Reformed hitman who ran a London gang reveals he ‘dehumanised’ targets by calling them ‘rats’ before shooting them and says: ‘Once you’ve done one, half a dozen ain’t so different’
- Bobby Cummines, 69, ran the North London gang known as ‘The Chaps’
- Reformed hitman spoke about how he used to think of his targets as ‘rats’
- Explained: ‘Once you’ve done one, half a dozen ain’t so different’
- He later quit crime and was awarded an OBE for services to reformed offenders
A reformed hitman dubbed ‘one of the baddest men in Britain’ has told how he used to think of his targets as ‘rats’ to dehumanise them before killing them.
Some 40 years ago, Bobby Cummines, now 69, ran ‘The Chaps’, a gang that used armed robbery, extortion, racketeering, extreme violence and murder to rule over a patch of North London taking in King’s Cross and Islington.
He was jailed in 1978 and served more than eight years in a number of prisons, including the notorious Parkhurst, where he acted as a ‘mediator’ in a dispute between Reggie Kray and Charlie Richardson.
Speaking to LADbible, Cummines, who turned his back on a life of crime and was awarded an OBE for his services to reformed criminals, explained how he fell into crime after an encounter with a corrupt police officer as a teenager.
Gang boss: Bobby Cummines, now 69, ran ‘The Chaps’, a gang that used armed robbery, extortion, racketeering, extreme violence and murder to rule over a patch of North London taking in King’s Cross and Islington. Pictured, Cummines in a photo taken in 1973
Speaking to LADbible, pictured, Cummines, explained how he fell into crime after an encounter with a corrupt police officer as a teenager
Cummines was walking through a park with two schoolfriends when one let off a starting pistol. Two police officers approached and ‘started getting heavy with them’.
‘I went “oi you can’t do that”. “You’ve got to have a responsible adult” there. He went, “what are you? A lawyer?” And I went, “no, but I know my rights”. And he went, “okay”, walked out, came back, threw a razor on the floor, cut-throat, and he went, “We’re nicking you, that came out of your pocket.”‘
After being told he faced time in jail if he protested his innocence, Cummines pleaded guilty. But with a criminal record he lost his job and struggled to find a new one.
‘I thought, “if you’re going to make me a bad guy, I’ll show you how bad I can be”.’
Cummines, the son of a builder and a stay-at-home mum, started off working as a heavy for criminals, ‘bashing up’ people who owed money. He was recruited to his first armed robbery aged 16 or 17 and spent six months in a detention centre.
‘When I got out, I put my own firm together,’ he said. Over the years the gang became increasingly violent.
Cummines, pictured right, the son of a builder and a stay-at-home mum, started off working as a heavy for criminals, ‘bashing up’ people who owed money
‘We were coming up against violent people,’ he said. ‘There were violent gangs that wanted what we got.’
On one occasion Cummines went to a rival’s ‘lock-up’ with his sawn-off shotgun ‘Kennedy’ – named after President Kennedy, who was shot on November 22, the day before Cummines’ birthday – to threaten gangsters who were threatening the owners of his parents’ local fish and chip shop.
He explained the gang had hooked the owners’ daughter on heroin and were trying to force her into prostitution.
Cummines promised to make them ‘go away’ – in exchange for free fish suppers for life for him and his parents.
‘We went round to this lock-up,’ he continued. ‘I got out of the motor, got the sawn-off [shotgun]. One’s [gang member] under a car, I walked in and shot him through the leg with the rock salt. He was screaming.
The ex-gangster, who has been recognised with an OBE for his services to reformed offenders, told how he and other gangsters dehumanised their targets in order to kill
‘[I] walked straight into the office, threw my coat back, and said: ‘I’ll blow your f****g head off, how about that?’
‘Rock salt’ bullets – normal ammunition filled with rock salt crystals instead of the usual pellets – were used by Cummines and others because they ‘left no forensics’.
The rock salt, when fired at close range, did enough damage to injure or even kill, but disintegrated when it came into contact with the blood.
The ex-gangster, who has been recognised with an OBE for his services to reformed offenders, told how he and other gangsters dehumanised their targets in order to kill.
He continued: ‘How they do it, so you don’t feel bad about it, they’ll say “we’ve got a rat”, so you dehumanise them, they’re not a person any more, they’re a rat. So what I’m shooting is vermin. I had no problem with that.
‘They were doing bad things to people, terrible things. They knew the name of the game when they were doing it. If you’re a rat and you roll over, you get killed. It didn’t matter to me in them days.
‘If you start thinking about when you’re going to shoot someone, they’re wives, kids, grans, mums and all that, you couldn’t do it.’
Cummines described ‘stalking’ his victims to work out their movements before eventually taking them somewhere isolated to kill them.
‘It’s like anything, whether you are shooting them or cutting them, once you’ve done one half a dozen ain’t too many because if you live with that, you become hardened,’ he said. ‘And that’s why it’s very hard for you to show love and emotion.
‘It’s like an evolving thing. You go from one step to the next step and you get more violent more aggression. And it doesn’t matter anyway because you’re only doing rodents, doing rats.’
After his release from prison in the 1987 at the age of 35, Cummines settled in Kent with his wife and daughter and turned his back on a life of crime.
‘I made a rule: my daughter would never sit on the other side of a prison table. She would never experience prison. I lived a quiet life.
‘I’d stop, I’d look at squirrels, I’d look at trees because I didn’t have those experiences [in prison]. I was in a concrete tomb. I was buried alive in a concrete tomb for years.
‘Now I’ve got a sweet life… I’m known as a nice guy, and I like that.’
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