Son of 'Mad Dog' Adair is jailed for five years for selling drugs

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The Independent Online

The son of the Northern Ireland paramilitary leader Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair was jailed yesterday for selling heroin and crack cocaine in Bolton, Greater Manchester, where he and up to 50 others have sought refuge from a bitter loyalist feud.

The son of the Northern Ireland paramilitary leader Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair was jailed yesterday for selling heroin and crack cocaine in Bolton, Greater Manchester, where he and up to 50 others have sought refuge from a bitter loyalist feud.

Jonathan Adair, 19, who is said by police to have considered himself above law, was sentenced to five years by a judge at Bolton Crown Court.

Adair arrived in north-west England last year with his mother, Gina, and other members of his father's breakaway C Company faction - known as C Coy.

Soon after their arrival the Adairs asked police for protection after a drive-by shooting in April in which 1,300 rounds of gunfire were fired through the front window of their home on Chorley Old Road.

But Adair Jnr and his co-defendants - William Truesdale, 40, who got four years, and Benjamin Dowie, 22, who got five - still embarked on what was described in court as a "dial-a-drug" operation, handing out one of their mobile telephone numbers to buyers and arriving in person to deal small wraps of heroin, cocaine and crack cocaine. The operation was infiltrated by two undercover police officers and led to raids on five properties including Adair's, where £1,200, a flak jacket and crossbow and bolt were seized. So confident was Truesdale that he struck up a conversation abouit DVDs with one of the undercover officers, inviting him to his house to view some.

The same sense of invincibility has been evident ever since they arrived in England from the Lower Shankill area of Belfast after the murder of Adair Snr's rival John Gregg.

Few take liberties with the drug gangs in Bolton, where a seven-year-old boy has been one of many victims of feuding over the past few years. But Adair Jnr was muscling in within months - convinced that his reputation would protect him.

In December, one small group of the "Bolton Wanderers" - as the exiles are known to some loyalist rivals - was seen marching through Bolton, drunk, and chanting, "We are the Irish." Others pay regular visits to local banks. "They're loud. Their accents make people stare," one local said this week.

They left Belfast as 7,000 Ulster Defence Association (UDA) supporters were burying Gregg last February and alighted first in south-west Scotland. There was talk of going to Newcastle but, amid general confusion, the group headed south - first to Carlisle to await others, then 120 miles south to Bolton - where they had links with far-right Combat 18 groups, who are UDA sympathisers.

It has been a humiliating comedown. At first, the Bolton Evening News received a trickle of letters supporting Mrs Adair's attempts to raise her three younger children here.

But then came the drive-by shooting and a bomb scare when a small quantity of Semtex (designed to scare, not kill, say police) was placed beneath the car of "Fat" Jackie Thompson, another Adair lieutenant.

Graffiti attacks near a local supermarket and on the side wall of Horwich's Independent Methodist Church tell the Adair mob to "Get back to Ireland".

Two weeks ago, the front window of Mrs Adair's house was smashed, and it remained boarded up yesterday. The occupants of the houses on either side have moved out, and the properties remain empty.

"People have begun to see the potential of what the Adairs are bringing in," said Robert Ronson, the local Liberal Democrat councillor.

Not that Mrs Adair wants to stay. She has made regular return visits to Belfast in the past six months, often arriving and leaving on the same day. "I would love to return to [Belfast]," she told the Evening News last year.

Adair Jnr, whose first child was born recently in Belfast by a girlfriend aged 18, grinned as he was sent down yesterday but five years in a Young Offenders Institution may offer little respite from life on the run. His solicitors claim that he and his co-defendants received death threats linked to April's shooting while on remand at Walton prison in Liverpool.