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Last Updated: Friday, 19 March, 2004, 13:37 GMT
Drugs shame of Adair's son
By Chris Summers
BBC News Online

The eldest son of convicted Northern Ireland loyalist leader Johnny Adair has been jailed, along with two other men, after admitting conspiracy to supply drugs. BBC News Online investigates how the losers in a loyalist power struggle, forced into exile, turned to crime almost as soon as they arrived in the Manchester area.

Jonathan Adair, it would appear, is a chip off the old block.

Johnny Adair
Johnny Adair is set to be freed in January 2005
His father is Johnny Adair, the brutal former leader of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), who glories in the nickname he has been given by the tabloids - "Mad Dog".

Now Adair junior is starting a prison sentence after admitting conspiracy to supply heroin and cocaine.

On Friday Adair, 19, was sentenced to five years in a young offenders' institution. Co-defendants Ben Dowie, 22, and associate William Truesdale, 40, received five and four years respectively.

Charges against Adair's wife Gina, Karen Truesdale, 32, and a 13-year-old boy were dropped last month.

Adairs fled Belfast

Gina told police she had kicked her son out of her home and knew nothing about his drug dealing.

In January 2003 Adair Snr was taken back into custody on the orders of the Northern Ireland Secretary, Paul Murphy, who claimed he had been involved in directing terrorism, drug dealing, extortion and money laundering.

Gina Adair
All charges were dropped against Mrs Adair
The following month, the Adair clan fled Belfast, along with several other friends of Adair Snr, after his faction lost out to the mainstream UDA in a power struggle

The group initially went to Scotland but by April 2003 they had moved south and eventually settled in Horwich, near Bolton in Greater Manchester.

Hugh Jordan, a Belfast journalist and co-author of Mad Dog: The Rise and Fall of Johnny Adair, said: "They soon realised they could not trust half of the loyalists in Scotland so they drove to Carlisle and then came south until they arrived in Horwich. They chose it at random."

Almost from the outset the exiles, homesick and short of money, were a pain in the neck for their neighbours and the police.

A reporter on the Bolton Evening News told BBC News Online: "We had quite a few calls and letters from people who were a bit wary of them.

'Very vocal'

"The young Adair and his pals were very vocal. They weren't exactly lying low. They would be singing songs about being from Ulster on their way home from the pub on a Friday night."

They were like fish out of water. They stuck out like a sore thumb because of their accents and their demeanour
Hugh Jordan
Journalist and author

Mr Jordan said: "They were like fish out of water. They stuck out like a sore thumb because of their accents and their demeanour, and the only thing Jonathan Adair knew was criminality."

In late May, one homesick member of the exiles, 21-year-old Alan McCullough, came back to Belfast to visit friends.

A week later his body was found in a shallow grave on the outskirts of the city.

A 29-year-old man is in custody awaiting trial for his murder.

In the summer of 2003, Adair, Dowie and Truesdale are believed to have contacted drug suppliers in Manchester and Liverpool and set themselves up in business.

"But the police, at National Crime Squad level, would have kept a close eye on the activities of these people through their own informants and would have known quickly that they had set up in the drugs business," said Mr Jordan.

Alan McCullough
Alan McCullough was killed after returning to Belfast from Horwich
By September, Greater Manchester Police had become so concerned they launched an investigation called Operation Margate, aimed at collecting intelligence and evidence about drug dealing.

One reporter at the Bolton Evening News told BBC News Online: "Undercover police officers, posing as dealers, met and discussed buying a consignment of drugs.

"They made several test purchases, and when they had enough evidence they moved in."

In December, police swooped on five addresses in the Bolton area.

Jonathan Adair and Dowie were arrested at a hotel on the M61 at Anderton.

During the raids, police seized a fake M16 machinegun and four imitation handguns.

Adair, Dowie and Truesdale will have to serve out sentences in English prisons and Dowie's solicitor told a court hearing last month that all three had received death threats, believed to be linked to the UFF feud.

Meanwhile, Mrs Adair has dropped plans to contest Bolton Council's decision to refuse her a council house.

Jonathan Adair
Jonathan Adair seems to be following in his father's footsteps
She dropped the action after deciding to stay in her privately rented home in the town.

Exactly what the future holds for the UFF exiles is unclear.

They will continue to live in fear of vendettas from their enemies within the UDA and UFF. In December, a bomb was found in a car belonging to one of Adair's associates, parked outside a house in the Halliwell suburb of Bolton.

That fear will no doubt be heightened in January 2005 when Johnny Adair is due to be released.

He will almost certainly quit Northern Ireland to be with his wife and youngest children.

If he chooses to go and live in Horwich, he can be sure that police will be keeping a close eye on him and his friends.

Loyalist's son jailed over drugs
19 Mar 04  |  Manchester
Adair's son in guilty plea
20 Feb 04  |  Northern Ireland
Bomb targeted terror associate
17 Dec 03  |  Manchester
Adair nephew 'target' of attack
11 Mar 04  |  Northern Ireland
Adair refused appeal funding
10 Dec 03  |  Northern Ireland


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