While Nicky Gerard, son of the notorious London hit-man Alf Gerard, was doing a seven-year stretch for grievous bodily harm, a gangland kangaroo court sentenced him to die in absentia. His wife, Linda, was sent a wreath with the message, “Nicky Gerard, rest in peace.”

On Sunday, June 27th, 1982, just a few months after his release, Gerard went to his daughter’s birthday party in Peckham, south-east London. Afterwards, as he got into his parked Oldsmobile, gunmen wearing boiler suits and balaclava helmets ambushed the vehicle, firing from all sides.

Gerard, hit in the stomach, managed to get out of the car and stagger 100 yards, pursued by his attackers. When they caught him they smashed him so hard on the head with a gun that the stock shattered. He was beaten unconscious before the gunmen calmly reloaded and shot him dead.

Gerard wasn’t sufficiently careful. He knew all that week that he was being followed, mistakenly thinking that it was by undercover police.

The street murder was the culmination of a series of gangland contract killings and violent crimes centred on protection “rights.” Pivotal to them was the killing of racketeer David Knight by Alfredo “Italian Tony” Zomparelli, in the Latin Quarter nightclub in Leicester Square. For this Zomparelli got a surprisingly lenient four years for manslaughter.

A few months after his release Zomparelli was shot dead playing pinball machines in a pub. A man told police that he and Nicky Gerard were responsible for that murder, and were fulfilling a £1,000 hit-man contract issued by a club owner. This informer got life and Gerard and the club owner were found not guilty. Then gangland exacted its own anonymous brand of vengeance on Gerard.