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Welcome to the Murder Mile true-crime podcast and audio guided walk of London's most infamous and often forgotten murder cases, set within one square mile of the West End.
Episode Forty-Five: On Monday 1st March 2004, Camille Gordon; a bubbly student with a beaming smile, a big heart and a bright future, who had no enemies, only friends, was stabbed to death outside of The Blue Bunny Club in Soho. But why?
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Ep45 – Who killed Camille Gordon?
SCRIPT: Welcome to Murder Mile; a true-crime podcast and audio guided walk featuring many of London’s untold, unsolved and long-forgotten murders, all set within London’s West End.
Today’s episode is about Camille Gordon; a bubbly student with a beaming smile, a big heart and a bright future, who had no enemies, only friends, and yet someone wanted her dead. But why?
Murder Mile is researched using authentic sources. It contains moments of satire, shock and grisly details, and as a dramatisation of the real events, it may also features loud and realistic sounds, so that no matter where you listen to this podcast, you’ll feel like you’re actually there.
My name is Michael, I am your tour-guide and this is Murder Mile.
Episode 45: Who killed Camille Gordon?
Today I’m standing on Archer Street, in Soho; one road south of Brewer Street where George Pickering stabbed Rosa O’Neill to death, five doors down from The White Horse where Larry Winters shot Paddy O’Keefe, and I’m right next door to the top-floor flat where Soho’s most infamous pimp strangled his most valuable sex-worker to death with her own stocking – only available on a Murder Mile Walk.
Bookended by the bland back-end of Shaftesbury Avenue’s Apollo Theatre to the left and the infamous Windmill Theatre to the right, Archer Street is a former Victorian slum. And being a thin one-way street, barely 200 feet long, with strangely vague and oddly anonymous four and five storey buildings on either side, even on the brightest of days, Archer Street is cast in shadow.
Feeling lifeless, joyless and soulless; although Archer Street is situated smack-bang in the middle of Soho’s sex district, in stark contrast, it’s drab, dark and deathly silent; looking like the kind of dirty hovel where trucks unload, waiters smoke, drunks widdle, crack-addicts puke and a certain bald tour-guide points to scenes of grisly death, all of which happen within a few feet of a primary school. Nice.
Today (gasp, shock) Archer Street is being gentrified. And as much as I may lambast those hairy-faced hipsters who dress like a Yeti moonlighting as an Elizabethan chimney sweep, who talk like Danny Dyer quoting Pruste whilst dying of the plague, who’ve uploaded every single second of their miserable little life (even though they have all the personality of an anus) and who’ve over-complicated a simple beverage to such an extent it makes you want to scream “I just want a f**king cup of coffee”, (frothing, then calm) there is one bright spot on this whole street, and that is Gelupo at 7 Archer Street.
A joyous and brightly coloured blue and white tiled Italian ice-cream shop, full of rich soft sumptuous scoops of mouth-wateringly inventive flavours such as tropical Eton Mess, blueberry cheesecake, chocolate earl grey and Pimms and lemonade. Oh yummy. (Sigh).
And yet, beyond the sweet smell of icy treats, 7 Archer Street hides a deadly secret; as it was here, on Monday 1st March 2004, outside of an infamous Soho clip-joint called The Blue Bunny Club, that an innocent woman called Camille Gordon was stabbed to death. (Interstitial)
Why anyone would hate Camille Gordon is a mystery?
Camille loved kids, she adored them, and with her life-long dream to become a nursery school teacher, it was obvious to anyone who met her that it was a job she was perfect for. Being described by those who knew her as “beautiful, inside and out”, Camille was warm, caring and loving; a vivacious girl who was instantly likeable, easily approachable and effortlessly patient, who could illuminate a room with a smile and could make any stranger feel welcome.
And with silky smooth skin, soft gentle features, warm chestnut eyes and brown shoulder length hair, as a pretty girl with a heart of gold, Camille was the kind of person you couldn’t help but gravitate towards. So given her sweet, warm and generous nature, as a nursery school teacher, Camille would have been absolutely perfect. And yet, she ended up dead in the heart of Soho’s red-light district?
