Gangland boss back in jail after his £7,000 facelift

Head of the London crime family is jailed again for covering up return to big-spending lifestyle

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The Independent Online

Running the country's most notorious criminal gang must take its toll on a man's complexion.

But when Terry Adams, head of the Adams Family, or "A-Team", checked into the Harley Street Skin Clinic in January for a £7,000 stem cell facelift he could hardly have expected it would land him back in jail.

Adams, now 57, was sentenced yesterday at Westminster magistrate's court to an additional eight weeks, on top of whatever a parole hearing decides he should serve for breaking the terms of his license since his release from custody last year.

The pioneering non-surgical treatment was among a number of large expenditures Adams failed to declare on the Financial Reporting Orders imposed on him after he was released halfway through a seven-year sentence for money laundering. They are designed to prevent convicted criminals leading an exuberant lifestyle while on parole. Among his other expenses were membership of the five-star Grove Spa Hotel in Hertfordshire and a gold Cartier watch, bought for more than £2,000, the court heard.

Adams, considered a king among crime royalty, has been back in custody since this August, when the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) investigated his Financial Reporting Orders. The parole board will decide next week how much more of this three and a half year sentence he will serve.

Many feel it is a remarkably lenient sentence for a man whose organisation is said by some to be implicated in more than 25 gangland murders, and rich to the tune of £200m – but for decades Adams was thought to be "untouchable". The prosecuting barrister in his 2007 case spoke of his "ability to keep his evidential distance from any of the violence and other crime from which he undoubtedly profited."

It started with bullying and petty extortion of market traders in north London more than 30 years ago, before blossoming into a vast racketeering and drug trafficking empire, throughout London, Lincolnshire and Spain. When police went to Adams' home near Barnet, north London, in 2003, they found antiques worth £500,000 and tens of thousands of pounds hidden in a shoebox in the attic. Authorities believed more money was salted away in other accounts to go with the cars, yachts and a home in Cyprus.

The riches came with a reputation. The so-called A-Team made it to the top of the criminal underworld on the back of ruthlessness against anyone, or any group, who stood in their way.

The syndicate is rumoured to have killed about 25 people and the legacy of that violence rumbles on. Scotland Yard announced this year that, following the advance of forensic science, it was resuming inquiries into the deaths of Adams's financial manager, Solly Nahome, in 1998 and Gilbert Wynter, an enforcer for the gang, who was once charged with murdering the former British high jump champion Claude Moseley and who disappeared in 1998.

When Adams was finally jailed in 2007, few were left in doubt as to his criminal credentials. His imprisonment followed several failed inquiries and the bugging of his home by MI5 during a brief period when it turned its attention to tackling organised crime and attempts to dismantle the Adams network.

The level of violence used by the gang was made clear on bugged conversations at Adams's home, recorded after years of failed attempts to bring him to justice. In one section of the hundreds of hours of recordings, Adams boasted to a friend: "I went 'crack'. On my baby's life, Dan, his knee cap come right out there...all white...All bone."

But if there was £200m, the police never found it – and even Adams himself may not have been privy to the location, as his financial manager Solly Nahome, responsible for moving around much of his cash into offshore accounts, was shot dead in 1998.

It is doubtful now that the A-Team, also known as the Clerkenwell Crime Syndicate, exert quite the influence they used to. Adams' barrister Malcolm Swift QC said his client was "a broken man as a result of his prison experience" and had become "paranoid about being under surveillance by authorities" to the extent that he "doesn't drive a car" and "doesn't use a telephone".

Adams, wearing a light blue shirt, blue jumper and jeans, appeared emotionless throughout and spoke only to confirm his name. His wife Ruth, in the public gallery, quietly expressed her dissatisfaction on several occasions. "Is that a crime?" she said at one point.

A spokesperson for Soca said: "Financial Reporting Orders are designed to make it more difficult for high level criminals to re-offend. Soca will not tolerate breaches. Our policy of 'lifetime management' means what it says."

Adams has so far repaid just £350,000 of the £750,000 he was ordered to pay in legal fees from his 2007 trial. The facelift treatment was in fact paid for by his sister-in-law, Camilla Hicks, a procedure "the NHS wouldn't fund," Mr Swift said.

On sentencing, District Judge Quentin Purdy said he had taken into account Adams' guilty plea, but told him: "You wilfully and, in my judgement, arrogantly sought to frustrate the effect of a financial reporting order, well knowing that a significant confiscation order remains largely unpaid.

"It seems to me you are a shrewd and calculating individual, quite determined not to pay this money as you should." The Parole Board hearing is scheduled for next week.

Criminal Underworld: The Adams Family

Patrick "Patsy" Adams

While older brother Terry was the brains, Patsy was the muscle. By the mid-1980s, he had a reputation as one of the most violent figures in the criminal underworld. It was he who pioneered the use of motorcycles to carry out drive-by assassinations. Sentenced to seven years in prison in the 1970s for armed robbery, in 2001 he was reported to be living in exile a few miles south of Torremolinos in Spain, in a walled villa bristling with security cameras.

Sean "Tommy" Adams

The third Adams brother (there are 11 in total) is the group's financier. He stood trial in 1985 for handling the £26m proceeds of the infamous Brink's-MAT gold bullion heist. When the group became involved in drug trafficking, he is thought to have established important connections with Colombian drug cartels and Jamaican Yardies. He was convicted in 1998 of masterminding an £8m hashish-smuggling operation, for which he was jailed for seven years.

Ruth Adams

Terry Adams's wife was also subject to money-laundering charges, but these were dropped when her husband went to prison in 2007. She has kept some of the value of the marital home which was sold when her husband was jailed, using some of it to pay for the expensive gym membership and the gold Cartier watch that has landed her husband in trouble again.