Former Manea gangster Billy Martindale who turned his life around found murdered at his Essex home: man charged

FORMER Manea gangster Billy Martindale who played a fighter alongside X Factor star Tulisa in the 2011 comedy film Big Fat Gypsy Gangster has been murdered.

The ex-con turned author, who once claimed to have been shot at, stabbed and to have spent 15 years on the run was found dead with head injuries at his Essex home.

Factory worker Paul Groves, 33, of Ongar has been remanded in custody until December 3 charged with murder.

Martindale, 39, of Cripsey Avenue, Ongar, was found dead with head injuries at a farm. Paramedics fought to save the father-of-three but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

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.

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Despite being linked with numerous crimes, including murder, kidnapping, armed robberies, fraud and causing grievous and actual bodily harm Martindale 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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Four years ago he completed an autobiography, called Wanted, which he described as

“my life from day one until now. It’s been an emotional experience putting it together.”

Martindale was son the son of ex professional boxer and prize-fighter Lew ‘Wild Thing’ Yates.

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

Martindale got into fights and scrapes as a young child and his father brought his family out of London 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.

Nobody was ever charged with Tommy’s murder.

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.”

“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.”

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