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MaltaToday 30 October 2022

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11 SPECIAL FEATURE maltatoday | SUNDAY • 30 OCTOBER 2022 male audience rushed out. Greek Street was filled with shouting and scream- ing, but the gamblers, mostly Cypri- ots and Maltese, were trapped in the rooms above. One man jumped 40 feet from a window, rolling into the path of a passing car. Another two leapt from second- floor windows, while others – Joseph Farrugia, Victor Zampa, and John Fenech – went out through the fire exit and scrambled onto adjoining buildings. Leli Vella smashed a window to get out and slide down the drain- pipes to the ground. Alfred Fenech, a doorman from the Phoenix Club, saw Joseph Medina smashing the windows with a chair to get out. It was a scene to behold as over 30 firemen fought the blaze. Two men were snatched from the flames with the help of a 100-foot turn- table ladder after the fire escape door would not open. One of these was 29-year-old croupier Valletta man Ray Renda, who had just started work there just two weeks ear- lier. He suffered injuries to his face and hands. 24-year-old kitchen hand John Fenech suffered serious 30% burns, flesh burns of the face and head, both hands, and both legs. He was rushed over to Charing Cross Hospital. In all, sixteen people were taken to hospital suffering superficial burns injuries, five taken to Middlesex Hospital to be treat- ed for shock. Scotland Yard lifted evi- dence from site, finding a crude plastic container thought to have been filled with petrol. The Greek Street bombing took front- page prominence on The Daily Mirror – uncannily side by side with a similar incident happening in Valletta, where the R.A.F's recruiting headquarters had been set on fire with lighted bundles of newspapers, as Malta's relations with the UK grew uneasy due to the run- down of the British defence services stationed in Malta. Big Frank put out a reward for £3,000 for information leading to the culprits behind the Americano. Some men in the Syndicate years later would claim Mifsud simply wanted to pin the Greek Street bombing on Tony Cauchi. But, it was Tony 'Derek' Galea, a 27-year-old doorman at Cauchi's Carnival Club, who came forward to tell Mifsud all. Like many of his generation, Galea had come to the UK in the early 1960s to run away from the law and the restrictions of small-island life, taking up a job in an East End café. He had spent almost three years in Malta in jail between 1960 and 1962 for various charges of aggravated theft and assault. He later moved to the Syndicate's clubs, like the Taboo, and in 1965 started working for Tony Cauchi as the doorman of the Carnival Club on Old Compton Street. It was at this time that Big Frank and Bernie Silver had turned against Cauchi. "They were al- ways arguing with Cauchi. I don't know what about, but Tony said it went back a long time," Galea told police. Mifsud himself was forthcoming enough with the police on the feud with Cauchi, believing he had apparently goaded his rival after a business deal gone wrong: "Cauchi hates me because of business... the trouble started when he had a club called the Carnival in Greene's Court. This club closed down and I took another over, which was op- posite, which we also called the Carnival. This annoyed Cauchi. Six months ago he came in with me and three others as partners of the Taboo Club – eventually he sold his share and he was under the mistaken impression that I had done something underhanded. He blames me that he was not the sole owner." Galea, easily the weaker party of the Americano conspiracy, admitted to Mifsud that he had actually been pres- ent when Cauchi was making the explo- sive at his house, and took him to the bridge by the Euston station railway, where he pinpointed a piece of bomb- fuse wire he had discarded. Galea re- trieved the fuse, and gave it to Mifsud. Galea even claimed with Mifsud that Cauchi was planning to have him shot for £3,000, and that he would even con- sider planting a bomb under his car. "Derek told me Cauchi wants to destroy me and that he had thrown the bombs so that I would blame some well-known people in the West End," Big Frank told investigators – a reference to the Krays or the Nash brothers, suggesting Cauchi hoped the Syndicate would sus- pect some extortion racket and fall foul of these crime organisations. The police agreed that Cauchi appeared to have sufficient motive, and advised Mifsud to make himself scarce. Big Frank fled to Ireland, where he lived with wife Margaret in Dublin. Mifsud suggested to police that they use Galea to entrap Cauchi when the next bomb was planted, but the objec- tions to this were obvious due to the danger of such a plan. Wanting to test the quality of information Galea would give them, the police arrested him. Galea protested, at first claiming he did not even know Mifsud; later as his confidence grew, he admitted to hav- MaltaToday editor Matthew Vella spent the last three years researching the Maltese and British national archives and over 1,000 newspaper stories to piece together the story of a particular criminal class: 'Il- Maltin ta' Soho'. Boxing royalty: 'Big Frank' Mifsud (right) hosts boxing legend Rocky Marciano at a London nightclub with his long-time partner, and gangster, Bernie Silver (left). Silver and Mifsud were focused on occupying as much real estate they could get their hands on in Soho, to house their clubs, clip-joints, and 'business flats' for prostitutes Famed Krays persecutor Leonard 'Nipper' Read investigated the Americano firebombing Nightclubbin': the Blue City, the Taboo, and the Keyhole - clubs owned by the Maltese Syndicate

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