Barbara Windsor’s ex-husband Ronnie Knight who was jailed for £6million robbery dies aged 89

14 June 2023, 11:36

Ronnie Knight (l) and with Barbara Windsor (r)
Ronnie Knight (l) and with Barbara Windsor (r). Picture: Alamy/Getty

By StephenRigley

Dame Barbara Windsor’s ex-husband, underworld legend Ronnie Knight, has died aged 89.

Ronnie had battled Parkinson’s and passed away on Monday in a nursing home in Cambridge.

His condition was said to have deteriorated recently before he reportedly contracted pneumonia.

Knight was married to the EastEnders legend in the 60s and 70s, when he was an east London nightclub boss who knew the notorious Kray brothers.

He denied he was a 'gangster', preferring instead the term 'loveable rascal'. 

However he was jailed for his involvement in a £6million armed robbery at a Security Express depot in east London after a decade on the run in Spain.

The East End villain went on the run to Spain becoming one of the so-called ‘Famous Five’ crooks wanted for the Security Express robbery who holed up on the Costa del Sol.

Knight owned a nightclub who regularly rubbed shoulders with celebrities, and married to his first wife, June, when he met Barbara.

He later said: "I've loved all the ladies in my life. But I found what I wanted with Barbara.

"However he didn't say goodbye to her when he fled to Spain, later saying she was 'fixed on this showbusiness thing' and he knew he would be gone for some time."

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He denied he went to Spain because of the robbery, saying: 'I just woke up that morning and thought: "I'm going."'The next morning, I woke up in brilliant sunshine.

"A couple of years later, Barbara phoned and said: 'We should get a divorce.' I said: 'OK, mate.' I got the papers through and I signed them."

Knight eventually returned to Britain was jailed for seven years for handling robbery proceeds – but not convicted for the heist itself.

In 1980, Ronnie was acquitted of murdering Alfredo Zomparelli, who was nicknamed ‘Italian Tony’.He was murdered in revenge after he stabbed and killed Ronnie’s brother in 1970.

Three-times wed and divorced Knight had been supported by his third ex-wife Sue Haylock during his illness.

Ronnie Knight with Barbara Windsor
Ronnie Knight with Barbara Windsor. Picture: Alamy

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One family friend tole The Sun: “His condition had deteriorated over the last few weeks. He got pneumonia and never recovered.

“A lot of people are going to be a upset to hear the news about his death. He was a rogue – but a very loveable one.”

Barbara and Ronnie were married from 1964-1985.

It was in 2000 that she married her now-widow, Scott Mitchell.

Barbara, who played Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders, passed away in 2020, after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.