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Sunday, 24 July 2011

Ex-Krays gangster lay dead in flat for 3 weeks


01:16 |

GANGSTER whose crime family provided the inspiration for cult film Get Carter, starring Michael Caine, lay dead in his Chelmsford flat for three weeks.

Vincent Landa, 78, who ran the gambling side of the Kray twins' gangland empire, was buried at Chelmsford Crematorium on Wednesday last week.


• • • •
Mr Landa moved to Chelmer Village in 2006 and beat cancer thanks to treatment at Broomfield Hospital, but he succumbed to a blood clot on his lung.

This week, friends, family and some "familiar faces" gathered at the funeral, on Writtle Road, to mourn his passing.

Mr Landa's coffin was wrapped in a Union Jack and one mourner drank from a can of Special Brew while others looked on sombrely.

His son Ben said: "Vincent exuded style and charisma, captivating many friends throughout his lifetime.

"He leaves behind seven children and six grandchildren and will be greatly missed."

In the 1960s Mr Landa moved to Newcastle upon Tyne to run an empire built on reconditioned Las Vegas fruit machines after the Government legalised one-armed bandits.

In 1967, his brother Michael Luvaglio was convicted of murdering Angus Sibbett, whose bullet-ridden body was found in his E-type Jaguar after he allegedly skimmed profits from Mr Landa's business.

The slaying was dubbed the "One-Armed Bandit Murder" and provided the inspiration for the movie Get Carter, starring Michael Caine and Britt Ekland.

Mr Landa was played by John Osborne, an Oscar-winning screenwriter and noted playwright.

His brother, who still maintains his innocence, snubbed the funeral and had not spoken to Mr Landa in decades.

While in Chelmsford, Mr Landa immersed himself in local life and was a tireless collector for the RAF Association's Wings Appeal – although he kept his dark past a secret from colleagues.

Chelmsford branch chairman Ralph Tyrell said: "He was a very hard-working collector and never shouted – he just got on with the job.

"He was struggling with cancer and I remember his hair fell out, and then he grew a ponytail because he vowed never to cut it again.

"He never talked about his past. I am surprised to learn about that – it may be good that I didn't know."

Mr Landa racked up an £8 million fortune in the North East, and his family led a luxury lifestyle dominated by sports cars and exotic holidays.

After his brother's arrest, Mr Landa left the country and toured the Mediterranean on his yacht.

He returned to the UK in 1978 and led a "colourful life", according to his son.

But after a series of arson attacks on his businesses, Mr Landa went bankrupt and moved to Florida, before spending the final years of his life in Chelmsford.

Ben said: "After fighting and beating the cancer, Vincent was approached by a film director with a script and asked to act as a technical advisor in the making of a film of his life.

"It was subsequently announced at the Cannes Film Festival that the venture had gained sufficient funding from [production company] MonteCristo to go ahead.

"The film was to begin production, however, the producer Patrick Lavelle tragically died from cancer and, as such, the film is currently on hold."

Mr Landa's intriguing life was not confined to slot machines and gangsters.

He served with the Royal Air Force Police, where he was posted to Germany, and he learned German, French, Italian, Spanish and Greek throughout his lifetime.

Mr Landa also fancied himself as a boxer and trained hard in the Repton Boys club made infamous by Ronnie and Reggie Kray.

After splitting from the twins, Vincent obtained a franchise for the whole of the UK to market a television converter enabling all existing television sets only in receipt of BBC to receive ITV as well.

Ben believes this was comparable to the current phenomena of the analogue switch to digital.

 


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