The Wire Comes to Fulham
The Wire was the great cops n’ drugs series set in the dying rust bowl of Baltimore. Some felt it was as artistically worthy as Shakespeare. Corrupt, violent and inefficient police fought it out with powerful, violent and manipulative drug barons. Those in the middle, well, fuck them.
Fulham is a wealthy suburb across the river from Putney. Traditionally in parts a hard manor-The Minder TV show was set in the borough-it has moved up in the world. But the big bad estates still remain. The unemployed, the feckless and the down right criminal ,like insects under a stone thrive in these environments. And last week an instalment of what could have been a Wire episode was played out in the courts.
Rupert Ross an ex public school boy whose mum runs a boutique in the Kings Road had chosen the gangster life. He loved it,the adrenaline ,the power and the rewards. He and his mate Leon St Aubin ran the drugs on the massive Clem Atlee estate.(see link) As always in any pyramid selling racket some of the juniors tried to do their own thing. No way hose.
The estate is post war and described as brutalist. There are two 18 story blocks. But the estate is not immune from Fulham’s gentrification. In the last twenty years a flat on the estate has gone from £60K to £400k. But we are talking diverse communities, the low lifes remain. My son Leo once owned a flat 200 metres away, he now lives a mile away on a different planet.
Darcy Austin Brown was not going to be put down by any white boy. He kidnapped Ross and beat him up. In case the message wasn’t clear who was boss, Darcy and a friend did a drive by shooting on Ross and Aubin. War had been declared. Like many , Brown had loyal friends and gang members in prison. One of Ross’s contacts with his contraband phone told Ross when Brown was going next to visit Wandsworth goal.
Ross and Aubin were ready. They knew if Brown was going on a prison visit he couldn’t carry a gun or wear a bullet proof vest. In the prison car park dressed in lawyers suits the two struck and shot their rival five times. Drug barons are their own law and create their own order. In a remarkable interview before his arrest, Ross is quoted as saying “its kill or be killed. Death is part of my business…if they get in the way…..he had got out of control.”
The police had information they also had a witness who saw the two on a motor bike going to the prison. They got thirty years. But good crime stories are not that simple. On the day of Brown’s funeral Ross’s best friend was gunned down in front of him. He didn’t help the police. No one has been charged.
It goes on. Aubin’s girl friend ,Lynsey Lauro now comes into centre stage. To change the story the gangsters need to find the witness and…. Lynsey gets a job with the police at the local Hammersmith station. She seduces an officer who has access to the main computer which has all the information about the identity of witnesses and so on. She passes that info to her man inside. She and her police stooge both get five years.
Meanwhile Ross best friend is dead and not revenged, no doubt new drug barons rule the Clem Atlee estate, a protected witness is now very worried, and it is very difficult to get into the best Fulham prep schools. City life, Yo!