Born on the Caribbean island of Jamaica in 1981 and raised in a strong, loving and supportive family, although they struggled financially; Camille had a very normal upbringing. And even though her grades were good, by the turn of the millennium, feeling that the her homeland lacked the opportunities she needed to truly fulfil her dream, with her mother’s blessing, 21 year old Camille waved farewell to the sun-kissed tropics and headed to the bright prospects but miserable drizzle of England.
Described by a close friend as “a little bit naïve”, being a young girl in a strange land, although England was an exciting place, Camille was street-smart, and was not about to take any risks.
Staying with relatives, Camille lived for two years in the industrial city of Birmingham in the West Midlands; studying at Handsworth College by day, and working as a waitress by night, with additional hours as a nursery assistant at weekends. And although she was stuck in the classic student dilemma of either being too poor to eat, too busy to earn or too tired to learn, she remained totally focussed on her goal. And so, by the summer of 2003, Camille graduated with a teaching certificate.
With her dream coming true; being eager to start her career, to pay off her student loan and to earn a modest wage (some of which she would send home to support her mother), Camille moved to the bustling city of London. But times were hard, money was tight and with nursery placements being few-and-far between, temp work being badly paid and waitressing only available at unsociable hours, seeking to supplement her meagre income with a well-paying part-time job whilst she enrolled in further education, Camille struggled to make-ends-meet.
So, one night, in the bleak winter of 2003, being a pretty girl with a slim figure, a soft voice and a sweet face; dressed in six inch-heels, black stockings and a tight-fitting dress, Camille sashayed up Rupert Street into the dark heart of Soho’s red-light district. Surrounded by a sea of seedy sex-dens which bathed her silky skin in a gaudy neon haze, as Camille tottered along the puke-splattered urine-soaked street, dodging drunks and leering louts, she was enveloped by the pitch black gloom of Archer Street.
As against the dark sinister façade of number 7, in a doorway draped in a purple velvet curtain and under a flashing neon sign which simply read “girls”, Camille stood, as hostess at The Blue Bunny Club, luring horny young men near with a wink, a smile and a come-hither finger, as for just a fiver, she promised them a “good time with a pretty lady”. (Interstitial).
But this is not what you think.
This is not a story about a vulnerable young girl; who being broke, hungry and hard-up, sinks into drink, falls into drugs, is sold by a gang into the Soho sex-trade, and (in a vicious circle of abuse) is murdered simply for disobeying her pimp. Far from it.
This is a story about a bright girl with a big heart, a warm smile and a blossoming dream of becoming a nursery school teacher. And it still is. That was her goal and she was going for it. But she didn’t have a dark side, she wasn’t leading a double-life and she wasn’t starving, desperate or forced. Camille had no criminal record, she rarely drank, she didn’t do drugs and her only debt was a student loan.
And although, being a hostess in a notorious Soho clip-joint was outside of her comfort zone; as a part-time job, the hours were short, the pay was good and – with her role requiring no nudity or sex-acts, of any kind, by strict orders of the management - all she had to do was talk and smile. So as a smart, strong and ambitious young woman, the decision to become a hostess at The Blue Bunny Club was one she had made independently… and yet, just a few months later, someone would want her dead.
But Camille wasn’t unique; with clip-joints and lap-dancing clubs being on the fringes of the sex-trade, both of which are licenced by the local council; with London being the most expensive city in Europe, given a choice between waitressing for a minimum wage, stacking shelves at night, or bar-work whilst being accosted by drunken louts, many hostesses and lap-dancers aren’t trafficked women, but are actually students, nurses and young mums; all busy girls with big dreams looking for quick (and entirely legal) cash, whilst being protected by strict laws, CCTV and a barrage of burly bouncers.
As one lap-dancer said to me, “I only work one night a month; but it pays well, everyone’s very nice and I feel safe, and what I do here (let’s be honest) it’s no different than what I do at hot yoga”.
And in the same way that outside of almost every club, bar or restaurant in almost every city, the first person you’ll see is a hostess; a beautiful young woman who is instantly likeable, easily approachable and effortlessly patient, and who can make any stranger feel welcome. So being a hostess at The Blue Bunny Club was merely a well-paying part-time job in a role that Camille was perfect for.
By Monday 1st March 2004, Camille had enrolled in further education; her rent was paid, her life was good, she was happy, well and thriving. But that night, a total stranger would be fuelled by so much hatred for Camille that he would end her life forever… and yet, they had only just met. But why?
