HERE AT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL WE FEATURE THE BRITISH SECRET AGENT – VIOLETTE SZABO, ALONG WITH OTHER SOE HERO’S AND HEROINES, SAS (SPECIAL AIR SERVICE) AND OTHER UK SPECIAL FORCES.
NOT FORGETTING OF COURSE OUR WW2 NAZI HOLOCAUST EXHIBITION FOR WHICH WE FEATURE AND INCLUDE MANY OF THE ABOVE WHO HAD BEEN CAPTURED, TORTURED AND SUBSEQUENTLY EXECUTED BY THE NAZI’S DURING THIS HORRIFIC PERIOD.
WE ALSO HAVE A NUMBER OF PERSONALLY SIGNED EXHIBIT ITEMS KINDLY DONATED TO THE MUSEUM AND ON DISPLAY FROM VIOLETTE SZABO’S DAUGHTER – TANIA WHO HAS CARRIED ON THE LEGACY OF HER MOTHER SINCE HER DEATH IN 1945 .
ABOVE & BELOW …. Original oil paintings by our in-house Gloucestershire artist Paul Bridgman here on display at The Crime Through Time Collection, Littledean Jail .
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
VIOLETTE’S DAUGHTER TANIA
ORIGINAL FILM POSTER FROM THE EPIC FILM BASED ON VIOLETTE SZABO
TANIA SZABO PROUDLY SHOWING HER MOTHER’S MEDALS SHE RECEIVED POSTHUMOUSLY TO ANDY JONES OF THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL
BELOW ARE A FEW PICTURES TAKEN AT A RECENT GET-TOGETHER AND CATCH-UP WITH TANIA , DAUGHTER OF WW2 S.O.E. ( SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE ) HEROINE – VIOLETTE SZABO … PARTICULARLY SPECIAL WHEREBY SHE KINDLY BROUGHT ALONG AS A SURPRISE , HER MOTHERS GEORGE MEDAL , CROIX DE GUERRE AND THE MEDAILLE DE LA RESISTANCE FOR WHICH TANIA HAD RECEIVED POSTHUMOUSLY AS A YOUNG CHILD. A GREAT PRIVILEGE TO HAVE SEEN AND HELD SUCH A HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT PIECE OF HISTORY .
BELOW: ANDY JONES OF LITTLEDEAN JAIL WITH ACTRESS VIRGINIA McKENNA STAR OF THE FILM ” CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE” AT A RECENT GARDEN PARTY FUNDRAISING EVENT AT THE LITTLE STONE SHED ‘VIOLETTE SZABO MUSEUM ‘ IN WORMELOW, HEREFORDSHIRE.
BELOW: ANDY JONES OF LITTLEDEAN JAIL WITH VIOLETTE SZABO’S DAUGHTER TANIA AT A RECENT GARDEN PARTY FUNDRAISING EVENT AT THE LITTLE STONE SHED ‘VIOLETTE SZABO MUSEUM ‘ IN WORMELOW, HEREFORDSHIRE.
Below is a signed image of Tania Szabo wearing the medals she received posthumously for and behalf of her mother Violette now on display at the Crime Through Time Collection
VIOLETTE WITH DAUGHTER TANIA
TANIA SZABO WEARING HER MOTHERS MEDALS
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
TANIA SZABO WEARING HER MOTHERS MEDALS
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
VIRGINIA McKENNA SIGNED FILM STILL
ACTRESS VIRGINIA McKENNA WITH TANIA SZABO
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
VIRGINIA McKENNA SIGNED FILM STILL
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE FILM POSTER
TANIA SZABO VISITS LITTLEDEAN JAIL
SOE HEROINE VIOLETTE SZABO
CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE FILM POSTER
VIRGINIA McKENNA SIGNED FILM STILL
CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE FILM POSTER
1ST DAY COVER SIGNED BY WW2 SOE HEROINE NANCY WAKE
VIRGINIA McKENNA SIGNED FILM STILLS
ANDY JONES WITH TANIA SZABO AT A RECENT VIOLETTE SZABO MEMORIAL EVENT AT THE VIOLETTE SZABO MUSEUM , WORMELOW IN 2014
ANDY JONES WITH VIRGINIA McKENNA AT A RECENT VIOLETTE SZABO MEMORIAL EVENT AT THE VIOLETTE SZABO MUSEUM , WORMELOW IN 2014
TANIA SZABO AT THE UNVEILING OF THE PLAQUE COMMEMORATING HER MOTHER AND OTHER SOE MEMBERS IN 2013
TANIA SZABO’S BOOK ON HER MOTHER
1ST DAY COVER SIGNED BY WW2 SOE HEROINE ODETTE HALLOWES ALONG WITH TANIA SZABO
HERE AT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION , LITTLEDEAN JAIL, FOREST OF DEAN, GLOUCESTERSHIRE, UK ….. WE FEATURE MANY OF THE UK’S SPECIAL FORCES INCLUDING PERSONAL TESTAMENTS TO MANY OF OUR HEROINES INCLUDING SOE VIOLETTE SZABO WHO WAS CAPTURED , TORTURED AND MURDERED BY THE NAZI’S AT RAVENSBRUCK CONCENTRATION CAMP IN 1945 (AGED 23)
Violette Szabo was born Violette Reine Elizabeth Bushell in Paris, on 26 June 1921, the second child of a French mother and an English taxi-driver father, who had met during World War I. The family moved to London, and she attended school in Brixton until the age of 14. At the start of World War II, she was working at the perfume counter of Le Bon Marché, a department store in Brixton.
Violette met Étienne Szabo, a French officer of Hungarian descent, at the Bastille Day parade in London in 1940. They married on 21 August 1940 after a whirlwind 42-day romance. Violette was 19, Étienne was 31. Shortly after the birth of their only child, Tania, Étienne died from chest wounds at the Battle of El Alamein in October 1942. He had never seen his daughter. It was Étienne’s death that made Violette, having already joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1941, decide to offer her services to the British Special Operations Executive (SOE).
