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12 April 1912
|Died||12 March 1996(aged 83)|
|Other names||Jack Spot|
Jack "Spot" Comer (12 April 1912 – 12 March 1996) was an English gangster.
Born Jacob Colmore in Mile End, London, the youngest of four children, Comer's father was a Jewish tailor's machinist who had moved to London with his wife from Łódź, Poland in 1903. To assimilate more into English society, the family changed their name from Comacho to Colmore, and later to Comer. His mother's maiden name was Lifschinska.
Comer grew up in a Jewish ghetto street in Fieldgate Mansions, Whitechapel, along the west side of Myrdle Street, across from the Irish in terraced houses along the east side. At the age of seven Jack had joined his first gang, which was made up of boys from the Jewish side of Myrdle Street who fought their Catholic rivals from the other end of the street. "Spot" soon started being called "spotty" because he had a big black mole on his left cheek.
Comer took part in the Battle of Cable Street. He and his mob clashed with police and charged into the fascists with full power, injuring as many Blackshirts and police as possible. Comer found himself alone and was surrounded by police with truncheons. He was badly beaten and sent to hospital, then prison. In the post-war era, Comer was involved in funding the 43 Group, a Jewish street gang that clashed with the equally violent supporters of the Union Movement and other more minor far-right groups.
Comer allegedly financed and masterminded the raid on BOAC's secure warehouse at Heathrow Airport on 28 July 1948. The raid was foiled by the Flying Squad in what became known as "The Battle of Heathrow".
Decline and later years
Comer's control of the East End rackets waned in 1952 when his former partner, gangster Billy Hill, was released from prison after Comer's failed £1.25 million heist on Heathrow Airport. Off-course bookmaking was also about to become legal at this time, creating another dent in his income.
In 1954 Comer attacked Sunday People crime journalist Duncan Webb and was fined £50. He was accused of possession of a knuckle-duster and convicted of grievous bodily harm. In 1955 he was arrested following a knife fight with Albert Dimes. After Comer was cleared of the stabbing charge, he said it was because of "the greatest lawyer in history", his barrister Rose Heilbron.
In 1956, Comer and his wife Rita were attacked outside their Paddington home by "Mad" Frankie Fraser and Bobby Warren; Fraser and Warren were sentenced to seven years in prison. Comer "retired" and gradually withdrew from crime. He did many jobs over the years; barman, fruit seller and antiques dealer, to name a few. His ashes were spread in Israel.
- Graham Macklin, Very Deeply Dyed in Black, IB Tauris, 2007, p. 53
- TVillains' Paradise: A History of Britain's Post-War Underworld: From the spivs to the Krays (John Murray 2006) ISBN 0-7195-6344-5. (Pegasus 2006) ISBN 1-933648-17-1.
- The Times, News in Brief, 19 November 1954
- The Times, Soho Wounding Charge Two Men For Trial, 30 August 1955
- Brenda Hale, ‘Heilbron, Dame Rose (1914–2005)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Jan 2009; online edn, Jan 2011, accessed 5 Feb 2012