Senior detective risked officers for bribe from Britain's top drug baron

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The Independent Online
THINGS BEGAN to go wrong for the drugs surveillance operation in the Liverpool 8 ghetto when the two old steel containers were drenched in petrol and set on fire. Someone had told the dealers that inside the containers was a front-line police observation post housing five "bizzies".

The same fate befell the camera, recording deals from an empty upstairs flat through a tiny aperture drilled in a window sealed up with breeze blocks. Just to be sure, the dealers torched the flat, terrifying the old dear next door.

The dealers were working with a bent cop, someone with advance knowledge of police operations who had by 1988 opened a hot line to the drug sellers around Granby Street. Down the road at Admiral Street police station, detectives began to suspect betrayal.

Only a senior officer informed of all drugs policing could be so well- briefed about undercover operations. The name of the then deputy head of the Merseyside drugs squad, Elmore "Elly" Davies, was pencilled in the log of detectives under suspicion.

Yesterday, he was convicted of disclosing information to pervert the course of justice. A detective chief inspector, with 30 years' service and a son in the force, Davies is the most senior British police officer jailed for corruption in modern times. He sold the inside line on an investigation to an organised crime syndicate. He tried to get the son of an alleged drugs baron off a firearms charge. He was to be paid pounds 20,000.

The trial dealt only with Davies's final act of corruption.There was no evidence about abortive exercises around dismal Granby Street during the 1980s, or the two years from 1990 when Davies was a chief of detectives in the Turks and Caicos Islands, on the Caribbean mainline for drug runs to Florida.

What turned Davies crooked was in part a mix of brooding hubris and insecurity. In the witness box, his knuckle-size gold and ebony signet ring catching the light, he made awkward, embarrassing jokes. He agreed he had been passed over twice for promotion to superintendent and was too old for the sort of force Merseyside was becoming, too down-to-earth, too gold- chained Elly-the-lad.

Then he was asked about a bugged chat in his sitting room, when he told Michael Ahearne, his friend Warrior from the Gladiators TV show - who was also jailed, with another associate, Tony Bray - that he was "very, very pissed off". He replied it was just a throwaway line, "a load of bullshit".

When he was arrested, on 13 March last year, Davies was a chief inspector on pounds 36,000 a year. Aged 50, proud, garrulous, twice-divorced, hard-living and a Freemason, he ran CID in Tuebrook division, Liverpool, where crimes are committed at the rate of one an hour.

He had high hopes that a back "injury" would retire him soon from the force "on a nice pension - pounds 500 a week in my hand just for sitting on my extremely fat arse". He reckoned he could work as a security consultant on cruise liners - "pounds 500 a week and all your keep and ale".

Davies was greedy for more money when, in July 1996, who should get in touch from exile in the Netherlands but Curtis Francis Warren, the country's 401st richest person, through his property holdings, according to the Sunday Times "Rich List", and the most successful British criminal ever captured.

Warren was worth pounds 180m, garnered from drugs dealing and smuggling on a grand scale, who needed a favour from a well-placed policeman. The son of a "business associate" was in trouble after shooting at a police officer - could Elly fix it for an appropriate payment? Davies agreed.

Warren was riding his luck. He stood trial in 1992 charged with importing 18 lead ingots concealing a ton of cocaine, worth pounds 260m. After being acquitted on a technicality, he told Customs officers as he left the court: "I'm just off now to spend my pounds 87m and you can't touch me."

Despite his brush with the courts, he resumed his transatlantic trade. "He was greedy," a Customs man said. "And there are no escape clauses in Colombian contracts. If they want you to carry on working for them, it's prudent not to quit."

Warren assumed Customs officers were watching him, so he moved his cocaine concession to the Netherlands, but he was caught and last year began a 12-year jail term after bungling the import of 317kg of cocaine, 67kg of heroin, and 1.76 tonnes of cannabis.

He was caught after Customs told Dutch police all about the semi-literate Scouser who had moved in to the mansion at 53 Hoofdstraat in Sassenheim. The Dutch listened to Warren's phone calls. Among the conversations were discussions about an attempted murder inquiry involving Philip Glennon, scion of a notorious Liverpool crime family who had amassed a fortune from drug-running.

Warren's closest business associates included Philip "Philly" Glennon senior, father of Warren's lover, Stephanie, and chairman of his local Neighbourhood Watch. Each week he buys at least pounds 25 of lottery tickets - driving to the newsagent in his Mercedes.

Glennon junior's machismo had got the better of him on 14 July 1996. He quarrelled in the Venue nightclub, with members of the rival Ungi family and shot at the bouncer who threw him out, then fired at the constable who pursued him. The bouncer was allegedly paid pounds 50,000 from Glennon. Next day, he retracted his statement.

That left the officer's evidence and the gun. The family turned to Warren and Warren turned to Elly Davies. The incident had taken place on Davies's patch. Phone calls collected by the Dutch made clear that the detective chief inspector was only too keen to help. He could get information on anything Warren wanted. Elly was "made up" (delighted).

While the Dutch had been bugging Warren, suspicions about Davies were growing in the Merseyside police and, in December 1996, they arranged for "friends" from another law enforcement agency to install a miniature microphone in Davies's sitting room. Merseyside police had justification for cocking an electronic ear to his sitting room. The microphone picked up Davies plotting to have the attempted murder investigation "boxed off". Davies disclosed to Warrior, and other Warren emissaries, forensic information, warnings about bugged telephones, and strategies to get Glennon junior bail.

Warren was going to meet Davies in North Wales, but there was a delay and then Warren got arrested. Davies was heard on the secret bug saying if the appointment had been kept, that Warren "wouldn't be in prison in Holland. I would have said to him, `Don't talk on the phone and don't go back to Holland'. I bet he would have paid pounds 50,000 for that."