FIVE TONS OF CASH
Brothers reveal the secrets of Britain's biggest cash heist.
Directed & Produced by David Monaghan
Co-produced by Pete Sawyer
Based on the book
Gotcha! The Untold Story of Britain's Biggest Cash Robbery,
by Ronnie Knight, John Knight, Det. Supt. Peter Wilton with Pete Sawyer.
THIS IS THE STORY OF TWO EAST END BROTHERS, JOHN AND RONNIE KNIGHT.
Ronnie and Barbara Windsor outside pose for photos.
RONNIE KNIGHT RAN CLUBS - BUT KEPT A LIFE OF CRIME SECRET FROM HIS MOVIE STAR WIFE.
John Knight sits in car with sunglasses.
HIS YOUNGER BROTHER JOHN MASTERMINDED BRITAIN'S BIGGEST CASH ROBBERY.
Ron runs across road in Spain.
RONNIE ESCAPED TO SPAIN WITH STOLEN MONEY AND DEFIED BRITISH JUSTICE FOR A DECADE.
John contemplates pool table and smokes cigar.
NOW FOR THE FIRST TIME, JOHN KNIGHT TELLS THE INSIDE STORY OF HOW HE STOLE FIVE TONS OF CASH.
Pile of cash.
John Knight at back projection of safe.
We didn't know it was gunna be this easy but it was.
Robbers enter vault.
FIVE TONS OF CASH
John Knight against backdrop of money.
It is nice to have money, plenty of money because you can buy anything, a new car, a lovely house, a villa abroad, an apartment, anything, with money.
John Knight, Convicted armed robber.
Music under - Tangerine.
Exterior Fox Pub.
Pan down Fox pub sign.
Money is going into till in pub.
Cabaret host singing song Tangerine.
John Knight moves forward to dance inside Fox pub.
IN 1983, BROTHERS JOHN AND RON KNIGHT WERE AT THE HEIGHT OF THEIR SUCCESS. JOHN KNIGHT WAS A GARAGE OWNER MAKING MONEY ON THE SIDE FROM THE FOX PUB IN LONDON'S EAST END.
Still shots and dancing with Diane.
RONNIE KNIGHT'S CAREER AS A SOHO CLUB OWNER WAS BOOSTED BY THE FAME OF HIS WIFE.
Well 'cos my name was Ronnie Knight, I was married to Barbara Windsor, so that made me more famous. If I wasn't married to Barbara Windsor, no one would know, I'd be like anybody else.
Rostrum: Knight wives Diane Knight and Barbara Windsor.
THE BROTHER'S WIVES HAD BECOME FRIENDS.
Barbara was very good to me in her own way. We used to have a giggle, like mates have a laugh.
Barbara from Carry On Camping exits door and runs down corridor.
THE COUPLES SHARED HOLIDAYS AT VILLA LIMONAR, THE SPANISH LUXURY RETREAT RONNIE AND JOHN KNIGHT HAD BUILT TOGETHER IN 1974.
Wide of villa on hill.
Still of Ronnie and Johnnie.
Still of Babs and Ron in water.
John in basement of Fox.
BUT THE WIVES DIDN'T KNOW THEIR HUSBANDS' HUNGER FOR THE GOOD LIFE IN SPAIN WOULD LEAD TO A SIX MILLION POUND ROBBERY.
John Knight walks down stairs of cellar of Fox.
Heist recreation with hostage to safe door.
Guard twiddles combination.
Vault hinge opens.
THE INSIDE STORY OF BRITAIN'S BIGGEST CASH HEIST HAS BEEN BE A SECRET BETWEEN BROTHERS - UNTIL NOW.
Into Fox pub.
Band leader sings final bar of Tangerine.
Exterior Fox pub night.
THE KNIGHT FAMILY GREW UP IN HOXTON IN LONDON'S EAST END.
Tom Mayo - Knight family friend.
They was a known family, you know, no one could take a liberty with them. They was well liked.
RONNIE GOT TO KNOW THE LOCAL GANG LEADERS.
As time went by my brother was very close to Ronnie and Reggie Kray.
Every night I used to go out with Ronnie and Reggie.
IN 1958, RONNIE KNIGHT DROVE THE GETAWAY CAR WHEN THE KRAY TWINS BEAT UP RIVALS.
So when Ronnie and them got out, they was koshed up with hammers choppers and everything you could think of and they smashed the door right in. Just walked in and says who wants trouble now, we're the Kray twins. Who wants it?
BUT PRIOR TO MEETING THE KRAYS, RONNIE HAD RECRUITED HIS YOUNGER BROTHER AS HIS PARTNER IN CRIME.
My first crime I ever did was when my brother Ron come to me and asked me to get in a small fan light over a top of a door and take the cash drawer till out and pass it out of the fanlight.
I was too big for that so I thought the only person who could do that was my Johnnie 'cos he was a lot younger'n me and lot smaller'n me. He come out with a prize.
Photo John Knight as young boy.
I took to crime because I used to see the old villains very smart looking, dressed, and everyone was ducking and diving about, there was loads of rascals, so perhaps I'd join the band robbers.
Trucks in 1960s.
ALTHOUGH TWO YEARS YOUNGER THAN RONNIE, JOHN KNIGHT SOON SURPASSED HIM IN ORGANISING CRIME.
By the time I was twenty, I was doing a lot of things. Looking for lorry loads, taking and driving away lorry loads. I could always ask Ronnie for a helping hand if he wanted to earn some extra money.
We trusted one another and I would never leave him and he would never leave me.
Vintage truck cutaways.
Ronnie Knight close up.
You knew what kind of lorry was holding good stuff and you took it, and you sold it, and that was bringing money in all the time.
