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Inside Britain’s deadliest boozers, including site of Kray Twins execution

5 min read

You would never imagine a trip to your local could prove fatal…

But as actor Rupert Everett has revealed, he could have fallen prey to Dennis Nilsen as he drank in the same pub where the twisted serial killer prowled for victims during the early 1980s.

It’s believed Nilsen met as many as four of the men he strangled at the Coleherne in west London – and it was also the haunt of Colin Ireland, who committed five murders in 1993 after making a New Year’s resolution to become a serial killer.

And other British boozers have proved equally deadly, as NATASHA WYNARCZYK reveals…

This east London pub was famously frequented during the 1960s by Reggie and Ronnie Kray.

On March 9, 1966, rival gangster George Cornell entered the pub, where he ordered some light ales and sat on a barstool.

He was then approached by Ronnie and his associate Ian Barrie. While Barrie fired two shots into the ceiling as a warning, Kray took out his gun and calmly fatally shot Cornell in the forehead in front of the other drinkers.

Although Kray was identified by eyewitnesses, nobody would agree to testify against him for fear of retaliation, and it would take three years for him to be found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The pub is now an East End tourist attraction, with information about the murder on display.

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Over a 10-month period in 1828, body-snatchers William Burke and William Hare killed 16 people, selling their corpses for £10 to Dr Robert Knox for dissection at his anatomy lectures.

They befriended several of their victims at Edinburgh’s White Hart Inn, before luring them back to their lodgings to be murdered.

The pair’s preferred method of killing was plying them with whisky, then smothering them when they passed out so the bodies would be in good condition for the doctor, who was unaware they were murder victims.

After they were caught and put on trial Hare was released, and his eventual whereabouts are unknown, but Burke was hanged and his body was publicly dissected.

The White Hart Inn still stands today, where unsurprisingly it has the accolade of being Edinburgh’s most haunted pub.

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It was a crime that shocked the nation in 2007 – the murder of schoolboy Rhys Jones in a Liverpool pub car park.

The boy, who was just 11, was shot by 16-year-old Sean Mercer as he walked through the Fir Tree’s grounds in Croxteth Park.

Rhys had just finished football practise when he got caught in the crossfire between rival gangs.

Mercer was found guilty of murder and jailed for 22 years. During his trial, it emerged the Fir Tree’s landlord, Keith Doyle, had allowed gang members to have the run of his pub and deal drugs from inside the premises.

The Fir Tree was then closed and lay derelict until 2018 when it was reportedly being turned into a community centre.

Nightclub hostess Ruth Ellis killed her lover David Blakely in a crime of passion outside this now-closed north London pub.

He was engaged to another woman and his relationship with Ellis turned increasingly violent.

Things came to a head on Easter Sunday 1955, when Ellis fired five shots at Blakely with a revolver as he left the venue with his friend.

The 28-year-old immediately gave herself up to police, and on July 13, 1955, she was executed at Holloway Prison.

She was the final woman to be hanged for a crime in the UK.

The pub was thought to have bullet holes made by Ellis at the front of the building – but it was later revealed the Magdala’s landlady had made these during a lock-in with regulars in the 1990s.

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The Ostrich Inn in Colnbrook was home to a series of grisly murders by its owners during the 17th century.

John Jarman and his wife are said to have killed as many as 60 people, using a trap door built into the floor of one of their bedrooms.

When any rich-looking guests arrived the pair would get them drunk. When they stumbled to bed, the Jarmans would tip the hinged bed through the trapdoor, sending the guest into a vat of boiling water which would kill them.

They would then pocket the patron’s valuables.

But they were hanged after murdering well-known clothier Thomas Cole, who was spotted entering the pub.

This pub was said to be a haunt of London’s most notorious killer – Jack the Ripper.

It was even nicknamed ‘The Jack the Ripper’ thanks to its links to the killer’s crimes.

On September 8, 1888, regular Annie Chapman’s mutilated body was found near the pub, and two months later Mary Kelly became Jack the Ripper’s final victim when she left The Ten Bells.

Her body was found the next morning in a court across the road from the pub.

The watering hole could even be haunted by the murderer’s ghost – during the 1990s staff living there complained about waking up with an uneasy feeling before seeing a man in Victorian clothing laying beside them in the bed.

On March 12, 2006, hitmen Richard Austin and Carlton Alveranga walked into Salford’s Brass Handles pub to perform a gangland killing.

But after firing six shots at their targets, they were tackled by the boozer’s regulars, who had been sat in the pub watching Manchester United play Newcastle.

Austin and Alveranga ended up being slain with their own weapons during the event, which one witness likened to "the Wild West".

While nobody was convicted of killing the Moss Side duo, career criminal Bobby Speirs was jailed for life for masterminding the bungled hit, which he’d organised on rival gang member David Totton.

The pub has since been demolished after it was closed down due to the incident.

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