Bullets halt the rise of a northern gangster

AS A man of driving ambition, Christopher Little accelerated through life. On Friday night, with two bullet holes in his head and his foot hard on the pedal of a pounds 50,000 Mercedes sports car, he sped to his death.

The former nightclub bouncer turned drug dealer and racketeer had travelled far on his trip from Stockport to oblivion. He was 31, rich, flashy. As he made money, he made enemies. He kept a ferocious Rottweiler and was a man to be feared as well as envied.

Most of all, Chris Little was a product of Greater Manchester, a city now coping with some of the most viciously criminal neighbourhoods in urban Europe. As a local villain, he was known to police in Stockport as an empire-builder rather than 'self-employed builder' as he had lately styled himself. In reality, he was a feared racketeer. One man who betrayed him was bundled into a small dark room with only the Rottweiler for company.

Little's gangs of doormen provided 'security' at nightclubs in Stockport. One club run by rivals was targeted in a gun attack recently.

Earlier this year, Little recruited young men to launch a spate of arson attacks in Stockport in which schools, shops and vehicles were damaged by firebombs. No one was hurt, but about pounds 1m worth of damage was done.

Although the police suspected Little of organising the attacks (thought to have been carried out as a show of strength), he was never charged.

Lately, Little had tried to expand his empire into the Stretford area, stepping on the toes of drug barons there.

He owned a nice house in a good area of Stockport, but probably his greatest pride and joy was the Merc - a black 500 SLE. With the Rottweiler, nobody would surprise him; with the car, nobody would catch him. It turned out to be a fatal double delusion.

As he stopped at traffic lights in Stockport Road, Marple, on Friday night, a white Ford Granada travelling in the same direction pulled up alongside. The shots came from its open window.

Under the dying man's foot, the automatic Merc sped off, colliding with two vehicles and injuring four people.

At the dead man's home yesterday, the Rottweiler could be heard barking.

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