Below shows Violette with her husband Etienne
After an assessment for fluency in French and a series of interviews, she was inducted into SOE. She received intensive training in night and daylight navigation; escape and evasion, both Allied and German weapons, unarmed combat, demolitions, explosives, communications and cryptography. In his book “Das Reich” Max Hastings comments that Szabo was adored by the men and women of SOE both for her courage and endless infectious cockney laughter. An ankle injury during parachute training delayed her deployment until 5 April 1944, when she parachuted into German-occupied France, near Cherbourg.
Under the code name “Louise”, which also happened to be her nickname, she and SOE colleague Philippe Liewer reorganised a Resistance network that had been broken up by the Germans. She led the new group in sabotaging road and railway bridges. Her wireless reports to SOE headquarters on the local factories producing war materials for the Germans were important in establishing Allied bombing targets. She returned to England by Lysander on 30 April 1944, landing at RAF Tempsford, after an intense but successful first mission.
She flew to the outskirts of Limoges, France on 7 June 1944 (immediately following D-Day) from RAF Tempsford. Immediately on arrival, she coordinated the activities of the local Maquis (led by Jacques Dufour) in sabotaging communication lines during German attempts to stem the Normandy landings.
She was a passenger in a car that raised the suspicions of German troops at an unexpected roadblock that had been set up to find SturmbannführerHelmut Kämpfe of the Das Reich Division, who had been captured by the local resistance.
A brief gun battle ensued. Her Maquis minders escaped unscathed in the confusion. However, Szabo was captured when she ran out of ammunition, around midday on 10 June 1944, near Salon-la-Tour. Her captors were most likely from the 1st Battalion of 3rd SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment Deutschland (Das Reich Division). In R.J. Minney’s biography she is described as putting up fierce resistance with her Sten gun, although German documents of the incident record no German injuries or casualties. A recent biography of Vera Atkins, the intelligence officer for the French section of SOE, notes that that there was a great deal of confusion about what happened to Szabo—the story was revised four times—and states that the Sten gun incident “was probably a fabrication.”
Violette Szabo was executed, aged 23, by SS firing squad on or about 5 February 1945. Her body was cremated in the camp’s crematorium.
Three other women members of the SOE were also executed at Ravensbrück: Denise Bloch, Cecily Lefort, and Lilian Rolfe. Of the SOE’s 55 female agents, thirteen were killed in action or died in Nazi concentration camps
BELOW ARE SOME BRIEF IMAGES OF AN ORIGINAL WW2 “F.A.N.Y” (FIRST AID NURSING YEOMANRY ) – WTS (WOMENS TRANSPORT SERVICES ) UNIFORM COMPLETE WITH ITS ORIGINAL WW2 ISSUE GAS MASK … AS WOULD HAVE ALSO BEEN WORN BY VIOLETTE SZABO DURING HER DUTIES PRIOR TO HAVING BEEN SECONDED TO THE SOE (SPECIAL OPERATIONS EXECUTIVE ) AS A BRITISH SECRET AGENT .
A VERY SCARCE AND HIGHLY SOUGHT AFTER HISTORIC ITEM IN ITS OWN RIGHT DISPLAYED HERE TOO IN AND AMONGST OTHER WW2 F.A.N.Y , ATS, WTS ETC ETC WOMEN IN WARTIME MOVEMENTS
BELOW AND ABOVE
World War 2 FANY ( First Aid Nursing Yeomany) uniform on mannequin displayed along with an original WW2 anti aircraft binocular gunsight on tripod now on display to the public here at the Crime Through Time Collection at Littledean jail, Gloucestershire
below… Film poster advertising “CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE” based on the heroine -Violette Szabo… starring Virginia McKenna and Paul Scofield
ORIGINAL 1958 CINEMA RELEASE POSTER
George Cross posthumously awarded to Violette Szabo’s daughter Tania
Tania Szabó is Violette’s daughter, although, as she says, she is of an age to be her mother’s grandmother by now. On her ninth birthday, in June 1951, she sailed forAustralia with her grandparents, Charles and Reine Bushell, on the £10 ticket. After college in Armidale, NSW and a stint as a psychiatric nurse in Sydney, she returned to England in the New Year of 1963. It was so very cold.
After working as a secretary, croupier, office administrator in various companies, completing a course in computing in the late 60s (cards with holes and no electronics) and spending a year in Beverley Hills studying Spanish while continuing her studies in the humanities, she returned to England and finally moved to Jersey in April 1976 where she opened her Language Studio with the help of Paul Emile Francis Holley, a friend of Violette’s. He also trained her in the recognition of German armaments and uniforms as he was a British Intelligence Officer during WWII.
Tania is an author as well as a professional multilingual translator and private tutor. The author, Avv. Mario Zacchi of Florence and author of Il Mastino Napoletano – the Italian Mastiff, the Standard and History of this amazing dog commissioned Tania to translate it. It is now lodged with the British Library. Zacchi’s writing in his native Italian immediately draws you into the mystery, fierce loyalty and funny antics of this Cerebus of dogs and it was a sheer delight for Tania to translate into English bringing his love and erudition of this remarkable breed to an anglophone readership.
On 29 April 2009, Paul Holley, the Intelligence officer, who had trained Violette in German armaments and uniforms, and was Tania’s friend and mentor, died one month into his 90th year. She continues to miss his friendship and invaluable support. She has closed her Language Studio and now retired could no longer afford to live in Jersey and now lives in a lovely 17th century cottage just outside Builth Wells in Wales. She is still sorting out all the books and archives before completing her paperback version of Young Brave and Beautiful and getting back down to writing Etienne’s amazing life’s story.
