Jack Straw, the Secretary of State for Justice, has announced a crackdown on prisoners using Facebook after it emerged that a gangland kingpin has spent the past two months using the social networking site to intimidate his enemies.
Colin Gunn, whose reign of fear in Nottingham contributed to it being dubbed "assassination city", is in a maximum security jail serving a minimum of 35 years for conspiracy to murder. Gunn, 42, masterminded the revenge killings of innocent couple John and Joan Stirland in their Lincolnshire bungalow in 2004, and was linked with the fatal shooting in 2003 of Nottingham jeweller Marian Bates. But until his pages were removed on Friday, he had been communicating freely with up to 565 "friends" on Facebook, The Sunday Times claimed.
"I will be home one day and I can't wait to look into certain people's eyes and see the fear of me being there," Gunn wrote in one posting printed by the paper. "It's good to have an outlet to let you know how I am. Some of you will be in for a good slagging, some have let me down badly, and will be named and shamed, fucking rats," he wrote in another.
Gunn, 42, said prison governors had allowed him to set up his page after he insisted he had a legal right to do so, The Sunday Times said. The paper also claimed Gunn, a 6ft 4in bodybuilder, was believed to be running, from his cell, the empire he founded on drugs and extortion.
Mr Straw said: "I have sought the assistance of Facebook to have these profiles removed and we will continue to press for removal of these whenever we find them or whenever they are drawn to our attention."
The Ministry of Justice said the use of social networking sites in prison was forbidden, adding: "The Public Order Act 1986 created offences dealing with causing harassment, alarm or distress. We will not hesitate to refer to the police any published material that appears to breach this."
Gunn was jailed in June 2006 for plotting the murders of John and Joan Stirland, who were found shot dead in their bungalow in Trusthorpe, Lincolnshire, in 2004. Their deaths were revenge for the 2003 murder of Marvyn Bradshaw, who was shot dead by Mrs Stirland's son, Michael O'Brien.
Gunn's nephew, Jamie, was in the car with Bradshaw when he was shot and turned to drink and drugs as a result, dying of pneumonia at the age of 19 the week before the Stirlands were killed.
The couple fled their home in Nottingham in 2003 after it was fired upon by a gunman riding a motorbike. Mrs Stirland, 51, a nurse, and her husband, 55, lodged in a bedsit in Goole, East Yorkshire, before moving to Trusthorpe. But they were tracked down by Gunn and his henchmen, and shot at close range by men in boiler suits.
At a later trial, it emerged that Gunn had used corrupt police officers to keep tabs on the progress of the investigation into the Stirlands' murder.
Gunn was also linked to the murder of Marian Bates, 64, who was shot trying to protect her daughter during a raid on the Time Centre in Nottingham. He was never charged, but feared he would be implicated. A car belonging to Gunn was thought to have been used in the robbery, and the gunman, who has never been traced, was believed to have been an associate of Gunn's.Reuse content