RONNIE KNIGHT MARRIED JUNE BILLINGHAM IN 1960, AFTER SHE BECAME PREGNANT WITH HIS FIRST CHILD. SOON AFTER ANOTHER GIRL CAUGHT HIS EYE.
I was with Ronnie when he met Barbara. She was promoting shoes in a shoe shop, promoting them for Bally, Bally shoes, and I went to buy something, and come back in the shop and Ronnie was talking to Barbara.
Photos Ron and Barbara.
Well she's such a teeny one, she was laughing, a joker weren't she, so it was just one of those things. She had big boobs and whatever you call them, and that's how we started, talking and we was together. Unfortunately, I was still married with June but I was always out every night.
A LATE NIGHT LORRY THEFT EARNED RONNIE KNIGHT HIS FIRST JAIL SENTENCE IN 1961. HE HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN HIS WIFE AND BARBARA WINDSOR ON THE DAY OF HIS RELEASE.
When I arrived there, he hadn't come out of the prison. He was in the Isle of Sheppey down in Kent.
Car drives in, 1960s colour footage.
John Knight close up.
I went down there to pick him up and I arrived there and he come out the gates. And he come out and I said I'm here to pick you up and he said Barbara's here waiting for me, I've got a have a chat with her, I won't be a minute, he went over and had a little conversation with Barbara, and he come back to me, and he says I'm going back with Barbara, and I had to go back and face the music with June.
It was a bit of a choker for Johnny 'cos he'd made all the arrangements to bring me home. But she already knew I wasn't coming home to her. Not a nice thing to do but obviously I done it.
IN 1964 BARBARA WINDSOR'S CAREER TOOK OFF IN THE CARRY-ON FILMS. RONNIE KNIGHT'S LIFE OF CRIME WOULD ALSO TAKE A NEW DIRECTION.
END OF PART ONE
START PART TWO
Soho by night with neons.
AT THE HEIGHT OF THE SWINGING SIXTIES, BARBARA WINDSOR'S SHOW-BIZ CONNECTIONS HELPED RONNIE KNIGHT BECOME A CLUB OWNER IN LONDON'S WEST-END. BUT RONNIE KEPT LINKS TO THE LIFE HE'D LEFT BEHIND.
It wasn't only the artists up there, the stars, we had the rascals and the criminals come up there and anything, anybody had, they knew that I would buy it. There was fur coats out of big stores, and all that, anything like that, suits, sweaters shirts, anything, but they used to, but it wasn't one, there was always dozens and dozens of this and dozens of that. So it was a good buy, you know, and near enough got it half price anyway.
DAVID WAS THE YOUNGEST OF THE KNIGHT BROTHERS. HIS MURDER WOULD HAVE A PROFOUND AND CONTINUING EFFECT ON RONNIE KNIGHT, CREATING A THIRST FOR REVENGE THAT WOULD CHANGE HIS REPUTATION FROM CELEBRITY TO NOTORIETY. IN 1969, DAVID BECAME CAUGHT UP IN HIS ELDER BROTHERS' GANGLAND FEUD.
There's a small war really. So we made arrangements to go to the Latin Quarter to sort this out
I make arrangements to meet the boys and you know, well. And say, you know, I feel sorry for what's happened.
BUT WHEN THE PEACE CONFERENCE AT THE CABARET WENT WRONG, ALFREDO ZOMPARELLI, THE CABARET'S BOUNCER, INTERVENED.
Of course it all starts off again. Next thing you know, everyone's jumping up in the air, wants a fight. And unknown to me, Zomparelli slips into the kitchen, comes out with a big carving knife.
As I come up the stairs, David was already stabbed in the back, and he walked past me.
Zomparelli photos and mirror ball effect.
AS JOHN WALKED IN, HE SAW HIS BROTHER IN A DEADLY FACE OFF.
So Zomparelli's wielding a knife about, and Ronnie's got a chair holding him back with it. I picked a chair up, and he looked at us both and then he decided to have it away. There was a scream, a woman's scream, and David's laying on the floor on the stairs, dying.
Still of David Knight.
Well, he was looking up, blood was pouring out of him, looking up at me like that, and I said, come on Dave, get it together mate, are you all right? I didn't know it was that bad, you know. And it was too far gone. Next thing you know I shouted out, get the ambulance, and the ambulance was there, and just took him away.
John Knight: So I said to Ron, don't start any more trouble. We have got enough on our plate. David's not too well up there. And while I was talking to him, a doctor come downstairs in a white coat and said our brother's died. We tried, we couldn't keep him alive.
I sat outside hospital for a little while, sitting there just in case I had the courage to go in, and all of a sudden John came out, was banging his head on railings, and I knew something tragic had happened.
RONNIE KNIGHT SWORE TO AVENGE THE MURDER OF HIS YOUNGEST BROTHER.
It wasn't as if he hurt my David, he killed my David, he stabbed him through his heart and I wasn't gunna let him get away with that.
Mirror ball & Zomparelli rostrum.
IN 1970 ALFREDO ZOMPARELLI, THE CABARET BOUNCER WHO HAD MURDERED RONNIE KNIGHT'S BROTHER, WAS JAILED FOR MANSLAUGHTER. RONNIE KNIGHT DIDN'T MIND. THE KILLER WOULD BE FREE AFTE ONLY THREE YEARS.
It made my day when I heard he only got a smaller sentence, 'cos I was gunning for him and he would have got it from me.
RONNIE'S VERSION OF EVENTS IS THAT ANOTHER MAN WAS OUT LOOKING FOR ZOMPARELLI'S BLOOD.
Ronnie Knight: Some kid come up one day, yeah, Gerard, and just said, I know someone else who's looking for him, Ron. And his name was Bradshaw. And I said, well, if he gets him before me, it's up to him, but it won't stop me looking for him.
