Saturday, 20 January 2007

The Murder of Johanna Czardebon

On 28 May 1996, German tourist, Johanna Czardebon, was shot dead in a Bedford hotel, by career criminal, Alvin Black, the leader of a ruthless gang of armed criminals who had brought terror to the Bedford area for more than a year.

Johanna was blasted in the face with a sawn-off shotgun as she enjoyed a late-night drink with her husband and friends.

As investigations progressed, 37-year-old Black, his nephew, Karlton Campbell, 20, Robert Skyers, 20, and John Stewart, 41, became prime suspects and were allegedly linked to many robberies.

In court, Nigel Rumfitt, QC, said:

"Black quite deliberately gunned down an innocent, harmless, respectable middle-aged German lady... He did so right in front of her husband. He shot her in the face at close range with a sawn-off shotgun...

He was one of four ruthless armed robbers who quite literally terrorised the town of Bedford from early spring 1995 to the early summer of 1996... They robbed shops and local businesses, raiding one post office three times...

Much worse, they entered the homes of local shopkeepers and business people. They wore masks, they carried weapons, sawn-off shotguns, pistols, axes, sledgehammers and knives. Shops and business premises were usually attacked in daylight when members of the public were around. Homes were attacked in the hours of darkness - the owners, no doubt undergoing a horrific experience of intrusion into their houses by masked, armed men."
Despite being unemployed, Black ran two cars, had three known residences and had recently enjoyed a seven-week holiday in the Caribbean with his girlfriend, the daughter of a local Tory councillor.

When he was stopped for questioning by police, Black produced a tape recorder and announced:

"You have stopped me for no reason. I am always getting stopped and harassed by police officers. I am being singled out for whatever reason. Obviously something has happened in town and they have yet again come to harass me."
However, when the gang was finally arrested, robbery figures in Bedfordshire fell dramatically.

Black, who was also convicted of murdering police informant Tim Nalty, who was shot dead in his bed in 1995, was jailed for life.

Campbell and Skyers were convicted of conspiracy to rob and both were jailed for 13 years. Skyers also received an extra two-year sentence for trying to intimidate a witness.

Stewart was jailed for three years for wounding with intent.

All of the criminals mentioned above are black.

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