A quiet suburban street, a gangland hit and the death of Solly Who?

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The Independent Online
IT LOOKS like a quiet, safe suburban London street, a Betjamenesque vision of comfort and tranquility. But eight days ago, the peace of Arden Road in Finchley was shattered as a hitman pumped four bullets into the head of a Hatton Garden jeweller Solly Nahome.

It was a brutal murder that shocked residents. His neighbours knew little about Nahome; he was a businessman who kept himself to himself. But Nahome's death was to have far-reaching consequences in other, less salubrious, parts of London. They were four shots that rang across the criminal underworld.

Nahome, 48, was a money launderer for the notorious Adams family, the North London criminal gang. Such was the shock of his murder, theleader, Patsy Adams, left his well-guarded retreat in Spain to catch the first flight home.

Solly Nahome had arrived at his Finchley home, where a helmeted man, who had been standing by a motor cycle, suddenly headed towards him. In the dangerous world Nahome inhabited, this meant only one thing - a gangland hit. He ran to the front door but the gunman, described by witnesses as "black", caught up with him.

Nahome was key to the Adams' hidden fortune, organising "front" companies and disguising financial arrangements. His murder suggests a serious attempt by a rival gang to disrupt the family enterprise.

Solly Nahome tried to live anonymously. His address does not appear on the electoral register and he preferred to pay for everything in cash. This week, Nahome, his wife and 11-month-old daughter were due to move to a large, new house.

His brother, Joseph, 50, also a jeweller from North London, denied Solly had links to the criminal underworld. "He was never associated in a million years," he told the Jewish Chronicle.

Solly - Saul Soloman Nahome - was born in Iran in 1950, according to associates. In 1961, the family, with three brothers and two sisters, moved from Burma to London where they were to take British citizenship. Like many Jewish emigres, they were drawn to the jewellery trade.

By the early Eighties, the small figure of Solly Nahome became a regular in Hatton Garden, London's famous gold and jewellery centre. "The Garden" consists of rows of tall, dingy late-Victorian buildings. At street level are the jewellery shops with their garish signs. Upstairs are warrens of rooms, often interspersed with heavy security doors, where clusters of dealers and craftsmen have worked for generations.

But in the late Seventies and Eighties, The Garden was awash with gold fraud gangs.Nahome flourished here. He often attracted the attention of the police. A gold trader in the area said: "Solly was a toe-rag. I used to do business with him as he bought and sold a lot of gold. He was the kind of man you would not take a cheque from." By all accounts, Nahome was involved in many nefarious schemes and learnt the skills of the money launderer.

The Adams family have close connections with Hatton Garden, just a gemstone's throw from the their home base in Islington. When they became major figures in the drugs world, they knew the cash-only environment was ideal for money laundering.

Nahome's entree to the Adams, about six years ago, had been through the oldest brother Patsy, and he was soon holding twice-weekly meetings with the family. The family came to see Nahome as a trusted and respected consigleri. He was put in charge of laundering proceeds from the Adams' drug dealing, worth around pounds 18m. He also had other clients.

Detectives have heard that Nahome had been pressing Terry Adams on the need to concentrate more on semi-legitimate businesses or, at least, white-collar crime. He began to help launder their drugs money. It is said he bought an interest in a bar/restaurant near Hatton Garden as the frontman for their interests.

After last week's hit, the police thought the family itself was eliminating some loose ends. There had been fears among some Adams lieutenants that Nahome, who had increasingly been under police scrutiny, could crack if arrested.

But the police now believe Nahome was killed as the opening shot in a gangland war to unseat the Adams family. A year ago this would have been inconceivable. The Adams run their drugs network with a rule of terror. They are said to have ordered as many as 23 gangland hits. For 10 years they have looked untouchable.

Then earlier this year, their luck began to run out. A one-time Adams enforcer, Gilbert Wynter, 37, disappeared among rumours of a fallout with the family. He is, according to sources, either in hiding in the Caribbean, or holding up the Millennium Dome inside one of the pillars. In September, the second most senior member of the gang, Tommy Adams, was jailed for seven years for importing cannabis, with a confiscation order for pounds 1m. Last week, an associate of the family, conman Anthony Passmore, was jailed for a massive fraud.

The murder suspects include another north London-based family and gangsters who had worked with Mr Wynter. Before his death, Nahome is said to have been on a number of trips abroad, including one visit to Israel, for business deals connected with the Adams family.

Now it could be that the Adams will be literally fighting for their lives.