Violette’s only daughter Tania Szabo pictured at her home in Jersey i 2007
ABOVE: FRONT COVER LINDA’S SOON TO BE RELEASED NEW BOOK, PUBLISHED AND RELEASED BY MIRROR BOOKS ON THURSDAY 11 JULY. AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER THROUGH AMAZON & WILL BE AVAILABLE THROUGH ALL GOOD BOOKSHOPS THEREAFTER .
ABOVE AND BELOW : Here’s a couple of pics of Linda Calvey during one of her private visits to view her exhibition here on display at Littledean Jail .
BELOW: ORIGINAL OIL PAINTING BY GLOUCESTERSHIRE ARTIST PAUL BRIDGMAN DEPICTICING INFAMOUS “GODMOTHER OF BRITISH CRIME ” aka THE BLACK WIDOW, LINDA CALVEY , ALONG WITH HER FORMER HUSBANDS MICKEY CALVEY AND DANNY REECE, ALSO FORMER LOVER RONNIE COOK . THIS PAINTING IS ON DISPLAY IN AND AMONGST THE DARK TOURIST ART GALLERY HERE AT THE JAIL.
BELOW: SIGNED COLLAGE PRINT OF LINDA CALVEY, BLACK WIDOW, PERSONALLY SIGNED BY HER. THIS BEING A PRINT OF THE ORIGINAL PAINTING BY PAUL BRIDGMAN , GLOUCESTERSHIRE ARTIST WHICH IS HERE ON DISPLAY AT THE JAIL .
ABOVE: ORIGINAL PERSONALLY SIGNED OIL PAINTING ENTITLED ‘TRANQUILITY’ BY LINDA CALVEY. THIS WAS PAINTED FOR LINDA’S MOTHER WHILST INCARCERATED IN HIGHPOINT PRISON, SUFFOLK IN NOVEMBER 2002 AS CAN BE SEEN ABOVE.
Above : “DEADLY WOMEN” … Here is an intriguing short American produced documentary based on the UK’s infamous Linda Calvey- “The Black Widow”
ABOVE: A PERSONALISED HANDWRITTED AND SIGNED DOODLE SKETCH FROM LINDA INCLUDING HER PRISON NUMBER, HERE ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL.
Linda Calvey is a Londoner with stunning good looks and an attraction to gangsters . Her first husband, gangster Mickey Calvey, died in a Police shoot out after a botched armed robbery, and her second husband, Ronnie Cook, received a 16-year prison sentence for armed robbery in 1981.
While Ronnie is incarcerated, Linda fritters away his stash. Fearing her lover’s reaction on his release, she pays a hitman £10,000 to take care of Cook, but “allegedly ” ends up firing the fatal shot herself ???
Linda Calvey has always vehemently denied this claim !!!!!
ABOVE: A RATHER STRIKINGLY PERSONALLY HAND SIGNED SEXY IMAGE OF LINDA CALVEY. PICTURED HERE IN HER PRIME AGED 22 AND PRIOR TO HER ARREST . WOW WHAT A STUNNER !!!(AND STILL A REAL STUNNER TODAY )
ABOVE & BELOW … LINDA CALVEY -THE BLACK WIDOW LEAVES COURT IN A HIGH SECURITY POLICE VEHICLE DURING HER TRIAL AT THE OLD BAILEY , LONDON IN NOVEMBER 1991 . SHE SERVED 18 YEARS IN VARIOUS WOMEN’S HIGH SECURITY PRISONS FOR A MURDER THAT SHE HAS CONSISTENTLY DENIED COMMITTING
SHE WAS OFFERED A LESSER PRISON SENTENCE BY THE HOME OFFICE IF SHE CONFESSED TO THE MURDER AFTER BEING GIVEN A LIFE SENTENCE. .SHE SUBSEQUENTLY REFUSED THIS OFFER OUTRIGHT AS SHE HAS ALWAYS MAINTAINED HER INNOCENCE AND THAT SHE HAD BEEN SET-UP ….. HENCE AS A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE SERVED THE FULL 18 YEAR PRISON TERM .
Original painting by Gloucestershire Artist Paul Bridgman for and on display here at Littledean Jail
ABOVE: LINDA’S WEDDING DAY WORN BASQUE, WHICH SHE WORE WHEN MARRYING CO-ACCUSED MURDERER – DANNY REECE. THE WEDDING TOOK PLACE AT HMP DURHAM, AS CONFIRMED WITH HER HANDWRITTEN LETTER ABOVE, WHICH IS ON DISPLAY HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL
BELOW: TABLOID SENSATIONALISM…. THE SUNDAY PEOPLE IN DECEMBER 2006 AIM TO RIDICULE LINDA CALVEY WHILST SHE IS STILL IN PRISON .
BELOW : LINDA CALVEY (THE BLACK WIDOW) …BRITAIN’S NOTORIOUS FORMER FEMALE ARMED ROBBER, GANGSTER AND ALLEGED MURDERESS….WHO SERVED OVER 20 YEARS IN PRISON (18 YEARS OF THESE FOR A MURDER SHE STILL VEHEMENTLY CLAIMS TO THIS DAY SHE DID NOT COMMIT ) ….. SEEN FILMED HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL HAVING A HEAD AND HANDS CAST FOR DISPLAY ( FOR THE LINDA CALVEY – BLACK WIDOW EXHIBITION ) NOW ON PERMANENT DISPLAY AS PART OF THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION .
