The Rettendon Murders: Forget the “glamour” of Rise of the Footsoldier

“I came out of prison in 1986 and moved to Basildon for a new start. I started driving lorries in London and the commute from Essex was horrendous. Someone said to start working as a doorman at a club for more money and less hours. The rave culture burst onto the scene and with that came packed clubs with people demanding drugs. Where there’s a demand, it will be met by villains. It was a bunch of working-class, not-very-intelligent yet streetwise people who thought they could make loads of money. Unfortunately, they started testing their own stock and became addicts. It changed their personality and turned them into monsters.”

20 years on from the horrific Rettendon Murders that left three drug dealers dead in a Range Rover, we chat to former Essex Boy firm member, Bernard O’Mahoney, about Essex Boys: The Truth, a new documentary (out now on DVD and on-demand) that purports to debunk the myths behind Britain’s infamous gangland slaying…
Essex Boys: the Truth

Why have you decided to create this film on the Rettendon murders?

For 20 years the story has dragged on. Unfortunately for all concerned, filmmakers decided it was good story. I think there has been five films so far [Essex Boys, Rise of the Footsoldier, Bonded by Blood, The Fall of the Essex Boys and Essex Boys: Retribution and the forthcoming Rise of the Footsoldier Part II]. and each one gets more and more bizarre and further from the truth. The deceased are portrayed as successful criminals, with big houses, swimming pools and beautiful women. The reality was the car they got killed in was not taxed and driven by a disqualified driver. It was misery for everybody involved. You just want to tell the truth.

What challenges came up as you were writing, and indeed remembering, one of the most infamous gangland murders in British history?

Lots. There were lots of arguments and tantrums but we go there in the end. People who aren’t involved in the story thought it could look better if it was told differently but I was adamant it had to remain true. Chris Matthews has made a fantastic film. There’s no glamour whatsoever.

How did you approach the contentious issue of the police tactics that were used?

I lived through it so I didn’t have to think. We told it as it was. People criticise the police for unorthodox tactics but villains are the biggest hypocrites in he world. They all celebrate when they’ve committed a crime but as soon as they get their collar felt, they’re all crying human rights. There’s good and bad police officers and there’s bad villains and bad villains.

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What new revelations does Essex Boys: The Truth bring up?

Who really killed them? There’s even a website saying I’m guilty – I’m not by the way. It’s the British ‘Who shot JFK?’ or ‘Who shot JR?’. It’s that that keeps the films coming. I wanted to put it all to bed and reveal exactly how and why those three people died. Editing was more of a frenzied attack than a cut!

How does the film differ from the book?
The book’s obviously a lot more detailed and explains it better. Before editing, the film was four hours long and no one wants to sit through that.

Do you have any other projects planned for the future about the Essex Boy firm or not?

I’m sure someone’s working on Essex Boys: The Video Game! I don’t think it could be retold because the reveal at the end of this film is a shock. Anyone who watches it will think, “That’s the end of that.” There’s no questions left unanswered.

Essex Boys: The Truth is out now on DVD from Metrodome, while the book, Essex Boys: The Final Word by Bernard O’Mohney, is available from Caffeine Nights.

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