David 'Les' Ross murder - Was dead Corby criminal kingpin responsible for doorman's brutal killing?

Was Corby crime baron behind the murder of a popular local man?
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It’s been just over a decade since David ‘Les’ Ross nervously told his pal that a notorious criminal boss had offered him a bag of cash in return for laundering money through his club.

Les turned down the illicit offer but days later he was dead, and for 10 years his family and friends have been given no answers to the questions they have about the tragic final hours of his life.

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Les – a nickname, his real name was David – was found beaten to death in the Village Express hotel in Corby Old Village on December 17, 2012.

In November 2012, the Northants Telegraph interviewed David 'Les' Ross at his new club Rubix on the corner of George Street and Corporation Street. Days later he was dead.In November 2012, the Northants Telegraph interviewed David 'Les' Ross at his new club Rubix on the corner of George Street and Corporation Street. Days later he was dead.
In November 2012, the Northants Telegraph interviewed David 'Les' Ross at his new club Rubix on the corner of George Street and Corporation Street. Days later he was dead.
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Les Ross ten years on - timeline of an unsolved murder

In the days after his killing, police were given a local man’s name by witnesses. The 39-year-old became one of their suspects. And a decade later, ask anyone in Corby who they think murdered Les, and one name is parroted again and again.

But although he was arrested, that man was never charged with any offence. Whatever his involvement in Les’ life, nothing could ever be proven about any connection to his death.

Two years ago, the suspect died suddenly, in circumstances of his own making.

Andrew Lucas, with his best pal Les Ross. The two became mates after working on the club doors in Corby.Andrew Lucas, with his best pal Les Ross. The two became mates after working on the club doors in Corby.
Andrew Lucas, with his best pal Les Ross. The two became mates after working on the club doors in Corby.
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Now, a decade after Les’ life was so callously cut short, his loved-ones believe that the people who know the true identity of his murderer might finally find it in their hearts to come forward.


In 2012 Les was approached by a group of local businessmen to be the front-man for the town’s newest nightclub.

He had little money of his own to put into the club, but had charisma, a good reputation and was a popular face in Corby. It had always been his dream to become an established businessman.

Ten years on, Andy says he misses his friend Les Ross every day.Ten years on, Andy says he misses his friend Les Ross every day.
Ten years on, Andy says he misses his friend Les Ross every day.

Les phoned the Northants Telegraph newsdesk which dispatched reporter Helen O’Neill to go out to the club – called Rubix and Lounge 66 - to meet him.

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He posed outside the club, its windows still whitewashed, bursting with pride.

On December 6 the club opened and was an immediate hit. Les took charge of the door and worked his socks off to make Rubix a success.

‘My daughter called him uncle’

Back in winter 2012, the ET visited Rubix to meet Les Ross.Back in winter 2012, the ET visited Rubix to meet Les Ross.
Back in winter 2012, the ET visited Rubix to meet Les Ross.

And then, in late 2012, Les arrived at his friend Mick Willey’s house looking ‘like death warmed up’. He sat down in his kitchen and told Mick he’d been threatened by a local man.

“He said if he didn’t get him into Rubix he was going to give him a beating,” says Mick.

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“I asked him what he was going to do, and he said he supposed he was going to have to fight him in the car park.”

Days later there was a knock on Les’ front door at his house in Chelveston Drive.

"It was a man trying to force a large amount of cash – many thousands – on to him,” says Mick.

"It was turned down. Les had integrity.

Les was found dead on December 17, 2012, in this hotel in The Jamb, Corby.Les was found dead on December 17, 2012, in this hotel in The Jamb, Corby.
Les was found dead on December 17, 2012, in this hotel in The Jamb, Corby.

"He wasn’t putting his own finances into the club because he didn’t have any so he respected the chance he’d been given.”

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Although Les was an accomplished boxer, the man who he said had offered him the money had a hard reputation and was thought to be a key player in Corby’s cut-throat criminal fraternity.