THESE CASTS HAVING BEEN MADE BY NICK REYNOLDS , SON OF THE GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY MASTERMIND – BRUCE REYNOLDS
BELOW: LINDA CALVEY WITH ANDY JONES OF THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION PRESENTING A HANDMADE CUSHION ACQUIRED FROM NOTORIOUS BRITISH SERIAL KILLER ROSE WEST WHILST IMPRISONED TOGETHER AT HMP DURHAM IN 1994 …. NOW ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL ALONG WITH VARIOUS OTHER MEMORABILIA ITEMS KINDLY DONATED FOR HISTORICAL DISPLAY AT THE JAIL .
ABOVE & BELOW : IMAGES OF BOTH SIDES OF THIS CARD AS PERSONALLY DISCRIBED BY LINDA HERSELF IN THE HANDWRITEN AND SIGNED PIECE BELOW
ABOVE AND BELOW : A CHRISTMAS CARD FROM MYRA HINDLEY TO LINDA CALVEY WHILST THEY WERE BOTH IN PRISON, ALONG WITH A HANDWRITTEN AND SIGNED LETTER FROM LINDA CONFIRMING THE ABOVE.
BELOW: A FEW IMAGES TAKEN IN FEBRUARY 2018, OF A RECENT CATCH UP WITH LINDA CALVEY AND ANDY JONES OF THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION DURING A PRIVATE VISIT TO HER HOME. WHEREUPON SHE ALSO KINDLY ADDED SOME PERSONALLY HAND SIGNED ANNOTATIONS TO VARIOUS EXHIBIT FEATURES FOR DISPLAY IN HER EXHIBITION AREA HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL .
NEWSPAPER FEATURE ON LINDA CALVEY’S MARRIAGE TO GEORGE CEASAR IN 2009 .
SHE VEHEMENTLY DENIES KILLING HER FORMER LOVER RON COOK WHO WAS SHOT AT POINT BLANK RANGE WITH A SHOTGUN AT THE HOME OF LINDA CALVEY, THE CRIME FOR WHICH SHE SERVED A TOTAL OF 18 YEARS IN PRISON .
SHE CLAIMS SHE WAS AFFORDED THE OPPORTUNITY BY THE HOME OFFICE AUTHORITIES TO SERVE A LESSER SENTENCE OF 7 YEARS IF SHE CONFESSED TO THIS CRIME .
SHE REFUSED THIS OFFER CLAIMING THAT…. WHY SHOULD SHE CONFESS TO A CRIME SHE NEVER COMMITTED?
INSTEAD THE HOME OFFICE INCREASED THE TARIFF ON TWO OCCASIONS TO A TOTAL 18 YEAR LIFE SENTENCE WHICH SHE SERVED IN FULL AS A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE .
COME VISIT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION AND SEE FOR YOURSELVES WHAT LINDA CALVEY HAS TO SAY IN HER OWN WORDS …
Calvey began her criminal career as a lookout, later becoming a getaway driver and eventually wielding guns herself during robberies.
Murder of Cook
She paid a hitmanDaniel Reece £10,000 to kill Cook. However he lost his nerve at the last minute and Calvey picked up the gun herself shooting the victim at point blank range whilst he kneeled in front of her.
At the time of her release Calvey was Britain‘s longest serving female prisoner. She spent 18 and a half years in prison for the murder of Cook and had also previously served three and a half years for an earlier robbery.
In 2002 a book by Kate Kray detailing Calvey’s life and crimes was published
BELOW ARE A NUMBER OF IMAGES OF SOME OF THE PERSONAL EXHIBIT ITEMS BELONGING TO LINDA CALVEY ON DISPLAY HERE AT THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION , IMAGES OF LINDA PICTURED HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL AND AT VARIOUS EVENTS ETC ETC
Black Widow in freedom bid
ABOVE: Linda Calvey pictured here during a private visit to The Crime Through Time Collection at Littledean Jail in the Forest of Dean , Gloucestershire.
A woman known as the Black Widow who was jailed for life for shooting dead her lover at point-blank range launched a new High Court bid for freedom today.
Lawyers for Linda Calvey asked a judge for permission to challenge Home Secretary David Blunkett’s failure to refer her case to the Parole Board.
Her counsel Alan Newman QC accused Mr Blunkett of acting unlawfully and in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Calvey, 53, who was in court to hear her case argued, has served 12 years of her life sentence and is currently held at Highpoint Prison, Suffolk.
She was convicted in November 1991 of the murder of Ronald Cook.
At her Old Bailey trial the jury was told that Calvey originally hired a hit man, Daniel Reece, for £10,000 to carry out the murder in November 1990.
But he had lost his nerve at the last minute, and she forced Cook to kneel in front of her before carrying out the killing.
Both Calvey and Reece, who was also jailed for life, denied murdering Cook at Calvey’s home in Plaistow, east London, in November 1990.
The trial jury was told Calvey was nicknamed the Black Widow because of her habit of dressing in black after her husband Mickey was shot dead by police in 1978 as he was carrying out an armed robbery.
Today Mr Newman told the court that the trial judge set the minimum period she must serve for retribution and deterrence at seven years – but the then Home Secretary more than doubled the tariff to 15 years in 1993. The tariff was reviewed and reset in 1998.
In November last year, the House of Lords ruled in the case of Anderson that it was incompatible with human rights laws for the Home Secretary to set tariffs for mandatory lifers.
Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights required minimum periods in custody to be set by “an independent and impartial tribunal”.
Following that ruling Ms Calvey asked the Home Office to refer her case to the Parole Board as a matter of urgency, but her request was turned down.
Mr Newman told Mr Justice Jackson, sitting in London, that the Home Secretary’s failure to do so was unreasonable and breached Article 5 of the convention, which guaranteed a prisoner’s right to have their case reassessed if the basis for his or her detention changed.
He said it was “irrelevant” that the Lord Chief Justice had also concluded that the tariff should be 15 years.
Mr Blunkett had taken the view that Ms Calvey would have to wait until she could take advantage of new legislation passing through Parliament dealing with the position of lifers’ tariffs.
