts, [eventually] recovered well from what he physically went through but still struggles with what his family have experienced. Reading his account in “Lets Skip To The Good Bits” is brutal enough but to listen to him speaking, with a broken voice, during a recent podcast (Conversation with Criminals) talking about Wendy treading through his blood that was seeping through her toes is still too much for him to comprehend; that he phoned his parents and they were there unknowing if he’d survived, still to this day, too much for him—even after twenty-four years.

The moment someone picks up a knife there is intent to cause this much devastation, or death, and the consequences that leaves behind. Donna is glad to know Darren, that he both survived and had the courage to share his story and is now venturing into helping others. January (Covid-19 dependent) sees the beginning of a new venture and the start of filming of his own podcast, The Barber Chair, where Darren will interview inspirational people, also with a story to share.


Darren sitting in The Barber's Chair, the setting for his Podcast
YouTube LINK HERE

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All that is left to say, on behalf of us both, is to wish Darren all the best for the future of his podcast and his continuing success inspiring others with his story and the shared stories of his guests.

By Donna Siggers and David Last

Change Your Life Put Down Your Knife!

Starting the campaign, Change Your Life Put Down Your Knife around six months ago, Ben Spann built upon foundations for what has turned out to be the fastest growing knife campaign group in the UK. Gaining support from members and many reformed high-profile ex criminals willing to get the message out there, people like Terry Ellis (who was our first ever feature on this blog), Vinny Bradish and Chris Lambrianou have created a strong message that is here to stay.


To join the Facebook group "Change Your Life Put Down Your Knife"
PRESS HERE

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Ben says, “we are the group that represents the people: mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles but most of all every child in the U.K. Our campaign values are simple Prevent, Rehabilitate and Educate.”

Fully committed to the ongoing work that’s involved, the team are aware how much work is required to get them to where they want to be. Ben conveys that with “the support from every parent and grandparent to give us the voice we need. To be able to stand up for what is right our future generations shouldn’t feel the need to have to carry a blade as a necessity like a phone or watch.”

Campaigners: Romail Essex, Vinny Bradish, Tony Turner, Ben Spann,

Chris Lambrianou, Kimberly Ann Overton, Jim Lamianou, and Terry Ellis

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Knife crime effects every part of our country and if you’re blinded to that, please take a long, hard look at your community. Unfortunately, it’s become part of culture. It’s a known fact that if you are carrying there’s a greater likelihood of you using rather than not if the opportunity arises—if you carry consider leaving it behind.

Ben speaks for the group, Change Your Life Put Down Your Knife when he says that they “do not tolerate our kids being groomed into gangs, nor will they tolerate them being the victims or the perpetrators of knife crime. Enough is enough. We are doing great things but as you can imagine there is no overnight fix.”

Ben states that working within communities is one of the important aspects of what they are about and it’s been a great pleasure to have had a close association with Leamington Amateur Boxing Club, ran by Ollie O’Neil who are doing fantastic work with our youth, as are Aces Boxing Club, ran by Harmi Singh. Now in the process of becoming the proud [main] sponsors of Coventry City Supporter’s Club, the distinctive logo for the group will soon be displayed on their new kits.

Ben Spann handing over a donation to Leamington Spa Boxing Club

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Acutely aware that not all youth are sport minded the group have also been working closely with Hills FM, a Coventry based radio station and also with the homeless and youth services and drug and alcohol rehabilitation services within the area.

As a group, Ben and his team, are looking to carry out educational talks in schools and youth facilities all over the UK, once the Covid-19 situation allows. In the meantime, they will be seeking ways in which our future generations can be occupied, since funding for youth facilities has been cut year upon year. Ben ensures us that their campaign is “enrolling new schemes on a weekly basis as well as being affiliated with many sport facilities locally and across the UK.”

He goes on the say “Thanks for the support of our members and we look forward to all new members who have the same views on this subject.”


by Donna Siggers and David Last

A Blazing Movie Deal!

David P Perlmutter has a few true crime stories under his belt and he tells them in a way that makes you feel as if you’ve been magically transported into an off the hip documentary. Taking you back in time, to his younger years, you are locked into a passionate embrace one minute and then thrown into extreme panic the next. His stories are raw and authentic—they are dramatic. The first words I ever read of Dave’s were “Let go of my fucking hair”, words that both resonated with me and that have stuck in my head—they were the opening lines of 'Five Weeks'.

Drama is most definitely at the forefront of Dave’s mind these days at a very different level, for production of his first movie is beginning to take shape. 'Wrong Place Wrong Time' has become a worldwide bestseller on Amazon and is now a Book To Movie project with Golden Mile Productions and No Reservations Entertainment. And with the recently added Bafta winner, executive Producer Mark Foligno from movies such as Moon and The King’s Speech this movie is definitely one to be looking out for!


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Letting you in a little on this story, it unfolds as Dave, an estate agent from London, finds himself on the wrong side of the law in England’s capital and so he runs away to Spain rather than facing the shame he’d bought upon his family because he’d lost his job, and his driving licence. In hindsight what occurred on home soil was a far simpler matter than the night over in Marbella that the book is essentially about. Dave (it seems odd calling him that, as to me he’s DPP) stumbled upon a burning building and entered it, not giving a thought to his own safety. I’m not going to give anything further away as it’s a compelling story that I know you’d enjoy for yourself but I'll say this--despite all the help he gave that night, there may have been a little misdemeanour in the mix, and he was arrested and charged for far more than he’d carried out.

Cups and Oranges is one of my favourite chapters—it portrays the harshness of the situation Dave finds himself in, both physically and emotionally. Isolated in a foreign country, he finds a simple way to connect with his family in a way that’s truly moving and this chapter may have bought a little moisture to my eyes.

Dave has written more true crime books (pictured below) than the two I’ve mentioned, they can all be found through his author page each of which are stand alone stories and as compelling as one another. I began with 'Five Weeks' but with the movie looming my ultimate recommendation has to be 'Wrong Place Wrong Time'. There is much more to DPP's writing than his true stories and I will share some more of his work at a later date.


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On a personal note, I’d like to say a huge thank you to DPP, an author who gives to others through promotion of their work. I often try to find an advert on Facebook to share for Dave’s own books and cannot because they are buried beneath everything else. For your utter kindness to all of us, thank you!
by Donna Siggers