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Last Updated: Friday, 9 March 2007, 18:30 GMT
End of the road for the other A Team
By Chris Summers, the Old Bailey
BBC News

One of Britain's most powerful criminals has been jailed for seven years for money laundering. Terry Adams was the leader of a gang known as the A Team, which for years operated a hegemony over London's underworld.

Terry Adams being sentenced
Adams' wife and daughter looked on as he was jailed

The conviction of Adams for money laundering is reminiscent of Al Capone being jailed for tax evasion in the US in the 1930s.

The Adams Family, or the A Team as it was often known, was feared and respected by many in London's underworld throughout the 1980s and 90s.

The gang is suspected of involvement in a number of murders, but so far this remains only speculation.

'Feared and revered'

At the Old Bailey on Friday Andrew Mitchell QC said: "It is suggested that Terry Adams was one of the country's most feared and revered organised criminals.

"He comes with a pedigree, as one of a family whose name had a currency all of its own in the underworld.

"A hallmark of his career was his ability to keep his evidential distance from any of the violence and other crime from which he undoubtedly profited."

To bring him down the police combined forces with MI5.

Mad Frankie Fraser
1989 - Terry Gooderham was executed in Epping Forest
1991 - "Mad Frankie" Fraser (pictured) survived being shot at a club in Clerkenwell
1993 - Tommy Roche was shot dead near Heathrow airport
1998 - Gilbert Wynter, the gang's own enforcer, vanished

Mr Mitchell said it was the first time they had worked together to target "old-fashioned gangland crime".

The family has Irish roots but members were brought up in the Barnsbury area of Islington, north London.

Like many London gangsters they started off in petty crime and graduated to armed robbery before diversifying into a more lucrative and less risky trade - drug trafficking.

At the height of their power, in the late 1980s, they were in charge of most of the cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine coming into the capital and the money was rolling in.

Mr Mitchell said Terry Adams had made so much money from crime he was able to retire at the age of 35.

From then on the former meat porter sat back and set about laundering his ill-gotten gains, estimated at up to 11m.

The scheme involved inventing sham companies and claiming to work for them as a business consultant.

Saul 'Solly' Nahome
Solly Nahome's killing remains unsolved

Adams bought a 1m home in Totteridge on the outskirts of London, furnished it with antiques and paintings - some of which were stolen - and spent 78,000 on remodelling his garden.

Adams and his wife took luxury holidays - they favoured the Italian lakes - and bought a yacht and several cars. Their daughter, Skye, was privately educated and they also bought her a Mercedes sports car.

Jeweller shot dead

But things began to go wrong for Terry Adams in the late 1990s after a series of setbacks.

One of the A Team's "enforcers" was Gilbert Wynter, who had been acquitted in 1994 of murdering former British high-jump champion Claude Moseley, after a key witness refused to give evidence.

Wynter disappeared in March 1998, and underworld sources suggest he may have been killed after "double-crossing" the family.

In September of that year Tommy Adams, who had previously been acquitted of handling the proceeds of the 1983 Brinks Mat robbery, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years for smuggling cannabis worth 2m. He was also fined 1m.

Adams' home, Fallowfield
Adams bought this 1m home in Totteridge, on London's outskirts

Two months later Saul "Solly" Nahome, a Hatton Garden jeweller who is thought to have laundered millions of pounds belonging to Terry Adams, was shot dead outside his luxury home in Finchley, north London.

Mr Mitchell said: "There is absolutely no doubt that his death came as a complete shock to Mr Adams... but aside from the emotional impact it also had an impact on his financial affairs."

Process dragged

Between 1997 and 1999 the police put Adams under surveillance and bugged his home in Finchley.

Excerpts read to the court showed Adams was keen to go straight and not do anything to attract the attention of the authorities.

He even offered to pay the Inland Revenue 95,000 for taxes which he had not paid.

Terry Adams, who lives in Mill Hill, north London, was finally charged in 2003 but the legal process dragged on for two years, partly as a result of a perforated ulcer which affected his wife and co-defendant, Ruth.

Jury protection

Last month Terry Adams pleaded guilty on the eve of his trial to one sample charge of money laundering.

Police had been planning special measures to protect jurors in the case.

No-one is above the law
Alison Saunders

On Friday Adams, looking considerably younger and fitter than his 52 years, listened intently as he was jailed for seven years.

Judge Pontius made a 750,000 confiscation order against him and ordered him to contribute a further 50,000 towards the costs of the 1.7m prosecution.

He was joined in the dock by Mr Nahome's widow, Joanna Barnes, who admitted one charge of forgery and was fined 5,000.

Alison Saunders, head of the Crown Prosecution Service's organised crime division, said: "No-one is above the law, and where there is evidence that someone has benefited from crime in this way and has been able to establish a very comfortable lifestyle with no legitimate means of doing so, we will prosecute and will seek to confiscate those assets."

Charges against Ruth Adams were allowed to "lie on the file".

Terry Adams gestured to her, and his daughter, who were in the public gallery, as he was led away.


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