But by then she would probably have served the full 15-year tariff, and this would amount to a “cruel punishment” contrary to the 1688 Bill of Rights, said Mr Newman.
He told the judge that the case could affect many other murderers serving life sentences.
Seeking leave to apply for judicial review, he said: “The present application raises important and difficult points of law. Whatever may be the eventual outcome, even if at the end of the day the Secretary of State’s view prevails, this case clearly should be allowed to proceed to a full hearing.”
Would you marry the black widow? Ex-gangster Linda Calvey finds a new fiance
She’s a notorious gangster’s moll and every man who’s fallen for her has ended up dead or in jail. Now she’s finished a 28-year stretch for murder – and found a rich fiance. Has he got more money than sense?
Potentially lethal things, cars. Linda Calvey had a close call with an exploding spark
plug the other day. It left her a little shaken.
‘Afterwards, the guy in the garage told me that I was very lucky the engine did not go up, because I’d have been a gonner,’ she explains, breezy as you like.
Taking a chance: Linda Calvey and husband-to-be George Ceasar, who trusts her implicitly
‘I was telling my friend and she said: “Oh goodness, Linda. It could have been even worse. What if George had been driving and he’d been blown to pieces? You’d have been back inside in no time.” She was right, too. I can see the headlines now: The Black Widow Strikes Again.’
For some reason she seems to find this funny. Even more curiously, George, the man she will marry next year, is rocking with laughter too, tears collecting in his eyes.
Why the hilarity? Surely no sane person — or, at the very least, no lawabiding person — would regard it as funny to be so closely associated with Linda Calvey, behind the wheel or not.
Linda is the stuff of legends
For Linda is the stuff of legends — East End gangster legends, mostly.
In notoriety terms, she is up there with the Krays (indeed, Reggie Kray once proposed to her, which kind of says it all). So did ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser. In glamour terms, she is in a league of her own.
For most of her adult life she has gone by the name of the Black Widow, dubbed so ever since one police officer with whom she’d had dealings pondered the fact that ‘every man she has ever been involved with is either in prison or dead’.
When Myra Hindley died a few years back, Linda — her prison hairdresser, oddly enough — assumed the title of the longest-serving female prisoner in the country.
That 18-year stint was for blasting a former lover to death with a shotgun. Another lover was her co-defendant in the case, and was sent down, too.
They later married behind bars, although — as is so often the way with Linda — it didn’t last.
Her first husband Micky (the one who taught her to be a career criminal — armed robbery to be precise) met a violent end, too, although this was at the hands of the police, who confronted him mid hold-up. That is quite some history to be trailing up the aisle with poor George, who seems like ever such a nice man.
George’s past is squeaky clean
They will marry in the spring with seven — count them! — bridesmaids in tow. Isn’t that a tad excessive for a 60-year-old grandmother getting hitched for the third time? Perhaps.
But then nothing about Linda Calvey was ever understated.
Four months ago, she was released from prison and into the arms of her new love, whom she met while she was on day release.
George Ceasar is a businessman and a part-time ski instructor, and ‘the farthest thing in the world from a gangster’, according to his future wife, who seems almost surprised by this. He drives a red Rolls-Royce (‘bought rather than nicked,’ she grins). His past is squeaky clean, literally. He used to run a successful bleach factory.
‘We were the first people to put bleach in bottles,’ he tells me, proudly.
He should really be the sort of man who would run a mile from Linda Calvey and the criminal underworld she epitomises.
So why, then, is he gazing adoringly at her and bemoaning the peculiarities of the British parole system, in the way that most men of his background would tut-tut at how you can never find a Post Office when you need one.
Gangster Reggie Kray and “Mad” Frankie Fraser both proposed to Linda Calvey
‘Can’t you poison someone in daylight hours?’
George simply cannot believe that his bride-to-be is still subject to ‘barmy’ parole conditions, which mean she cannot spend the night at his — or their, as it is now — home.
‘They have this mad idea that I am in some danger because of her,’ he says, appalled.
‘The prison officers took me aside when I went to visit her, saying: “Be careful.”
‘They implied she might try to kill me, which is nonsense. Even if it were true, do the authorities really think that they are protecting me by allowing her to be here with me only during the day. Can’t you poison someone in daylight hours?
‘It’s just ludicrous, from all angles. Does she seem dangerous to you?’
Erm, well, no. But then, didn’t Harold Shipman’s patients think he was a darling? I pitch up at George’s sprawling 13-room period house in the Kent countryside, hoping to talk to Britain’s most notorious female gangster, and am taken aback by what I find.
Her demeanour — warm, sparky, surprisingly vulnerable, endlessly entertaining — sets the tone for what will be a truly surreal interview.
‘It is the first time I’ve had a Christmas tree in 18 years. Every year I had Christmas
inside, all I could think of was: “I want my own tree.” George wanted to get an artificial one. I said: “No, George — it has to be real. That’s what I’ve dreamed of.” He said: “Well, whatever you want, my dear, you will have.”’
George was smitten from the start
While I try to get the interview under way — remember that the subject matter is murder, armed robbery and organised crime — they bicker about who will make the tea and whether they are going to see Barry Manilow that evening. She wants to go, but he doesn’t.
I feel as though I have stepped into a rather uneasy cross between a Guy Ritchie film and an Ealing comedy. So, how clever is the woman who has been billed as Britain’s most notorious female gangster? On this evidence, extremely. The other inmates called her Ma in prison, and you can see why.
She is attractive. A little brassy, yes — the lead character in Lynda La Plante’s Widows was apparently based on her — but not overly so. She is tactile, engaging and endearing.
George was smitten from the very start. They met in a Medway town when she was on day release from prison two years ago.