Ronnie Knight: I get the phone call soon after, says it looks like Zomparelli got shot.
ON THE NIGHT OF SEPTEMBER 3, 1974, ALFREDO ZOMPARELLI WAS SHOT DEAD BY TWO MEN IN A SOHO PINBALL ARCADE.
Ronnie Knight: Of course I wasn't sick about it. I thought someone's beat me to it then.
Ronnie Knight close up.
Ronnie Knight: I got pulled in for it, obviously.
POLICE QUESTIONED RONNIE KNIGHT BUT RELEASED HIM. HE DID NOT REVEAL HE KNEW ONE OF THE KILLERS. AND HAD GIVEN HIM MONEY.
Next thing I know they come up, or one of 'em come up, one of 'em come up, says he's done it, I said good luck, and I give them a thousand pounds. Said go and have a drink on me. It wasn't pre-arranged, it wasn't nothing. It's just 'cos I thought I had a grand on me, I said here's a thousand pounds, go and have a drink on me, or give it to him, whatever, and the next thing you know, everyone's talking about I paid them to do it. My satisfaction was to do it myself and I was looking for him everywhere. I wanted him. But someone beat me to it.
BUT IN 1979, GEORGE BRADSHAW, THE MAN WHO WAS CONVICTED OF ALFREDO ZOMPARELLI'S MURDER, CLAIMED THAT RONNIE KNIGHT HAD PAID HIM TO DO THE KILLING. THE TRIAL WAS A SENSATION. BARBARA WINDSOR WAS SWORN IN TO GIVE EVIDENCE. HER TESTIMONY HELPED THE JURY RETURN A SURPRISE VERDICT.
Barbara Windsor leaves court smiling.
Ronnie Knight close up.
Ronnie Knight: Well Barbara did save the day, yeah, without a doubt she saved the day. Because when they come out and found me not guilty, if I had the chance, I'd a bought them champagne and caviar. They could have had what they liked, I loved them all.
Ron and Barbara cuddle.
Reporter: Do you consider that you are a lucky man? Because that's very very unusual.
Ronnie Knight: I am lucky, yes. As it's a murder charge when I'm innocent, so how can I be lucky?
Reporter: What are you going to do on your 20th wedding Anniversary?
I want to do anything she wants to do.
Ronnie and Barbara pose for photos.
Barbara Windsor Slo-mo.
BUT BARBARA WINDSOR HAD A SECRET. SHE HAD BEEN HAVING AN AFFAIR WITH HER CARRY-ON CO-STAR, SID JAMES.
Carry on Camping.
Sid James peeps in hole in wall to Barbara Windsor in shower.
Can you hear me?
I never ever said anything about Sid James myself, ever, ever. And then about 14 years ago or so, his agent wrote a book about all his clients. He had famous clients like Shirley Bassey. And Sid, and he wrote a chapter about our affair, and as I say, put it in print, and then [claps hands].
Ronnie Knight close up.
For her to mess about with Sid, I couldn't believe it. I shouldn't think no one else could either. Jesus Christ. I used to give Sid money. The beginning of the week till Saturday. He used to pay me back, 'cos he was supposed to've been a gambler at that time.
Carry On Camping.
Sid James being startled in shower.
KNIGHT WAS ACCUSED OF TRYING TO SCARE OFF SID JAMES BY HAVING SOMEONE DRIVE AN AXE INTO HIS KITCHEN FLOOR AS A WARNING.
It is completely nonsense. If I wanted to go to Sid, I'd go to Sid and tell him, give him a smack around the ear hole if I wanted to, but it didn't affect me no more.
BUT RONNIE KNIGHT WAS ALSO KEEPING SECRETS FROM BARBARA WINDSOR - HE CLAIMS HE INVESTED IN A SOHO ESCORT AGENCY.
Obviously Barbara, I wouldn't have told Barbara anyway, 'cos I don't think she would have agreed with that. Because it was involved with girls.
Woman blurred out on stage.
RONNIE KEPT EVEN QUIETER ABOUT FURTHER INVESTMENTS IN THE SEX INDUSTRY.
Ronnie Knight close up.
I got a peep show. It had a stage, and the girls used to perform on the stage and all that. So I put 30,000 pounds in that, and that's how it all started off. I had my regular wages every week.
Policeman shoots target.
AT THE TIME RONNIE WAS CASHING IN ON PEEP SHOWS, HIS BROTHER JOHN KNIGHT WAS EYEING MORE DANGEROUS VENTURES.
Armed robbery was very prevalent in seventies and eighties. Daily, usually cash in transit from banks. We were dealing with ten, maybe twelve a week, serious robberies, gangs armed, stealing £20,000 upwards, obviously prepared to use weapons, and it was running riot at that state. The most professional of them worked in gangs of six. If you met them elsewhere at golf club you wouldn't know the difference, but when they're engaged in their business they can be extremely violent.
John Knight takes picture out of envelope.
Peter Wilton close up.
There may have been several weeks watching premises.
We are looking at one of the Security Express motors that delivers not only silver but also paper money as well. The idea was to go over the Security Express wall, where the vehicles were parked up loaded, drill a hole in the side of this vehicle. So we make an entrance, so we can take the silver out. It would have been big enough for someone to slide in and unload the silver from the inside to the out.
Obviously I know John was going to do something big, but not as big as what it turned out to be, 'cos it was just going to be the coins. The bag of coins out of the Security, which would have been a couple of million pounds I suppose, the way he worked it out.
THOUGH HE TOLD HIS FAMOUS BROTHER ABOUT THE PLAN, JOHN KNIGHT SAYS HE DIDN'T WANT RONNIE IN ON THE HEIST.
