Britain’s biggest supergrass has a ‘target on his back’ for life after giving evidence against dozens of gangland criminals who were jailed for 250 years, it can be revealed today.
Fearing he may be killed, the former drug pusher agreed a deal with police after falling into debt to brutal criminals who kidnapped and tortured him.
David Gloyne, left, and Yvan Nikolic, right, known as Mr Big, were both jailed for 21 years as a result of Mr X’s evidence against him
Andrew Blake, was later jailed for 14 years on Mr X’s evidence, while Alan Smart, right, received a life sentence for arson.
He has given evidence for the prosecution in six major trials over the past four years – spending 40 days in the witness box. Prosecutors convicted 29 crooks and now hope to claw back millions of pounds from drug gangs.
The information he provided prompted other investigations in which ‘many other criminals’ have been brought to justice.
The man, whose name is being kept secret for his protection, was referred to as ‘Mr X’. He confessed to serious crimes before turning supergrass and was prosecuted for them. But his courage in giving evidence against hardened criminals was rewarded when he walked free from court to a life in hiding under a new identity.
His lawyer, who also cannot be named for his protection, told Teesside Crown Court: ‘Never before or after has there been such a prolific success story for the undermining of organised crime.’ He added: ‘The reality is he is in danger and will forever be in danger. One of the consequences of his decision to assist the Crown in this way is for the rest of his life he will have a target on his back.’
Judge Deborah Sherwin gave Mr X a 15-month suspended jail sentence and said: ‘I doubt there has ever been a case where an assisting offender has given so much evidence against so many offenders. It is believed the assistance you have provided is the greatest ever provided in this country.
‘If your life wasn’t in danger before, I am absolutely certain that it is now. Wherever you live you will spend your life constantly having to look over your shoulder and in fear.’ She described the help given by Mr X as ‘overwhelming’.
During 115 interviews, he told detectives everything he knew about the criminal underworld.
During 115 interviews, Mr X told detectives everything he knew about the criminal underworld
The lifting of a blanket reporting ban means his story can be told for the first time today. Prosecutor Richard Herrmann told the court the man’s co-operation came after his life ‘spiralled dangerously out of control’ and he fell deeply into debt with drug lords. He was beaten, kidnapped and tortured, and death threats were made against his family.
Mr X had begun dealing in cocaine in 2007, supplying the drug, along with at least 25,000 ecstasy tablets and amphetamines, to other crooks. Police estimated he dealt in cocaine worth more than £4million. Although he drove luxury cars and enjoyed expensive holidays, he never made a profit and fell further into debt by ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’.
Mr X used thug Alan Smart, 41, as his ‘enforcer’ to obtain drugs money owed to him.
One man who owed £10,000 was targeted in 2011 by Smart, who set fire to his house. The man’s girlfriend, who was alone in the property, woke up to an explosion and flames. She escaped, but the home was destroyed.
Afterwards Smart told Mr X: ‘It’s my favourite one – the job’s a good ’un son, I’m going to have a pint.’ Both were arrested but escaped prosecution through lack of evidence. Police said Smart thought he was untouchable like a ‘Teflon Don’. However, Mr X’s account of the house arson later led to Smart getting a life sentence.
In time Mr X’s debts became huge. In 2014 he was so badly beaten by three drug rivals that he suffered life-threatening injuries. One of the trio, Andrew Blake, 43, was later jailed for 14 years on his evidence. The following year Mr X became involved with drug lords, Yvan Nikolic, 56, and David Gloyne, 37.
Serbian-born ‘Mr Big’ Nikolic ran a drugs operation in Europe and was described by police as ‘top of the tree’. Gloyne took over the operation once the drugs arrived in the UK and Mr X bought them to sell on. Mr X agreed to clear a debt to Gloyne by trying to recover 50kg (110lbs) of cocaine worth £2million from a container in Tilbury Docks, Essex. But he and an accomplice were stopped by police and customs seized the cocaine.
His position became more ‘perilous’ and in his desperation he and another man stole 27kg (60lbs) of cocaine from one of Gloyne’s safe houses. Mr X kept 17kg (37lbs), but suffered merciless punishment. Mr Herrmann said he was the victim of a ‘protracted kidnap, false imprisonment and torture’.
Information from Mr X led to the seizure of this large amount of cash in South Hetton
The barrister added: ‘He was repeatedly tied up, an attempt was made to cut off his ear with a Stanley knife. He was threatened that he would have his testicles removed with pliers, threatened that his knee caps would be broken with a hammer and a gun, probably an imitation, was wielded.’ But he was able to get a message to a family member, who called police and he was rescued.
Terrified Mr X agreed a ‘contract’ with the Crown Prosecution Service to tell everything he knew. Nikolic, who wore a £37,000 designer watch, and Gloyne were each jailed for 21 years.
Mr X pleaded guilty to drug, arson and burglary charges, but he walked free.
He has effectively been in protected custody for more than four years but the cost to the taxpayer has not been disclosed.