‘I was in a restaurant and it was very busy, so she and her friend shared the table with me. We got chatting, and I thought to myself: “Well, this is a lovely lady here”,’ says George.
‘She said she was on a day out. I said: “Oh, an outing?”
‘She said: “No, a day out from prison.”
‘I said: “Blimey. What did you do? It obviously wasn’t something that bad if you’re in an
‘She said: “The thing I went down for was bad, but the point is I didn’t do it. I am innocent.”’
‘She said she didn’t do it, and I believe her’
George — in his mid-Seventies — has had troubles of his own. He tells me that he, too, has been married twice and that his second wife ‘robbed him blind’.
‘You don’t have to be murdered by a woman to be done over by her,’ he says at one
point. He has grown-up children who he never sees. It sounds as though he was lonely when this captivating creature came into his life. Despite the horrific charge list, he brushes over the gangster stuff — even the bits Linda has admitted to.
‘Yes, she was a naughty girl, but haven’t you done anything wrong?’ he asks disingenuously.
He also claims she is the kindest person he has ever met. They decide between themselves that she’s a much nicer person than he is on the grounds that she once gave a cold stranger her own gloves, while such a thing would never occur to George.
Linda was the longest serving female prisoner in the country
It almost seems churlish to bring up more bloody matters and he sighs when I do so.
‘We’ve talked about it all,’ says George. ‘She’s told me what she did do and what she didn’t do. Yes, she did make mistakes, but she told me that on the big one — killing Ron — she didn’t do it, and I believe her. She was stitched up.
‘She has been completely honest with me. After we’d been out on our first date, I sat her down in the living room and said: “I want the truth. I don’t care whether you did
it or not, but I want to know the truth.” She swore she didn’t, and I believe her.’
Linda has always maintained that she did not kill Ronald Cook. She points out that had she professed some guilt she would have been out of jail years ago.
‘They kept me in because I refused to say I did it. But I’ve always held my hands up to what I’ve done. Armed robbery, yes. I’ve done terrible things, things so bad I can hardly believe it myself. But I did not kill Ron, and I will go to my grave saying it.’
‘Men close to me end up dead or in prison… it’s not my fault’
However, in November 1991, a jury decided that she did, and the evidence presented in court was as chilling as Linda’s current set-up is cosy.
Ron had been her lover for several years, but when he went to prison, she turned to several of his friends — also gangsters — for comfort.
Things got complicated, in the sexual and financial sense.
The court heard that, on Ron’s release, Linda was terrified that he would discover she had been unfaithful and had spent the heist money he had stashed away. She allegedly asked another lover, Daniel Reece, to kill him.
An agreement was put in place. Linda collected Ron from prison and drove him to the home they shared. Reece was waiting, but lost his nerve at the crucial moment, leaving Linda to take the shotgun off him and finish the task herself.
Surreally enough, we find ourselves in George’s kitchen when this horrific chapter is broached.
Both are standing as Linda tells her version, effectively re-enacting aspects of that day as she describes how she cowered in a corner as a gunman — the real killer, she says — fired at pointblank range.
The pair of them talk, quite matter-of-factly, about it as Linda puts the kettle on, saying that the Black Widow tag is quite unfair.
‘OK, men close to me came a cropper, but that’s because I associated with gangsters. They end up dead or in prison. That’s life. It’s not my fault.’
‘I liked the lifestyle’
What she fails to do, however, is convey any real sense of remorse — even for the fact that a man she professed to love died in such a manner. Cold-blooded? Barking mad? Or has she just been removed from law-abiding society for so long that she finds such complete moral detachment easy?
What’s interesting is that the only man she talks about with genuine affection is her first husband, Micky — shot dead by armed officers in a botched robbery.
‘I was from a respectable family, no hint of trouble there,’ she says of their meeting.
‘Micky was trouble, but oh so charming with it. Even my mother said: “I can see why you have fallen for him.” He worshipped me, my Micky. He gave me the world. I
didn’t know — honest I didn’t — that most of it was nicked.’
Micky robbed at gunpoint. His team’s jobs were mostly planned in their kitchen, with her making tea and sandwiches, listening in. Learning. She maintains that she got involved in the hard stuff only when Micky died.
‘I kind of just slid in. I started doing some of the driving, then getting more involved. I had children to feed. I liked the lifestyle. Yes. I wasn’t evil, though. I wasn’t.’
She even insists, after a moment’s hesitation, that the guns she carried weren’t even loaded.
Linda Calvey poses for a photo at a Holloway prison party
Tougher than the rest
She clearly hates the police and blames The Establishment, whatever that is, for the death of Micky. But she isn’t nearly as bitter as you might expect about her time in prison.
Again she talks dispassionately about how she survived: it seems to have boiled down to being tougher than all the rest, but never appearing to be tough. Black humour stalks every sentence.
‘When I went to Durham, I said I wouldn’t talk to anyone who had killed a child. The wardens said: “Well, you’ll not be talking to many people here then. They are all
She struck up a bizarre relationship with Myra Hindley. She says they weren’t friends, but they were close enough that Linda dyed Hindley’s hair regularly. She clearly
doesn’t put herself in the same criminal, morally deficient class, though.
‘Myra never regretted what she had done. I was often shocked by her. I remember when I was working in the prison library she came in and asked to order a book, but she wanted me to put it in the name of another girl, who never came into the library. I asked what book. It was The Devil And His Works. She got it, too.
George looks on — fascinated rather than horrified — as she chats away about somehow finding herself in the same prison wing as one of the most notorious female killers of our time.
‘I missed seeing my grandchildren grow up’
Is there remorse on her part? Yes, undoubtedly so — although mostly for herself and her loved ones.
‘I did not kill Ron and should not have done that sentence, but I know full well that it was my lifestyle that put me in prison for that murder, and that is a terrible thing to live with.