Ronnie's not the robbery type. He's in another scene, he's in the club scene. He wasn't built for that. Although he was accused a long time ago of an armed robbery. I don't think it was his field. You could see, when I was eight years of age, he put me through a window. All he had to do was smash the bloody window.
John Knight stands in Curtain Road and walks.
JOHN RECKONED ROBBING THE CURTAIN ROAD DEPOT WOULD PAY HIM ENOUGH TO LEAVE HIS LIFE CRIME.
We all said if we carry this off and we succeed, there is no need to do anything else wrong again, in your life.
JOHN TARGETED THE SECURITY EXPRESS DEPOT IN EAST LONDON KNOWN LOCALLY AS FORT KNOX.
John walks up alley by depot.
FX dissolve between now and B&W shot.
KNIGHT FOUND AN EMPTY BUILDING IN THE ALLEY WHICH OVERLOOKED THE DEPOT. HE BROKE INTO IT - AND CONDUCTED SURVEILLANCE FOR MORE THAN A YEAR.
Back projection John Knight with binoculars.
We could see all the back of Security Express, what was going on, we could even see them on a Wednesday making up wage packets. We could see the back door, we could see them unloading cash, we could see anything we wanted to see. We could see with these small binoculars.
Bottle of milk delivered to doorstep.
THE ROBBERS SPOTTED A SECURITY FLAW. EACH MORNING, THE LONE GUARD CROSSED THE CAR PARK TO PICK UP THE MILK DELIVERY.
John looks out window next to Fox sign.
JOHN KNIGHT CALLED HIS ROBBERS TO A SECRET MEETING AT THE FOX PUB IN HACKNEY. THE COIN HEIST WOULD BECOME AN EASTER WEEKEND ASSAULT ON THE BUILDING ITSELF. TO AVOID CLUES BEING LEFT ON PAPER, KNIGHT MAPPED OUT THE NEW OPERATION USING POOL BALLS.
Peep hole. John closes peep hole, dips cigar in brandy, takes puff of cigar.
High shot of John walking around pool table.
The plan has changed now boys, we are going to do the Security Express robbery. I was asked would there be more than two million pounds. I said definitely. They're storing up 'cos of the bank holiday Monday and will have a hell of a lot of money in there, it could be three million, four million. Could be more. I was told it could hold 10 million pounds. This is the building we are in. Three vehicles in the compound of the Security Express yard, here's Security Express building, this is the guard, and these are all the guards that are gunna come in. We will leave this building, go into the yard, make our way around the compound. We will wait until the guard comes out, to pick his bottle of milk up.
Pool ball is grabbed, pool balls are packed up.
Shotguns won't be loaded. They're empty, they'll only be used as a frightener. All transport is waiting. All we've got to do, boys, is go in there and get it.
Dawn shot of Security Express alley wall.
THE CURTAIN ROAD DEPOT WAS TO BE COMMANDEERED FOR EIGHT HOURS, EIGHT GUARDS HELD HOSTAGE AND CASH WEIGHING FIVE TONS STOLEN. TO PULL IT OFF, NOTHING COULD BE ALLOWED TO GO WRONG.
I made sure the alley was clear and I propped one ladder against the wall, and one of the firm give me the other ladder. I propped it over the other side, climbed over and then just waited for 'em to come up. Once the next one come up, I dropped down into the yard.
Night exterior of Security Express building.
Then we made our way round to the dustbin area.
Safe door approaching in dolly shot.
John BP dustbins.
Well this was the dustbin area, we was all waiting behind here, the six of us, ready for the guard to come out, who was on for that day shift. As soon as he come out, we see him, we come rushing out and got hold of him. He had to go back in that room to let the others in without the guards seeing him. They'd've known something was wrong.
Slo-mo of entrance to Security Express.
When we brought him eventually up to this, to let all the staff in…
John at Back Projection of control room.
Two chaps were underneath making sure with shotguns, making sure that he done what he was told.
AT 11AM, THE FIRST GUARD WAS LET IN, OVERPOWERED AND TIED UP.
STRAPLINES over bank safe door and robber images:
HOSTAGE TWO TAKEN 11AM.
FOUR MORE WERE BOUND AND GAGGED OVER THE NEXT TWO HOURS.
HOSTAGE THREE TAKEN 11.30 AM.
HOSTAGE FOUR TAKEN 1.00 PM.
HOSTAGE FIVE TAKEN 1.15 PM.
HOSTAGE SIX TAKEN 1:30 PM.
BY 1:30, THE ROBBERS HAD SIX HOSTAGES AT THEIR MERCY. THE TRAP WAS NOW SET FOR THE GUARDS WHO COULD UNLOCK THE VAULT.
I was vault custodian at the Security Express on the day of the robbery. In the vault on that day there was six and three quarter million.
Alan Grimes Walks towards building on Curtain Road.
Obviously they were waiting for me and Jimmy Alcock to turn up. I had one set of keys. Jimmy had the other set of keys. We both had combinations, and it needed all four to actually get into the vault. I walked through the door. I see Greg Counsel standing in the control room.
Slo-mo of Security Express entry room.
We couldn't have tape on him 'cos he had to look at 'em and smile and let 'em in.
He smiled at me, and just waved me through the airlocks. As I went through the second airlock door, three masked men jumped up with sawn off shotguns.
They thought it was a joke till they saw we meant business.
HOSTAGE SEVEN TAKEN 2.15PM.
They said don't panic, you'll be all right. And they covered my eyes up with Elastoplast straight away.
Robbers run downstairs recreation.
Gun to back of Alan Grimes' head.