Back in 2012, Mick ran a security firm that provided door staff for many local clubs and pubs. He was also a former copper who’d worked in Corby when the town was one of the most crime-ridden in the country.

He had seen the best and worst of what Corby had to offer during its darkest days.

When he first met Les, his firm Clear Kut Security was in a bit of an administrative pickle and Mick offered to help him get back on top of it.

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As we sit in Mick’s front room a decade on from Les’ death, his photos are still framed on the sideboard, and Mick says he misses his mate.

“He sat in that chair three times a week,” says Mick.

"My daughter called him Uncle Les. He would take her out for meals and he was like family.

"I’m not saying he didn’t hang around with a few dodgy people, but he had no criminal record.

"He was just a really lovely guy. Everyone liked Les. I’d see him up the Viking and he’d be drinking pink cocktails.

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"He had a naivety about him. He was trying to save money but after he died, all he had was £550. That was his worldly possessions.”

Mick has some concerns about the original police investigation, which was run by a regionalised team of major crime detectives not based in Corby.

"I think things were missed,” says Mick.

"Some months after Les died I found a safe key in his things. I phoned the police and told them. Eighteen months later I found it again in my office. They’d never collected it. I don’t know what it was for, but could it have been important?”

Mick thinks whoever killed Les must have been known to him.

"He could move on his feet,” says Mick.

"He trained weekly. He could box, so he must have known whoever it was and let them in. Either that, or they were holding a weapon to his head.”

‘Les is still gone’

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Les had two brothers and the trio grew up in Kettering. They remained incredibly close into adulthood.

After Les’ death, brother Niall Ross appealed on Crimewatch for information.

Ten years on, he still has questions.

"I think the biggest problem the police had was the amount of rumours about who did it,” he says.

"If they’d followed all the leads they’d have interviewed everyone in Kettering and Corby.

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“The thing I can’t get my head around is that I had fights with Les when we were teens and they were loud. You’re not telling me that Les, the size of him, would let someone into that room, who he didn’t know, without anyone knowing anything about it.

"Why did he pick the most local hotel? He could have stayed anywhere else. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Niall thinks a fitting tribute to his brother would be for people to raise a glass and do something nice in his memory this weekend.

"Les was a nice guy. He’d do anything for anyone. So do something nice. Help someone out. That’s the best way to remember him.”

‘I think about him every day’

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Aged just 18, Andy Lucas started working on the doors around Corby. Les quickly took him under his wing, and the pair became the best of friends.

Ten years on, when we meet Andy, it’s clear he has never been able to come to terms with Les’ death.

He has a tribute to him tattooed on his leg and says he still thinks about Les every single day.

"My first job on the doors was with him at The Village Inn,” he says.

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"We worked four nights a week together and I’d stay at his house. Midweek, when we weren’t working, we used to go out all over the place.

"We had such a great time. They were the best times of my life.

"I learned such fantastic life skills from Les. I was a young guy at the time and he taught me things that I’ve carried through my life.”

When Les got involved in the club, Andy was pleased for him. Les had never told him of any money worries, or threats.

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"Les was a real face in Corby,” he said. “He knew everyone and everyone liked him."

On the night he died, Andy was working at The Village Inn and he phoned Les about 2am to ask him to come over to see him.

He was finishing up his shift and went to check the toilets and then saw the back of Les’ taxi driving through the Old Village. He never saw his friend again.

"I still remember so vividly the image of his taxi driving away,” he says.

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Les was found dead at 2.40pm the following day by a cleaner. He’d been badly beaten, lost consciousness, and had choked to death on his own vomit. If his killer had turned him onto his side, he may have survived.

Andy doesn’t have any idea who really killed his friend, and says that as a doorman, it’s easy for customers to take offence at small things and hold grudges.

But he hopes that those who know what happened find it inside themselves to tell the authorities.

“If somebody knows what’s happened, now’s the time to come forward,” he says.