‘All my grandchildren were born when I was inside. I haven’t seen any of them grow up, and they never had a granny.
‘One day, one of them had to write in school about what they did at the weekend. My granddaughter wrote: “We went to see Granny and I got tickled by the policeman and
then we went swimming.” She meant she’d been frisked coming to the prison to see me. That floors you, you know.’
‘Mate, she saw you coming’
She seems close to tears. George pats her arm and talks about how they could put another Christmas tree in the hallway, if she wants.
I wonder if her realizes that most people will look at him and conclude that George, with his red Rolls-Royce, his big empty house and his ability to see the best in people and conclude: ‘Mate, she saw you coming.’
Have they considered a prenuptial agreement?
‘I’ve said I would sign one,’ Linda says sharply, but George shakes his head in distaste.
‘You can’t go into a marriage thinking like that. You have to trust people. Life’s a gamble, but if you lose trust, what have you got? So, she might kill me. Well, hell, I’ll
take the chance.’
Next spring — “If I last that long,” quips George — those wedding bells will ring. Linda is already thinking about flowers and cakes.
As I leave, she skips off to fetch me some of the cake decorations she learned to make in prison.
They are truly remarkable: tiny flowers, berries and leaves, made out of icing, but impossible to tell from the real thing, even up close.
The woman has a rare, impressive — and deeply disturbing — talent for leaving you wondering what is real and what is fake.
DAILY MAIL NEWS REPORT 6 SEPTEMBER 2016 ….
Has the curse of the Black Widow struck again? Notorious gangster’s moll Linda Calvey is single once more after third husband, 84, dies in Spanish hospital
George Ceasar passed away over the weekend, leaving Calvey a widow
Policeman once mused all Calvey’s husbands end up dead or behind bars
But Ceasar was confident his younger wife was not going to ‘bump him off’
Friend says Calvey is concerned people may not think she is a gold-digger
A killer known as the Black Widow is single again following the death of her third husband – but a close friend has insisted it has nothing to do with her infamous track record for losing spouses.
Linda Calvey – who was given her nickname after after one police officer mused ‘every man she has ever been involved with is either in prison or dead’ – is mourning the passing of Goerge Ceasar, 84, in a Spanish hospital this weekend.
The couple had been married five years and, despite Ceasar’s advanced age and ill-health, Calvey is said to be bracing herself for an adverse reaction from critics
PICTURED HERE ABOVE IS LINDA’S FIRST HUSBAND MICKY WHO WAS SHOT DEAD BY A POLICE MARKSMAN
The friend said: ‘She dreads imagining the wrong conclusions people will now leap to, especially as cynics warned when she married him it was for his money, which wasn’t true.
‘The reality is that despite being a tough old boy, George simply passed away from a combination of illness and old age. Linda had nothing to do with his death.
‘It’s sad but that’s life.’
Calvey’s first husband was shot dead by police marksman, and the second, who she divorced, is serving life for murder, see below
Above: Second husband : marrying Danny Reece in Durham’s prison chapel in 1995 . He is still serving a life sentence
She served 18-and-a-half years in jail – the longest time behind bars by any woman in Britain – after shooting a former lover dead.
But Ceasar, who was 17 years her senior, seemed unworried by her reputation.
At his and Calvey’s lavish white wedding five years ago, the law abiding tycoon joked of his willingness to take a chance on ‘Linda not bumping me off’.
However, it is said he recently told friends that ‘marrying Linda was the worst mistake of my life’ – while Calvey hinted at a possible divorce.
‘Unlike George she wasn’t prepared to sit around at home in God’s waiting room day in day out. She spent a third of her life locked-up and when she was released she needed to be out and about,’ said the friend.
Ceasar, who left the UK to live in Spain for health reasons last winter, had spent a month in hospital near Benidorm, Costa Blanca, surrounded by Calvey’s family and friends.
The former ski instructor – who was given the last rites by a priest last week – left instructions for his ashes to be scattered on his favourite mountainside in Switzerland.
But Calvey was not at his side when he passed away as she is still subject to parole orders including travel restrictions, lives in Basildon, Essex.
Calvey, who rejected marriage proposals from villains Reggie Kray and ‘Mad’ Frankie Fraser between husbands, was immortalised in the hit TV series, apltly named ‘Widows,’ by Lynda La Plante but she scoffed at claims she had made £1million from her crimes.
Her first husband Micky was shot dead by the Flying Squad in a bungled raid on a London supermarket in 1978.
She later wed hitman Danny Reece, who helped her kill her then boyfriend, Ronnie Cook in 1990.
Then, while Reece was still in jail for the murder, she asked him for a divorce to wed George.
They had first met by chance in a crowded pub in Canterbury, Kent, close to the prison where she was being prepared for release.
Ceaser asked her if she was enjoying a shopping trip in town, to which she replied: ‘Yes, but I’m from the jail down the road.’
Above: Linda with her boyfriend Ronnie Cook who she was alleged to have shot dead in cold blood .
As their friendship blossomed, he regularly visited her at HMP East Sutton Park and she confessed to him hat while she had ‘done many bad things in life’ she was not a murderer – despite the Old Bailey’s damning verdict.
Calvey has always maintained she was innocent, but jurors heard how she snatched the shotgun from Reece after he had bungled Cook’s killing, and finished him off herself.
On jail visit before her release in 2008, a concerned prison officer took besotted George aside and warned him: ‘Beware, she kills her men, you know..’
But the friend said this week: ‘Okay, the men close to Linda always came croppers but that’s because she associates with gangsters. Yes, they end up dead or in jail but it isn’t her fault.’
The friend said that she was braced for a backlash over George’s death from doubters who claimed she had only wed him for his bank balance.
Calvey had spent so long in jail that when she left her cell, her State pension amounted to only 11p a week.