Then took me downstairs to the canteen, then started asking me questions about the vault doors, the keys and the combinations. Obviously I was scared at the time. I didn't know what was going on. I was just hoping the shotgun never had a hair trigger and it wouldn't go off or anything. And they were just forcing me head down all the time and trying to get the combination.
Hands being tied.
THE FINAL HOSTAGE WAS TAKEN WHEN THE SECOND CUSTODIAN, JIMMY ALCOCK, ARRIVED.
We were told he had the keys and he knew where the keys were.
Cigar puffing in dark.
BUT WHEN JIMMY ALCOCK TRIED TO CONCEAL THE LOCATION OF HIS KEYS, THE ROBBERY TOOK A POTENTIALLY LETHAL TURN.
END PART TWO
START PART THREE
Match lights cigar tip.
THE SECURITY EXPRESS ROBBERS THREATENED TORTURE WHEN THEIR FINAL HOSTAGE DEFIED THEM.
They were trying to get the other set of keys off Jim. They didn't know whether I was lying or Jim Alcock was lying, so they was getting like really agitated. They was forcing the gun in the back of my head, forcing me down, saying like, you're mucking us about. We know you know where the other combination is. Well they said there was a person upstairs who wanted to pour petrol over me if I was mucking them about, or if I wasn't telling them the truth, that's it.
The threat with petrol I can't understand, and I don't know where it come from. I did not take petrol in there. But they all done as they told.
THE COMBINATIONS WERE PRODUCED AFTER THREATS OF BURNING. ALAN GRIMES WAS LED TO VAULT AT GUNPOINT.
Then they took me through to the main vault. At the main vault door there's two combinations, and they took the plaster away from me eyes, just enough to see the combinations, and on both the combinations there is like a big wheel on a vault door, turned the big wheel open, and opened the vault. And then obviously they've got straight access to the vault.
John Knight - back projection vault
When them doors opened it was beautiful, it was like Aladdin's cave. And it's true what they said. It was like Fort Knox. It was full up with money, actually full up with money. There was bags, hanging over on the trolleys, it was beautiful.
Yeah, they told me to sit down in the corner, put a bag across the top of my head, and told me to lean forward, and somebody shouted out, where's that crowbar, and I thought here we go, this is going to be the end now, and I'll get a crowbar across the back of my head. But what had happened is that somebody had used it to smash open one of the cages that was containing money.
John Knight. back projection.
All we were interested in, was not looking at it, but getting it out, loading it up. So we started dragging these trolleys to the loading bay. Dragging 'em like this to the loading bay, and just slung 'em through. loading up, slinging 'em out, thirty grand. ten grand. We were just non-stop. Until someone shouted out, we are full up. Stop now.
ITN van at loading bay.
When they tied me up, they tied me up downstairs in the crew room, and they tied me up using pairs of tights.
Hands being tied.
Robber stands above tied Grimes.
I'd lay down. He said hold on a minute, while I go and get a pillow for your head.
ROBBERY COMPLETED 3:30PM.
John Knight back projection of vault.
A brilliant job, a brilliant job done.
THE ROBBERS ESCAPED IN A GETAWAY VEHICLE REPAINTED TO LOOK LIKE A CASH TRANSIT VAN.
John Knight driving car.
Well we felt great. You could see the eyes light up of everyone. You could only see their eyes 'cos they were all masked up. They were all nodding their heads, very happy people. Everyone done their job in the robbery, and they were glad to get out of that building and get home.
External curtain road BP
The robbery squad got a call that the depot at Security Express on Curtain Road had been robbed.
Superintendent Peter Wilton, Central Robbery Squad.
And the figure quoted at the time was excess of seven million, which of course made it phenomenal, and the biggest cash robbery in the UK ever.
Yard back projection.
I walked into the yard at the Security Express depot, and the only thing I found untoward in the car park was some scrapings on the wall, where it appeared that some men had clambered over. That was all the evidence we discovered in the car park.
Wilton BP locker.
When we went into the basement and to the locker room, this is where we hoped there would be lots of evidence. But there was hardly anything at all, except one cigarette butt, which was found on the floor. That was the only piece of evidence we found on the premises.
Peter Wilton walks down Curtain Road.
In the beginning it was nearly the whole flying squad, some seventy men. It was going to be a difficult one from the start. There was no evidence, no sightings, no descriptions. They came with masks and left with masks, and that was all we had, and apart from money they took, there was nothing we could see that was involved.
Peter Wilton stands on Curtain Road.
All the evidence from the Security Express robbery from every robber, the clothing and all that, had to be burnt, and it had to be done straight away. I personally burnt the ladders myself. The money should have gone to somewhere I'd arranged. I was let down so I went to see my partner. And my partner agreed to have monies in his house so we could count it.
Stack of pounds adding to one million.
THREE MILLION POUNDS WAS COUNTED IN THE BEDROOM OF JOHN'S BUSINESS PARTNER, ALAN OPPIOLA.
It started off two foot, three foot, and it went up to about four and a half foot high, and in bundles, five foot wide.
ACCOMPLICES, DRIVERS AND FIVE OTHER ROBBERS HAD TO BE PAID THEIR CUT.
I ended up with four hundred thousand pounds. It's up to me now to hide it.
Blue police station light.
Wide Arbour Square police station.
The first forty-eight hours after a robbery is crucial. 'Cos you have got to bear in mind that the robbers had to get rid of the vehicles they'd used, the bags that the money contained, and of course put the money to bed somewhere. Hide it.
I went in to my greenhouse and I dug a hole, right down in the soil, and buried it. I put the soil back with fertiliser on top, and I planted tomatoes.
Car pulls up at phone box.
John Knight gets out and speaks on phone.
