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LondonCrime (DotCoDotUK)

LondonCrime is a fantastic website owned and managed by Jim Fletcher. Operating in its third year and dedicated to Jim’s love of our city and of its criminal history he set up the promotional site in honour of his late father.

Upon the site you have access to “the best London gangster books, movies, history and more” you can “explore the history of London's crime” and “watch the best London movies”. If that’s not enough, you are also able to “read fiction and true crime books and explore the history

of London's criminal underworld”. At least if you cannot do that on the site (of which some you can) you can access the films and books through it.

If you love everything London, you will absolutely love LondonCrime! Working tirelessly into the night, reading or watching new material that Jim feels would benefit from being added (what an excuse) every book or film is scrutinised before its added. Each has to fit Jim’s criteria that the storyline is based in London—there is just once exception to this rule and its Donna that Jim has broken it for “because he can”, as the man himself says.

Who is Jim, who is the man behind LondonCrime? An engineer, Jim balances family life and work (as well as working on the website). Many might not know but as an essential worker, Jim has continued to work throughout the pandemic as his company produce essential components. He works extremely hard and he works long hours. Once home he, of course, has family responsibilities to take care of before embarking on his website duties. That might be adding new material, creating metadata and yes Donna and Jim have conversations about that) or spending time with his essential product research!

This passion spills out into all he puts his heart into and LondonCrime is included in that. Engineering (see what I did there) a team to help with promotions, Jim is our driving force, our enthusiasm and momentum.


Please visit Jim's site once you've finished reading all about the man himself!

www.londoncrime.co.uk

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Striving for the success of others is just one outstanding quality that Jim as. As one of the team members of LondonCrime, Donna knows how much dedication goes on behind the scenes and also that he is no stranger of putting his hand in his pocket to help others strive. All the promotions Jim does for others are done for the love of what he’s read or watched and that’s humbling—all is cost free for us authors and film makers.

 Given what Jim does, what might motivate him? We’ve already shared that the website was set up in memory of Jim’s father, Jim shares that he was “ a larger-than-life figure, he was a man with a heart of gold and well respected”. Jim has shared some stories that, perhaps, can be told another day but one he has mentioned recently is that “he was once cut up in town as a long-distance lorry driver, and known for having a short fuse at times he lost his patience with this caravan driver and proceeded to put a crowbar through the caravan roof!”

Poignant, was his friendship with Michael Luvaglio. Jim shares with us that his father “worked and was friends with Michael in the early 1960s.” “Luvaglio and Dennis Stafford were both convicted of murdering Angus Sibbet in January 1967.”  “Being bought up with my father firmly stating that there was no way that either Michael or Dennis would have committed this crime, and after losing my father in 2014, I persevered with trying to find out as much as possible about it, the people involved and tried to help Michaels case in proving his innocence.” Jim has worked extremely hard, on this case, including sending letters to MP’s and the CCRC which were met with repeated resistance. Jim still feels, to this day, there was a massive cover-up during the whole case. Pleased to have been able to contact Neil Jackson, another expert on this case, who was able to relay messages to Michael on his behalf, Jim hopes that his innocence will one day be proven. Unfortunately, Michael has now passed away and won’t see this day for himself.

Jim loves music and at the tender age of seven saw Bill Haley and the Comets in concert at Hammersmith Palais, which he has revealed was in 1974 (so you can do the math on that). He was also taken to see the musical stage show of ‘Grease’ long before it became a film. Having been bought up on a diet of rock and roll, he has assured us his music taste is a lot more varied now! Fascinated by the various subcultures of times past, mods, rockers, teddy boys, skinheads, punks, casuals, etc, Jim feels it's a shame these lifestyles have mostly disappeared.

Jim also promotes other causes when time permits. Beside his passion to see others succeed he hates knife crime and often runs campaigns against it—he strongly believes people can change, given the correct chances. Jim also has dreams for the future, that include LondonCrime becoming a brand and perhaps for that to included publishing true crime and fiction books (and you never know even expanding into LondonCrime films)!


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

Mutiny at St Mary's Convict Prison, Chatham

Walking has always prompted a stream of thinking, but this week was different. We took a walk around St Mary’s Island, Chatham and paused to read an information board which prompted some research. Both of us are interested in Britain’s criminal past, and so we’ve stepped back to the 1860s and to a time St Mary’s Prison held one thousand convicts, but our research took us back a little further in order to understand the full impact of what we were reading.

Prison hulks had been present on the River Medway since the early nineteenth century, when Chatham became a permanent hulk station.  By the end of the French wars in 1815, in excess of 70,000 prisoners of war were being held in these hulks moored at Chatham Reaches, Gillingham and Sheerness. Disease was rife and punishment harsh. 


 Prison Hulk

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When, in 1818, the announcement that Chatham Dockyard would be expanded it was the convicts from the hulks who provided the labour for the work—this included the reclamation of St Mary’s creek.  Over time the hulks deteriorated but the authorities, wanting to keep the labour, begun the construction of a brick convict prison on St Mary’s Island, which opened to receive hulk convicts from Chatham and Woolwich in 1856.


St Mary's Convict Prison, St Mary's Island, Chatham

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According to The Times, (January 1861) “A considerable degree of uneasiness, almost amounting to alarm, has been occasioned to the officials of the convict prison of St Mary’s Island… in consequence of the disaffection and mutinous conduct of the convicts confined in that establishment.” So, what might this be about? Continuing the article, we learnt that convict Peters had acquired a skeleton key and during a mass gathering in the hall where he and fellow convicts were awaiting a medical examination, he took the opportunity to escape. Making his way across the parade grounds he attempted to release a man named Bennett, incarcerated for burglaries in London, but was recaptured by a warder.

Revolt followed. Although, in comparison with today’s standards of retaliation against authority their response might be considered somewhat mild. The prisoners protested by disturbing the minister during his chapel service. No violence was displayed, instead marks of disapproval such as hooting, yelling and cheering were used. Considered a prelude to something that might manifest into a larger event, the ringleaders were rounded up by order of the governor and his deputy—Captain Powell and Mr Measor respectively. Now safely confined to the punishment cells they assumed it would be easy to contain the remaining convicts. The following days would see 150 warders on duty, all heavily armed, but they made no difference. Mutiny continued within the cells. Windows were smashed and furniture broken, alongside the vocal disturbances that continued.

Official action was deemed necessary and upon request of the Home Secretary--Sir George Cornewall Lewis—the inspector-general, Captain Gambier, of the convict establishments commenced an investigation but this wouldn’t be the end of the matter. Despite prison food being far superior to that of any union workhouse dinners, a dockyard work party begun a protest regarding the quality of their food. At a pre-arranged signal fifty convicts threatened to massacre their keepers, stole their cell keys and begun to release fellow convicts. Pandemonium ensued and damages amounting to £1,500 (approx. £35.5K in today’s money) was caused.

Military intervention was deemed necessary. Four-hundred Royal Marines, stationed nearby, charged the rioters with muskets—the Warders following in close quarters with their truncheons. Order was resumed. Warders lost their jobs—staff at the prison had been made up from two hulk ships and it had been reported there was jealousy between the two sets of staff that resulted in bad management of the convicts. A number of Warders were transferred from Pentonville prison to replace them.

It seems the ‘blame culture’ has been around some time!


The River Medway today, from St Mary's Island

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by Donna Siggers and Dave Last