‘Despite their differences, Linda greatly respected George, who was the kindest man she had ever known. She will miss him but she was never a gold digger.
BELOW: Here’s a brief video trailer to provide you as visitors with a walk-through insight into our “Aladdin’s Cave ” of various exhibit material here on display at the jail . And yes this is a very very brief insight
POLITE WARNING, WE ARE A “DARK TOURISM ” VISITOR ATTRACTION & MOST CERTAINLY NOT SUITABLE FOR CHILDREN, THOSE EASILY OFFENDED, DISTURBED OR OF A SENSITIVE NATURE SO IF THIS APPLIES TO YOU … PLEASE DO AVOID VISITING TO THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL.
AS WE SAY ABOVE … THERE IS STILL LOTS TO SEE & DO ELSEWHERE DURING YOUR VISIT TO THE FOREST OF DEAN… WITH PLENTLY OF FAMILY FRIENDLY ATTRACTIONS
BELOW : Here is a brief video trailer to give you a very brief insight into our Dark Tourist Art Gallery, which is intermingled within and amongst our vast and diverse
ABOVE: a short video showing highlights of the spooky cult horror 1974 film ” HOUSE OF WHIPCORD” featuring some of the many scenes shot in Littledean Jail, Littledean Village,Lydney and other Forest Of Dean areas
Being proud to be based , and living here in Littledean , Forest of Dean ….here is our own brief insight and recommendations on where to stay , eat and enjoy during your visit to our wonderful and truly welcoming Forest of Dean area .Great place to visit and great friendly people ….
Previously and seemingly frowned upon in The County of Gloucestershire by Tourism Chiefs as the poor relation to The Cotswolds …. there can be no doubt that The Forest of Dean is continually growing in popularity to be one of the country’s most picturesque and interesting area to visit …..with a great many visitor attractions, great places to stay, along with lots to do and see .
The Forest of Dean is has become one of the country’s most popular film location areas with Hollywood, other film makers and TV Companies all using the Forests natural beauty …. Recent filming in the area has included Star Wars , The Huntsman (sequel to Snow White and The Huntsman ), Dr Who and Merlin to name but a few .
Incidentally world famous actress Helen Mirren also used to reside here close to the jail in Littledean .
Helen Mirren pictured here in TV drama Prime Suspect
BELOW : SAINT ANTHONY’S WELL… A SACRED WELL BUILT BY THE FLAXLEY ABBEY MONKS …. ALSO USED FOR PAGAN , WICCAN , WITCHCRAFT AND THE OCCULT RITUALS . APPROX 1.5 MILES FROM LITTLEDEAN JAIL .
ABOVE: ELLEN HAYWARD ( OLD ELLEN ) THE LAST WOMAN TO BE TRIED FOR WITCHCRAFT IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE , HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL ….. HER HEADSTONE AND GRAVE CAN BE SEEN AT ST JOHN’S CHURCH , CINDERFORD
ABOVE: PC SAMUEL BEARD … THE FIRST POLICEMAN TO BE KILED IN THE LINE OF DUTY IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE , WHO WAS STATIONED HERE AT LITLLEDAN JAIL FOR 16 YEARS WITH HIS WIFE AND FAMILY …. HIS HEADSTONE AND GRAVE CAN BE SEEN AT ST ETHELBERT’S CHURCH , LITTLEDEAN .
ABOVE : Andy Jones “The Guv’ of The Crime Through Time Collection here at Littledean Jail ” …. deemed by many as the ” Marmite Museum ” … you will either love it or hate it.
ABOVE AND BELOW : Just to remind those who have not yet seen our brief Peaky Blinders Exhibition …. worth a peek !!!
When coming to the Forest of Dean either to visit Littledean jail or any of the other great local tourism attractions in the area, we can highly recommend these places to stay , eat and drink ….
ABOVE … A BRIEF INSIGHT INTO THE FIRST SERVING GLOUCESTERSHIRE POLICEMAN TO BE KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY IN 1861. SERGEANT SAMUEL BEARD WAS , AT THE TIME STATIONED HERE AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL FOR SOME 16 YEARS . THE GLOUCESTERSHIRE POLICE FORCE WAS FORMED IN 1839, MAKING IT THE SECOND OLDEST COUNTY POLICE FORCE IN THE UK .
INCIDENTALLY , THE FIRST RECORDED DEATH OF A SERVING PARISH CONSTABLE (FORERUNNERS TO THE POLICE FORCE ) IN THE FOREST OF DEAN WAS HENRY THOMPSON IN THE PARISH OF RUARDEAN , 14 MAY 1817 , AGED 31 .
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON THE HISTORY OF THE GLOUCESTERSHIRE POLICE FORCE PLEASE CLICK ON THE TWO LINKSHERE OR HERE
BELOW …. A BRIEF LOOK AT THE ENTRANCE TO THE CRIME THROUGH TIME COLLECTION , LITTLEDEAN JAIL, FEATURING VARIOUS POLICE MANNEQUINS AND OTHER POLICE MEMORABILIA DISPLAYS .
HERE’S JUST A BRIEF PICTORIAL INSIGHT INTO SOME OF THE BRITISH POLICE MEMORABILIA AND EPHEMERA ON DISPLAY AT LITTLEDEAN JAIL WHICH COVERS THE HISTORY OF THE POLICE THROUGH THE AGES .
THIS COLLECTION IS BELIEVED TO BE ONE OF THE LARGEST PRIVATE COLLECTIONS OF POLICE MEMORABILIA IN THE UK . WE HAVE HUNDREDS OF VINTAGE HAND PAINTED TRUNCHEONS , RESTRAINTS , HELMETS, BADGES, UNIFORMS AND MUCH MORE .
SEE BELOW FOR PICTORIAL SLIDESHOW OF A FEW EXHIBITS ON DISPLAY