Well, I wanted to find a way to get a hundred thousand over to Spain. I could not use that type of money here. I could spend it freely over in Spain. And I had ideas of buying a villa and furnishing it out and everything. I phoned Ronnie up and lucky enough, he was on his own. Barbara was working.
Exterior car Roof Street
And he said oh I'll come round in a couple of hours' time, so I said OK. Next thing I know the knock goes, the bell goes, and I opened the door and it's my Johnny with this case in his hand, and directly I shut the door. We grabbed hold of one another and I said, you done it mate, he said yeah it's all done now, innit?
He patted me on the back. He couldn't believe it, he was well pleased.
And then we sat down and he started telling me. And I said it wasn't this amount of money. And he said I know, it's just one of them things, it worked out better for us and all that, you know.
And he said, now you have got to be careful, 'cos it's a big'un, be careful, it's a big'un.
I said how much have I got to take for you? He said take this hundred thousand pound, and I said that'll do me, that won't be trouble.
Car wheels take off.
There was no actual evidence that the Knight family was involved in the early stages. The Knight family were put forward but their names were put forward with several others, so therefore it was a matter of sifting through what we had to try to establish in fact who was responsible.
Barbara Windsor photo rostrum.
BUT OTHERS HAD THEIR SUSPICIONS ABOUT RONNIE KNIGHT. HE HAD BEGUN AN AFFAIR WITH ANOTHER WOMAN, SUSAN HAYLOCK.
Unknown to me, Barbara must have smelt something out somewhere or other. I can't see why, 'cos she was enjoying herself, wasn't she? I had a feeling that something was following me. I had a feeling it was a Jaguar. And I never thought it was a private eye. I'm thinking it was other people, you know, the police, and then I pulled up, stopped to one side. They stopped, then I pulled into the block of flats, things like that. Next thing I know, an hour went by, and there is a knock at the door. And when I answer the door, its Barbara standing there. She's caught me.
Carry On Camping.
Barbara opens door.
I got a bit of verbal from her, which I suppose I'm entitled to have. And I just went downstairs and her cab went off, and she got in my car, and I took her home. That was our breaking point. It made it quicker than what it was going to be when she caught me.
Him and Barbara made arrangements to part. In the same time he had my money moved over to Spain.
Peter Wilton crouches to shoot in firing range.
FOR SEVEN MONTHS, PETER WILTON'S POLICE TEAM HAD HAD NO LUCK TRACING THE MISSING MILLIONS. THEN THERE WAS A TIP ABOUT THE DRINKING HABITS OF MEN WHO HAD HELPED SHIFT THE MONEY.
Exterior Albion pub.
We kept surveillance on a public house for several months. It wasn't until we brought this man in, Mr Horsely, that we realised we were on the right track because he told us things we wanted to hear.
Target of robber.
I was mentioned by Horsley. Unfortunately my name was given to police. I could be one of the robbers,
He told us about a sum of money that was hidden in his father-in-law's house, or flat it was, in Waltham Abbey, and the following day, actually, we went there and found it hidden away in a cupboard that we would never have found, if we hadn't been told. And I think when I saw that money there, I think then I realised we had got a major breakthrough.
THE £240,000 WAS THE FIRST CASH POLICE HAD RECOVERED. THEY NOW HAD TO PROVE IT WAS FROM THE ROBBERY.
Peter Wilton in front of back projection of money.
Peter Wilton: The enormous task my officers had was to examined each note for any writings signs, and of course fingers prints, to try to identify on notes actually coming from the depot at Security Express, so we were look for things such as you see here, the writing and date to try to identify the actual notes coming from these premises.
WITNESS JOHN HORSLEY SUDDENLY WITHDREW HIS STATEMENT. POLICE FEARED THE GANG WAS OUT TO SILENCE ANYONE WHO REVEALED THEIR SECRET. BUT HORSLEY'S INFORMATION ABOUT A HIRED VAN WOULD LEAD THEM TO SOMEONE WHO WOULD TALK.
Mr Horsely told us about a hired vehicle which took us a great deal of trouble to trace. Eventually we did, and it led us to an associate of John Knight's.
Alan Opiola was John Knight's co-partner in the garage in South Gate and that proved a great association to us in the case.
Dart hits bulls eye.
Photo of John Oppiola.
John Knight: You gotta trust someone and I did trust him. He give all my secrets away.
WHEN ALAN OPPIOLA REVEALED HE HAD HELPED COUNT THE MONEY, THE POLICE FEARED FOR THE LIFE OF THEIR NEW STAR WITNESS. ALAN OPPIOLA WAS OFFERED A NEW IDENTITY UNDER THE WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAMME.
Peter Wilton: Mr Oppiola told us eventually of money being brought to his own house while it was counted. And of course we could associate Mr Oppiola with the Knights quite easily.
John Knight: My wife had been to Henlow Grange for keep fit for the weekend.
Headlights move over country lane.
I went down to pick her up. As I drove down the side of the golf course, and entered my gates at the end of the drive, a vehicle pulled out from behind me. I drove in my drive, and there was a body of men waiting near the swimming pool.
Diane Knight: Well, I said what the bloody hell are these doing? What you been up to? He said nothing, you know.
John Knight: They said, I'm arresting you for the Security Express robbery. Anything you say may be taken down and given in evidence against you. I said, have you a warrant? They said, yes. I said, Come in.
Pan across policeman firing pistol.
WHEN THE FLYING SQUAD ARRESTED JOHN KNIGHT FOR THE SIX MILLION POUND SECURITY EXPRESS HEIST, RONNIE KNIGHT HEADED FOR SPAIN.
Ronnie Knight runs across road.