To understand the murder, you have to understand how clip-joints like The Blue Bunny Club operate. And to do that, you’ll need to come with me, on a little walk into Soho. Don’t worry. It’ll be okay.
The date is Monday 1st March 2004. It’s 5pm. As you slip out of the rush-hour bustle of Shaftesbury Avenue, you slink onto Rupert Street; a short cobblestoned road strewn with swirling litter, its slight incline stretching up passed a dither of day-time drinkers, a huddle of homeless beggars and a prong of porn-perusing perverts clutching bafflingly indiscrete brown paper bags. But what draws your eye, is that in almost every doorway, on both sides of the street, stand long lines of very pretty girls; all slim, semi-clad and smouldering.
Being young, inexperienced and desperate, a smorgasbord of lovely ladies - who’d usually look right through you - beckon you nearer with sultry smiles and ‘come to bed’ eyes. And with every book-shop, brothel, strip-club, S&M store and porn-theatre screaming the word “sex”, as gaudy neon signs flash with unsubtle subliminal messages like ‘girls’, ‘nude’ and ‘triple X’, sex is why you are here. But as any farmer will tell you, just because you’re in a field of cows, it doesn’t mean you can buy a steak.
And as a nervous young lad; too shy to watch strippers, too timid to be lap-danced and too terrified to bust your cherry in a brothel; with your heart racing, your mouth dry and walking awkwardly as you struggle to stifle a burgeoning boner, not wanting to be noticed, you’re lured into the shadowy gloom of Archer Street and the dark façade of The Blue Bunny Club.
But there’s no need to be scared, it’s not menacing, it’s reassuring. As from the brightly lit doorway, bathed in a pink neon haze (that hints at hidden flesh) and amidst the heart quickening pulse of disco, a stunning young lady with silky smooth skin, soft gentle features and warm chestnut eyes lures you near with a wink, a smile and a come-hither finger. And being the type of girl who could make any stranger feel welcome, everything she says in her soft Jamaican lilt is what you want to hear.
As in a swirl of words like “girls”, “drinks” and “erotic show”, being stood next to a large sign which reads ‘£5 entrance fee’; with security cameras on the ceiling, bouncers on the door and the club’s terms and conditions fixed to the wall, thinking “wow, if she’s the lady they put on reception, imagine the bevvy of beauties that await me inside?”, you hand her your crinkled fiver, and as she slides back the purple velvet curtain leading down into the excitement of the basement, in a voice as warm and reassuring as a nursery school teacher, she says “have fun”, as you descend into The Blue Bunny Club.
With each step, your mind imagines the world within; a paradise for your swollen penis and a nirvana for your aching nads, as amidst a cavernous expanse of naked flesh, stunners sway on swings, pretty ladies slide on phallic poles and bosomy babes frolic together in a champagne fountain, as a sweaty heaving mass of young men, swarmed in a sea of jiggling boobs and butts, lie exhausted like dribbling wrecks, their bodies trashed by a life-changing orgy of carnality and debauchery.
And as you reach the bottom step, your heart racing, your mouth dry and your loins engorged, as you excitedly pull back the plush red curtain of your sexual utopia, the first thing that greets you is… disinfectant, the oddly un-erotic whiff of an anti-bacterial floor cleaner which stings your nostrils.
For a few seconds, as your eyes acclimatise to the dark, you wonder if you’ve stumbled into the broom-cupboard, but slowly, across the small gloomy room, you see a tiny wooden bar, an empty stage and several stained sofas, on which sit a handful of single and rather awkward looking men.
Realising your mistake, as your Adam’s apple bobs and your sphincter tightens, you quickly turn to leave, but behind you a beef-cake bouncer blocks your only exit, and as you nervously utter “it’s a bit quiet”, with an emotionless yet menacing look, the looming lump growls “it’s still early” (which – no matter what the hour - it always is) as the barrel-chested brute ushers you towards the bar.
