Luther series 5: who is London gangster George Cornelius?

Cornelius is an enemy of DCI John Luther – but why? Remind yourself of his story so far...

Patrick Malahide, Luther (BBC screenshot)

As if DCI Luther didn’t have enough on his plate, the first episode of Luther series five saw London’s slickest detective at war with gangster George Cornelius.


Within minutes of the new series beginning, Cornelius (played with masterful malice by Patrick Malahide) has Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther at gun point, accusing him of kidnapping his son.

Later in the episode, after Luther puts a wire on one of the mobster’s men to listen in on his dealings, Cornelius teaches the detective a lesson by chaining a bomb around the gang member’s neck and challenging Luther to free his little helper. He manages to. Just.

But why are Luther and Cornelius at war with each other?

Refresh your memory of George Cornelius’s story so far, below…

When did George Cornelius first appear in Luther?

Patrick Malahide, Luther (BBC screenshot)

Luther first comes across the notorious London gangster while he is investigating Alice Morgan’s supposed death in series four. Suspecting Cornelius of killing Alice, Luther kidnaps him and handcuffs him to a radiator in an abandoned house.

Cornelius insists that he didn’t murder Alice, but admits he does know her because she tried to sell him stolen diamonds worth millions.

What has Cornelius been up to since then?

Cornelius eventually manages to unchain himself and escape the derelict house, calling Luther to tell him that he’s put a price on his head.

Sure enough, a short time later two motorbike-riding assassins sent by Cornelius try (and fail) to take down Luther.

For a while, Luther is too busy fighting crime to deal with Cornelius and his various hitmen, but eventually he does meet up with the gangster in an effort to smooth things over.

He offers Cornelius Alice’s stolen diamonds in exchange for the bounty to be removed from his head (and some Class A drugs to plant in a suspect’s home). Cornelius agrees and the pair part ways, but clearly, the story doesn’t end there…


This article was originally published on 1 January 2019