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Brutal unsolved murder of gangster shot in his bedroom remains a mystery 37 years later

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Murders are often considered the most shocking and despicable of crimes, and often grip the public imagination when a particularly brutal murder is reported.

Investigations to determine the culprit are usually a top priority for the Metropolitan Police, but in some rare cases, they remain unsolved.

Such is the case of well-known gangster and criminal Brian Clifford, known as “Little Legs” due to his short stature.

In the early hours of September 28, 1985, he was shot dead whilst sleeping in his bedroom at 126 Kennington Road, in Lambeth.

READ MORE: Unsolved murder of a mum who never boarded her flight at Heathrow Airport

It is believed that masked assailants succeeded in entering the family home, before shooting the nightclub-owner dead.

Despite Brian having a number of enemies across London, police investigations were unable to determine a solid motive or identify a suspect.

‘Real villain with a heavy clout’

The 45-year-old was a notorious south London criminal at the time of his death, and ran a host of nightclubs and bars as well as engaging in money-laundering and dodgy deals.

Stories of Brian’s status in the criminal underworld had been widespread for years.

He had reportedly shot fellow gangster Johnny Mangan twice in the head in 1979, but was acquitted for attempted murder whilst another told a story of his success at changing forged US dollars for British currency in the banks of Switzerland.

After his death, his own son described him as a “real villain with a heavy clout around South London”, who would terrorise his rivals and commandeer the nightclub scene during the early eighties.

Friends spoke of his uncontrollable temper, whilst gangster “Mad” Frankie Fraser, who spent 42 years behind bars, spoke of him as a “mover, a buyer of gear”.

His son, Bernie Katz, followed in his footsteps and developed a reputation as the “Prince of Soho” through his role as manager of The Groucho Club.

In his 2008 memoir Soho Society, he spoke of his father’s death, saying: “When I went to investigate, I discovered that thanks to the bullet through his head, my dad’s brains were splattered across the four walls of his bedroom.

“Never one to miss an opportunity, I sashayed over to his wardrobe and ­navigated my way across the sea of footwear to his black Pierre Cardin alligator-skin shoes I’d secretly always had my eye on.

“Thank God they were in the wardrobe. You see — something good always comes out of tragedy.”

He too died in mysterious circumstances in 2017, an apparent suicide five months after leaving his job. Friends however spoke of his involvement with an Albanian gang but a police investigation failed to produce any leads.

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Despite Brian’s murder making national headlines, the Met were unable to establish a solid motive for his death, and witnesses were reluctant to come forward to help determine who he had met during his final days.

One associate of his told the investigation that he had been killed by a gang of Italians after a deal exchanging Capodimonte porcelain went badly, but this was never confirmed by the police.

According to official records, he left an estate worth £40,000 and it was revealed that the property he lived in had been bought under the false name of Mrs Robinson in 1984.

This led the police to investigate a number of properties relating to Brian and St Olave charity, from whom he had acquired several houses and flats.

Nearly four decades later, the investigation is no longer active and no further information has been provided to shed a light on who killed the infamous London criminal.

Do you know of an unsolved London crime you think we should be covering? If so, please email [email protected]

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