Needing a stiff drink to steady your nerves, as you sidle up - your shoes struggling to rip free from the un-arousing grip of the sticky lino - you scan the poorly-lit wooden alcove for any tipple which takes your fancy, but with no draft taps, no spirit optics and no branded bottles, you quiz the rather bland-looking barmaid “do you have any beers?” Audibly huffing like she’s unsure how to inflate a balloon, as – for the fiftieth time that hour – her razor sharp talons point to the drinks menu, which has just three options; soft drinks, low-beer and virgin cocktails, as she barks “we don’t serve alcohol”.
And it’s true, they don’t. Clip-joints don’t have liquor licences, so legally they can’t sell booze, if they did, they’d be breaking the law. This was scrawled on the club’s Terms & Conditions, by the door, but as your swollen love-trumpet was too busy leading you downstairs, you didn’t bother to read it.
So, as you slump onto a tacky red sofa, mottled with a mishmash of dubious stains (which you deduce are most likely to be Vimto, blackcurrant cordial or Rola Cola), you daintily sup the egg-cup’s worth of watered-down fruit-juice, a steal at just £20. And as the several scared men stare expectantly at the empty stage, as the unused pole gleams brightly, you think “maybe I just missed a show” or perhaps “it’s still early” (which – no matter what the hour - it always is)? But the truth is, clip-joints don’t have an entertainment licence, so legally they can’t put on a show, if they did, they’d be breaking the law.
And as a mildly attractive yet blatantly disinterested lady sits beside you; her face caked in half an inch of make-up to mask her look of disdain, being semi-sexily dressed in black like she’s keen to cop-off with a funeral corpse and being draped in a feather boa (as nothing says sexy like an itchy scarf made of a dead bird’s plumage), as her vague pleasantries clumsily segue into you buying her a drink (which – as an employee – surely she gets for free), suddenly you realise “it’s a con”.
Nothing is going to happen between you and this lady. Nothing. Not a kiss, a hug or a how-do-you-do. This is a clip-joint, they don’t have a sex-establishment licence, so even a legally acceptable sex-act like a striptease or a lap-dance cannot take place, if it did, they’d be breaking the law.
Furious that you’ve been duped into blowing £25 to sit alone for several minutes in an empty club swigging fruit cordial, you get up to leave… but beyond the suspiciously mottled red velvet curtain should be a set of dark-lit steps ascending to the club’s only exit, except it’s blocked by two tree-trunk sized apes in tuxedos, one of whose gigantic hairy fists hands you a bill.
“What? I already paid”, you mutter “a fiver on the door and twenty quid for the drink?” And as your brain scrambles to fathom how you could possibly have accrued such an extortionate bill in such a short period of time, thinking this could be a prank, their unflinching faces say otherwise.
Here, everything costs; from the privilege of talking to the hostess and the honour of buying her a drink, to the pleasure of missing a show, and with the bar having a “two drink minimum” spend and a £300 service charge on top, all of which were clearly in their Terms & Conditions and none of which you bothered to read, so – for now - you’re not going nowhere, until they get their money.
And as two oversized brutes loom over you; their colossal callused hands perched upon your trembling shoulders as their hot-breath snorts down you perspiring neck, as you fumble for your wallet, you consider calling the Police? But on what charge? They haven’t broken the law, and - besides – it’s not like you’ve been mugged, face it, you are the mug.
Many men feel so ashamed that they pay in full, some are so terrified that they hand over their wallets, some plead poverty only to be frog-marched to the nearest cash-machine, and yet, some men become so enraged that by lashing out this allows the bouncers to use physical force. And feeling humiliated, cheated and robbed, most men chalk this up as a lesson learned and make the wise decision to never go back… but one man? He wanted revenge.
On Monday 1st March 2004, at 6:20pm, a customer approached; he was mid-twenties, 5 foot 8 inches tall and dark-skinned, wearing blue jeans, white trainers, a black hat with a white stripe and dark hooded jacket emblazoned with the motif of the Cleveland Indians Major Baseball League. Greeted by Camille and having paid his fiver, he was led downstairs into The Blue Bunny Club.
Ten minutes later, being handed a bill for £370, a heated argument ensued, and having being fleeced to the tune of £90, the man was forcibly ejected by the bouncers; spewing curses as he stormed-off down Archer Street. For those at The Blue Bunny Club, this was just an ordinary day. But having been made to feel stupid, forty minutes later… the furious man returned.
