Wed, Jan 12, 2005 - Page 6 News List

Notorious terrorist flown to England

``MAD DOG'' The arrival of Johnny Adair, a loyalist terrorist who became persona non grata in Belfast after a loyalist feud, has troubled residents of quiet Horwich

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

Once he was met from prison by 100 cheering supporters who threw a street party with champagne. But it was a sign of the fall from grace of Northern Ireland's most notorious terrorist, Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair, that when he was released on Monday from his latest stint in jail he was bundled off and flown by military helicopter to Manchester, northwest England, in fear for his life.

Adair, once one of the most dangerous and unpredictable terrorist leaders in the loyalist Ulster Defense Association (UDA), was then driven to the quiet town of Horwich, near Bolton.

He spent the day hiding inside the terrace house rented by his wife, Gina Adair, known as "Mad Bitch." Within hours of his arrival, worried neighbors had put "to let" signs up outside their homes.

Adair's wife and up to 20 of his associates were forced out of Belfast two years ago during a murderous loyalist feud. They settled in Bolton where Adair's crew pushed their way into the local heroin and crack cocaine market, seeing an opening after a local drug baron was shot dead in his bed.

Mrs Adair has been treated for ovarian cancer in Manchester and her husband had vowed to go straight to her side on leaving prison.

But the loyalist paramilitary who once boasted of surviving 15 murder attempts is now a marked man, with countless enemies in Belfast.

Mrs Adair's front door and windows were sprayed with bullets after her arrival in Horwich in 2003 and a bomb was found under the car of an associate in Bolton. Mrs Adair lost her court battle to force Bolton council to provide her with a house and has had to rent from a private landlord.

"Surely he won't settle here. He'd need to bring a bloody big army to protect himself," one local said.

Local people have been advised not to talk to the press, or do so only anonymously.

Adair, 39, a 1.60m bodybuilder once known as "Wee Man," is described by acquaintances as a "manipulative, egotistical maniac."

He was released from Maghaberry prison in Belfast after serving two-thirds of a 16-year sentence for directing acts of terrorism. He had spent the past two years in solitary confinement for his own safety.

First released from the Maze in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday agreement, he returned to prison twice after leading bitter and bloody feuding between the mainstream UDA and his splinter group on the Shankill Road of Belfast.

His gang's reign of fear in the early 1990s claimed the lives of dozens of Catholics, often chosen at random. Expelled by the UDA, he is now on a death list after he was blamed for the feud killing of the loyalist John Gregg, who was shot dead on his way back from a Glasgow Rangers match in 2003.

Officers from Greater Manchester police met Adair on Monday, warning him against any criminality if he decides to stay in Bolton.

Adair's 19-year-old son Jonathan, known in Bolton as "Mad Pup," is serving a sentence for dealing heroin and crack cocaine. Two other Adair associates were convicted of drug charges in Bolton.

An appeal judge recently reduced Jonathan Adair's sentence, citing the "unusual" strain he has been under all his life. He once endured a punishment shooting said to have been approved by his father.

"I'm not happy," said one local. "When Adair's associates first turned up here, we had drive-by gunmen shooting at a house. I work nearby. Any of us could get caught up in this."

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