SELF DEFENCE: Ronnie Fuller (above) committed no crime when Darren Pearman died said CPS
A BOUNCER who stabbed to death a man outside a nightclub favoured by celebrities nearly 20 years ago acted in self defence and committed "no crime", police have finally admitted.
The killing of Darren Pearman, 27, on October 3 1999 outside Epping Forest Country Club, near TOWIE mecca Chigwell, Essex, appeared to be treated as an unsolved murder, with the Met Police saying "new information" would be "fully investigated" as recently as March 2016.
However, it has since admitted to this website that the case was effectively closed in 2000 when charges against club doorman Ronnie Fuller, then 30, were dropped.
Pearman, a member of the notorious Canning Town Firm crime gang from East London, was stabbed multiple times during a mass brawl with doormen outside the club.
He died from chest wounds, while his younger brother was also stabbed and seriously wounded.
SCENE: The country club, Bernard O'Mahoney in group with Pearman (top) and Fuller
According to sources the weapons Pearman's gang attacked Mr Fuller with included a machete that had been hidden in a sofa inside the club.
During the attack Mr Fuller wrestled the weapon from Pearman who received fatal injuries.
Mr Fuller and another bouncer were arrested and later charged with violent disorder, but the case was dropped before it made it to court.
Fuller was shot dead outside his home a few months later and his murder remains an unsolved Essex Police case.
Although the country club, which was frequented at the time by soap stars, including Sid Owen and Daniella Westbrook, Ricky Butcher and Sam Mitchell in Eastenders, Page 3 girls, and footballers, is within Essex, it was a part of the county at the time covered by the Metropolitan Police, which was the investigating force in the Pearman death.
The plush property was originally converted into a private members club by Sean Connery and 1966 world cup hero Bobby Moore in the 1970s.
The club, now called Woolston Manor Gold and Country Club, was owned at the time of Pearman's death by David Hunt, 58, who in 2013 a High Court judge described as the high of an organised crime gang after he failed in a bid to sue The Sunday Times, which outed him, for defamation.
CLUB BOSS: David Hunt owned the country club at the time of the death
The Met Police or CPS never said at the time of the case against Mr Fuller being dropped why the trial was abandoned.
And, in response to enquiries from Express.co.uk in March 2016, a Met Police spokeswoman said the case had never been reviewed because "no further information has come to light since that time."
She added that: "Any information received would be fully investigated."
She also would not say why the charges were dropped by the CPS.
However, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request about the case, which revealed the force still has 15 boxes of evidence made up of statements, officer and medical notes, and photographs, it has since said Mr Fuller's actions were lawful.
It said: "The MPS investigation into the death of Daniel Pearman focused firstly on ruling out any criminal offences.
"After referral to the CPS it was deemed that the actions of the suspects were lawful in the terms of self-defence and as such the matter was recorded as no crime under Home Office Rule 12."
Sources claim Pearman's death stemmed from a row the pair were having over a girl, and there had been a previous fight in which Mr Fuller came off better.
According to former Essex Boys gang member turned crime author Bernard O'Mahoney, one scrape happened at another notorious nineties venue, Charlie Chan's nightclub beneath the former Walthamstow Dogs track, a few weeks earlier.
Pearman and another gangster were forcibly ejected from the venue by Fuller who was on the door, after a fight broke out, he said.
FIGHT: Inside the popular Charlie Chan's nightclub
Mr O'Mahoney, who knew both Pearman and Fuller, described the events in his 2004 book Wannabe in my Gang?: From the Krays to the Essex Boys.
He wrote: "Darren Pearman was a member of the Canning Town Firm, probably the best little outfit in London. It was all part of the same group of people as the Inter City Firm, which was centred on the West Ham fans' gang. They were all very violent. If someone stamped on their foot, they got murdered.
"Darren was a space job. He wore cardigans and had his hair in a side parting. He looked like a boffin but he was a raging lunatic. He was friends with Dave King and, a couple of years ago, they were in Charlie Chan's nightclub."
"There was a fight in which a man was cut by a bottle or glass.
"The glassing kicked off a big fight and the doormen got involved. One of them was an ex-wrestler called Ronnie Fuller. Ronnie didn't know the rules. If you're a doorman and you grab people like Pearman and King, you're going to get it as well, because they have to keep their front.
DEAD: Dave 'Rolex' King was also shot dead in Hertfordshire in 2003
"A few weeks later, they clashed with him again outside the Epping Forest Country Club. Pearman was stabbed and pronounced dead by the time he rolled up to Whipps Cross Hospital in the back of a cab."
Several months after Fuller and his colleague were released from police bail over Pearman's murder, a hit man on a motorbike blasted Fuller to death on the doorstep of his home on August 29 2000.
Mr O'Mahoney wrote in his book: "Later, a motorbike hitman shot Ronnie twice in the head and three times in the chest, killing him outside his home in Grays, Essex, in front of his wife."
No one was ever arrested over Fuller's death and the two police forces never officially confirmed they were linking the two murders, and it has even been stated in earlier press reports they did not believe they were linked.
THEORY: Bernard O'Mahoney (right) with murdered Essex Boys Tony Tucker (left) and Pat Tate
Mr O'Mahoney summed up his theory in the book that the Canning Town firm had refused to cooperate with police and said they would "sort it" themselves.
Mr Fuller, he wrote, had moved around 20 miles from Loughton, near to the country club to Grays, but it had not been nearly far enough, wrote Mr O'Mahoney.
The Met Police stood by its comments in 2016.
A spokeswoman said: "These seem to reflect our position, in that no further information had come to light since the charges were dropped.
"We would, of course, always review any case were there to be new evidence."