Camille was standing in the doorway; smiling, chatting and earning a few more pounds to fund her dream of becoming a nursery school teacher, a job which she would have been perfect for, as being a vivacious girl who was instantly likeable, easily approachable and effortlessly patient, she could make any stranger feel welcome. Except this stranger didn’t feel welcome, he felt angry and humiliated.
But with the club’s owners elsewhere and the bouncers otherwise engaged, even though Camille was only a part-time hostess who he had briefly met barely moments before, seething with rage and being furious (not at her but) what she represented, he stabbed her once, in the heart. And after a long struggle, as she fought to stay alive, at 8:25pm, 23 year old Camille Gordon was pronounced dead.
And even though the Police have his DNA, his fingerprints, his description and clear CCTV footage of the attack and his escape as he fled into Piccadilly Circus tube station and onto a southbound Bakerloo line train, even with a £20000 reward in place, her murderer remains at large.
Camille Gordon was a beautiful young girl, with a sweet smile, a kind heart and big dreams; who had no enemies, only friends; who wasn’t hated, only loved, and yet – owing to a legal loop-hole on the fringes by Soho’s sex-trade, to which (for many decades) the council had turned a blind-eye – an innocent young woman was brutally stabbed to death by an angry man, simply because he didn’t bother to read the small print. So who killed Camille Gordon? That we may never know.
OUTRO: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for listening to Murder Mile.
Don’t forget, if you’re a murky miler, to stay tuned for extra goodies after the break, but before that, here’s my recommended podcasts of the week; Already Gone and Going Postal. (PLAY PROMO)
A huge thank you goes out to my new Patreon supporters, who are so desperate to see extra videos of my big fat head that they’ve signed-up for more. So either they use it to frighten their kids, to measure melons or they’re werewolves and my balloon shaped bonce reminds them of the moon? This week’s weirdos are Sisse Skovbakke, Lisa Lebo, Vicki Joseph, Ann Stangroom, Darren James, Katrina Van Der Vliet and Jennifer Yee. Thank you guys, there are more moon-faced vids coming your way.
Also a big thank you to Marie, Tracey, Sean, Lorna and Sheryl, who booked into my Murder Mile Walk recently and thank you to Marie for the bakewell tarts… which mysteriously vanished, hence my big fat head. And… etc. But – of course – my biggest thank you is to everyone who listens to Murder Mile. Thank you to you all.
Murder Mile was researched, written & performed by myself, with the main musical themes written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name.
Thank you for listening and sleep well.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER ***
The Murder Mile UK True Crime Podcast has been researched using the original declassified police investigation files, court records, press reports and as many authentic sources as possible including eye-witness testimony, confessions, autopsy reports, first-hand accounts and independent investigation, where possible. But these documents are only as accurate as those recounting them and recording them, therefore mistakes will be made. As stated at the beginning of each episode (and as is clear by the way it is presented) Murder Mile is a 'dramatisation' of the events and not a documentary, therefore a certain amount of dramatic licence, selective characterisation and story-telling (within logical reason and based on extensive research) has been taken. It is not a full representation of the case, the people or the investigation in its entirety, and therefore should not be taken as such. It is also often (for the sake of clarity and drama) presented from a single person's perspective, usually (but not exclusively) the victim's, therefore it will contain a certain level of bias to get across this single perspective, which may not be the overall opinion of those involved or associated.
*** LEGAL DISCLAIMER ***
Credits: The Murder Mile true-crime podcast was researched, written and recorded by Michael J Buchanan-Dunne, with the sounds recorded on location (where possible), and the music written and performed by Erik Stein & Jon Boux of Cult With No Name. Additional music was written and performed by various artists, as used under the Creative Common Agreement 4.0. A list of tracks used and the links are listed on the relevant transcript blog here.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a writer, crime historian, podcaster and tour-guide who runs Murder Mile Walks, a guided tour of Soho’s most notorious murder cases, hailed as “one of the top ten curious, quirky, unusual and different things to do in London”, nominated "one of the best true-crime podcasts at the British podcast Awards 2018", and featuring 12 murderers, including 3 serial killers, across 15 locations, totaling 75 deaths, over just a one mile walk.
Michael J Buchanan-Dunne is a crime writer, podcaster of Murder Mile UK True Crime and creator of true-crime TV series.
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