Frank Davidson Fraser (born 13 December 1923, and better known as "Mad" Frankie Fraser) is a former British criminal and gang member who has spent more than half of his life in prison for numerous violent offences.
Born in Lambeth, London to parents of Norwegian, American Indian, Canadian and Irish descent, Fraser was a deserter during World War II, on several occasions escaping from his barracks. It was during the war that Fraser first became involved in serious crime, with the blackout and rationing, combined with the lack of professional policemen due to conscription, providing ample opportunities for criminal activities. In 1941, he was sent to Borstal for breaking into a Waterloo hosiery store and was then given a 15-month prison sentence at Wandsworth prison for shopbreaking. Such were the criminal opportunities during the war, Fraser later joked in a television interview that he'd never forgiven the Germans for surrendering.
After the war, Fraser was involved in a smash-and-grab raid on a jewellers (for which he received a two-year prison sentence, served largely at Pentonville prison). It was during this sentence that he was first certified insane and was sent to the Cane Hill Hospital, London, before being released in 1949. During the 1950s his main occupation was as bodyguard to well-known gangster Billy Hill. He took part in more bank robberies and spent more time in prison. He was again certified insane while at Durham prison and this time sent to Broadmoor. Aware of the punishments for bad behaviour in that institution, Fraser stayed out of trouble and was released in 1955. In 1956, the British mobster Jack Spot and wife Rita were attacked, on Hill's say-so, by Fraser, Bobby Warren and at least half a dozen other men. Both Fraser and Warren were given seven years for their acts of violence. Some of the gang named Albert "The Acid Man" Reading.
It was in the early 1960s that he first met Charlie and Eddie Richardson, members of the notorious Richardson gang and rivals to the Kray twins. According to Fraser, it was they who helped him avoid arrest for the Great Train Robbery (in which he played part) by bribing a policeman. Together they set up the Atlantic Machines fruit machines enterprise, which acted as a front for the criminal activities of the gang. In 1966 Fraser was charged with the murder of Richard Hart while other members including Jimmy Moody were charged with affray. The witness changed his testimony and the charges were eventually dropped, though he still received a five year sentence for affray. Fraser has always maintained that, while he fought with Hart, he did not shoot him. He was also implicated in the so-called "Torture trial", in which members of the gang were charged with burning, electrocuting and whipping those found guilty of disloyalty by a kangaroo court. Fraser himself was accused of pulling out the teeth of victims with a pair of pliers. In the trial at the Old Bailey in 1967 he was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
Fraser's 42 years served in over 20 different prisons in the UK were often coloured by violence. He was involved in riots and frequently fought with prison officers and fellow inmates as well as attacking various governors. He was one of the ringleaders of the major Parkhurst prison riot in 1969, spending the following six weeks in the prison hospital, owing to his injuries. Involvement in such activities often led to his sentences being extended. Whilst banged up in Strangeways Jail in 1980 Fraser was 'excused boots' as he claimed he had problems with his feet so he was allowed to wear slippers. He was released from prison in 1985, where he was met by his son in a Rolls Royce.
In 1991 Fraser was shot in the head from close range in an apparent murder attempt outside the Turnmills club in Clerkenwell, London. He has always maintained that a policeman was responsible.
Now in his 80s, Fraser has become something of a celebrity, appearing on television shows such as Operation Good Guys, Shooting Stars, and the satirical show Brass Eye, where he said Noel Edmonds should be shot for killing Clive Anderson (an incident invented by the show's producers) and writing an autobiography. In 1999 he appeared at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London in a one man show, 'An Evening with Mad Frankie Fraser' (directed by Patrick Newley), which subsequently toured the UK.
He also appeared as East End crime boss Pops Den in the feature film Hard Men, a forerunner of British gangster movies such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.
He now gives gangland tours around London, where he highlights infamous criminal locations such as the Blind Beggar pub. He lives in the Walworth area of London.
Fraser is also a big Arsenal fan, and his grandson Tommy Fraser is a professional footballer, currently captain of League Two side Port Vale. His other grandson, James Fraser, has just signed a short-term contract with Bristol Rovers.
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