Charles "Darby" Sabini born Ottavio Handley Sabini (11 July 1888 – 4 October 1950) is a British Italian gang leader from London, England.
He was at war with Alfie Solomons and Thomas Shelby in Series 2. Darby Sabini serves as the secondary antagonist of the second series.
Sabini was born Ottavio Handley, the illegitimate child of Italian immigrant Ottavio Sabini and Englishwoman Eliza Handley in Saffron Hill, London in 1888. He was christened Ottavio Sabini, but frequently called himself Charles or Fred, actually the name of one of his brothers.
As leader of the Sabinis and "king of the racecourse gangs", he dominated the London underworld and racecourses throughout the south of England for much of the early twentieth century. Although his Clerkenwell-based organisation gained the core of its income from racecourse protection rackets operated against bookmakers, it was also involved in a range of criminal activities including extortion, theft, as well as operating several nightclubs. It had an estimated 300 members, an is said to have included imported Sicilian gunmen, although the Sabinis originated in central Italy. The members were also notorious for razor attacks. At its peak, Sabini had extensive police and political connections including judges, politicians and police officials.
Conflicts with competing gangs the Birmingham Boys, Elephant and Castle Mob, Cortesi brothers, the Yiddishers and the White family were common, and in 1922 he was involved in a gunfight with the Cortesi brothers.
In 1926 he was declared bankrupt following an unsuccessful libel action against DC Thompson & Co. That year he moved to Brighton and established a similar racket there using the name Fred Handley (his mother's maidenname). Although regularly charged with assault, his gang's reputation made witnesses reluctant to come forward.
The coming of the Second World War threatened his powerbase, because Sabini's power rested on an alliance of Italians and Jewish bookmakers and with the rise of Fascism in Italy came antisemitism infecting London's Italian community. After the outbreak of war, Sabini was arrested at the Greyhound Stadium at Hove in April 1940 and interned as an enemy alien, despite his mixed parentage and inability to speak Italian. He was released the following year, but in 1943 found guilty of receiving stolen goods and sentenced to 3 years in prison. Meanwhile, his only son was killed on active service for the RAF in Egypt. After the war, his empire was taken over by the White family led by Alf White and subsequently by the organizations of Jack Spot and Billy Hill.
During the 1930s, Sabini was said to be permanently resident in a penthouse apartment in the Grand Hotel, Brighton. After the war, he worked as a bookmaker and was resident in Hove. He was immortalised as the gangster Colleoni in Graham Greene's Brighton Rock
Series 2 · 1922
During Episode 2.1, Sabini and his men slice the inside of Thomas Shelby's cheek and brutally beat him for attacking his Eden Club. They plan to kill Thomas, but are interrupted by Inspector Campbell.
Sabini is presumably the one who sends for men to shoot Thomas at the horse auction in Episode 2.3, but Arthur ends up killing the assailants that were sent.
During Episode 2.4, Sabini has a meeting with Alfie Solomons. He apologizes for offending the Jews, and allows Alfie's bookies to go back to the Epsom races. They agree to peace between the Jews and the Italians and war against the Shelby family.
However, it is later revealed that Sabini broke his promise to Alfie Solomons, saying that his bookies could not come to Epsom. As a result, Alfie and Thomas end up back in an alliance—and back in business—by the end of Series 2.
Sabini still manages to get what he wants when members of The Red Right Hand captures Thomas Shelby at Epsom. However, Thomas is ultimately released due to the intervention of Winston Churchill, leaving Sabini defeated against the combined alliance of the Peaky Blinders and Alfie Solomons.
Series 4 · 1926
In Episode 4.1, Tommy Shelby mentions Sabini, calling him as the owner of a Restaurant called San Marcos, where the new chef of his house used to work. Tommy asks if he or his sous-chef, Antonio knew him, as he correctly thinks that the sous-chef is in fact, a hired assassin from New York, whom Sabini helped to get him into Tommy's house.
In Episode 4.4, Sabini is mentioned again by Tommy, when he escorts May Carleton to the boats, he thinks that his family is helping Changretta to be recognized by his criminal organization, and disrespectfully says that Sabini's men are "local kids trying to be famous". Later in the same episode, in a meeting between Alfie Solomons and Tommy, the first one says that the Sicilians are using Sabini to obtain vehicles and places to stay, but don't trust him for soldiers, Tommy then tells Solomons, to tell Sabini that if he keeps helping the italians, they are going to stay and after killing Tommy, they will be coming for him and all the other mobsters.
"Alfie, you and me, we've been fighting since we was at school. Now also, we've been friends. You know, it goes backwards and forwards." — Sabini to Alfie Solomons
"You fucking lose, you fucking Gypsy bastard! You lose!" —Sabini to Thomas Shelby