I had Johnny's money, remember that, and once they check that out, which, 'cos the police ain't silly, I'm going to be pulled in. I'm going to be pulled in while I'm here, 'cos I wouldn't have had no chance, my name's Ronnie Knight, I had no chance. So I thought to myself, I'm going to go anyway. I'm going to go now.
The day after I was arrested, Ronnie left for Spain.
Shots of Ronnie running in Spain.
He did not run away 'cos of the robbery, he ran away to meet his new girlfriend, which he was gonna spend the rest of his life with.
Costa del Sol water view.
Ronnie Knight had media appeal. The views from his three quarter million pound villa in the hills above Feungirola were some of the most spectacular on the coast. It was here that Knight sought seclusion from awkward questions about the Security Express robbery. Knight's notoriety bought unwelcome attention to the business arrangements of other expatriates who'd headed to Spain for sun and freedom.
Sax walks down corridor in Spain.
ONE OF THOSE WHO'D HEADED TO SPAIN WAS THE MANAGER OF THE FOX PUB, CLIFF SAX. HE'D CASHED IN HIS FORMER LIFE AND BOUGHT TWO LUXURY VILLAS.
Mr Sax was actually interviewed in Spain, and it was then quite apparent from him that the Fox public house had been used to store some of the money.
John Knight walks in cellar.
If I had've known I would have told Cliff Sax to clear the cellar out.
John produces money in cellar.
Well, let's put it this way. The money I have in my possession now is very clean. If this money would have been left in that corner in this cellar in the dampness….
Curling effects smoke.
Queens head on pound note.
The smell of money became quite important in the trial 'cos we had to show connections between money deposited in various places, and money at the Fox public house.
Basement of Fox pub
The jury at the trial were taken to premises themselves to see the concealment, and in particular to establish the smell, and I think it was quite clear the smell was similar in the basement to the smell of the money. The smell of money became very important, it showed the connection between John Knight, Fox, Sax, and all in all it was a piece of evidence that proved vital to our case against John Knight and the others.
Bus carrying prisoners arrives into court car park.
IN 1985, FIVE MEN WERE FOUND GUILTY OF ROBBERY AND HANDLING MONEY FROM THE SECURITY EXPRESS ROBBERY AND SENTENCED TO A TOTAL OF 66 YEARS.
Pan From Jimmy to John in Wedding Photo.
THE ELDEST KNIGHT BROTHER, JIMMY, RECEIVED EIGHT YEARS FOR HANDLING £200,000 IN STOLEN CASH. BUT THE JUDGE SINGLED OUT JOHN KNIGHT FOR THE HARSHEST SENTENCE.
John and Di picture.
John mug shot.
Pan to reveal John and Di.
Barbara came round and told me he got twenty-two years. I just flipped. So that was the worst moment, yeah, definitely.
It was the press who come and tell me, looking down over me gates, and said, Ronnie, you heard about your brother? I was watering the garden. And I said, what do you mean? He said what he just got twenty-two years, it was like, laughing at me. I said, why don't you whatever, you know. And then he ran, 'cos I just squeezed the hose at him, you know.
Rostrum of police having party,
PETER WILTON'S TEAM CUT A CAKE IN THE SHAPE OF A SECURITY EXPRESS VAN TO CELEBRATE THE FIRST CONVICTIONS. BUT WITH ONLY TWO OF THE SIX MILLION POUNDS RECOVERED, INVESTIGATIONS MOVED FURTHER AFIELD.
Pan from Peacock pub to road.
END OF PART THREE
START OF PART FOUR
ITN news June, 1985
Robbery Squad detectives have been to Spain where there are five men they'd like to question about the raid and the missing four million pounds. But Britain has no extradition treaty with Spain, so British police can only sit on the sidelines and gather evidence where they can.
Must be awful being in Spain knowing where these people are, knowing who they are and not being able to touch them.
Yes, yes, I've felt at times I could put my hand on their collar but we just have to bide our time.
Any idea of the missing four million?
No idea, we think we might know where some of it is, but a very small proportion.
Does Spain feature there as well do you think?
Yes some of it is in Spain. Properties, bank accounts, things like that.
Carry On Camping.
Barbara Windsor does exercises and flings bra.
RONNIE KNIGHT HAD SECRETLY USED BARBARA WINDSOR'S ACCOUNTANT TO SHIFT £264,000 IN CASH TO A SPANISH BANK ACCOUNT. POLICE AND THE MEDIA WATCHED HOW HE SPENT IT.
Take them away.
Ronnie Knight changes signs from CLOSED to OPEN.
Exterior of Indian restaurant in Spain.
It is believed Mr Knight has now acquired business interests with this Indian restaurant.
Indian restaurant chopper.
Ronnie walks in kitchen.
This is what I used to do in Spain, seven years I had that restaurant in Spain, and it's still there, because everyone loves Indian food.
Ronnie points at people cooking.
They won't let you know nothing, these boys, won't let you know the spices you put in it. It is all secret.
RONNIE KNIGHT MADE NO SECRET OF SPENDING MONEY ON HIS NEW LIFE WITH SUSAN HAYLOCK.
RONNIE'S WEDDING shots from long lens.
I finished up getting married and had a big do there. It cost about 7000 pound, and that's with the fire works display and all. I invited everybody, all my pals were there. They was all over there. Everyone come back, yeah, so that was all right.
POLICE TRACKING THE ROBBERY FOUND FOUR OF THEIR SUSPECTS WERE GUESTS AT KNIGHT'S WEDDING. THEY WERE AMONG A COMMUNITY OF BRITISH CRIMINALS LIVING LUXURY LIFESTYLES ON THE COSTA DEL SOL.
It was just an unbelievable life. You could get up in the morning and just put your shorts on, and it wasn't gunna rain.
