Unsolved Murders

Lionel Alfonso Webb

Age: 38

Sex: male

Date: 11 Dec 1988

Place: 5A Evering Road, Stoke Newington, London

Lionel Alfonso Webb was an estate agent with an office in 5A Evering Road, Stoke Newington and was shot at close range in his office at about 5pm on 11 December 1988.

He had been shot in the head and died from a gunshot wound to the brain fired from a shotgun.

His office had been open at the time and all the lights were on and it was said that his murder would have taken place in full view of the street.

It was thought that he had met his murderer by appointment.

It was thought that the motive might have been robbery, or a gangland hit over drugs or money. Lionel Webb was found after his death to have been in possession of a large amount of cannabis resin and amphetamines at both his office and his home.

It was also suggested that he had been murdered because of his aggressive marketing as he had been undercutting rivals, but the police developed no leads along that line of enquiry.

It was later reported that Lionel Webb was alleged to have been part of a gang of armed robbers operating out of Birmingham in the 1980s working for criminals that later went on to run large international drug operations stretching as far as Panama.

Lionel Webb was born in Barbados but had spent most of his life in Birmingham before moving down to London in 1985. He had owned a number of properties in North London.

He had recently moved his estate agency from Edgeware to Stoke Newington in October 1988, and for weeks before that he had been supervising the refitting of the shop although it was said that even then he was scouting for new properties to buy.

It was noted that he was planning to buy the whole row of houses around his office and had made some offers to other neighbours including the woman from the yellow corner property a few doors down from his. His estate agents was opposite St Pauls Church and was called Greenvale Estate Agents and Building Contractors and he specialised in selling luxury homes abroad. He was noted as having worked seven days a week.

It was noted that five days before his death on Tuesday 6 December 1988 a white Datsun van was seen outside his office. A witness that saw the van said that they saw two men in the van, one of them with a large hook nose and a tattoo on his hand between his thumb and fingers spelling the word 'MUM'.

Lionel Webb had left his home in Mill Hill to go to work on the Sunday 11 December 1988 at about 9am. He had been carrying a briefcase and a black plastic bag.

At about 11am on the Sunday, a man wearing a dark woolly hat was seen getting out of a red car outside Lionel Webb's estate agency in Evering Road and go in.

However, it was not known what else Lionel Webb did that morning as he was not seen again until about 1.30pm when he was seen returning to his office. It was not known where he had been. It was noted that before he entered his office he looked up and down the road.

It was thought that after he entered his office he took a shower in the back area.

A short while after Lionel Webb had return, the woman that owned the yellow corner property went to his office to see him, saying that she had decided to accept his offer to buy her property for twice what she had paid for it the year before. She said that she had bought it for £36,000 in 1987 as an investment and that Lionel Webb had offered her between £75,000 and £80,000 for it. She said Lionel Webb had failed to call her back on the Thursday, saying that she had waited in all day for her to call her about it and so she went to see him about it. She said that Lionel Webb then told her that he had the money, in cash, £80,000, and told her to come by the following day when they could sign the papers.

About an hour after the woman from the corner spoke to Lionel Webb, at about 2.30pm, a man thought to have been between 50 and 60 years old was seen in Lionel Webb's office. He had been dressed in a smart trilby hat and grey chequered overcoat.

Then, at about 3pm, Lionel Webb's secretary showed up at the office saying that she had had a row with her boyfriend. It was thought that it was a surprise for Lionel Webb to see her at the office on the Sunday. She said that Lionel Webb was not in a good mood and said that when she asked him why he told her about his debts, saying that he owed £20,000 to one person, £2,000 to another person, and asked her how he was going to pay them.

His secretary said that Lionel Webb had offered to help her buy a car and that she had arranged for one to be brought to the office at about 4pm and said that when it arrived they both went out to look at it. The car owner said that Lionel Webb had offered him £4,000 for the car and asked him to wait until the end of the week for the money.

About an hour later, at about 4.50pm, a passing motorist said that he saw two white men in Lionel Webb's company at his desk in the office.

Then, at 5.30pm, a local handyman who had worked on Lionel Webb's office called in and told him that it was time that he went home and said that Lionel Webb replied something like, 'like you, I haven’t got a home to go to'.

It was noted that around that time Lionel Webb then rang a friend, but the friend said that they noted that Lionel Webb didn't appear to have much to say. The woman that he called said that she then heard rustling in the background.

Also, at about the same time, two men that had been passing said that they looked into Lionel Webb's office and saw a man in a dark suit and tie sat at Lionel Webb's desk with his feet up, but said that they were confident that it wasn't Lionel Webb.

Shortly after that a black hatchback was seen to speed away from Evering Road where Lionel Webb's office was.

It was also noted that a motorist also came forward to say that they had seen a 10-year-old girl walk passed Lionel Webb's office at about 5.45pm, which the police said was a most important time and said that they wanted to speak to the girl to see if she saw anything helpful to the investigation.

Then, when the handyman returned at about the same time, 5.30pm, approximately, he said that he saw Lionel Webb's office door ajar and said that when he went in he saw that Lionel Webb had been shot at his desk.

The police said that it was possible that the motive was robbery, noting that his briefcase and £4,000 was not recovered from his office. However, they said that it was more likely that it was a gangland revenge shooting over drugs or money deals.

The police said that when they went to Lionel Webb's office, they found 2kg of cannabis resin in the back of the shop in a safe. The police said that each kilogram was wrapped up in a clear cellophane packet and added that when they went back to his home they found a large quantity of amphetamine tablets.

The police said that they had extracted shotgun pellets from the wall in the hope that they could help them identify the type of gun that had been used or where the ammunition had come from.

It was also noted that Lionel Webb had bought a house in his girlfriend’s name without her knowledge.

His inquest returned a verdict of unlawful killing by persons unknown.

A retired detective later said in 2009 that he had been part of a police operation to watch a known armed robber case out a bank in Harborne in 1986 along with his several henchmen, one of whom was alleged to have been Lionel Webb. The retired detective said that he watched the gang casing the bank for over three weeks, but said that they moved in and made some arrests before they robbed the bank, seizing 1kg of cocaine from the gang leaders large house along with a suitcase containing about £13,000 worth of burned banknotes. It was said that although the leader was convicted of drugs offences, that the rest of the gang, including Lionel Webb, were acquitted after they claimed that they had only been meeting up to discuss a drug deal.

The detective described the gang as ruthless and said that they were premier league and would not stop to hesitate before shooting anyone that got in their way. The detective noted however that although the gang split up, none of them prospered, with one of them being convicted for a failed armed robbery in Redditch in which he shot at a policeman and was sentenced to 25 years, another ending up in a Panamanian prison where he had run an international drugs network and Lionel Webb being shot in the head two years later shortly after leaving Birmingham.

The detective noted that at the time, in the latter part of the 1980s that many organised criminals were moving away from armed robberies and into drugs which up until then had been dominated by public schoolboys and hippies.

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see Hackney Gazette

see Birmingham Mail

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Thursday 10 August 1989