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"The only people who really know what happened are Les and the person who did this.

“When he died it affected me tremendously. I don’t think I’ll ever get over it.

"His brothers and his mum deserve to know who did this. So many lives have been destroyed.”

‘We know it won’t change anything now’

On Saturday, which marks 10 years since Les’ death, his old pals will visit a pub in Kettering to raise a glass for their mate.

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Their final hope is that those responsible for his murder will think about the impact the crime still has on Les’ family, and do the right thing.

"We know it won’t change anything now,” says Mick. “But at least we’ll know who killed Les and why.”

Who was Les Ross?

Les moved with his family to Kettering in 1980, and then later to Corby. He was the eldest of three and was close to his brothers Glen and Niall and his mum Pauline Taylor.

He’d been a member of the Mill Road Warriors pool team in Kettering, and had been nicknamed Les after the pool player Les Dodd. It stuck.

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He drove a taxi with Star Cars, ran a security firm and worked as a doorman in Corby, as well as at Enigma in Market Harborough. Although he was an accomplished boxer and could look after himself, people who knew him don’t have a bad word to say about him. They say he was a lovely, kind man who looked out for people who needed help. He was just 39 when he died. He was not a rich man, and was not always good with money. He sometimes borrowed off pals to pay his mortgage and bills.

Two days before he died, there was a burglary at his home. The perpetrators plugged his sink and flooded his house. His Blackberry, iPhone, laptop and tablet were all stolen. He decamped to The Village Hotel in The Jamb, fearful for his safety. Only a very small number of people knew where he was and police believed one of them must have told the killer where Les was staying.

Three men 20, 21 and 18 were arrested in connection with the burglary and one, Steven Gaskell, was later charged.

Who is the police’s suspect?

The police had several suspects, and undertook a number of raids across Corby. But one man who many in Corby believe was behind the killing died in an accident in 2020. He had previously been known as a serious player in Corby’s criminal underworld.

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Back in 2007 a crown court judge estimated he’d made £5.6m through criminal activity. He’d imported Bentleys, Mercedes and Range Rovers but had never paid VAT and income tax.

He’d laundered the money he made through an offshore company he’d registered in the British Virgin Isles and used that money to buy and sell properties in Northamptonshire, Berkshire and Bedfordshire.

He’d then stolen the identity of a severely disabled man living in a Lancashire care home and used it to get mortgages on the properties to fund his lifestyle.

In a proceeds of crime act prosecution, he was ordered to pay £1m or face five years in jail.

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The court heard how he had deception convictions dating back to 1990 and had been jailed in 2006 for 18 months after admitting money laundering and obtaining passports in false names. He had dragged his first wife – who had lifelong serious mental health conditions – into the scam and more than £1m was found in her bank account.

But he was said to be almost totally illiterate and it was suspected at the time that his solicitor had been involved in the scam. The lawyer was later cleared of all charges but in 2011 was jailed after his links with another known drug dealer were exposed.

‘Loyalties can change in a decade’

Our reporter contacted Northamptonshire Police. They declined to give an interview and instead gave us a written statement.

Detective Chief Inspector Adam Pendlebury said: “David ‘Les’ Ross was murdered ten years ago and a decade on, I am appealing for anyone with the smallest piece of information to come forward.

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“There could have been a lot of reasons why people felt they could not speak to us at the time of David’s death but allegiances and loyalties can change in a decade and we are convinced that someone out there knows who killed him.

“If that person is you, please come forward and allow David and his family the justice they deserve.

“Multiple lines of enquiry have been followed since David’s death resulting in the arrests of a number of people.

“Sadly, there has never been enough evidence to charge anyone in connection with the case however this remains a live investigation and any new information which points to those responsible will be followed up.”

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There is still a £10,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of anyone in connection with Les’s death. Anyone with information can call police on 101, send a report online at www.northants.police.uk./ro or if you would prefer to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.