Ohhh, I was very jealous, I was very jealous of that. I would have liked to have been out there. I knew that I was gonna be arrested but I didn't run away. I faced the music.
Johnny got nicked. I mean I didn't get nicked for it. I suppose if I was there, I might have got nicked for it.
Ronnie Knight, as OPEN sign turns to CLOSED.
I was satisfied. I had the clubs, I had the restaurants. That suited me. It was when I branched out to Property, that's when I done wrong.
Aerial shots of Spanish villas and marina.
KNIGHT INVESTED IN LUXURY SPANISH APARTMENTS. BUT RONNIE CLAIMS STOLEN MONEY WAS EATEN UP BY BAD INVESTMENTS.
Aerial Shots of Spain Harbour Apartments.
'Cos I put it into a property, and that's when the peseta went down, so the next thing I know to get rid of them, I was selling them half price, just to get rid of 'em.
Ronnie Knight at BBQ table with Sue Haylock.
AFTER THE PROPERTY CRASH, RONNIE'S MARRIAGE TO SUSAN HAYLOCK BEGAN TO FALL APART.
Barbara, she was working all the time, and leaving me on me own, and that's the way she wanted to do, and so I said, you do what you want to do.
Ronnie Knight at Barbecue.
Recently his sunshine lifestyle has been overshadowed. Knight's been in hospital after being beaten up, and his nightclub business has run into financial problems. He decided to return to Britain after a newspaper agreed to pay for his story.
IN 1994, RONNIE KNIGHT ACCEPTED A £20,000 DEAL TO TELEVISE HIS RETURN HOME.
Were you in any way connected with this robbery eleven years ago?
Never, no, never.
The police say you were.
Well they think I was 'cos of me brothers.
WHILE SELLING THE STORY OF HIS INNOCENCE, RONNIE KEPT IT SECRET THAT THE BREAKDOWN OF HIS MARRIAGE HAD CONTRIBUTED TO HIS DECISION TO RETURN HOME.
Ronnie Kisses Sue In Field.
Don't start blasted crying, this is it now.
Ronnie and Sue kiss.
Ronnie walks to Lear jet on tarmac in Slo-mo.
The private plane come, you know, getting nearer and nearer, you know, and I was thinking, Jesus Christ, it is getting too near us now, Jesus Christ, it is getting too near for me now. And I didn't know what was going to happen. And the only mistake I done on that plane was when they give me the bottle of champagne, that looks like I'm being flash and all that, but there's no way I meant it that way, I was so nervous really, and I just picked it up.
Plane lands and Ronnie arrested.
They were there waiting for me. It was only two of them, Mr Read and I forget the girl's name now. So they were waiting for me, and as I got off they said, Mr Knight can we talk to you, you are under arrest, anything to say? I said Nah. I just left it as that, and they took me back to the station, and that was the beginning of my welcome party back in London.
Car drives into court chased by photographers.
When Ronnie Knight was brought to court this morning…
Tonight, only a day after flying home, Ronnie Knight is locked up, in small cell in Brixton prison.
AFTER A DECADE OF PUBLIC DENIALS, RONNIE KNIGHT PLEADED GUILTY TO HANDLING £384,000 FROM THE ROBBERY MASTERMINDED BY HIS BROTHER, JOHN.
I think deep down as a villain and a thief, to go and do the Security Express robbery was a great thing, but deep down, looking at it all…
John lights cigar in front of back projection.
There was plenty of money there. I trusted a lot of people. The robbery was done, I come unstuck, right? And crime did not pay me on the Security Express robbery.
I was caught, simple as that.
I didn't get a five, I got a seven. So I've done it now. I'm free.
Tom Mayo, Knight family friend.
All right, they been villains, but they never knocked anybody about, whatever they done. They got money with their brains.
So that's the story of my life.
Headline: Death in Soho. Reveal Accused of £5000 for Killing, to reveal Zomparelli's face.
NOT QUITE. QUESTIONS STILL HANG OVER RONNIE'S ROLE IN THE MURDER OF ALFREDO ZOMPARELLI, THE KILLER OF HIS YOUNGEST BROTHER. PARLIAMENT BEGAN DEBATING CHANGES TO THE DOUBLE JEOPARDY LAW TO ALLOW AQUITTED SUSPECTS TO BE RE-TRIED FOR MURDER.
Houses of Parliament exterior.
Select Committee Debate, October 26, 2000
The most famous case perhaps is Ronnie Knight. A jury found him not guilty of murder of a gangland murder when Alfred Zomparelli was gunned down in the Golden Goose in Soho.
Martin Linton, Labour MP
Exterior Houses of Parliament
He admits he got away with murder, in this case that's in an exactly literally sense. Although he didn't pull the trigger himself, he gave a contract killer a nice big envelope to do it.
Eyes of Ronnie Knight from mugshot.
We got to have revenge and that was my revenge. I can't do it for anybody else, it's my brother, it's my family, and I'm going to do anything for my family. And I know my Johnny would have done the same, if he'd have had the chance, he would have done the same. But fortunately, I went out more than my Johnny did. Though he wanted to, he left it to me. He was my brother, he was our greatest, he was only a kid, he was 21, he was lovely.
Picture of Alfredo Zomparelli.
CREDIT ROLL TO LEFT.
Images in square to left, with lines under.
Ronnie Knight looks into blue sky.
Ronnie Knight Maintains He Is Innocent Of The Zomparelli Murder.
John Knight in car with sunglasses.
John Knight Served 12 Years For Armed Robbery.
Peter Wilton at target.
Police Are Still Hunting Four Million Pounds Of The Stolen Cash.
End Credit roll.
Co-produced by Pete Sawyer
Produced and Directed by
A David Monaghan Productions with HTV-West/Carlton
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