In the London underworld, where he was a high-profile figure, they called him Paddy Onions. He had a record that matched his reputation. In 1951 he was acquitted of acting as a decoy in a robbery and in 1963 jailed for his part in a conspiracy to smuggle watches. He was involved in plenty of other criminal activities too, which was undoubtedly the reason why the underworld executed him.

On Tuesday, November 30th, 1982, Paddy Onions, real name Patrick O’Nione, 52, was shot in the back of the head in Tower Bridge Road. A policeman who saw the attack chased after the killer but lost him.

Probably no one outside the criminal fraternity knows the truth of why he was executed. One theory was that he was a police informer, another that he was involved in a drug deal that went wrong; a third was that he was financing a protection network of southeast London clubs and pubs.

Most likely, however, he was murdered in revenge for the death of Peter Hennessey, who was killed in a knife fight at a charity boxing event at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington.

In March, 1993, police arrested a Coventry-based hard man for questioning over the O’Nione killing. While in custody awaiting transfer to London, the man lunged at a police officer. He was placed in a chokehold, whereupon he collapsed.

Seven days later he was still in a coma, so his life support machine was switched off. It was thought probable that he was O’Nione’s executioner, and had been paid a fee of £5,000 for the murder.