George Cornell (né Myers; c. 1928 – 9 March 1966) was an English criminal and member of the Richardson Gang, who were scrap metal dealers and criminals. He was shot and killed by Ronnie Kray at the Blind Beggar public house in Whitechapel. Kray was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder three years later and remained in prison until his death in 1995.
George Cornell was from east London and was originally known as George Myers but had changed his surname some years earlier. Cornell was a tough, loyal enforcer who worked for the Richardson Gang; he was known for being totally fearless. A childhood friend of the Kray twins, Cornell was a prominent criminal in east London during the 1960s and upon moving to South London joined up with the Kray Twins' rivals, the Richardson Gang, who were brothers Charlie Richardson and Eddie Richardson. Cornell, along with Richardson gang colleague and friend "Mad" Frankie Fraser, became an enforcer for the Richardsons and was primarily used by them in conversations with the Krays. Conversations were often held in pubs such as The Grave Maurice pub. Ronnie Kray in particular had once been friends with Cornell but his later dislike of him probably stemmed from Cornell's decision to side with the Richardson Gang after moving to south London.
On 9 March 1966, Cornell and his friend Albie Woods entered the saloon bar of the Blind Beggar pub, ordered some light ales and then sat upon stools next to the bar. At around 8:30pm, both men were approached by Ronnie Kray; on seeing him, Cornell sneered with sarcasm "Look who's here". Ronnie Kray walked towards Cornell, took out a 9 mm Luger, and calmly shot him once in the forehead, just above his right eye. Cornell slumped against a nearby pillar, the bullet, apparently, passing straight through him. He was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died at around 03:30 a.m.
The news spread rapidly. Although Ronnie Kray was identified by several eyewitnesses as he calmly left the public house, no one would agree to testify against him and the police were forced to release him from custody. Cornell was buried in Camberwell New Cemetery, South London.
Old Bailey trial
On 4 March 1969 Ronnie Kray was unanimously found guilty by a jury at The Old Bailey of the murder of George Cornell. His brother Reggie was also found guilty of murdering Jack McVitie, who was murdered the year after Cornell. They were both sentenced to life imprisonment. Ronnie Kray died in jail in March 1995, while Reggie Kray was imprisoned for a total of 32 years before he was released from custody on compassionate grounds in August 2000 as a result of cancer, from which he died a few weeks after his release.
- "Richardsons' scrap metal dealers", retrieved 23 September 2007
- Cornell shot by Ronnie Kray retrieved 23 September 2007
- "Cornell moved to South London, joined Richardsons", retrieved 23 September 2007
- George Cornell, Camberwell New Cemetery and Crematorium, Find-A-Grave
- George Cornell profile, Find-A-Grave
- BBC website: "1969: Kray twins guilty of Cornell and McVitie murders"
- Information on Cornell's murder
- Metropolitan Police website, History of The Kray Twins including Cornell