EXCLUSIVE: Billy Martindale from Manea tells of his life of crime

EXCLUSIVE By ADAM LAZZARI A LIFE in the criminal underworld has seen Billy Martindale shot at, stabbed, spend 15 years on the run from the police and mix with some of Britain s most notorious gangsters. Martindale spent seven years of his life growing u



A LIFE in the criminal underworld has seen Billy Martindale shot at, stabbed, spend 15 years on the run from the police and mix with some of Britain's most notorious gangsters.

Martindale spent seven years of his life growing up in Manea and when his best friend Tommy Shepherd was murdered, it sent shockwaves through the Fenland travelling community.

Despite being linked with numerous crimes, including murder, kidnapping, armed robberies, fraud and causing grievous and actual bodily harm Martindale has spent just six months in prison.

During his stint in Pentonville, he turned to Islam, and on release met with notorious hate-preacher Abu Hamza.

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Martindale has just completed an autobiography, called Wanted, which will be released in December.

He said: "It's my life from day one until now. It's been an emotional experience putting it together."

Martindale is son the son of renowned ex professional boxer and prize-fighter Lew 'Wild Thing' Yates.

He grew up in Crawshawbooth, Lancashire, and moved down to Forest Gate, London when he was three when his mother ran off with another man.

Martindale didn't see his mother for 24 years and made contact with her six years ago.

He said: "I didn't even know what she looked like. She was just a friendly elderly lady - a complete stranger - there will never be a bond or a proper relationship between us."

Martindale's father went from professional boxing to unlicensed, bare-knuckle fighting to earn more money.

Martindale got into fights and scrapes as a young child and his father took out of the hustle and bustle of London and they moved to Manea when he was 10.

His father left him to fend for himself with a shotgun as he travelled back to London for work.

He said: "Dad just told me if anyone came to the house and gave me trouble I should shoot into the air and crack them over the head with it. I just had fun shooting at cans and anything I could in the back garden."

Martindale lived in Manea for seven years and went to Cromwell Community College, Chatteris.

He said: "It was difficult for me. I found the area to be quite a clique place and I was an outsider."

Martindale found acceptance with the Shepherds - a well-known Fenland travelling family.

He became best friends with their son Tommy, who was the same age.

He said: "We used to wreak havoc in Manea and Chatteris. We were just kids trying to get our hands on some money so we'd steal cars and scrap metal and do whatever we could to get a note."

In 1997 the dead, naked body of Tommy Shepherd was discovered rolled up in a carpet, down a dirt track in Chatteris.

With accusations of a fellow traveller being responsible Tommy's death tore the area's travelling community apart.

Nobody has been charged with Tommy's murder.

Martindale said: "People wanted revenge and a lot of people went missing at that time.

"I know that Tommy was murdered by junkies. They just wanted to steal £5,000 from him to get drugs and they poisoned him.

"These scum bags will be looking over their shoulders for the rest of their lives, People are out their looking for them and I'd love to run into them myself."

Martindale was devastated and he soon became involved in more than 20 armed robberies, money making scams.

He targeted drug dealers and became a hired enforcer and doorman.

He said: "In the early days I would rob businesses and post offices, I'd never target individual people or mug old ladies. But after Tommy's death I'd do over drug dealers.

"I hate drugs - I've seen them destroy so many people's lives."

One run in with a drug dealer led to Martindale being shot at in Chigwell in 2002.

He said: "I'd received a phone call and been told to meet somebody at a garage to collect a debt, but I'd been set up. A drug dealer I'd done over wanted me dead and three people turned up in a car with a shotgun. I saw the barrel of the gun out of the car window and the bullet scraped my arm. I grabbed the gun and they sped off so I hurled it at the car."

Martindale worked as a bouncer at clubs in London, Essex and Kent.

He said: "I worked in some really dodgy bars in east London and there was always trouble. I was stabbed on three separate occasions."

From the ages of 17 to 33 numerous warrants were issued for Martindale's arrest.

He escaped the police using false passports.

He travelled to Miami and Spain and charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.

He has mixed with notorious gangsters like Frankie Frazer, Danny Woolard, Freddie Foreman and his good friend and fighting legend Roy Shaw.

He was arrested for imprisonment but the charges were dropped after the witness backed out.

He said: "A friend's girlfriend got raped. She went to police and somebody was arrested but the case was dropped because she couldn't face going to court.

"I found him and made sure he would never do anything like that again."

He was questioned over a murder but never charged and says he had nothing to do with it.

Martindale spent six months in Pentonville Prison, in London for stealing a car and criminal damage.

He said: "I was stuck in a cell for 23 hours a day. I said I was interested in learning about Islam because it meant I could spend more time pout of the cell but I actually got quite into it.

"After my release I would go to Finsbury Park mosque and I once had dinner with Abu Hamza. I had no trouble with him and he didn't fill me with hate.

"I have massive respect for people who follow that faith but I found it too restrictive and just couldn't do it."

Martindale is now 35 and living in Ongar, Essex with his girlfriend and three children.

He carries out voluntary work helping to rehabilitate youth offenders.

He said: "My life has been one big learning curve. I'm not wanted for any crimes now and I'm staying out of trouble.

"My children are doing really well at school and I want to make sure they don't live the way I have.

"But I don't regret the things I've done. The people I've hurt are bad people. I've never been a bully. I've only ever bullied bullies."

Martindale is now in discussion about having a film made of his life.

Details about his book can be seen at Martindale's website, www.billyboymartindale.com

# Martindale will come to the Cambs Times office in December when we will hold a book launch. Details will be released closer to the time.