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Meet the former Norwich Crown Court logger who cooked for notorious gangster Reggie Kray in the days before he died at Thorpe St Andrew hotel

PUBLISHED: 07:26 31 January 2012

Norwich Evening News Original Mark Burnett.
Photo by Simon Finlay

Norwich Evening News Original Mark Burnett. Photo by Simon Finlay

Archant Norfolk Copyright

Friday was a sad day for Mark Burnett. The 51-year-old's six years service at Norwich Crown Court, where he had served as a court logger, officially came to an end.

Mr Burnett, from Thorpe St Andrew, was one of five court loggers who lost their jobs to machines after the Ministry of Justice’s Darts (digital audio recording) programme started.

The move meant the loggers, who used to operate the tape recorders, lost their jobs and have now been replaced by a new screen and digital clock.

Mr Burnett, a married father-of-two who was renowned for his humorous cartoons depicting some of the characters of Norwich Crown Court, said: “I was very sad to be leaving, it was a fascinating job.

“Very few people can say they do a job which they enjoy which is different every day.”

One of the more unusual days at work for Mr Burnett included one day last year when a “rather desperate” defendant stabbed a dock officer with a hand-made knife, trying to “make a break for it”.

Mr Burnett, who speaks fluent French after spending two years training as a chef in 
Paris, was forced to rely on his language skills on another out of the ordinary day in court when he had to act as an emergency interpreter.

He said: “On one occasion I had to do some French interpretation for Judge Peter Jacobs because I was the only person there who could speak fluent French.

“It took 10 minutes of my lunch time, everyone was happy and it saved the court thousands of pounds – but I was told off because I wasn’t insured to do it.”

But these are just two of the memories from six years of working in this interesting environment.

He said: “The money was absolutely rubbish.

“We got less than £40 a day but it was worth doing it because every day was different.

“No matter how unshockable you think you are there’s always something at which you think “Cor blimey”.

Mr Burnett, who is sad at the “loss of the human element” the changes technology have brought, worked as a chef before he joined the court service.

And it was while working as a chef at the Beefeater Town House Hotel in Thorpe St Andrew that he came into contact with notorious 1960s gangster Reggie Kray.

Kray, who was battling bladder cancer, died in the honeymoon suite at the hotel on October 1, 2000 10 days after being moved there from the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital where he was being treated.

The 66-year-old, who was sentenced to life at the Old Bailey in 1969 with a recommendation that he serve no less than 30 years for the murder of fellow gangster Jack “The Hat” McVitie, had been freed because of his deteriorating health.

Mr Burnett never met Kray, who chose the hotel because he wanted to look out over the river, but did cook for him and revealed he had a taste for cooked English breakfast and steak sandwiches.

He said: “Reggie was dying of cancer so he had nothing to lose.”

Although he never met Reggie Kray, Mr Burnett was however in contact with a number of his close friends and associates.

He said: “We met Frankie Fraser in the bar. He was very, very pleasant; a perfect gentleman.

“He was very well behaved and very appreciative of what we’d done.”

Born in Liverpool and educated in Nottingham and Stoke on Trent, Mr Burnett moved to London where he spent time working in the security industry – working on the door at a number of pubs and clubs and as a courier.

Mr Burnett, also worked as a chef in a Parisian restaurant near to the Eiffel Tower for two years.

He moved to Norwich 16 years ago, working firstly as a postman and then as a chef before becoming a court logger.

Now his time at the court has come to an end Mr Burnett wants to make a film to help try and help “otherwise promising young men” who are persuaded to get into transporting drugs from London to this region on the promise of making “easy cash”.

He said: “They can do it in an afternoon and be back for tea, but it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

“I would like to do it to say it’s not as easy as it looks because there’s a better than good chance you will get caught.”

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