WATCH VIDEO: London gangster Jimmy Holmes lifts lid on his shocking rise through criminal underworld
GANGLAND criminal Jimmy Holmes describes how he rose to be one of the country's most feared criminals in this remarkable video interview that has surfaced online. Holmes, who wrote the shocking Judas Pig book about his organised crime network under the pen Horace Silver, was interviewed for a Ross Kemp on Gangs TV documentary in 2005. In the interview he describes his rise through the capital's criminal underworld, starting as a south London 'debt collector,' before he was part of a four man 'firm' who robbed cash and drugs from other top criminals. But, he also speaks of his regret at the violence involved, including torturing other criminals, and says he now has to carry a gun 'full time' as he fears he could be 'shot in the head' at any time. Holmes tells how he was recruited by Soho crime lord Bernie Silver to look after his brothels and strip clubs in the West End after he learned of his reputation as a debt collector. Holmes said: "I was working for a firm in south London collecting debts from people, bashing them up, then moved into the West End and got involved with Bernie Silver, the Godfather of Soho, who was serving life for murder."
KING OF SOHO: Bernie Silver in the early 1960s (@BitesSoho)
In July 1975 Silver was convicted of the 1956 murder of Tommy 'Scar Face' Smithson' during a Soho turf war. While he was inside Maltese gangsters started not paying him rent for the properties they were leasing. Holmes tells in the interview how he tracked them down and threatened them at gun point.
MURDERED: Tommy 'Scarface' Smithson (Police image)
One of them was hurled through a window and beaten with hammers, he said. Silver allowed him to start earning his own cash in the area as a result, before he met the other members of his firm who hailed from Canning Town in east London. The gang then got into the drugs trade and started robbing other criminals networks. Holmes dismissed claims that Yardie gangsters - said to originate from Jamaica, in the Caribbean, had ever had any significant foothold in the London drugs trade. He said: "We were premier league and they were Hackney Marshes. "There's no such thing as Yardies... it's a fallacy. "They were just individuals ripping each other off for bags of crack. As far as making inroads into organised crime... never." Holmes said the late Winston Brown, a Jamaican roots reggae DJ known as Ranking Dread, was considered to be the top Yardie in London in the 1980s.
'SCARED OFF' London's top Yardie Ranking Dread on an album cover (Greensleeves)
But, he said his firm saw him off with one violent encounter after he caused problems in a brothel they were running. Holmes says in the interview the four of them confronted him 'with a gun up his nose' and they never saw him again.
Dread was deported back to the West Indies and died in prison in 1996. In the 1980s his gang stole £1.5 million from a major criminal based in Spain known as 'The Bug'. He only came to the UK to ensure the cash from his drug dealing activities was secure and hidden in a number of cars around car parks. They got wind of when his next trip to the UK was and kidnapped and tortured him until he told them where some of the money was hidden. Holmes said: "We smashed him to bits, rolled him up in a carpet and took him back to one of our boozers."
CRIMINAL: Jimmy Holmes in a still from the video (ITV/YouTube)
The Bug had about £5 million hidden in five or six Citroëns in car parks across London. But his gang only got the location of cars holding £1.5 million of it because they beat him so badly, he "nearly died." Holmes said: "One of us smashed the guy up so badly with a hammer he nearly died, It doesn't matter how much money he has he will never be the same again. "To take someone away, put them in a room tied to a chair with a cloth over their head in darkness. "This guy was begging us to kill him saying he can't stand it any more so 'please kill me.'" He said the man was repeatedly hit with the hammer and had his head held in a bucket water until he felt like he was drowning." Holmes said: "Then they smashed his hand with a sledgehammer. The guy was fu**ed and will never be the same again. I done that a few times, it is not something I am proud of." Holmes said at the height of his criminality he and his gang got a buzz from 'hurting' and 'fu**ing people over' and looking for the 'next deal' became more important than the money.
His firm began laundering cash through offshore companies in Geurnsey. He said: "You would walk into a club and get the best seat in the house and go into a restaurant and get the best seat... it was a respect through fear, a rock and roll lifestyle when you can't even read or write." But, Holmes warned it was impossible to retire from the lifestyle even if you wanted to. He said: "I can never retire. Joe Public can answer his front door... I can never do that and I regret that. "No one is going to bring me a brief case full of money, I will get a bullet because I turned away from the gangland... it was the violence. "One of the firm, who I would say was a psychopath, just wanted to keep on hurting people and killing people for the slightest show of disrespect. "In the end I was doing a lot of coke and had money coming out of my ears.
SHOCKING: Holmes told all about his gang and life of crime in the 2003 book Judas Pig
"I wanted out and wrote a book about it and now am a marked man and have had three attempts on my life." Holmes said one of his own gang tried to assassinate him after he left an east London pub, but the gun clicked without firing just three to four feet away. He said he hopes if he is killed it will be a 'bullet in the head' rather than being 'kidnapped and tortured' because that is 'not a nice thing to do.' Holmes also says in the video that the Millennium Dome diamond robbery of November 2000 was a "ready eye" job, meaning the police were aware it was about to happen and let it go ahead "to make them selves look better." He also claims his firm was offered the chance to carry out the notorious November 1983 Brink's-Mat robbery but turned it down. He added: (Because of the threat to my life) I am carrying a gun full time so sooner or later I am going to get stopped and I am looking at a ten stretch. Or I will go with a bullet in my head."